The Firsties: The First Time I Traveled Abroad

Blue and white airplane at the Amsterdam airport
I decided that the Firsties project is back! The idea is just to tell the story of the first time I've done something related to travelling.

The first and only post of The Firsties project was The First Time I Traveled by Plane.

So, today I decided to write about the first time I traveled abroad. And that couldn't be more special than it was. If I have to summarize it in one word: PERFECT.

I'm not just saying that because it was a special moment as it is for everyone, I'm saying it was perfect because it was combined with my biggest dream!

Well, my biggest dream since I was 12 years was to study abroad. My ultimate biggest dream was to study in a university abroad. But the years were passing by and it seemed impossible.

In 2010 I was admitted in a Brazilian university and I thought that dream was never going to happen. But in 2014 the most amazing thing happened I was approved in a exchange program to study one year abroad at a Finnish university. I'm pretty sure that was the most perfect day of my whole life and to this day nothing has surpassed it.

Yes! My first time abroad was for an one year period. Couldn't it be more adventurous than that, right? I was actually lucky, because my boyfriend was also approved in this same exchange program and was going to Finland with me. The only thing is that we were in different universities, in different cities.

I must say that packing a bag for one year to a country that has a complete different climate was not easy at all! But in the end I packed all I needed in the beginning and then bought some stuff there.

My plane left from São Paulo in August 24, 2014. We made a quick connection in Amsterdam, then caught a plane from Amsterdam to Helsinki! It was a 16 hours journey in total and I didn't stand once inside the planes. Hahahaha. No bathroom and no walking around. But I slept through most of the trip, so OK.

I loved the airplane food! And was paying attention to every detail to never forget any of it!

When we landed in Amsterdam we had just one and a half hour to board on the other plane. We went through the immigration, which was super peaceful and then we decided to eat.

That was the first time I had to officially speak in English! I was sooo nervous and I'm pretty sure I said every thing wrong. But I got my sandwich anyways.

Me in front of a store in the Amsterdam airport
Me at the Amsterdam airport.

Time to catch the plane to Helsinki. This one was very fast and soon we were there. The sad story was that me and my boyfriend said goodbye in the Helsinki airport, because he was staying in Helsinki and I had to go to Kotka, the city where I was going to study.

I was lucky because the international students have a tutor that helps in the first days of accommodation. So my boyfriend's tutor was picking him up at the airport and helped me to catch the right bus to Kotka.

Suddenly I was complete alone in a place I didn't know ANYTHING, including the language and already in my first time out of Brazil.

I was very desperate about missing my stop and getting lost in Finland. Hahahahaha. And the craziest thing is that we had to change buses in the middle of the highway, for me it was the middle of nowhere. Even though it sounded SUPER strange it was the right thing to do.

Then, I kept asking the driver if we were already in Sutela, my stop. I think she must have hated me. But finally, after a 3 hours trip, I arrived at Sutela and the tutors were waiting there.

The tutors drove me to the dorm and showed where the nearest market was. So I could have dinner, since it was already night when I arrived there. I bought bread and cheese (no mistake) for this first night and when I looked better at my dorm it was a mess! All the furniture was in the middle of the room.

So, after getting a wi-fi signal to tell everybody I was OK and after putting the SIM card bought in the Helsinki airport on my phone, I started to put the furniture in their place, then a took a shower. The good thing was that I brought with me, from Brazil, shower amenities. And finally I lay on the bed, very tired. But I couldn't sleep. I was scared, I wished to go back home and I started crying non-stop.

It was a very rough first night abroad.

But I can keep telling my whole experience during this year abroad in another post, because this one can already fill a book!