My Fulbright Scholarship Experience (Last Page)
Spring in Helsinki – No Job, No School, Nice Weather
Life isn’t fair; everyone should get to experience springtime in Helsinki with their loved ones and totally free of obligation. From mid-April to mid-June I had an outstanding time just tooling around Helsinki. The weather was warmer and sunnier (15-20C most days) and we actually had a shockingly warm spell (the warmest in decades I heard) where it was 75 F for 3 days in a row. I was also completely done with school and my internship.
Our hots spots were Seurasaari Island, Kaivopuisto Park, Elaintarha (zoo) and the park near our apartment in Maunula. During a typical day we would wake up early (our daughter would wake up at
5am because the sun would be beaming – remember days are incredibly long in the spring). We would pack up our “groller”, which is the cute nickname we gave to our utterly ruined American stroller built solely for USA mall walking and not the rough terrain of Helsinki, with coffee or beer, Ruisleipä (amazing rye bread that does not exist in the US), juusto (cheese), and cucumber slices. We would then travel to a choice location, let our daughter run around and just enjoy the sun, wind or conversation.
Final Thoughts Before Departure 🙁
I remember thinking that there are not many things in life that you really can’t do or places that you can’t go. I remembered falling in love with Helsinki during those last few months. Our life was finally becoming settled. We had made friends. We knew where to get things, how to get places, and yet every day continued to be a learning experience (which is what is so utterly fantastic about living in a different country!). I remember having recurring nightmares about waking up and not being able to walk the streets of Helsinki anymore. I still remember the day we left and the tidal wave of sadness that passed over us as we closed our apartment door for the last time.
I will never regret or forget my Fulbright experience for one second. I think that it is important to think about the attachment you might grow to your new home and the difficulty you may encounter traveling back to the US. You will leave a piece of your heart in your host country. I left a big piece of mine in Finland and for many years subsequent to our return I have thought about returning daily.
I wish you luck on your journey. The Fulbright program is beautiful in that it fosters relationships between Americans and people of other cultures. Mutually we realize that we are human, we are fun, we are curious and we are not the product of our respective governments.
Thank you for your time in reading this.
PS Help me get back to Finland! I haven’t been back their since my Fulbright!