In my Erasmus experience in Barcelona, ten years ago (sic!), some of my closest friends were Finnish. Thanks to them, I got to know some aspects of the Finnish Culture: food (Karjalan Piirakka!), the openness of Finish people, drinking (mmmh… alcohol?!), some funny words (perkele :) and the strong attachment to their land.
Now I finally understand this last point. When I landed at the airport, on the way to my new place (very close to the beach!) I saw, smelled and felt the greeness. And the blue, and air, and water.
Colors and elements are the first thing that impact a foreigner when visiting Finland, but I suppose it is not as simple as this, I think it is not enough. Light is key in perceiving the natural elements and colors correctly. Because to feel this greeness, or capture the blue sky in the picture, is only possible thanks to this extraordinary light. The photos I took in these first days are all amazing, and this is not because of my skills as a photographer or because of the quality of a reflex camera. I hate spending time taking pictures and I use a common smartphone. But the light allows me to take photos like this:
Amazing, isn´t it? But what is most important: Do you feel this picture? Do you experience the specificity of light now? When someone sees a photo like this might feel prompted to say: “Oh yes, I would like to be there, to run in the park, to swim in the water, or to fly in this surreal sky”.
My first days in this part of the world are a continuous process of getting used to this new light. In the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening and at night! The night is rather astonishing: the daylight is so bright one cannot fall asleep, like a 8-years-old in the summer vacation. Once you become familiar with this new ultra-bright context, as I am beginning to be today, one can enjoy a whole new array of emotions here. With so much nature around us, the day stretches and the body just wants do be outside, move, jump and run. Everything is new under this light. Literally. My pictures, my experiences, and of course, my emotions.
There is this continuous feeling of blue and green that you can smell. It embodies a specific action that makes you feel good walking in Hesperian puisto or drinking a strong and aromatic black coffee in a cozy coffee terrace in the same park (it’s my secrete spot, so please don’t spread the word!).
There are a lot of things you can under the Helsinki light (a part of attending and enjoying the summer school classes, of course). August seems to be a great month to live and enjoy the city. Multiple cultures and languages interact around us not only in the university campus, but also in one of the thousands parks/lakes/saunas of the city. Every moment in this city can become in a great experience, because this light brightens up people, contexts, and our everyday life.
Well, now I fully understand why my old Erasmus friends spoke so much about their country. I would like to meet them again, ten years later, in this new context for me, to let them know that: Ok, Now I understand, I smell the light!
Text and photo by Simone Belli, teacher of the course Emotions and Interculturality
Original post in: http://blogs.helsinki.fi/welcometouh/2013/08/08/smell-the-light-a-finnish-emotion/