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It’s nearly The End of Erasmus – what study abroad has really been like

A nice and relaxing spring is something I always dream of. You know, like wearing a dress for the first time and running around the emerald green fields with an ice cream on one hand and a book (or smartphone if you prefer) in another, or bathing in the energizing spring sunshine with my girls while gazing out into the sea, uncontrollable laughter and bad jokes filling the air.

IMG_20170115_140740I actually almost achieved that today, with the exception of the book being lecture notes for causal mapping and fields having turned into the grey concrete corridors. But who cares about the little details, as I did get to enjoy of the best thing the soon-ending uni life has to offer – and that is being surrounded by truly a remarkable group of friends.

Right now I’m meant to be writing an essay, a thesis plan, doing exam prep and well, continue with the graduate job hunt that feels never ending. Numerical and verbal reasoning tests are slowly and surely driving me crazy. But anyway, instead, I found myself smiling and gazing into the distance and looking back on the little amazing things that have happened this spring.

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Weekend getaway in Bath, England

From a trip to Tenerife to a weekend in beautiful Bath, from countless hours and sleepless nights spent on uni assignments to consultancy meetings and voluntary lectures, and running around between the LRC and sports sessions, I do feel I have done quite a bit these last few months. And this is what I learned from the experience.

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Firstly, living on campus has really been something special, much better than I had expected. If you need help, there is always someone around – and this is true for anything from borrowing a sewing needle at 2am to make a costume amidst a creative burst, lending clothes prior to important presentations or making dinner for flatmates too busy to do it themselves. And if you run out of milk or sugar, well, the flatmates got you covered.

I’ve grown to love the knocks on the window and being greeted with a friendly smile as the girls want to come in to chill in the kitchen for no reason. Or to dance zumba and sing karaoke. Or the times when we had a pre-party and did Christmas decorations for windows and had random people walking past ask if we could teach them too. And we did.

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Getting ready to row

Secondly, doing sports does keep you sane. You’d think having only 8h of lectures a week is easy, but with all reading and assignments and the fear of all final year students aka group work that can determine the difference between 2.1 and 1st class degree, it just all gets really tough mentally. Especially if you are like me and sign up for additional lectures and workshops, and apply for graduate jobs and work casual hours simultaneously. And try have a social life. And cook healthy food. Been a crazy spring, even had to say goodbye to Netflix!

Overall however, joining karate, rowing and recently kung fu groups have definitely improved my quality of life. They’ve not only introduced me to amazing people, but also allowed me to just zone out for a bit. If you go to uni, do sign up for sports clubs! You won’t regret it.

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    These gorgeous girls ❤

Thirdly, always say yes when you are invited somewhere. That’s how the best stories are made. From spontaneous trips abroad to party buses and spending 5h waiting for a train that never came at Kings Cross at New Years morning, the little experiences together create something spectacular.

I laugh when I think of Tenerife, and our spontaneous midnight swim in the sea. Or sumo wrestling with a flatmate, and the day we played pool and all of a sudden decided to book flights to Edinburgh with people we just met. And the road trip to Scotland with the guys, or the laughter-filled evenings and house parties and surprise birthday dinners. The countless ugly snaps and running around the campus with a mini water gun. I wouldn’t change a thing.

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Tenerife, Jan 2017

So what have I learned? 

Not to give up, and keep on smiling even when homesick, tired and demotivated. Smile, take a silly snap, jump around and skip along the road, and after a while you start feeling better again. And if even still you feel sad, hug a friend real tightly and let them assure you it will all be okay.

Never to say no if invited somewhere, unless with a really good reason. Sometimes, going to bed at 9pm is acceptable, but I wouldn’t want to make a habit of it. Would miss out on too much.

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Finding a new purpose to Christmas lights

 

To appreciate little things. It’s surprising how good it feels when a random person offers to help, the bus driver compliments the colour of your scarf, or just walking into the kitchen and having flatmates that are genuinely interested in how your day is going.  There are also many things I miss from Finland – from central heating to cheap uni lunches and something as silly as finding fresh yeast and cardamom from the supermarket. It’s a different lifestyle and culture here, but different does not mean it’s better or worse in any way. I love living here, and I love it back home.

It is really interesting to see what the next steps will be. What comes after graduation.

 

 

 

 

 

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Spring vibes from London – The best photos of 2017

Why do I love living near London?

Because every time you explore the city, you see something new. From the cotton candy coloured houses of Notting Hill to adorable walks along the canal in Apsley, the city and surrounding areas have something for everyone.

Here are my favourite photos from spring 2017 – the little moments captured by phone and edited using nothing but Instagram & Layout.

 

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The cotton candy houses of Notthing Hill

 

 

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Peculiar Portobello Road

 

 

Walk along the canal

Adorable Apsley at night

 

 

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Which one would you live in?

 

 

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The beauty of patterns

 

 

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Glorious Greenwich

 

 

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See the city from a new perspective – Emirates Air Line

 

 

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Silent evening in St Albans

 

 

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University life in the UK is Unbelievable

Life is pretty crazy, isn’t it? All of a sudden you wake up in a new country, still half asleep staring at the roof, and try figure out how you made it there. The sun is shining between the curtains, someone yells at the corridor, and the alarm clock is not-so-quietly reminding the lecture starts in fifteen so snoozing is not longer an option. Even now after two months, waking up here in the UK feels weird.

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  So happy the lecture finished in time to see this.

University of Hertfordshire. When uni started in Finland two years ago, I made sure everyone knew that this is where I would end up in for my double degree year. And here I am, and it is not what I had expected.

The first two months have been amazing. Crazy. Full of adventures. Filled with countless spontaneous trips and social gatherings, and lectures and group meetings and LRC evenings. Have luckily not needed to pull an allnighter there, been close though with the deadlines approaching…

I’ve met people from so many countries I’ve lost count, made friends with truly spectacular individuals and laughed until I had tears in my eyes. Have even managed to return the first assignments in time, join sports clubs, and sort out a part-time job for the rest of the year. It’s been exhausting of course, this life of mine, yet I wouldn’t change a minute of it.

Going abroad teaches you not only about the world and other countries and cultures, but of yourself.

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St Albans – this is where I will graduate next year

You are actually much stronger, much wiser, much more equipped to deal with changes and conflict than you knew. There is this strange energy you have the first weeks of being abroad. You make friends without realizing, get to know the weird habits of your new flatmates, get all settled in to the tiny room you now call home. You learn to read the situation and know what topics are okay to talk about with whom, start to know your way around the campus and the city, and maybe learn the art of small talk the locals seem so fond of. Yet there is not really something as me-time, because let’s face it there is no time to waste staying home alone, what if you miss out! The weeks pass by and then one day it’s Friday night, you’ve been home all day doing nothing, and for the first time you actually can just take a deep breath and stop to think.

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A day trip to Cambridge

I smile when I think of the things that have happened, the kindness of strangers that have now become dear friends. The time  I was really ill – freshers flu is a real deal – and came home and my amazing flatmate had bought medicine and left it outside my door. Or the night it was freezing outside as we waited for the bus home and someone gave me their jacket even though they probably needed it more. The spontaneous travels, the laughter-filled wine Fridays, the “I’m coming over right now, let’s talk” phone calls from a dear friend. Teaching people to cook, and running around the campus trying to figure out where the pizzas are being delivered to . We study on campus, we live on campus. It’s all here – and it takes less than two minutes to walk both to the shop and to the lectures from home! It is overwhelming and stressful and tiring at times, yet I feel I would have missed out on so much had I stayed somewhere else. 

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An epic road trip to Glasgow – the street art there was just stunning!

Overall, I cannot say I miss Finland. I miss certain aspects of it, like family and my close friends that are now scattered around the world doing their exchange. And the academic world here is quite different from what I’m used to so there is real pressure to do well for the final year… But with the support Herts has to offer, and thanks to my lovely local and international friends, I think the next few months will be just as great as the last two.

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A weekend trip to Edinburgh. This trip proved that spontaneous decisions made over a game of pool and table tennis can lead to truly amazing holidays & new friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The night has fallen – London 2015

One of the most inspirational places I’ve visited for a while is the good old London. Had totally forgotten how much I admire the architecture, atmosphere and art displayed all over of this city.

Loving this statue

Loving this statue

Here are some of my favourite shots from Sunday night, 12.7.

The night started with a quick tour and the main sights

The night started with a quick tour and the main sights

The licence plate.. Awesome!

The licence plate.. Awesome!

The Tower Bridge

The Tower Bridge

And a couple of more “arty” photos from the Tower Bridge;

Some experimenting on the bridge

Some experimenting on the bridge