Shari Noss came to Finland as a stranger and visited the North Cape with another one. In a jumble of people from all around the world she encountered challenges, reindeer wandering the hills and learned that it’s no joke that Finns, they sure love karaoke.
“During my first week here I went to the North Cape. Someone rang my doorbell, I didn’t know the girl, and she went like, “Hey! I live above you, wanna come with me to the North Cape?” and I, well, I just said yes.”
Hey Shari, you’re looking so pretty today! How are you doing?
Thank you! A bit nervous, I’d say.
No reason to be, it’s all about you.
That’s the problem! [laughter]
You’ve brought something with you, a dear object. What is it?
I took this book with me. It’s really special to me as I have collected addresses and nice texts from all the people [I’ve met]. It’s got drawings and everything, each page is unique. And now I’ve put pictures next to the texts, so I’ll remember all the people I met in Rovaniemi.
With one word – what is the best thing in Lapland?
Just one word? Okay… I would say I’ve enjoyed the snow. A lot. But I can’t really tell, there are so many good things. Also, the people I’ve met over here. It’s been interesting to meet people from all over the world. And Finnish people too, of course.
How long have you been studying in Lapland?
I’ve been here since August. I’m studying in the Faculty of Law, but I’ve completed a lot courses in the Faculty of Social Sciences. A bit of everything. Back home in Hamburg I study social economics. It’s a bit different from the Faculty of Law over here in Lapland. Like, my main topic is labor law, but I won’t become a lawyer.
Did you know of any stereotypes of Lapland before you arrived?
The stereotypes came up when I was working here: on our first day we had an introduction, where someone talked about the stereotypes concerning Finnish people. At some point, I was thinking about them, some of them seem to be true. Like that Finnish people like karaoke, I had never heard about that before! I thought it was a joke, but it wasn’t [laughter]. And the sauna, of course. But I can’t say that Finnish people are cold.
How do you like the student life in Rovaniemi?
I think it’s really interesting – I didn’t expect to meet people from Australia, the USA and Asia, I thought the students would mostly be from Europe. The university brings together a lot of cultures from all over the world, but it can also be a bit of a hard time.
For example when you have six girls living in the same apartment, two people sharing a room, and the other person is from a totally different culture… you have to get used to it. It can be challenging, even though it’s a lot of fun.
Speaking of challenges – did you have an adventure in Lapland you’d like to share with us?
During my first week here I went to the North Cape. Someone rang my doorbell, I didn’t know the girl, and she went like, “Hey! I live above you, you wanna come with me to the North Cape?” and I, well, I just said yes [laughter]. Of course, there wasn’t snow at that point and it was a bit of a challenge with the car and all the reindeer. But I was really excited, I hadn’t seen reindeer before.
Do you feel you’ve acquired any specific skills in Lapland?
I enjoyed studying here in Lapland way more than I do back home. It’s more flexible than in Germany: you can pick the courses you like, you don’t have to stay within your own faculty. I’d say it’s a bit more like school, but I remember what I’ve done here better. You have these tasks and conversations, you’re a part of the class instead of just listening.
There are so many wonderful options in life. Why was Lapland the one you chose?
I had to choose between five universities in Europe; they were located in France, Italy, Poland, Sweden and Rovaniemi. I wanted to go to Sweden or Finland, because I’d always wanted to see the Nordic countries, I’d only been to Denmark before. After my school years I spent time in Australia, so Lapland was the opposite. I wanted to experience something completely different.