Today is Sunday, a normal Sunday, as usual, being lazy, and not wanting to complete anything or failing to do so. Because it is Sunday. I spent my whole Saturday yesterday studying about my thesis research, about Helsinki. I read through different secret stories revealed by the locals living there, about what they think the unique about this city is. I also had a post earlier sharing some thoughts about the city myself. So on an average Sunday morning, I realised something: have I ever shared with you the secrets of the city I am currently living in?
I guess the answer is no. I mean, its name has probably appeared in few posts I wrote, Jyväskylä, but I doubt if I ever had one dedicated post talking about it. So then, here it is.
I have been living in this city, up to this moment, nearly 4 years. The time I actually lived here was not fully 4 years, since I spent 6 months in London, then another 6 months in Breda, the Netherlands; and some months back and forth, and some short holiday trips. But here was where I placed my first ever steps on an European country. Here was where I first ever put on this rather thick jacket for me at the time, even though it was only autumn, just because I grew up in a city having sunshine throughout 365 days a year. Here was where I had the first horrible week of sleeping alone, living alone, cooking alone, and being homesick to the maximum. Here was where I had to walk nearly 6,7 km (which is now normal to me) to the center, in order to find sheets, beds, blankets for a warmth sleep but failed. Here was where I realised, despite all of those hard first steps, I was so excited of this new life that I never thought of giving up. That was the reason I was never afraid enough. People asked me whether I was scared deciding to move across the globe, alone, right after graduation from high school. I would be damned to say I was not. Then they said even so, I was so brave. My little secret for such braveness was the excitement I could not hide. I was like a pony, who knew the moment she started running, she would fall as many times more than she expected, but she was so ready to leave the starting point. So then, if anything, that was my high peak, I was much stronger and more brave back then, than I ever could be. I told you all I owed Stockholm, for helping me realise a lost part of myself I was not able to find. Then some other good days, I would share to you how I also owed London for turning me to become more mature, how I owed Breda for letting me have this amazing Erasmus experience with my Erasmus family, and how I owed Poland for lightening up something inside me I thought was dead. Nevertheless, the place I owed the most would be this city, but I have never admitted to myself enough, because it has slowly turned to be my second home. You know how we see our homes, we only appreciate it just when we are about to leave it.
Jyväskylä, to me, is a small city. To some of my Finnish friends who came from a much smaller village or town somewhere else, it is rather big. It is placed in the central of Finland, which has approximately 132,000 people living in. The city is sometimes called a student city as well, for it has three to four main Universities: my University (JAMK University of Applied Sciences), University of Jyväskylä (JYU), AO Vocational School and I think HUMAK. Nevertheless, JAMK UAS and JYU are the most two popular education institutes attracting students around, including international ones like me. Unlike JAMK UAS, JYU does not offer English Bachelor Degree, only Master Degree; and there are quite a lot of students worldwide coming to study in this University. It is rather popular for its quality. Initially, I chose JAMK UAS to study in my field, since I thought it was the closet one to what I like to pursue for my career: event management. I got accepted to another University called North Karelia for International Business degree; but I was not sure back then what I would actually study in that field and what I would actually like to do after graduating. I spent 3 years of high school, doing something I was told the best to, not something I wanted to, and I paid the price for it. I did not want to do the same for University. Back then, I thought I figured everything all out, turning out that it was only a tiny small step into this adult world, where everything is sort of always mixed up and never based according to the plan.
I arrived to the city when it was weekend. I literally did not spend much time reading about Finnish culture. I rarely did those kinds of things, maybe I always enjoy a bit of surprise or I was just too disorganised to be prepared 100%. I read little about Finnish people; but the fact that weekends were usually empty outside, was not in my prepared mindset. Coming from a place where everyone has the habit of pouring out on the streets on Sundays, to see friends and spend time with family and so forth, I found Jyväskylä nearly a “dead city” during that first weekend. Everything was so quiet. The roads were too empty. I had too much space. You might laugh now a bit if you have had experiences with Finland and Finnish culture. I was not comfortable with the luxury of free space around me, at first. Now, I do. In fact, now and then, I find myself demanding for one, this is how adaptation to a new home affects you, you might not even recognise how much it has changed you.
It was autumn, a bit chilly for me; however so, it was beautiful. Leaves were lining on the streets, and gathering at the end of almost every trees. Nature is the most amazing thing about Finland. I did not have nature closed to me that much in my home city in Vietnam. And in spite of years getting accustomed to life in Finland, I always find myself in awe facing with the nature beauty. This kind of beauty, is never enough to experience. Autumn is when the contrast is allowed in its free form. You might find a tree having two colours at the same time, half is red and half is green. I live in this area called Kuokkala, passing across the main bridge of the city, to go to school, center or anywhere else. It was a big challenge in first few months, even near to a disaster with all the walking and time wasting. Now, I see it as a lucky charm I was given. The bridge is one of my favourite spots in the city. I witness the changes of nature beauty every time I cross the bridge. It is either the autumn, when I can see the forest further away with two colours, some yellow dots, some green touches, and the almost perfect stillness of the lake. The reflection is most resembled to a mirror.
Or it can be winter time, and I called it Winter Wonderland, when I saw the lake from the point it was only water to the point the surface started to be frozen, and then filled with snow above; and when spring time comes, people begin to skate. Speaking of spring time, it is another time contrast appears: the sun shines above and the white snow under are not melted but glowing with light yellow tone. These pictures below do not showcase my description, but they are the amazing moments I capture, explaining why I call my city a Winter Wonderland.
But summer time. Summer is extremely luxury in Finland, when the sun is shining proudly in that blue sky and white clouds. And you might think such view could be so cliche; but all I can see in my home city when I lifted up my head, was electrical wires and skyscrapers, then, this cliche view is yet still fascinating. The summer time is also when everything turns to be so alive, you can feel it in the wind, the people you come across, and it can make me form an unconscious smile on my face. Summer time does not allow you to be sad or depressed, as it is too short for such thinkings. You gotta enjoy while you can. The summer 2014 was my first summer time in Finland, and I spent almost whole three months being alone, and searching for soft touches of mother nature. I found new other favourite spots, as you might see from these pictures.
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I love living in a country where there exists 4 seasons, the diversity in life. Weather in Jyväskylä is as much unpredictable as other cities in Finland. I woke up on days when there was heavy rain or fog in middle of summer time.
Or a fog storm on a fall day, too.
The best thing of all, is summer nights. I am a huge fan of summer nights. Here is what I wrote on a random summer night for my Tumblr old blog.
I love the summer nights. Don’t you? I love when it is chilly kind of way cold, and then the sky is so dark you can see the stars blinking. And comes along the low and faded noises of people half far away half near talking, drinking celebrating summer parties. Recently, I had three different moments of summer nights. The first was when I still got him lying next to me, after a romantic dinner, and I was happy enough everything went still. We then got called to go to the center by a friend. The quiet night became another party. We got into some small fights during the time. But moments we rode the bikes together to and back from the center were perfect. I had him.
The second time was one week after he left. I was alone in the place where there used to be an “us”. I stood in the balcony, and the sky above was sparkling with purple, and there were noises from all the young people driving motorbikes, from cars and from people talking. Everything was different kind of stillness. Because I missed him, all the nerves went numb.
The third one was few moments after I turned 21. I was again standing in the balcony, back to my home in Finland. And the sky was fully with white dots, just as the night we were sitting in the garden, looking at the stars. It was more chilly this time because it is Finland. But the coldness did not only come from there.
The beauty does not only stop there. Days, nights, but also evenings, during which there are light pinky sweeping lines in the blue background sky. Those moments I feel as if I can just be still, being sucked in the views. I find no hurry in life, find no worries. I had almost all these moments being in Jyväskylä. The first year I spent here, was me finding my ways into new life, challenging and exciting. I then left to London in the first summer, returned with big nostalgia for England. Bit by bit throughout spring time, I loosened up, being slower re-enjoying this city with much different self. I left during Christmas 2014, for exchange in the Netherlands. I returned in summer time, and again, allowed myself bit by bit returning to quiet vibe of Jyväskylä. The fall started with many events, fastening me in unexpected way again. Though, that is the key thing of this city. I move back and forth. I turn from this one self to another self, and every time I leave it, then return, I always find a difference. It is as if, the city does not have to change; but only how I see it, changes.
Just for a random Sunday, feeling blessed to share the quiet secrets of this slow-paced city.