“And I am not afraid to try it on my own
I don’t care if I’m right or wrong
I’ll live my life the way I feel
No matter what I’m gonna keep it real you know
Time for me to do it”
From the song On my own performed by Whitney Houston.
I arrived in Helsinki-Vantaa airport on Friday the 13th. It was 5:30 a.m. I was sleepy and with butterflies in my belly.
I grabbed my heavy backpack and walked to the bus station near the airport. I immediately went back to the airport. It was freaking cold. I sat in the airport and I started to think “What am I doing here? I can’t do this on my own.”
I was feeling completely hopeless.
After warming up a bit at the airport I decided to wear most of my warm gear and give it another shot. I stood in front of the exit door and took a long breath. “Here I go.“
Suddenly I was not feeling that cold any more. I smiled with proud. Next mission: look for the right bus station. For my surprise the bus that would take me to the city centre was already in the station. I was so glad I didn’t have to wait outside for it. I smiled again.
It took 30 to 40 minutes to get to the city centre. It was almost 7:30 a.m. First impression of Helsinki. No snow in the streets. People were walking really fast to get to work. Maybe I was the one walking very slowly since I was with my heavy backpack. Or maybe it was too early for me to walk fast. Unlike me most people were not wearing bulky clothes. It was a surprise for me.
I printed a map with the directions from the bus station to the hostel. It seemed pretty easy in the map, but I quickly found out two critical issues. First, it is hard to grab a map and read it with thick gloves in a windy and snowy weather. Second, the street names had too many letters which make it hard to distinguished them. So I decided to skip the street names and to guide myself with visual cues from quick glimpses to the map. When I found the station of the tram #4 I almost jumped with joy.
I arrived to the hostel around 8 a.m. It was so warm inside. It felt good. Although I could only do the check in at 2 p.m. I was able to do it right away. I smiled once more. I remember exactly how I felt when I got to my room. It was a feeling of accomplishment. Two hours ago I was feeling completely hopeless. Somehow I was able to find my inner strength on my own. This was the moment I knew my life would change.
I dropped my backpack in the floor, eat my breakfast and planned my first day in Helsinki.