It was not that long ago. But it sure feels like it

Petting reindeer during Lapland trip.

The year was 2013.

It was not that long ago. The word millennial was already a thing and we spent a lot of our time in Finland checking for the wi-fi password to post something on Facebook.

It was not that long ago. Someone in our group had a Furla bag and we shopped at H&M on Aleksanterinkatu.

It was not that long ago. We talked about startups, we went to Flow Festival and brought home Angry Birds stuffed animals. The English news service of YLE was already a thing, by the way.

The FCP 2013 posse heading to Tallinn.

“It was not that long ago”, I keep thinking; specially when I notice how most of my FCP fellow participants have visited Finland way back in time than I have.

And yet, I can’t shake the feeling that even though only six years have passed since I was an FCP participant, so much has changed. In my life, to start with. My short-spanned journalism career got a boost after the program. Thanks to Finland, I am no longer an ill-fitted Sports writer. After I got home, I pitched an article to the Portuguese most respected newspaper, Expresso, on Finland and the European elections of 2014. That was the start of a new time writing about international news that led me to that newspaper full time and then to another one, more online-focused. Since then, I got to report from Greece, the UK, Thailand, Sweden, Abu Dhabi. Would I ever imagine that when I first landed in Helsinki back on that sunny August day in 2013? Never in a million times.

Trip to Nuuksio national park.

And that was not the only thing that changed. I look back and think about the friends I made during that summer. Their personal lives and their professional careers have also taken a turn, mostly for the best. And that is not the only thing: their countries have changed, deeply. I remember a series of dinners back at our student residence: the spicy rice, the borscht, the scotch. I think back on those who brought that food and drinks along and where they came from: Hend’s Egypt was in turmoil on that same summer; Anastasiya could not imagine how her Ukraine would change so dramatically, so soon; and Mark’s Britain had still three full years to go until Brexit.

It was not that long ago, but so much has changed in the meantime. So I can not wait to see and hear and feel what has changed in Finland in the meantime. The country to whom I have so much to be thankful for, as the Helsinki map on my living room wall attests to. I just hope the cloud berries are still as sweet as they tasted back on that magical summer of 2013.

Author: Cátia - Portugal

Cátia Bruno has developed her career since her participation in 2013 FCP programme. After her participation in the programme she first worked at the leading weekly newspaper Expresso and participated in the journalist visit World Press Freedom Day/WPFD 2016, organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of which she wrote an article to the paper. Since then she has moved to working at the on line newspaper Observador, where she writes about international politics among other subjects. Cátia Bruno is also one of the writers of Sisters of Europe, a European website that discusses issues related to gender equality and is also a networking platform across Europe. Cátia’s interest to Finland has stayed strong since her participation to FCP 2013, she has had self initiative regarding the previous alumni meetings and she follows actively FCP happenings.

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