You may remember me mentioning ESN – The Erasmus Student Network- in one of my earlier posts. It’s this great student run organization that spans the entire European Union, with chapters in nearly every university across the continent planning a number of great events in both competition and cooperation with each other.
One of these great events is Pirates of the Baltic Sea; a student-centric two-day party cruise from Helsinki to Stockholm. This year marked its 10th anniversary and I was lucky enough to grab a ticket and tag along. I didn’t really know what I was in for, but I was excited to find out.
We boarded our cruise ship, The Silja Serenade, at Helsinki’s Olympia Harbour around 3:30pm on Sunday afternoon. To my surprise it wasn’t entirely students on the cruise but many seniors and younger families as well. Turns out our cheap student tickets got us the bowels of the ship – second floor cabins below the car deck. Very similar to a college dorm, the entire floor was full of students from all over the world gearing up to party hard for two straight days; all 1,200 of us.
The cruise itinerary was pretty simple. After boarding the ship on Sunday afternoon we would sail overnight to Stockholm, partying the whole night long and enjoying the clubs, bars, and different forms of entertainment the ship had to offer. At 10 a.m. Monday morning we would arrive in Stockholm, and for 6 hours we would run around as fast as we could and see as much of the city as humanly possible before boarding the ship again at 4 p.m. Then we would repeat the past night’s shenanigans until arriving back in Helsinki at 10 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Everything went pretty much according to plan, for what little plans there were. It was a great chance to have fun with everyone and meet many more exchange students – expanding our ever-growing family of foreigners in Finland. The time in Stockholm was clearly very tight – making sightseeing pretty difficult. Stockholm is a beautiful city and could easily satisfy a week-long trip if we had been so fortunate to have the luxury of time. Despite the restrictions, we did manage to find our way to Gamla Stan; Stockholm’s old city home to the king’s palace, beautifully narrow cobblestone streets lined with colourful buildings and old churches. The weather finally cooperated with us, gracing our afternoon with sunshine and warm temperatures.
This past week of travels around Oslo and Stockholm has taught me one thing about myself: I greatly overestimate my ability to cope with time-zone changes. I’ll often elect not to change the clock on my phone because I’ll simply “remember that it’s an hour ahead” or I’ll change my watch and “just not use my phone to tell the time.” I then promptly forget all of this and operate on the wrong time zone without fail every time. So when it came time to get back to the boat by 4 p.m. or “be left in Stockholm” I was sure to be on time. So on time in fact that it was actually only 3 p.m. in Stockholm when we got back to the boat, thanks to my iPhone still being on Helsinki time. Foiled again. Better early than late though, right? Right?
Stockholm was a beautiful city and the cruise was a lot of fun with great company. It was the first time I’d taken a trip of that sort and now it won’t be the last – seeing as how our big family of exchange students has booked a similar trip to St. Petersburg for the end of April. This time we’ll have a reasonable amount of time in the city to sightsee.
I’m becoming painfully aware of how quickly time is passing by and how soon this will all be over and I’ll be back home. It’s a sad reality, as I’ve really come to love this city and all the people in it – whether they belong here or not. It’s been a truly remarkable experience that I am so profoundly grateful for.
For the next few weeks, it’s time to really buckle down and get some schoolwork done. It’s been far too easy to neglect school with the plethora of extra curricular opportunities knocking on my door. Time is winding down and deadlines are fast approaching including final exams. But what’s a BCIT student if not one that thrives under pressure? I know you can all relate – so much so that you’re probably drowning in your own workloads that you didn’t even make it this far into this article. It’s alright, I get it.
Until next week BCIT.
James is a recent graduate of the Marketing Communications program at BCIT, and is extending his time at the institute to earn his BBA. He currently lives in Helsinki, Finland where he is studying for a semester at the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences.