I’m 20 years old and I belong to a group I call Anonymous Finnoholics (we might not be so anonymous anymore, but it sounds funnier this way :) ).

It’s true, I didn’t have to become addicted to Finland, it was more like my own choice. And unlike other drugs, it’s not unhealthy. To tell the truth; it’s really good for me. Because it means meeting crazy people, learning strange things about a strange nation and doing things I’ve never done before. I don’t know when, but I’ve started saving all my money just to go there again. But we should start from the beginning, shouldn’t we?

About two - three years ago, somewhere in Europe, I, one of those completely ordinary high school students, had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation. I liked my Latin classes enough to think that another language challenge may be worth a try (I know - that sounds creepy). And somewhere inside me was voice, suggesting that I apply also for something else, more exotic.

And I found Finnish. It surprised me that my knowledge of Finland was close to none (and Finland is not that far from here!). In the end I applied also for Finnish philology. I got in. End of story.. :P Just kidding. It’s more like the true beginning of it.

I was scared when the first semester began. Our group wasn’t big, but most of the people there had been interested in the subject for few years. I didn’t know anything. Great start! Luckily I soon found that they are the most welcoming people I know. Their passion was infectious.

Like everywhere, some teachers were scary, some just with being there motivated to study. And my new friends made me to do things I’d never imagined I was capable of. Like singing karaoke with them in front of strangers (I can assure you that I cannot sing) of course in Finnish. Going to see Santa Claus like small children and talking with him in Finnish.

Everything around me started to be about Finland. I hoped that I would be able to visit Finland. I had really good luck and thanks to CIMO I was able to spend my summer in Finland. That place became my dream country! My friends are telling me that I’m brave because it was my first time abroad (for 2 months, alone, in the middle of nowhere), first flight and we were learning Finnish for one year.

To tell the truth, I was being selfish. Like any other addict. No matter good or bad the things that were happening to me there, I was happy. I have one tip for you. If you’re going to visit Lapland, don’t forget about the mosquitoes. They’re everywhere. And nothing works against them. They’re indestructible and evil. But I’m glad I met them.

It’s a really good topic to start a conversation with. And make friends. Abnormal weather also helps. Who would believe me that 200-300 kilometres from the Arctic Circle in the north it can be about 27 degrees? People that were there ;). And there are still so many places in Finland that I still want to see. So many things I want to experience. I know that there are many beautiful countries in the world, but Finland has its own unique charm. And don’t you think that Finnish is funny? After we discovered “höpö höpö” we couldn’t stop using it.

Now nobody can convince me to get rid of my addiction.

Justyna Robak

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