Life in Joensuu: A first impression of Finland

I can't believe October is right around the corner already. The end of September means I've been in Finland for a whole month....

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I can't believe October is right around the corner already. The end of September means I've been in Finland for a whole month. Time flies! Because I want to share this experience with any of you who are interested and because it'll be fun for me to read this again in a few months, I've decided to (try and) write monthly updates about my stay in Joensuu.

So what have I been up to? The first two weeks were mainly about arranging things for the flat - getting stuff for the kitchen and bedroom, yes I even had to buy curtains! - and I had to make sure all the paperwork was done and organized. But besides having to take care of everything 'official', I've had plenty of time for activities. There are lots of student organizations in Joensuu, so there's always something to do here and it's a fun way of meeting new people. It's actually treated me well to be out so often since I got here. I also booked my trip to Lapland in December! Exciting!

I've been liking the new environment a lot. Even though Joensuu is technically a city, it's never crowded with people. The architecture and arrangement of the streets and area in Joensuu remind me of American towns (let's just ignore the fact that I haven't been to the US) - wide streets, small blocks with a few buildings or a park, and generally just a lot of open space. Oh, and a lot of nature. The atmosphere is so peaceful in Joensuu. It's something you get used to quickly.

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A few thoughts I gathered during my first month here:
s My first impression of the Finnish language is that it is made out of a lot of grammar combined into long words. Finns sure like to use long compounds.
s So far I've learnt that 'kiitos' means 'thanks' and people greet each other by saying 'hei hei' or 'moi' (which is an informal way of saying hello).
s Finns sure love their sports. On Sundays you'll see tons of people hiking, jogging, riding the bike, etc. I get it, though, they're making the most out of the great weather before it gets too cold! The ice hockey season has also kicked off in Finland last week. We went to see the local team's first game (pictured above).
s The stereotype is that Finns are shy and introvert. However, I have been feeling so welcome here. Finns are helpful and super friendly. Even in public transport passengers will say thanks to the bus driver most of the time. In Belgium that's rare. (Us Belgians are grumpy, so it seems).
s I have seen more squirrels here in the past 4 weeks than I have seen after 21 years of living in Belgium. True story.
s Also, as I'm writing this it is snowing. Wait, what!? Snow in September? On one hand I am excited because SNOW, but on the other hand I dread the extremely cold temperatures that are to be expected in a few weeks or months. Good thing I brought some extra pairs of socks, eh.

What's been your favourite thing in September?

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  1. wow, amazing that you now live in Finland, how comes? I wish you all the best and enjoy the snow now, I bet in a few months you can't see it anymore :S


    1. Thanks! I'm here as an exchange student via Erasmus! Actually snow is rare in September, even in Joensuu. Most of it has melted now, but we should expect a lot of snow in November or December and then it won't be melting

  2. Sounds like you're having an awesome time!

  3. Superleuk om te lezen! Ik ben blij dat je het daar goed stelt. 'k Ben nog nooit naar de VS geweest, maar ik kan me iets inbeelden bij Joensuu :) En ik ben ook nog nooit naar Finland geweest, maar in andere Scandinavische landen viel het me ook op dat ze heel vriendelijk zijn. En ook extreem proper! Nog veel plezier gewenst!

    1. Dankjewel voor je lieve reactie! 't Is hier fijn :) ik heb me eigenlijk snel kunnen aanpassen, wat ik niet meteen verwacht had, en de omgeving is zo mooi. Bij een volgende update probeer ik wat duidelijkere foto's te posten!

  4. Hi! It's nice to hear your nice views about our city. Been living here 25 years and still loving the town! Don't know what happened to my earlier message... In case you're really into sports, the local basketball team, Kataja (= juniper in english) Basket, is playing at the highest level in Finland. This team is the flagship of all the sport teams in Joensuu. Six times in the finals, no championship yet. :( They also play euro games in this FIBA EuroChallenge competition. In the same group, there is a belgian team also, Mons-Hainaut. They come to town December 9th.

  5. Oh yay, you're in Finland! This sounds like a great experience! Kinda reminds me of my first year in Leuven ;) I heard Finnish is a very difficult language (also because it is in a very unique language family). It'd be cool if you could pick a few words up though!

    1. It is SUCH a difficult language! So far I've only learned a few words and basic sentences to introduce myself. It's not much, but I'm learning very slowly ;)


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