♥liche Grüße aus Hannover!

I have been studying abroad since March now, and boy it has been a ride! My study time in Germany (and a little bit in Portugal too, hehe) has been filled with adventures, friendships, new and old hobbies and lots of growth both personal and professional.

I study social work and started my exchange journey by taking a week-long intensive course with my fellow exchange students to Santarém, Portugal. We did a Blended Intensive Program about Suicide prevention together with nearly 40 students from various other countries. Together we studied the psychological, cultural and economical factors behind suicide as well as practical prevention methods to be used in every day working environment as social workers. During this week, we intensively got together as a group with the German students, which made returning to Germany feel just that much more like home. The wonders of spending a whole week in a cheap motel room with 7 other people!

Back in Hochschule Hannover, my studies have consisted of eco-aware and environmental social work, which has been an extremely interesting point of view to my major. The closeness of nature, environmental awareness and gardening as a practical method to social work have both expanded my understanding of global social work and close client work. However not all the learning methods have been to my liking, as I have noticed the study schedule is much laxer than what we have in Finland! Even during summer semester, you need to be active by yourself and make sure everything gets done. It’s all learning though. The professional growth is in that sense also like a garden flower: ready to bloom after enough nurture and effort, water and sunshine. I am very excited to be able to bring the methods and ideas back to Finland with me to share with my peers.

Sometimes the time in Germany also proved to be lonely especially in the beginning, which has given space to a lot of self-reflection and growing my roots in another country I never once imagined to be living in when I was a kid. I am not much of a partygoer, but realizing it is okay to live by my standards and figure out my own way of doing things is more than okay. The friendships forged over late night döner (or actually the vegan option, vöner) and under scorching midday sun while taking a part in a demonstration together have been unforgettable and I am humbled to be able to welcome so many new people in my life.

In two months’ time, I will be back in Finland once again: my schedule will be filled with more German language lessons, hopefully project work related to identity and gardening, as well as taking part in activism one way or another. And that is the most meaningful bounty of my exchange so far: deeper understanding that people all around the world live beautiful and original lives, and as a social worker I want to extend my knowledge and solidarity over just my own country’s borders. Once I go, I will be leaving a part of my heart here, and I hope my newfound family will keep it safe until we meet again.

I will be hopefully returning here soon after graduating, as I don’t think I could ever get enough of the fresh bread and sweet summer downpours in herzliche Hannover! Tschau!


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