Cold Win­ters, Warm Hearts: My Fin­nish Adven­tu­re

Oulu theatre and sitting man

Eduar­do Acos­ta, ori­gi­nal­ly from Colom­bia, is researc­hing circu­lar eco­no­my at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Oulu. He is also an Inter­na­tio­nal House Oulu Ambas­sa­dor. This is his blog post regar­ding the expe­rience of living in Oulu, Fin­land, as an inter­na­tio­nal talent.

Having spent almost three life-chan­ging years in Fin­land, I must say that this Nor­dic jour­ney has been unli­ke any other in my life. This time in Oulu has been pac­ked with expe­riences that have sha­ped my pers­pec­ti­ves in pro­found ways.

The great people I’ve met from all over the world, with whom I’ve for­med bonds that will last a life­ti­me, are things I would not have disco­ve­red if I had not been here.

Befo­re moving to Oulu, I had alrea­dy spent two years in Swe­den pur­suing my master’s degree. This gave me some insight into Nor­dic living, but Oulu pre­sen­ted its own unique les­sons.

As a nati­ve of Bogotá, Colom­bia, dea­ling with ext­re­me weat­her beca­me a com­mon­ly asked sub­ject. Iro­nical­ly, my city, loca­ted high in the high­lands at 2.600 meters abo­ve sea level, is con­sis­tent­ly cold and rai­ny, remi­niscent of a South Ame­rican ver­sion of Lon­don. So, the tran­si­tion was not as abrupt as one might expect.

Whi­le Oulu does bring its own chal­len­ges, such as the dark­ness in win­ter and the sur­real expe­rience of 24 hours of sun­light in sum­mer near the Arc­tic Circle, I find myself not regret­ting the deci­sion to move here. Life, no mat­ter whe­re you are, is a blend of rain­bows and but­terflies and storms.

“I’ve found my second home”

People often ask me about the dif­ficul­ty of living in a town so clo­se to the Arc­tic Circle, ques­tio­ning if I regret my deci­sion. My res­pon­se remains con­sis­tent: I don’t regret it; in fact, it’s the best deci­sion I’ve made.

Sure, Oulu isn’t a uto­pia, especial­ly during the harsh win­ters, but then again, life isn’t easy anyw­he­re. Weat­her complaints are uni­ver­sal; even people who live near the Medi­ter­ra­nean whi­ne about the weat­her from time to time. The essence lies in making the best of the place you’­re in.

I’ve come to rea­lize that per­fect weat­her is a sub­jec­ti­ve concept; eve­ry­one is dis­sa­tis­fied with it regard­less of loca­tion. The most impor­tant thing is to embrace the pre­sent moment. I live in Oulu, not Ita­ly, Greece, Spain, or Colom­bia. I can­not wish for a Carib­bean cli­ma­te if I live in nort­hern Euro­pe.

International man standing next to Oulu-letters

Asi­de from cli­ma­te, one thing is cer­tain: I owe Fin­land an eter­nal debt of gra­ti­tu­de for ser­ving as the sce­ne for both the most great and hard events in my life.

During tho­se dif­ficult moments, I disco­ve­red a wealth of unders­tan­ding, com­pa­nions­hip, sen­si­ti­vi­ty, and com­pas­sion. In Oulu, I’ve disco­ve­red that, whi­le my roots are in Colom­bia and my heart belongs to my fami­ly and loved ones, I’ve also found a second home here. Whi­le it does not replace my home or fami­ly, it has beco­me a place whe­re I also recei­ve love and empat­hy.

Life here has its chal­len­ges, but so does eve­ry other place. And it’s worth it. The remar­kable people, unpa­ral­le­led job con­di­tions, free­dom, and unique work-life balance make the chal­len­ges worthw­hi­le.

In Oulu, I’ve found a sen­se of ful­fill­ment that transcends weat­her con­di­tions. It might be tough, but then again, so is eve­ryw­he­re else. Yet, the rewards are immea­su­rable.

One man and northern lights