Monday, June 13, 2011

Interview of Alicia

I made the same interview what I did to Albert for another exchange student in Joensuu. I am very happy to know so positive and happy person like Alicia. She is from Valencia and she brings interesting new points of view in the interview what Albert did not mention.
1. What were your expectations for the Erasmus year? 
I was expecting a year of knowing myself, of being aware of how I could develop and reach my goals in a place where I feel completely lost. I was also expecting to get to know interesting people and learn about their different cultures. I am studying environmental science so I thought that discovering the extreme ecosystems that occur in Finnish winters would be very interesting.
How did you meet the expectations?
Completely! I have got to know a lot of interesting and nice people in Joensuu and have learnt many things about Finnish environment. The most important thing, I am able (and I enjoy) to be alone in a country where I am a foreigner.

2. How did your image about Finland change?
To be honest the concept of Finland nowadays is close to how I imagined it beforehand: beautiful forests and lake ecosystems, people with strong sauna habits and sometimes too much alcohol in blood. The things that I didn’t expect are the shyness of young people, the obligation of to do military service and that plastic is not recycled in Finland!  Also I wasn’t expecting at all, the extremely high forest management which makes rare to find a natural grown forest ecosystem. Despite of these last things, I love the peaceful Finland, perfect place to retire! 

3. How did you survive the cold winter? 
With more weight in clothes than the body mass... xD Covering all the bode for not getting in touch with the air and suffering for frozen eye-lashes after cycling to the university. I have to say that it is very smart from Elli to put number code in the building doors, you appreciate it when you forget the key home and it is -28 degrees. I survived by wearing snow trousers every day and thermic leggins as underwear, as many socks as can fit inside the boots (one-two sizes bigger would be nice) and gloves without fingers! Don’t be too long time outside when you're drunk because then you don't realize how cold it is outside.
It was easier or harder to survive than you expected?
Easier! I had to spend like 5 minutes to put all the clothes on before going out from home every day. Also I had to go through the risk to loose my toes/fingers in some occasions...

4. What do you think how would speaking Finnish change your Erasmus experience? 
A lot, because I would have been able to get to know more shy Finnish people and with old people who really know a lot of Finnish culture and always want to tell stories... ^^ I felt regretful when I was not able to speak/understand in the most of the situations.
Did you miss something because you didn't speak much Finnish?
Sometimes they spoke to me with a smile in their face and I had no idea what they were telling to me. I would have liked to continue the conversation. Also some Finnish recipes written just in Finnish, participation in some university projects and just being comfortable in so many situations: in sauna, with my Finnish family, in the supermarket, etc.

5. How Finnish people differ from Spanish people?
Finnish are more shy and very much reflexive which make them interesting people to talk when you get to know them. Finnish are shy at the beggining and Spanish are more sociable people, however Finnish usually are thinking a lot while they are saving their interesting points of view what they want to share! In parties, I'm sorry, but I don’t like the way how Finnish guys dance and when too drunk Finnish guys try to speak to you. I think in Spain that also happens, but it is less common. Spanish people use to hang out in big groups and like to go always with people to talk with or make jokes, Finnish people is more independent and go more often by their own.

6. What are the best things and what are the worst things in Finland?
The best things: Nature around, everywhere! You have a forest so close of the main road, a nice lake just under your building and a lot of kind people who never steal and naver take lost/forgotten things that are not theirs. Also the beautiful wooden houses alterned with low buildings which make the cities nicer to walk around and easier to enjoy the beautiful sunsets. Nice handcrafts and art are very spread among most of the people. Very interesting development of the seasons from the very cold winters (-28ºC) with tones of snow to the beautiful warm summer (+30ºC) full of leaves and colourful flowers which happens just in 12 months so it happens very fast, suddenly every thing covered by snow, suddenly no ice and no snow, suddenly every tree full of light-green leaves, suddenly a lot of flowers! 
The tame animals which get very close to people is nicely surprising which means that human respect the animals. Possibility to enjoy the Nothern Lights which are magical and the 24 hours of light after the dark winter. Just amazing! 
The worst things: the short days in winter when ou feel that the day have ended at 3pm. But the thing that I have missed the most apart of having a good vegetables to eat, (I think mediterranean food is too nice) is to enjoy the “old” part of the cities, with some history. I think Finland is poor in artistic/historic buildings and of course I don’t like the drunk people (Finnish drunk people standard, especially) and I have met too many in the pubs. Also I don’t like that you have to leave your stuff at the entry and pay for it and I don’t like either that bars are closed so early.

7. Did exchange year change you? How?
Yes, I have more self confidence. I am more independent and I have realised that I don’t always need people to feel happy and comfortable. Also I have learnt that the culture and the way of education makes people so different, you have to understand that when you don’t like some people behaviour.

8. Any advice for somebody who is going to do Erasmus in Finland?
Don’t be always surrounded by erasmus people and try to learn the language. Don’t get depressed in the winter, you can enjoy it in several ways, ice-skating in all of the big and free rinks around the city, ice-swimming and cross country skiing. You will appreciate 3 times more the beautiful summer full of light and colours! And of course, bring warm clothes, you will need them! 

9. Any last comment what you want to share?
I love Finland, but for the moment I need some more activity in my mediterranean country! However I will come back to enjoy Finnish environment and Finnish peace. I am so happy for having done my erasmus year in this country.

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