Was it super-awesome-fun times being on exchange? Yes. Was it no work and all play? For me it was the best of both worlds: passed all my courses while having tons of fun. Was going on exchange the best thing to have happened to me so far? If not the best, one of them at least. I have now been back in Helsinki for three and a half months. Finished my fourth summer at Posti in August and lectures started a couple of weeks ago. Edinburgh starts lectures on September 17th and my Facebook news feed is filled with people posting ‘Back in Edi!’ and ‘Good to be back at uni!’ and other similar statuses. Needless to say, it makes me a bit sad. I miss the International Student Centre lounge. I miss all my friends back there. I miss the landscapes. I miss the accents. I miss speaking English every day. I miss Edinburgh and I do still wish I was doing my whole degree there.
The initial culture shock of coming back to Finland already got to me on Edinburgh Airport when I spotted some Finnish tourists being especially touristy and loudly speaking Finnish at the check-in. I don’t know if it was the melancholy of having to go or what, but I got annoyed at them about two minutes after I noticed them. I even considered pretending to not be Finnish to distance myself from them. Worse than the people was when I first went to a bar in Helsinki with a couple of friends and got a cider. With the money I paid for the cider I could’ve had two in Edinburgh. I still find it hard to believe how expensive everything is in Helsinki. Coming back here has at least made me think more carefully about what I spend my money on. To be honest, that’s a good thing.
Over the summer, I started thinking that maybe Helsinki isn’t all bad. My dog is here, I know my way around and the culture is the one I was brought up with, I have plenty of friends here, SUB is here. I even got ridiculously lucky in getting a flat I could in theory live in until the end of days. I have a job and I’m not completely failing at life at the moment. No matter how well things are going, the grass is always greener on the other side and Edinburgh will always have a special place in my heart.
I believe I’ve said this before and almost everyone ever been on exchange has probably done the same, but because repetition is the mother of study, I’ll say it again: If you have the chance, go on exchange and make the most of it. It is a life-changing experience you are not likely to forget. Being a part of a different culture, seeing the world and being forced to independency are all things you just cannot experience if you stay here for the rest of your life. Not to mention getting to study things the university here doesn’t have the expertise to teach.
I was in Edinburgh for nine months and I will most definitely spend more time abroad whenever I have the time and resources to do so. When I left I promised my friends I’d be back and actually less than three weeks from now, I’m going to be spending a couple of days in Edinburgh chillaxing with my dear friends and drinking cheap Guinness. And it’s going to be awesome. But so is this year at uni with all the SUB parties and finally getting my BA done.