I was sitting in a sushi restaurant in Hamilton Ontario on July 21st, celebrating my friend Arthur’s graduation from a Master’s program at McMaster University. The two of us were roommates in my final year and became pretty good friends. Come to think of it, all three of us became very good friends. I lived in the basement, Arthur, Alex and Taylor lived on the main floor. We try to get together every year, but this year we managed to get that twice. They were asking about Finland, and I told them that I was scared. It definitely took me a long time to make friends in university, and I was afraid the same would happen here.
Taylor, Arthur’s girlfriend, told me something I don’t think I will ever forget, “You have that personality. The one where people are attracted to you. You’ll be fine.” We all have our insecurities and that is definitely, or it was definitely one of mine. I’ll come back to this later. I have just one full day left here in Jyväskylä, and I’m going to miss it. Today after months of planning I completed my final assignment for school. As part of my internship, I had to take part in planning an event with my team. KeuPa HT a hockey team based out of Keuruu which is about 45 minutes outside of Jyväskylä, wanted to play a game in Jyväskylä. Aside from the distance factor, KeuPa is second division hockey. It’s like having the Grey Cup Champion (Canadian Superbowl) Toronto Argonauts play at AT&T Stadium. The potential for it going sideways was a genuine threat. We set a goal of 1000 people. The KeuPa HT management said they’d shuttle their fans in from Keuruu which would probably give us 450 fans. My team and I decided to make this a student event with student-friendly prices and a certain amount of free tickets. We’d also have networking events where there would be a chance to connect with a variety of Finnish companies. We’d even plan the in-game entertainment.
Well, things didn’t go to plan. It’s not that there was a language barrier. At the onset of this project, I was told that Finnish companies don’t like to receive advice. Outside help is also something that they don’t always think they need. This is particularly true of hockey teams. Because it’s such a popular sport, teams figure they people will be interested, so the marketing effort is lacking. A lot of the plans and timelines I’d set were ignored and discarded. Despite this, we managed to exceed our goal of having 1000 people at the game. We managed to raise a good amount of money for junior hockey players, and people had fun. I even had a chance to get on the ice after the puck throwing contest. Today was an eye-opener to what my potential career could look like, it was nice, stressful but nice.
After the game, I went to a party where I’d have an opportunity to say goodbye to some of the friends I’ve made here. When you meet people, I don’t believe that you think about saying goodbye to them. Even though I knew I’d be leaving in four months, I never thought about today. I want to come home, I miss home, my things blah blah blah but I’m going to miss the people here. I’ve shared in adventures with them and naturally, I’ve learned so much about them and their cultures. It’s hard to say goodbye especially if you don’t know if you’ll ever see these people again. I dished out my fair share of hugs and handshakes tonight. I cannot believe that in less than two weeks I’ll be home.
I’ve made a lot of plans, which I know are dangerous. But in May I think I’d like to come back to Europe, head to Amsterdam, Harlem and Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Then back to Stockholm, hit up Norway Germany and Denmark, go back to Italy and visit Milan, Naples and Sicily. Finally, I’d conclude my trip by visiting Nashville for CMA Fest. Lofty plans with absolutely zero dollars in the bank. I also want to go shark cage diving in South Africa … So we’ll see. Might need to get me myself a sugar momma or rob a bank.
Tomorrow is my final day, I leave for Paris on Monday morning but will spend a day in Helsinki (Sunday) So there will be a final dinner tomorrow where I can say goodbye to the group. I can’t believe it’s over already but I said that at the end of the summer. One adventure ends, another begins.