Ramona – Semester Exchange to Lapland University of Applied Sciences, Finland
Semester 2, 2016
Arriving into a country where it’s still technically summer but already showing the weather of a Melbourne winter was a huge change for me. But initial thoughts when looking out the window of the plane after a restless night filled me with a lot of excitement, and there were definitely an insane amount of trees.
It was cold. I was nervous and I felt very confused with where I was. Arriving in my accommodation gave me a bit of relief. I was able to meet my roommate and I managed to buy groceries and a bike on the first day – a bike was definitely a priority. The apartment itself was empty. Everything needed to be bought (pots/pans/plates/blankets, etc..), so a frozen dinner the first night was the easiest choice and as the days passed it felt a lot easier. My 5 other roommates were all very willing to help each other with dinners. We also had student tutors to give us advice/directions. It was very lovely of the school to organise someone to whom we can ask questions, people who know the city and who will respond within the day, because none of the exchange students would know where to start with all the “extravagant” and complicated Finnish words floating on signs all over the small city of Rovaniemi.
Initial thoughts of the school itself – Lapland UAS is very small (compared to ACU) but has lovely/modern campus. Everything was slightly different to what we had a home, and the best part? Reasonable lunch provided for a cheap price using your student lunch card (only 2.40euros!). Students get all types of discounts around the city, transport, food and even some retail stores, so there is a lot of opportunity to save money. The school had even organised a party for us the end of orientation week. It was a very lovely way to get to know a lot of the exchange students and some student tutors. Everyone presented such a warming environment and are all willing to talk about their own/shared experiences with you!
A highlight of the week would have to be seeing Lordi’s Square in the Rovaniemi town centre. As an Australian, I am quite passionate about Eurovision. I was also quite a huge fan of the band Lordi (that won in 2006). And of course, they come from Rovaniemi Finland. I’m quite thankful for the little things in life, and the town centre is also very lovely 🙂 .
Rovaniemi is small, but there are so many place to see up north and neighbouring countries (Sweden Norway, Russia) to explore.
The views, peace and nature is the perfect way to sum it all up from a first week glance. I was amazed by the views, climate and landscape, it really made me feel like I was not in Australia anymore. The weather is changing and winter is coming, but for now, I’m enjoying the changing colours of the autumn leaves 🙂 .