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I’ll never forget the feeling I had walking to the bus. “What are you doing David? You don’t know anyone here. Maybe we should just stay here. Turn back before it’s too late.” 

Fast forward 24 hours.

Stepping off the bus, still slightly “seasick”, I was saying goodbye to my new family. Vappu was fast approaching and I couldn’t wait to get more involved. 

The situation I’m referring to was Emile’s Spring Cruise. We were taking a bus to Helsinki before we would sail the high seas and participate in all sorts of shenanigans with other education students from around Finland. I had originally planned to go with a friend who couldn’t end up going. I didn’t know anyone else who was going and I would be the only international student. I was faced with a choice. Stay home or go on an adventure of a lifetime. And I think we all know what happened. 

The kindness and welcoming attitude that I was greeted with from my new Emile family was beyond belief. The effort that people made to go out of their way and introduce themselves to me to make me feel welcomed was something I’ll never forget. The cruise ended up being undoubtedly one of the highlights of my time spent in Jyväskylä. 

After the cruise, I attended many different Emile events. I went to all events with the confidence that people would be welcoming and friendly. It didn’t take long for me to truly feel like I was part of the carrot family. The remainder of my time at the University of Jvyäskylä was mainly spent hanging out with my new friends and continuing to make new ones. My only regret was that I didn’t get more involved with Emile sooner. 

I highly recommend international degree students to get involved with Finnish student associations. It takes a leap of faith initially, but the rewards are well worth it. Both international students and Finns have so much to learn and experience from each other. The university gives us this opportunity. Take advantage of it. I couldn’t imagine my experience at the University of Jyväskylä without getting to know and being involved with Finnish students. I will be forever grateful for the kindness of my Emile family and the experience they made possible.