“Who are the main contemporary Finnish writers?”, “How can foreigners pursue higher education in Finland?”, “What is there to see around there besides from beautiful lakes and forests?”, “How did they deal with the economic depression?”, “What’s up with this sauna thing?”.
These were a few of the questions I got when I asked the readers and followers of my travel blog and Instagram what they wanted me to find out while I’m in Finland. I’ve got a list of my own, of course. And now that the trip is approaching, I’m more excited than ever to look for the answers.
Truth is, I’ve been waiting for this moment for a lot longer than the few months since I got THE e-mail. You know, the one that told me I had been selected as the Brazilian representative for this year’s edition of FCP. And, I must confess, that got me sending messages to my family and friends expressing deep, complex thoughts such as “YAAAAY”.
It all started in 2010, when I was still at university. While writing stories about technology for a local newspaper, I found out some interesting facts about Finland, such as its success in developing mobile games and making creative design and its high investments in education.
That was the first time I realized this Nordic country goes far beyond for what I knew about it so far: Nokia, Santa Claus and a handful of other clichés. And soon after that, when I started volunteering at NGO’s and learning more about human rights, I realized how positive an example it could be in many other aspects.
As I became aware of Finland’s highlighted position in areas such as women’s rights, transparency of public institutions and social equality, all I could think was: “how can we learn from them?”. I decided I’d try to find that out someday. And not just through online research, although it’s not exactly a short trip from my home country.
Time flew by, as it usually does, and suddenly it was March 2013. I was living in Spain and going crazy with my dissertation (as it seems to be the norm for MA students). And while taking a break from my studies to update a blog post on scholarships aimed at journalists, I stumbled upon a call for that year’s edition of the FCP.
I rearranged my study program for the day, filled in the application form, sent it in and crossed my fingers. It turned out luck wasn’t enough to get me there, though. As you can imagine (since I’m writing this today, and not 5 years ago), I had to wait a bit longer to be selected.
Fast forward to March 2018. A friend sent me the link to the call while I was eating my way through Mexico while working on my blog. When I saw this would be my last shot (time does fly, and I’m reaching the age limit this year), I had no doubt it was time to put the sightseeing on hold and work, once again, on my FCP application.
I don’t know if luck had anything to do with it, but this time I did get THE e-mail. And remember that “YAAAY”? I still get that feeling whenever I think about what’s ahead.
For three weeks this August, I’ll be able to try to understand what’s behind the impressive statistics that surround this country up north. Together with 15 people from around the world, I’ll finally get to embark on this journey and ask: what makes Finland what it is?
I’m not sure if I’ll get all the answers I’m looking for, but it’s certainly going to be a fun challenge to try and do so. And if you’ve got any other questions about the country, please let me know. I’ll add them to the list.