When I moved to Helsinki for my exchange period abroad, I had no idea where I was going. The first time I opened a book about Finland was while I was on the plane. It was then when I learned that the country is in fact not part of Scandinavia. Rookie mistake.
I never planned to go there anyway, but it seemed like a good idea. I had my mind set on studying in St. Petersburg, but when that fell through, I was offered a place in the exchange programme of Helsinki University - close enough. I walked through the city for a whole 10 minutes using Google Streetview, checked the courses at uni and discovered that the Finnish education system was actually quite fancy. I proceeded to fill out the necessary paperwork for the application. I literally mentioned that I was interested in Scandinavian culture. What did I know.
It didn’t matter. I ended up spending the best 5 months of my life there. Anyone who has ever been on Erasmus (or some other exchange programe for tat matter) knows that the studying abroad life is surreal, however. In the end, everybody turns (back) into being a busy person with too many responsibilities.
There’s only so much you can relive by accessing your memories though, which is why you need to create new ones as the opportunities arise.
I was 19 when I first got on a plane by myself. I travelled across the Ocean to visit friends I had never met offline. I had no idea what I was doing, but in December 2012 I signed their marriage papers as their witness. I was 21 when I got on a plane to start my
Scandinavian adventure. I knew nothing when I left and took so many valuable things back with me.
I’m 24 now and flying to Porto and I have yet to open a book about Portugal or learn how to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ (si? não?).
Back in high school my English teacher used to warn us students that ‘Failing to prepare, is preparing to fail.’ While this may hold true for tests and many other aspects in life, I like to think that the best way to prepare for travel is to purposely do a shitty job at it. And so, in preparation of my 1 month Interrail adventure, I browsed pictures on Pinterest and pinned them to my ‘October travels’ board. And I checked some street art in Lisbon using Google Streetview.
I think ‘pushing away’ is often wrongly interpreted as transitive instead of reflexive. When you push, are you actually pushing the other person away from you, or yourself, away from the other?
The best and worst writing advice I ever got was to never be satisfied.