Finland Flashback: New Friends

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5/14/2009

Taking off.  Nervous. Scared. WTF? Why am I going all the way over seas. Shit! This sucks. We are speeding up… I’m tense. I’ll  pickup again when we are in the air.

 First leg of my my first international flight. First leg of my my first international flight.

Okay that wasn’t so bad. I just put in my earbuds and listen to a little Addicted by Amy Winehouse, I love that song. I haven’t flown on an airplane since I was 13. Besides my ears popping every two seconds, my flight from Raleigh to Toronto is going well. I’m sitting on a third row back in front of to lovely the older ladies. One of their name’s is Connie. I’ve been speaking with her about going abroad for the first time and she assured me that Europeans are nice and that I am going to have the time of my life. I’ll believe it when it gets here.

 5/15/2009 

I ended up meeting an awesome Finnish girl named Emma in line at the baggage drop-off, to whom I had mentioned earlier that morning that this was my third connection today. When she saw me again at the sandwich shop outside the gate she asked if I would like to join and we began to chat. She is 22 years old, a year older than me and just graduated from college although I forget where from. I told her about my plans to study in Jyväskylä and she was excited because she happened to be from Helsinki – which is a few hours away. We hit it off well and she was very friendly.  She even taught me a few Finnish phrases.

We ended up sitting beside each other on the plane to Tampere but I passed out for half the flight from being so jetlagged. She invited me to come visit in Helsinki while I’m in Finland so I want to take her up on that offer because is the capital city and it sounds really fun. After arriving in Tampere, I took a bus to the train station in downtown Tampere. Which brings me where I am now as I stare out the window at the hoovering green trees as I had to Jansa station to take the bus to Jyvaskyla.

 5/16/2009

After arriving into Finland on a flight to Tampere, I took a bus to the terminal downtown; which brings me to where I am now as gazing out the window at the hoovering, green trees as I head to Jamsa Station to take the bus to Jyväskylä.

 Jyväskylä Central Station Jyväskylä Central Station

 Sanna, my tutor was assigned through the University of Jyväskylä to help guide my transition to living in Jyväskylä.     Sanna, my tutor was assigned through the University of Jyväskylä to help guide my transition to living in Jyväskylä.

So, my first night in Jyväskylä has been interesting. I got on the bus in Tampere that took me straight to Jyväskylä where I sat beside and met a very attractive Finnish guy named Aku. He’s heading in another direction and has a girlfriend but it was nice to have conversation. We chatted about basic differences in culture and reached an agreeance that everyone our age regardless of nationality just wants to enjoy life and meet as many cool people as possible. When the sign that read Jyväskylä Access passed, I asked him if I could use his phone to send a text to my tutor, Sanna. A tutor was assigned through the University of Jyväskylä to help guide my transition to living in Jyväskylä  . Once we arrived at Jyväskylä Central Station, I used his phone again the call Sanna and she was already there waiting for me.

Me and Aku said our goodbyes and Sanna took me to some burger joint to grab a bite to eat. It wasn’t the worst nor the best burger I’d had but it satisfied my hunger. Afterwards, we took a bus to my apartment and turns out I was two days early. Hey, I’ve been saying I need to work on my punctuality. Sanna had to stop at her apartment to get the keys to my shared apartment I’ll be living in for the next two months. We walked over to the apartment to find that someone had been living there. They weren’t home but all I could think to myself was “Please let him be hot.” I’m so bad I know. So the apartment is small but definitely livable.

There was a little trash in the kitchen but I figured whoever lived there didn’t expect to get a roommate today. Sanna took me to the market next to my apartment to buy groceries then we got back to my apartment before she split. We made plans to go to the city center to rent me a bicycle, buy an ethernet cord and cell phone for tomorrow. I spent most of my time after that unpacking and attempting to decorate my new room. It was about as big as a small dorm with one window, a closet, a bed and a desk.

 Towards the city centre of Jyväskylä. Towards the city centre of Jyväskylä.

 Remembering a graffiti I had seen earlier while walking with Sanna, that’s when I asked if the Finnish smoke pot. Remembering a graffiti I had seen earlier while walking with Sanna, that’s when I asked if the Finnish smoke pot.

After a while, I decided I needed a shower after all the traveling so I jumped in. I thought I heard the door open while I was in the shower but I just blew it off. I forgot to pack a damn towel so I was forced to dry off with my shirt and underwear I had been wearing. It’s the summer months in Finland and still quite chilly. It gets dark around 11 pm and the sun is up again by the latter part of 2 am.

As soon as I walked out the bathroom there is a smoking hot guy at the door with huge biceps. I immediately covered my junk and ran to my room apologizing as I shut my door. He gave me a slight smile and said it’s okay. I told him I just needed to put on some clothes on, realizing he was my roommate. I threw on some clothes and greeted him. Lust was definitely in the air if not on his and then definitely on my behalf. But we talked a lot about our lives and our home countries. Turns out he’s filthy rich and has his own flat in Krakow where he invited me to stay if I needed to. I would have totally gone down on him if he hadn’t have brought up the whole girl thing. Girls in Poland are so much hotter than these Finnish girls, he said.  It was then that I  realized my chances are probably slim. Or at least assumed. Its like Aliyah said, “if at first you don’t succeed then pick yourself up and try again.” He’s going to Sweden for the weekend but trust and believe I will have a Polish sausage before I leave Finland.

 Views of on campus housing from my bedroom window. Views of on campus housing from my bedroom window.

12:27 pm

Last night after meeting my roommate, I decided to get up and go out to the pizza bar near the grocery store I went to with Sanna. As soon as I walked up, cider in hand, I met a group of Finnish 20-somethings whom were all of my age. I told them I didn’t know much Finnish.  Then one of them said “Aya” to me, which I later learned means “what’s up dude.” Emma had taught me that phrase on the plane earlier, along with a whole list of phrases actually.

I was impressed with how much each of them tried to speak to me in English. Everyone seems to want to know why I chose to study in Finland. Laura, one of the ladies in the group, asked “What brings you here?” I told them I was doing a summer abroad program. Then MC, a short guy wearing a hoodie, said “And you came to Finland?” Everyone including myself started to laugh and that definitely broke the ice for me.

It was also strange for me when Kara, my study abroad counselor in the U.S presented the idea of studying in Finland. The desire to leave the U.S. and study abroad came to me as my roommate and best friend, Tyler brought the idea to me last year. We were supposed to apply to study abroad in South Africa together but he wound up getting suspended and my mother fell gravely ill in the hospital. Ever since then, as the oldest child, I have taken on the role of first-generation college student and caregiver for my mother. When her health began to improve, I told my study abroad counselor I was ready to consider studying abroad again; but only short-term programs. Finland was the best option for me financially since tuition is free in Finland. Therefore my only expenses would be those of lodging, airfare and living.

At some point, we had a Q&A session. Remembering a graffiti I had seen earlier while walking with Sanna, that’s when I asked if the Finnish smoke pot. I had been curious since it was quite common in Wilmington, especially amongst university students. That’s when Mia responded, “That’s what we are about to do now at his house,” pointing to Yrjö, who was older and the most handsome of the group. 

They invited me to come back and smoke and of course I complied. Kimbo, an Italian guy, spoke to me quite a bit in English. So did Laura and MC who all spoke well enough for me to understand. Yrjö tried his damnedest to speak to me but his English is a bit brushed up. Nonetheless, we arrived to Yrjö’s apartment and they began taking hits out of hash out of a  gravity bong. I had never tried hash before but I knew it was similar to weed so I tried something new. Immediately afterwards I told them, “I just had a mental orgasm.” They all broke out in laughter then Kimbo said, “I like you but not in a weird way.” I guess he was affirming his heterosexuality. I felt everyone’s eyes on me again. I told them “I like all of you.”

After everyone had their hit, Yrjö kicked us  out so he could get some rest so we all tiptoed downstairs and outside. Kimbo offered me a cigarette and lit it for me. Everyone wanted my number to meet up again but I have not gotten a cell phone yet, in fact, I’m going to do that today. They told me to meet them at the same place at 5 p.m. today. There’s a festival tonight and they would like for me to join. I’m very excited.

 Joining new friends on the lawn to chill and enjoy festival. Joining new friends on the lawn to chill and enjoy festival.

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