“Hyvää päivää Suomi” is a formal greeting in Finnish, which means “Good day, Finland”. It has been almost one week since I set my foot on this land. It is quite difficult for me to explain how I feel exactly so far about this land. Unlike the last time when I went to Taiwan, the feeling when coming here was totally mixed. There may be some reasons that make me confusing. Perhaps because I am two years older than I was when I got to Taiwan before. The last two years witnessed many changes in the way I view life as well as many ups and downs in my mood. Thinking back about how I got over this two years of swinging mood, I can’t help feeling scared. Perhaps Taiwanese culture is somehow still similar to Vietnamese culture and I speak Chinese very well so it does not take time for me to immediately fall in love with Taipei. Every friend of mine was so surprised on knowing that I am about to study in Finland, not in Taiwan. Even I sometimes wonder why I decided to choose this faraway land, not to choose my beloved Taiwan to study.
I arrived in Finland in the early morning. Finland welcomed me with a cool breeze of the late summer. My friend said that it was lucky for me to get to Finland that day as in the days before, it was rainy and cold in Finland. I am fortunate to have many friends help me in settling down in Finland. A friend of mine at university welcomed me at the Central Station and helped me figure out the most basic things about living in Finland, i.e. mobile phone, transportation, etc. A lovely sister living in the next block invited me to come over her apartment to have my very first dinner in Finland. She even gave me some kitchenware to help me “survive” through the very first meals and gave me a blanket so that I could keep warm in the very first days without a bed. My friend then took me out for IKEA and invited me to his home to have dinner and play board game as he was afraid that I got bored at weekend. Things are so far so good in Finland. I start to know where to buy foods to cook at home, know how to navigate Helsinki’s transportation system. I felt little bit funny when thinking how I could get through the very first days in Taipei, having my Taiwan ID and opening bank account in just two days when in Taiwan totally on my own. Things here are little bit slow, making me afraid that I would rely too much on other people’s help.
And how about Finland as well as Helsinki? Things are more expensive than those in Vietnam and Taiwan, of course. As I have not been registered as student officially, I have not been entitled to student discount for transportation system here, which makes it difficult for me to discover more about this city. I can’t help feeling guilty when making comparison from time to time between Taipei and Helsinki for the last few days. Honestly speaking, I myself feel that Taipei’s metro/bus system is far easier to navigate than that of Helsinki. Taipei’s metro is cleaner than that of Helsinki. Yesterday, when I took the late metro to come back home from my friend’s apartment, I can’t help feeling surprised about how the metro was littered with drink and plastic cups. That same thing would barely take place on Taipei’s MRT. And I miss how people queued in line in Taiwan. It’s rare to see people queuing in Finland. A good thing is that people here do not rush in getting into the MRT so the situation as a whole is still fine somehow. On knowing that Helsinki’s population is just around 1 million, just one-seventh of Taipei, people may not need queue to get in line. And Taipei’s MRT system is friendly in the way that it offers quite clear instruction in both English and Chinese. In Finland, instructions are generally given in Finnish and Swedish only. Sorry for big fans of Finland, it is quite difficult for me to get by without making any comparison between Finland and Taiwan. Finland has its own advantages too. Green trees are planted almost everywhere in Finland, Finnish education is reputed for its special model in comparison with other countries’, food should be cleaner than that in Taiwan. I think I have to open my mind so that I can feel the beauty of Finland.