This sounds a bit like the start of an AA meeting, but here goes: my name is Ivy, I’m 21 and study sociology at Edinburgh, and I’m going to be spending the next nine months in Helsinki. Just as for Emma who blogged from Helsinki last year, the news has met with a lot of blank faces, and a lot of questions as to why. And where Helsinki actually is.
After a summer of answering them, I think I’ve figured both out myself. Having studied Italian since GCSE through to A-levels and then during my first two years at Edinburgh, I’d originally applied to go to Italy but unfortunately didn’t manage to get a place. Rather than spend a year feeling bitter and hearing about my friends’ adventures jet setting around the world, I decided to see what else was on offer. By this point the deadline to apply to go outside of Europe had long passed, so I was faced with Scandinavia, where they offer plenty of courses in English that my director of studies could approve. So, after lots of emails pestering people on both sides for information, and a fair amount of paperwork, I ended up with a place to study sociology at Helsinki.
I’ve actually been to Helsinki twice before and know two people who live there, so I’m not going in totally blind, but it’s certainly going to be an adventure! After all, I could easily find excuses to pass a summer in Italy, or to spend a few months there post graduation, but would be less likely to up sticks and move to Helsinki for the hell of it. Hopefully I don’t still sound like someone trying to convince myself this is all a good idea. Helsinki is a lovely city, and Finland is a very beautiful country, all lakes and trees and moomins. And two years in Edinburgh should hopefully be training for the cold, dark winters and heavy drinking culture. It was sad to say good bye to so many great friends in Edinburgh, although plenty of them are heading off on Erasmus or international exchanges too, and it is nice to know we’ll all be coming back for fourth year with some stories to tell. Helsinki is only a sleazyjet flight away from Stansted, so I can always come home if I need to after all. I’ve learned shamefully little Finnish despite all my good intentions and all of the Teach Yourself Finnish tracks on my mp3 player, but I have some survival phrases, and there’s no better way to learn a language than total immersion, right?
The big countdown has begun: Helsinki minus two days, and I’m feeling pretty excited. I’ve paid a deposit on a flat, can’t quite pronounce the address yet but that’s a minor stumbling block. I have travel insurance. I’ve been buying layers. I’ve organised a pick-up service with the uni, which should help with the address thing. I’ve said some of my goodbyes. Pretty much all that’s left is to go! I plan to spend the next two days packing, and keeping myself busy enough that I don’t have to think too much about what happens after that.