I can barely remember what exactly happened one year ago, just after a personal incident which directly unmotivated me, regarding my Erasmus exchange program. When I was chosen, early February I think, I had some fears which I can still remember because I still have them from now on.

As I’ve never enjoyed (or learned how to enjoy) that common behaviour among students and non-students called party (I come from Spain though), I was worried about my environment. I didn’t know whether I will be able to meet people similar to me (not even 100%) and it’s kind of stereotype to go abroad to not-study and partying all the time. Actually, there are some people that they do that in their own countries, so not such a difference from abroad. This fear might have become in a problem called isolation. By the way, it’s worth to say that here I learned that the concept of “party” is quite different depending on (mostly) the country people are from. My other fear was about the language, but it wasn’t a fear actually, it was more like a doubt.

But in the beginning I also had a lot of motivations to go abroad: firstly, as I said I had an incident which made me glad to run away from the city I was living for the last 3 years. I also wanted to live outside from Spain since I don’t like some characteristics of people/culture that I don’t want to speak about now, and I was curious about other people’s mind. I also had an advantage, because as I’ve lived in other city and said goodbye to my friends, it wasn’t a big difference to go a little bit more far.

The reasons why I chose Finland were mainly because it was the country that I liked the most among my choices, and at the end of the course, I’m suppose to have an additional diploma (European Computer Science). I also wanted to see how people are here, how different Spanish people are, and everything related to the culture. I really like that kind of stuff. I usually say that it’s also because I like heavy metal and Finland is the heavy metal country (definitely!), but it’s not so important actually.

The first month I spent here was actually different from the rest of the period, since I attended a summer school. Many people from different parts of the world came just for the summer school and then they left: Canada, Russia, The Netherlands, Italy, Germany… August was a nice month: many hours of sunlight (from 5:30 to 23h), quite warm and I could hike a couple of times with some friends. I remember clearly that when I met people for the first time, the first questions always were “what are you studying and for how long will you stay in Finland”, because I was interested in who of them will be studying with me, but all of them didn’t study the same (so sad…). In the summer school I had my first touch with Finnish education system (that’s what I thought, but then I realized it was slightly different, in a better way). My teacher was from France, and I was quite surprised about the interest he had for us. I could really noticed that he wanted to teach us, and I’ve never had this feeling before, it was really great and I felt really comfortable. In three weeks it’s very difficult to make real friends (at least for my concept of friend it is), but I met really nice people and I enjoyed time with them.

They day everything started again. I remember quite well this day: after the summer school I was a little bit depressed, because by that time I had to meet new people again, but some time later I will realized that this was a very important moment [in my life] since it was the beginning of one of my strongest friendships in my life. We had an important meeting (that I actually had it before, because I was in the summer school), it was the presentation day among exchange students (some of them). Before the meeting, as usual, I like to be in the places early, and by “early” I mean “Japanese early” not “Spanish early”, and it means 30 minutes before the event. Quite early. The first people I met there were two Chinese guys that were quite nice and I was surprised because they could speak English very well. Just 5-10 minutes before the meeting I saw some tall guys waiting. Guess where they were from: Germany (Dominik and Tim) and The Netherlands. After some time, we all went to a computer room and surprise! I could see so many Japanese people (even a Japanese guy I saw before in my dormitory because he lost the keys! Mako). I was in the last row. In my right side some guy was sat there. He came late and guess where he comes from: Portugal! In my left side Mako was sat and the Chinese guys I saw before. I actually remember where most of them were sat (about 30 people), I don’t know why… With this amount of Japanese people I felt like in a Dorama. This day I could check many Japanese stereotypes: shyness, lack of confidence, very well organized, and the English level is quite bad (of course this depends on person but I mean generally, amoung Japanese people, not even my Japanese students).

After some days I wrote in the FB group we had that I wanted to organize a meeting in order to make the student cards. By that day, only Japanese people came and I felt quite alone because they were speaking in Japanese the whole time and it was difficult to speak a word with them. After we went to the corresponding office to make the cards, for some reason, I started to speak with my now very good friend Keita, and we both realized that we had similar hobb-ANIME. This was a very remarkable moment I will hardly forget.