In the winter skies of Lapland something was moving, shining and exploding. Let Yingke Yu, management and administration student from Beijing, China, tell you how he met a luminous celebrity in the twilight of Lapland.
“You know the feeling of taking a picture of a celebrity whom you have been waiting to meet for two months? And then you finally see her.”
You look very handsome today. We asked you to bring a memory from your travels that is dear you. What did you bring?
Okay, yeah, we should start with this! This is an orange hoodie, it’s totally orange, and here on the logo it says Amsterdam. I got it from this year’s Kings Day in Amsterdam.
It’s not that much about Lapland, but it’s about cross-cultural friendship taking place in Europe. I think that’s what I love about cultural communication.
Does something make you especially happy today?
I’m here, doing my interview and I look handsome today! [laughter] I also just said goodbye to one friend back in Petronella. It’s the end of the exchange programme, so people are leaving and you have to say goodbye. But the good thing is that you can say: “I’ll see you again, maybe back in your home, maybe somewhere else in the world.”
My experience with my Dutch buddy tells me it is possible. And now I have so many friends around the world and so many places to visit.
In your opinion – what is the best thing in Lapland?
Of course it’s the aurorae [borealis]! When I came here, I waited for two months and did not see a single aurora, just small flashes of light at times. Then, finally, one day the sky was clear, and we went to Ounasvaara. I got there, and it was glorious, it was amazing, the sky was moving and shining, exploding. Everyone was exited – I had my camera and my friends were asking why I’m so nervous! And I said: “You know the feeling of taking a picture of a celebrity whom you have been waiting to meet for two months? And then you finally see her.” I took amazing pictures that day. It was a really great experience. You don’t see the aurorae in Beijing, China.
Have you enjoyed student life in Rovaniemi?
Yeah, it’s not only exchange students, but also Finnish students. You know, actually, it’s a bit difficult – I’m not saying impossible, but difficult – to log in to Facebook in China. So I had a brand new Facebook account when I came here, now I’m going on 200 Facebook friends. So, I’ve made a lot of friends. We had a lot of fun; we had parties, meetings, dinners.
Would you recommend the University of Lapland for other exchange students?
That’s why I’m here, I really want to recommend the University of Lapland! I don’t really know the backgrounds of all the students, but with my own Chinese experience, it’s really amazing, so different from life back in China.
In China it’s kind of more crowded, the pace of life is more about hurry. You have this pressure in society, which you need to deal with after you graduate. Here, those problems also exist, I think, you need to find a job – but the pace of life in the Nordic countries is different. And also, the social welfare system gives people more time and energy to reflect on their daily life. So that is what I really love – life is more relaxed, there is more time to think.
After graduating, what future plans do you have?
I really like living in different countries. I’ve studied insurance back in my home university, but I have a great interest in economics and finance too. When I get back home, I’ll probably prepare another Master’s degree application and choose a new country to visit.
I think it’s partly about my experience here [in Lapland]. You come here, see the pace of life, you see different life choices. A lot of people have two majors, two Master’s degrees, it happens a lot here. I can just be brave and do what I want to do.
Do you feel you’ve gained some new skills – professional or personal – in Lapland?
Okay, firstly, I learned some basic Finnish. Everyone speaks really fluent English here, but it’s a great achievement for me. Secondly, intercultural communication. I’ve met so many people from different cultural backgrounds, mainly from Europe, but also from other parts of the world. So I understand different mindsets, how people view things from their cultural perspectives, how they see their daily life. It doesn’t come from the teachers only, but also from my friends here.
There is always a blind spot rooted in your own background. But when you communicate with people, especially from other cultures, you can see different things. It doesn’t mean you have to agree, but you can learn so much and better yourself.