moi moi HELSINKI
Everything began in the 3rd of January...actually few months ago, when I decided to apply for the "Erasmus" programme, to visit Helsinki. Since then I started to think that I would live three of the most exciting months of my life here.
My name is Dimitra and I'm from Greece, Athens. I study Social Work and now I'm at the last semester of my studies. Here in Helsinki I do my practice in a Youth Center in Kontula (Youth Center is a place where kids can spend their free time doing things that they like and of course more creative than staying home and watch TV!). There my tutor helped me to find some other places and see some different things.
The first place that I visited, for two weeks, was a farm, 20 minutes away from Helsinki in Tapanila, there the youngsters can be with animals, feeding them, cleaning them and in general they do all the things that they have to be done in a farm. The most important thing is that , kids can learn basic things of life through animals, such as death or the creation of a new life. For me the experience was really nice and weird, because as you probably know we don't have any farms in Athens and I know that I will never have this opportunity again, to work with kids and animals at the same time!
The second place that I visited, also for two weeks, was the Media House in the center of Helsinki. In this place the children can record, edit and mix their own music, they have their own radio show on the internet and they can also create films. The people there gave me the opportunity to write about my life here, these things that you are reading right now, which I found very interesting and challenging.
...So I'm sitting here, just two weeks before I leave Helsinki to return home and thinking how these three months passed by so quickly. From the one hand I want to go home and see all the people that I've missed soooooooooooooooooo much (and my dog of course!), but from the other hand I will miss so many things here.
Helsinki is a city in which an exchange student can have a very good time, see and experience a lot of things. When I had to decide to which country I should go, I chose Finland, because it is so different from Greece. And first of all the temperature! For Greek people 5-10 degrees is rrrrrrrrrrrrreally cold, so you can imagine how shocked I was when I first came out of the airport of Helsinki in the begining of January (but now I can be proud of myself because when the temperature is 0 degrees I'm not cold at all!!!).
From the first days, although I knew it already, I could understand that everything is very well organized, every train or tram was on time, no traffic jam even in the rush hour! As you can understand this was something that I was really happy about, because Athens is always full of traffic jam, if you consider that almost every citizen of Athens has a car of his own and we are so so so many (5.000.000). The most important was that every Finnish person that I met was so nice and helpful to me. And this was something that surprised me, because I always believed that all the Nordic people were not very social and luckily it turned out the opposite!
But what about fun??? YES, YES, lot of fun. The best thing in Erasmus is that you have the change to meet people from all over the world, get to know new cultures and travel to as many places as you can. So I tried to do all these three things. I met people from Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Hungary, India, Norway, Italy, Portugal. The funniest thing is even nobody of as could speak very good English but somehow we managed to understand each other in a VERY WIERD way. If you have the opportunity to listen to a conversation between o French and a Spanish guy don't miss it!
So among all the things that I've done here (drinking beers and dancing like crazy at Molly Malone's, watching all day South Park on the computer with friends), I travelled to Lapland, St. Petersburg, Sweden and Estonia. My head now is full of beautiful pictures and memories that I will never forget. Here in Finland I had the opportunity to create new friendships and see the way of how other nationalities think and react in different situations and I know that this is the thing that I will miss more...
In conclusion, being in Helsinki as an exchange student is a great experience that I highly recommend. So if you want to have a good time here when you come as a student be open-minded, get ready for new experiences, get to know people from as many places as you can, but first of all get ready to know yourself in a totally different way.
I'm sure that some day I'll be back but for now...MOI MOI.
Dimitra Chamilou 26.03.04