The first semester went by like a whistle and it feels like I was here in Finland only yesterday. It is true when they say good times pass by quickly. Coming to Finland was my first experience in a European country and understandably I was a bit nervous. I had always listened from friends and family back home that you can never imagine the cultural differences as if I was going to an alien world. Perhaps I paid too much attention to what others said rather than trusting my instincts. To add to that, I was starting a journey into a new academic/professional area. Being an Electrical Engineer and having two years of hard core experience in that very field made it more difficult a decision. But I stuck to it and eventually came to Finland to pursue my dream of being associated with sports and more importantly football. Luckily for me I had a very welcoming bunch of class fellows with a mix of Finns and non Finns. What is so great about the culture here is the air of acceptability and tolerance in it. It always felt that the people around me tried to make a genuine effort to make me feel at home. Till now I have been able to make great friends here and believe it or not most of them are non-Asians let alone Pakistanis.
The academic curriculum had been extremely smooth too and there have been occasions where I had slipped but there always exists a built in solution to your problem. Courses on Sports Sociology and Finnish Sport have been two of my favorites. Earlier I never had the focus to read in-depth articles and books but the topics on sports being addressed just pulled me in; I felt being in my comfort zone which I rarely experienced during my previous educational experience. Another great experience was of the Moose Cup which was an International Floorball Tournament we organized as part of one of our course’s coursework. Being a student of Sports Management this opportunity gave me a great view on how events are organized on a bigger scale in Finland. Having organized large scale events back home it was great to compare the approach taken back in Pakistan and here in Finland and learn from people with different cultural backgrounds and their way of approaching problems.
It is worth mentioning that one of my main side reasons of coming to Finland was to pursue playing high quality football. It was a bit odd for me knowing that a License is required to play any form of competitive football. Though the level of football here might not be comparable to other European countries but the level of fair play is commendable and that I have witnessed across different sports even in extreme contact sports like Ice Hockey.
I would not be wrong to say that I have found a second home In Finland. I have been trying to adapt to the local food which till now has not been a great success but apart from that it has been great experiencing the Finnish culture firsthand. Learning Finnish language had been a difficult task but as days pass by my speaking skills are improving. To sum it all up I think coming to Finland has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.