OGO Global Correspondent
By: Tracy Kondrit, University of Jyväskylä
The moment I learned that Finland consumes an average of 12 kilograms of coffee (“kahvi”) per capita per year, more than any other country in the world, I knew I was home.
To be fair, the coffee consumption could be attributed to the fact that the sun doesn’t rise until around 9am and sets by 4pm. Or maybe it’s that when people asked me why I wanted to spend a semester at the North Pole, their exaggeration wasn’t really that far off (Finns do swear that Santa Clause is from Rovaniemi). Whatever the case, you won’t hear this gal complaining about caffeine consumption, or really anything else to do with this country. If anyone in Jyväskylä has seen a girl walking around with a huge, goofy grin on her face, that’d be me – and kindly help me up, as I’ve probably just slipped on the ice again, while you’re at it.
My life here is filled with classes, saunas, and karaoke nights. And if that seems like as strange a combination to you as it does to me, I would reply with this: Finland is, I’ve found, a delightfully quirky country in the very best way. It’s also stunningly beautiful; at home, I complain about walking 10 minutes to class, but here, I happily embark upon my half an hour commute, anxious to see what new treasure the sunrise will bring. I haven’t been disappointed yet.
Back to the classes part, though. Honestly, I could write an entire post on this, but I’ll start here: unlike in the United States, classes at the University of Jyväskylä don’t run on a strict schedule. They can start and stop whenever they want (for example, some of my courses don’t begin until March), and as if that wasn’t confusing enough, the rooms change every time. The struggle of living in a punctual country while perpetually running around campus like a lost puppy, trying to find yet another new building, is REAL.
There’s so much more I could write – but I suppose I’ll have to save that for another day. For now, I want to end with this: I am so grateful to Ohio University for supporting me in this endeavor. I’ve always wanted to come to Finland, so to have the opportunity to live here for 5 & ½ months is more than I could have ever hoped for. Better yet, as an exchange student, I get to share this experience with people from all around the world. At a time where the world seems to only grow more distant and polarized, I’m learning that no matter where we come from, we have much, much more in common than we have differences. For me, that’s been the best part.
Until next time, friends!