Indian summers were at their peak and it was 4 PM on a sweltering early June afternoon. I was quickly rushing through different New Delhi roads laden with the gorgeous natural spread of yellow amalstas (cassia fistula) flowers.
I had to reach the Embassy of Finland situated on Nyaya Marg in Chanakyapuri region of the capital in next 15 minutes. The embassy was going to give its decision on my visa application for traveling to Finland to attend thisisFINLAND Foreign Correspondents’ Programme. This was my first application for a Schengen Visa so I was both excited and a bit nervous.
After reaching the Embassy, I spent a few minutes toe-tapping outside the visa collection counter and observing the curious faces of all fellow Indians who were sitting with me in the queue, waiting to receive decisions on their applications.
After a few minutes I received my passport, stormed outside the doors and desperately opened it to see the decision. Hurrah! I had just got my first Schengen visa! ‘Hello Finland, here I come’, I chuckled and walked out of the embassy almost dancing by myself! I kept on thinking about my (soon to happen) ‘Finnish August’ all the way to home. And it was probably the best thing I could do while braving the sweaty Delhi summers.
I am an independent journalist based out of New Delhi. This August, I am traveling to Finland to participate in a three week long thisisFINLAND Foreign Correspondents’ Programme.
To me this opportunity is important due to many reasons. It’s an opportunity to learn from a new country. I have browsed through the pictures and videos of previous years’ programmes and I am very excited about that fact that I am going to get some important exposure to Finnish media, politics, governance, food, lifestyle and culture during this three week programme! Also, I am thrilled about traveling outside Helsinki, seeing the snow, touching Arctic circle, getting a glimpse of the northern lights, walking though the famous Finnish woods and staying with a Finnish family over a weekend!
Meeting other 21 participants from all over the world is going to be a real take-away. Each fellow participant is a window to his/her own country. I have never met people from so many different continents and different parts of the world! So I am excited to meet all my fellow participants, share experiences and talk about everything under the sun!
And what fun it would be for all 22 of us to discover a stunningly beautiful country like Finland together! I have a gut feeling that it is going to be a super fun group and I am going to live one of the best times of my life!
I will be flying to Helsinki in first week of August, just four days after celebrating my 28th birthday! And what more could I have earned for myself than being selected (out of around 1500 applicants) as the Indian participant to this prestigious programme? I feel curious, lucky and excited!
I have already written the first line in a new diary titled ‘My Finnish August’:
‘There may be more beautiful times, but this one is ours. -Sartre’.
This is to all my 21 fellow participants, can’t wait to see you all!