Well, Oulu isn’t really a “hopeless” place but if I think back to December when I was packing and getting ready to come to Oulu (some city on the other side of the world that I had never heard of), I didn’t have much hope for my time here. There were so many things I didn’t know: Who else would be going to this place? What would the courses be like? Would I make friends? Would I freeze? What would I do for fun? Where would I live? WHAT WOULD I EAT?
All very important questions.
But nothing I should have worried about.
In Oulu I have found great friends from all over the world. I have had more fun in snow and on ice than I ever imagined. The courses I took were a lesson in education while being about education. I did freeze, but then I bought a proper jacket. And I ate and I ate and I ate. So, all my worries were unfounded.
I didn’t realise that I was leaving until yesterday (apparently denial is not just a river in North Africa – as the old joke goes). My backpack broke and I needed to buy a new one for life in general but also for my European holiday coming up in a few days. As I walked out the shop and unlocked my well-behaved bicycle it hit me… “I’m leaving”.
Suddenly I became very sentimental and took photos of everything on my ride home. I had far too much energy and felt antsy and happy and excited and sad all at the same time. I’m not the only one leaving. Almost everyone I know here is leaving Oulu to go to different parts of the world. We will never be in the same place all together ever again. Wow. Quite a thought.
And flurries of memories come back… snow, funny moments, stupid moments, snow, the food we ate, the songs we danced to, snow, the discussions we had, the people met, the lost in translation moments, the boring times, snow, the northern lights, the adventures big (Lapland, Kiminki, Tampere, and Russia) and small (Tokmanni) and the drama of relationships caught for a short time in this small potjie pot.
When I get home I know many of the conversations are going to go like this… “Oh! welcome back. So, how was it?” And I will be expected to think of an answer to encompass 6 months of my life here in a pithy 2 to 3 sentences. Apart from using lots of conjunctions to get my money’s worth out of those 2 to 3 sentences, I think that it will be impossible to adequately sum up my time here. I know I’m not alone in this thought. It’s funny that when you do something life changing, you life actually changes and you are never really the same again.
I made this video/slide show of my time in Oulu. It could have been a million times longer with all the photos and videos I have. But anyways, it is what it is and it’s dedicated to everyone in Oulu who made this a very special and unforgetable moment.