Skip to main content

National Writing Competition Winner!

National Writing Competition Winner!

Wed, 03/27/2024 - 12:08


Beginning of February we launched our National Writing Competition. This project aimed to encourage creative expression among students and provide a platform to showcase their talents. 
The participants were provided writing guidelines which explained the theme, allowed text types, length, formatting and language use in more detail. 
We are honoured to have received numerous outstanding entries. A panel of experienced judges evaluated submissions based on creativity, originality, and relevance to the theme. 

We're thrilled to showcase the winning entry:

I step off the bus and that’s what I’m met with.
Ice, a strange language and icy people.
My excitement diminishes, anxiety takes its place.
I’m scared and lonely and alone.
What am I doing here? This was a mistake.
I want to go home.
Back to the people I know.
Back to the places I know and a language I understand.
I feel cold…

Then, suddenly, there’s warmth.
I see a smiling face. And another. And another.
The iciness melts away and I am met with green.
New people, new cultures, new places to explore.
They aren’t strangers. They are friends.
It isn’t scary, it’s exhilarating.
My anxiety diminishes and excitement takes it’s place.
I still feel cold sometimes. But now I know how to keep warm.
I don’t want to go home…
I am home.

Author: Živa Skutnik
Home country: Slovenia
Exchange: Oslo, 2024

However, the final decision wasn’t easy, and we would like to give a special mention to the text that came in second place:

To venture into the unknown:
Travel memory from Finland autumn 2023.
In another universe, you have made a different choice. You have not traveled to Finland, not taken the train from Helsinki to a place you`ve never heard of, in the midst of the country, in the middle of nowhere: Jyväskylä. You have not stepped off the platform, walked towards a hostel you will live in temporarily, since you have not found permanent accommodation yet. You have not met a friendly Finnish girl, a tutor from the University where you will study for four months; she shows you around the city, and makes you feel a little less alone in an unknown country. You have not stepped up on the first day of orientation and listened to an inspiring professor talking about being on exchange and meeting new people, from new countries, that nevertheless are in the same situation as you: Here and now, in a brief period of time, you will share this experience across languages and cultures.  
In this universe, you fortunately made the choice to travel to Jyväskylä, a small university town in central Finland. Far away from the sea and the mountains you love and grew up in, you have learned to appreciate the inland environment. It’s an early autumn morning, or perhaps it’s an evening with a particular light. You walk around the university campus and take in the beautiful autumn colors and the crisp smell. Its green, lush, and everything has a strong scent of newness. The architecture around you graciously blends into the surroundings, designed as they are by the great Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. You grab the door handle and walk into the only building housing a Nordic sports faculty: Liikunta. In the morning you attend lectures and do laboratory work here; in the evenings you participate in organized classes in dance, yoga, strength or ball games. You feel that everyday life is enchanted, with a newfound, sensual intensification. 
At some point, the time dimension changes, as if Einstein was right and that time really is relative and weird and something we cannot truly comprehend. In the beginning, everything seems go by at a slow pace. You are more tired than usual; just going to the store and buy groceries takes a lot of time and effort. You must familiarize yourself with new study plans, new learning platforms and settle into a new home. Moreover, you find yourself sleeping worse than before moving. It can be lonely. Especially if you’re ill in an unfamiliar bed with feelings of homesickness. This is also a part of the exchange. You can lie there and wonder: Did I made the right choice? Should I have stayed at home, in the well-known?
But time passes, and you learn that a new day bring about new things. Perhaps you will bump into your new best friend. Perhaps you will fall in love. Hand in hand with another person, you realize that time suddenly moves too fast. In between bouts of reading and papers and exams, it becomes just as important to seize the moment. To take some chances, be a little less rational than usual, and get refurnished. In a new setting, surrounded by new experiences, you get reminded about the degrees of freedom in life. 
Outside, the snow is falling. Winter is here and the white cape lies heavy over campus. Inside one of the many university cafes, you sit around a table with people you would never have meet if you had stayed back home. You take far too long breaks, filled with conversations you would never have had elsewhere. You discover that borders, cleavages, and geography have been blurred. You are not alone, but together with others, in this community. The semester is coming to an end, and a time has almost passed. But you made the choice to go. You didn’t close the door to a shining hall. Instead, you entered a future you didn’t know was there. 
Kiitos Suomi. 
Thank you, Finland.

Author: Sondre Åkervik
Home country: Norway
Exchange: Jyväskylä, 2023

We appreciate the participants’ creativity and effort in contributing to the competition. We hope they continue to pursue their passion for writing, and we encourage them to participate in future events.