Philippe Gagné, exchange student in Social Sciences, Canada

Wind. We are all individual brisks; shaking the world from its uncertainty, blowing the leaves of our past experiences until they fly out of our sight, only to make some new ones fall from the immense and forever growing tree that is our life. We are constantly striving for new experiences: jumping, running, diving, swimming in a pool of infinite possibilities. Living something new; we have all been there, and what an incredible feeling.

"How pleasant it is to step on a path you’ve never ever stepped onto"

Adventure. I am walking through a silent forest waiting to hear the sound of sparkling leaves created by each step while the cracking trees are plotting secretly behind my back, but I can’t help but smile. Air is fresh, crisp, filling my sleepy lungs. It is through the eyes of a child that I see what lies ahead: thrilling emotions through the uncertainness of the future. How pleasant it is to step on a path you’ve never ever stepped onto, to dip yourself in lake you’ve never dipped into, to be put in a situation completely unusual with only yourself to pull your own person from its state of uncomfortable pleasure. I am heading to Rovaniemi, Lapland.

"All of this seems familiar even though it is not"

Canada to Finland. The distance seems huge, doesn’t it? Strangely, it isn’t. The pointy pines, the smell of burning wood emanating from the houses warming up, the sweet and fresh air penetrating one’s lungs as they are outside waiting to cool off from an extremely warm sauna, the not-so-cold weather making you enjoy a ski session, but cold enough to also make you eager to come back inside and drink warm glögi; all of this seems familiar even though it is not. Winter is quite similar in Canada, but what are not are these feelings of newness and amazement of everything.

"Amazement; isn’t it one of the best feeling in the world?"

The flora, the unknown landscapes and the different environment makes you see everything as a newborn, as if you would look at a sunset for the first time of your life. Amazement; isn’t it one of the best feeling in the world? The most interesting thing about it is that we are the only one who can still trigger it by freeing our minds from expectations. The future that unravels in front of our eyes then becomes a pleasant mixture of surprise and unexpected joy. This is exactly what happened when I stepped down from the train at Rovaniemi station, with only a bag and a guitar on my back, knowing that somehow everything would turn out right and that I would live one of the best experiences in my whole life. After two semesters in Lapland, here I am, breathing, exhaling, constantly reminding myself who I am, where I’m from and where I’ve been, no matter where I am in the world: this is Rovaniemi, this is my home.

"I will miss the walk over the bridge as the sun rises from the horizon"

I will miss these amazing friends I’ve met here, the beautiful scenery of the city from the watchtower of Ounasvaara, the walk over the bridge as the sun rises from the horizon, blinding you as it is being reflected by the frozen Kemijoki. “What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” – Jack Kerouac, On the Road