The days are getting darker and Helsinki even got the first snow a few weeks ago! That’s why we thought it’s a good time to share some memories from the summer. As you can read from the stories, the summer was a success and both us Finns and the Canadian group had a blast! All this was possible due to the jobs we managed to get, so a huge thank you for all the employers and everyone who helped in the process! It is amazing to see that employers see the great value in our exchange program even during these quite challenging economic times. Thank you!
And now let’s hear the memories!
“The memories from this summer are endless. From the road trip and saunas, to driving a boat on the Baltic, to drinking wine in public parks, the summer was wonderful. I’d like to explain why I enjoyed my commute to work: (Who would think?!) In the Greater Toronto Area, I commute 30-45 km daily by car; therefore my commute in Helsinki was much different. I walked for 5 minutes to the metro, breathing in the crisp Baltic Sea air. I rode 23 minutes on the metro to Kamppi; enjoying the aboveground Helsinki scenery – passing two bodies of water and lush trees. (The metro did not have a single delay all summer, whereas the Toronto subway is notorious for consistent delays.) Helsinki transit has it figured out! From Kamppi I rode a short tram to Töölö, then walked 8-9 minutes to my office. I loved the sights and sounds everyday. I loved all the beautiful dogs walking in Töölö. I enjoyed eavesdropping on Finnish conversations even though I could only pick out words. I loved the everyday routine of life in Helsinki!”
“My favorite memory from Finland this summer was our time at Philip’s cottage, during the last few days of the road trip. We had only all been together for one week, but as we were sitting around the dinner table eating, drinking and exchanging stories, it truly felt like we had become a family. It was the perfect start to an amazing summer, and even though we got to spend several other wonderful evenings with the Finns throughout the summer, it was all our memories from the road trip, and that incredible feeling of belonging, while at the cottage, that will stay with me forever.”
“I have many lovely memories from this summer in Finland and would divide them into two broad categories. First, all the times that we were able to get together as a group. From the road trips to our regular dinners at our apartment, I think we were lucky to have such a great group of Finns and Canadians. Several of us went to a cottage in the archipelago on my final weekend in August and had a really perfect evening swim and sauna, and that stands out the most for me looking back. Second, I also really enjoyed the time I got to spend on my own, walking through the city or the forest, or finding a park to read in on a sunny day.”
“There aren’t enough words to possibly describe my best memories from this past summer in Finland. From the beginning, Finland exceeded my expectations, and there are moments from parts like the road trip that will always jump out to me as special. From wandering around Tampere experiencing our first not-fully-dark midnight, to watching the sun come up at 3:30am walking home from the bar on my birthday in Turku, and our first experience in a Finnish sauna on the Åland Islands, my first 10 days in Finland were amazing. The rest of the summer had it’s special moments too; a weekend boat trip to Örö island with Kasper, Amy and Forth was one of the highlights, as well as the stay at Phillips’ family’s cottage off the coast of Kasnäs. The afternoons spent lying by the sea and evenings watching the sunset were unlike anything back home, and I’d be lying if I said the archipelago hasn’t taken a piece of my heart.”
“Some of the most exciting experiences I had while participating in the Hart House Finnish Exchange happened while working as a marketing trainee with OP Financial Group, Finland’s largest financial services company. I was placed in the reinsurance unit, which deals with many organizations across Europe and Asia and, because of the international nature of the work, I had the opportunity to sit in on conferences and meetings with businesspeople from many different countries. Since I study public policy, this was an unprecedented experience that gave me the chance to discuss global issues with the people behind some of the world’s largest re/insurance companies. I addition to my work, I had an incredible time getting to know my Canadian and Finnish peers on an eight-day road trip at the beginning of the exchange. From Turku to Åland, we visited places I never thought I’d have the chance to see.”
“I had so many amazing Finland memories, it’s hard to pick one. I have watched the vet pull two struggling calves out of a pregnant cow in a research barn 120km away from Helsinki. I’ve felt the early morning mist on my face as I biked to work along the Loimijoki river. I had my first taste of cottage life with a great group of friends, and experienced a quintessential Finnish life with my host family in Jokioinen. Working at Luonnonvarakeskus in a small town of 5,000 people allowed me to interact with international colleagues from all over Europe, while living in the beautiful countryside. I like learning languages, and I found it fun to learn an entirely different set of pronunciations and words. Even now, I find myself sometimes saying “kiitos” instead of “thanks”! In short, I enjoyed every aspect of Finland. Thanks for having me!”