What place suits you best?
Kirjoittanut Vincent Gerritse Luotu 23.03.2015
After seven weeks into my experience in Lappeenranta, great things have happened. I have seen so many thinks, met so many nice people and the most important thing: I might not want to leave when the time arrives!
Recently I had so many opportunities to do some activities like watching an Ice Hockey game, swim in the frozen lake and go to the sauna. Attending these activities make you feel more like a real Finnish person because you start to blend in.
One of the most exciting things I did must have been the ice swimming. When I first heard about this possibility, I thought people were just crazy for doing this. I started reading about this activity and soon I learned that this could actually be very nice to do. And then the invitation came. I was already excited to try this beforehand, but when we arrived at the location Myllysaari it appeared to be women’s turn at the sauna. In Holland there are a lot of saunas where men and women can mix, but here in Finland there are separate days for both genders. As we couldn’t go to the sauna, we went to a heated locker room, which was also kind of warm.
Once we put on our bathing suits and walked outside, we realized this was going to be very cold. The three of us, Darius, Joram and me, were standing outside by the stairs leading into the water, figuring out who was going in first. Eventually the decision was made. Joram was first, followed by me and then Darius. Before I entered I was told not to put my head down in the water, but when I entered, I lost control of how deep I went, and went all the way down. Running out into the locker room, you feel this energy running through your body and the adrenaline starts to come. After the second dip, these feelings became even more intense. It was a great experience and a nice way to cool down a little. If I get a chance to do this again, I certainly will!
Here in Lappeenranta I have also seen my first ice Hockey game ever! And what a great sport this is! Some people we know say “We went to a boxing match that turned into an Ice Hockey game”. This is such a heavy sport which is not meant for everybody, including me. Once those players go after the puck, they will be smashed into the walls in order to steal the puck. But the people in the audience, the music, the sport itself and everything around it make it such a nice experience. It is most certainly one of the best sport games I have ever seen. In Holland the biggest sport is football. I have been at some games from AJAX, the team from Amsterdam, but this is totally different. People react way different to Ice Hockey because the sport is way more intense. We were lucky for SaiPa to win, and next Saturday, we will visit the next game!
The environment, the people and especially the nature, are the things that make my experience in Finland this special. Everywhere you look you can see the nature that surrounds you. Even though I haven’t really been into the nature yet, I have had the opportunity to see the beautiful sunset at frozen Lake Saimaa. When you stand on the ice, on the lake, 300 meters from shore, you can really see how the sun starts to descent towards the horizon. The colours of the fading light make the surroundings look so nice that this moment is quite magical. But even the sunset cannot compete with the most beautiful happenings in nature, the Northern Lights.
It was on last Tuesday night when we received a message that there was a good chance to see the Northern Lights from Lappeenranta. We used this opportunity and went to the lakeside to get away from all the lights in the city. When we looked up, we saw those white stripes flashing through the sky. At first we thought it was not that big because they did not become that bright. As we waited longer the lights became more active and picked up the shapes you usually see on the pictures on the internet. After an hour and thirty minutes the sentence “we can probably leave now” was spoken and the first steps towards home were taken. When we turned around, we realized that it was not over yet! Suddenly the lights started to brighten lightening the sky with a sighting you only dream of. Flashes of light coloured in green and pink were dancing through the sky. At this moment you feel small, and you start to think it’s really not that weird that the earlier generations started to build religions on these sightings. Now this happening is explained by science, but back then they did not know any better.
On my fourth week in Lappeenranta I had to go back to Holland for a week. When I came back to this place it already felt like coming home! The fact that you have your own place here and you make new friends make you realize you are starting a new life up here. You get attached to the surroundings, the city and the people. Sometimes I think how it will be to go back home at the end of May. Thinking of this is kind of a sad thought. You don’t want to leave behind what is trusted to you. You adapt to a new kind of living, you adapt to a different kind of people, and mostly to the peace that’s surrounds you. You start to think that when you have to go back home, you will be in a crowded environment again. I could only wish to stay for even longer. Even though I got two months left, I know this will never be enough.