Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Winter Wonderland - Welcome to Finland

Yesterday morning it was -18,5 celsius degrees outsider. My car didn’t start. And I don’t live in the coldest part of my country. Not to mention the coldest place in the world. 

However, the weather outside reminds me of the time we spent in the far north. Well, far from the place where I live, of course. Or is it really that far? People keep complaining when it’s -10, -15 that it’s really freakin’ cold. I always ask myself “-15 and it’s cold? Boy… We managed to survive -40 and it was fine”. I know that humidity and winds play a vital role in determining whether it is really cold outside. But still. It was -40. That is impressive. 
Where were we? In Finland. South Karelia. Lappeenranta. 30 km from the Russian border. A rather small town, one might say. Well, actually it was pretty large in area but quite small in population density. 

How did it all start? Why Lappeenranta? Why Finland? Why exposing oneself to such difficult weather conditions while one can choose a better place to stay? 

Well, we both knew we wanted to study abroad for some time. We tried to find a place that both our universities could send us (I was studying in a different city than my (then) boyfriend and at a different university as well). We were thinking about going to France or Ireland. Then I got an offer of studying in Sweden or Norway but the subjects that I could choose there didn’t satisfy me. But it was then that we decided that if I get offered one more Nordic country, we’re going no matter what. And so came Finland. We were lucky enough that Chris managed to go with me and study at the same uni there. Could we be more happy? Don’t think so :)

So we started the huge escapade preparations. Loads of warm clothes (we left Poland in January), good shoes, warm gloves… And we flew to Helsinki. Finland greeted us with temperatures a bit higher than in Poland and with heavy rain. We hopped on the train and headed off to Lappeenranta. Our place to stay for the next 4.5 months. 

It wasn’t until two days later than temperatures dropped below 0 Celsius degrees and it started snowing. But when it started, snow stayed with us for the next couple of months. And it was amazing. Winter wonderland. And also came the days, the most famous days, that the temperatures dropped to -40 Celsius degrees. But it was sooo beautiful. We could walk on Lake Saimaa, we could ice-skate, we could go cross-country skiing. And we could use sauna! Which was the best part of it all. 

First snow of the season (five years ago)

Our uni and the bus trip around Lappeenranta

Ice-skating on the school grounds next to the dorm

View from the Fortress - Lake Saimaa with the harbour and the city centre

Our walk on the lake.

My dorm window - nice, huh? It was really warm inside.
Yay, cross country skiing on Lake Saimaa!

1 comment:

  1. I really miss having ice skating rink so close...