The first interesting piece comes from Jitka Kuncová, who shortly came back from her stay in Finland.
I did my Erasmus stay in Finland, in a small town called Seinäjoki. I chose Finland because I love and admire the North. At first I wanted to go to Sweden, but eventually I was really glad it did not work out. For Finland is a country worth admiration, full of amazing lakes, beautiful natural scenery and lovely people.
Basically everything that is being sad about the Fins is not true. They are nice and helpful, a bit cold, perhaps, but once you speak to them, they become friendly. Unfortunately a lot of do not speak English, which is a shame. I went to Finland halfway through January, which is the period of the greatest cold. Right after arriving in Seinäjoki I was wondering how could cars drive in such deep snow and I immediately remembered the Czech republic. When we get a bit more snow in the Czech republic, we immediately face the so-called calamity, the news are full of it and the road workers cannot handle it. I would really love to see them in Finland. I experienced a really harsh Winter there, the lowest temperatures reached – 35 °C which was so cold, that it felt like my brain was freezing up. This way I will be at least ready for next Winter, but I would not want to be in Lapland at that time of the year. I was lucky, as already from Prague a boy flew with me, who later also studied in Seinäjoki, so I had from the very first moment in Finland a friend who I would spend all my spare time with.
Once we arrived at our new home, we were invited to a party, where were also all the other Erasmus students. Everyone gave us a warm welcome and I felt great relief. Of course, my greatest worry was the journey itself, as Seinäjoki is quite far from Helsinki, but I was always worried about the others accepting me. I was surprised by the large number of students from the Czech republic and Slovakia. Already on the second day, we were a great group and were together till the end and I have to say that I found great friends in them and think that we have not seen each other for the last time. Of course, I did not talk only to Czechs, but also to foreigners. We formed one large family and it was no matter from which part of the world you were, we did everything together. We went on a Boat trip to Sweden, have a look around Stockholm, to Estonia’s Tart and Tallinn or for example to a big sauna in Nurmu, which was not far from Seinäjoki. We went to school together, but most importantly we enjoyed all the numerous events and parties. Speaking of the Finish educational system, I have to say it is on a very high level. It’s not like our system, where we need to memorize some text and then tell it to the examiner. In Finland, it’s all about practice, team work, mutual collaboration and working on projects collectively. The return back to the Czech republic was therefore shocking. I am contemplating going for my master studies to Seinäjoki, but they want a three years’ practical experience. Which should not present a problem.
The greatest experience was me was the visit of Lapland. We did not go with all the exchange students, just with the closest - 12 people. We rented three cars and set forth. Our destination was a cabin near the town of Karhujärvi. After an almost nine hours’ journey, we finally arrived. The cabin was beautiful, large and it was directly at the lake. We had a bit of bad luck, which we could have anticipated, as the cabin really was very cheap. The first night we realised that sometimes the front door would just get blocked and would not come open nor unlock. The boys experienced this situation in its full measure, as they went out to roll in the snow after sauna but then they had to come back in using a ladder, which was exactly for these situations standing near a window. But the owner did not tell us beforehand. Another mystery, which I have not been able to explain was a night visit by some stranger, who stood on our patio at 3 a.m. We were, fortunately, locked up, but we have no clue who it was or what he wanted. The cabin was located in a recreational area, but we were the only visitors. For the rest of our stay, every time I would go out for a cigarette, I had the feeling that somebody was watching me. Maybe it was instinct, but maybe it was just the fear of our stranger. The next day, we went to explore the surroundings of our cabin and thanks to the “good” idea of our leader to go back in the deep snow, we got a bit lost. The snow was so deep that just mere walking in it was very exhausting. But eventually we found our way back home. The next day was even more interesting. We went to the Oulanka National park. We rented some snowshoes and went into the park. One girl felt sick after just a couple of meters, so she decided to go back to the base camp, which was really just some 2 minutes away. She took the car keys and was supposed to wait for us there. But when we came back, our friend (from Spain) was back. She allegedly went for a walk. She had the car keys and the only one (allegedly) having her phone number was another Spaniard who had left his phone in the car she had the keys of. Of course we went looking for her straight away, but it was not easy. We could not find her. In the end, another friend remembered, that she gave him her number as well. So we got know that she had gone looking for us and she did not know where she was. Another problem was the fact that her mobile phone battery was almost empty. The worst scenarios that could happen to her started popping up in my head. Because it started getting dark and all around and in Finland in general live bears, wolves and moose - which are allegedly very dangerous. The base camp had no equipment, no snowmobile or anything similar. So the boys decided to go for her and us girls should go home and prepare dinner. Of course we worried about her, but we were also angry, as we were exhausted and starving. Fortunately, the boys found her after an hours’ search, she took the wrong way and was on her way to Russia. We felt all relieved that it all had a happy ending. She herself does not realise how lucky she was. Later she told us that when she heard the animals around, she had no fear as she knew the boys were coming for her. Thank God she was alright. The rest of our stay was calm and I will never forget the beautiful Winter scenery beyond the Arctic Circle and the fear because of our friend before we found her.
Generally I would evaluate my Finish stay very positively, simply said, I was very lucky to have met the people I have and I chose the right country. The only thing I missed in Finland were hills, mountains and Czech bread. I would recommend Finland to other exchange students. Don’t be afraid of the Finish language. The country fulfilled my expectations and I definitely want to go back. The biggest surprise for me was the fact that this country knows no stealing and that the streets are very safe.
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One of the main reasons why I decided on Škoda Auto University was the possibility for extensive internships, not only at Škoda Auto a.s. but also abroad with companies such as VW, Audi, Seat and Bentley.
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