About a week ago, 10 of us returned from an amazing trip to Finland. It was a long journey which entailed a 4am wake-up, a bus to central station, a 30 minute train ride to Copenhagen, a quick 90 minute flight to Helsinki, killing 10 hours in the city, then hopping on a bus for a total of 17 hours. We had 6 awesome days in the snow and we were lucky enough to even catch a sight of the Northern Lights! I also can now say that I swam in the Arctic Ocean in February…
Once again, Scandinavia has proven to be a beautiful place to photograph.
I was lucky to have been in Sweden to experience both the Winter Olympics and my 22nd birthday.
During the games I often huddled over my small laptop in my quiet room, searching through foreign television channels streaming online. Sometimes the commentary was in German, French or Korean, but when I got lucky I found the English channels. I brought some Canadian gear with me on this trip - and by “some” I mean a ridiculous amount - and it proved to be useful and maybe even lucky! I proudly walked the halls of my residence wearing my Canada hat with its obnoxious red pompom on top, a shirt which reads “true North strong and free”, and those recognizable maple leaf mittens. People here are learning quickly that us Canadians have an oozing amount of nationality in us, thanks to my outfit…
I am happy to have now a memory of watching the women take gold in hockey against the USA while decked out in red and white, in my room also painted with red and white walls. My fellow Canadian friend and I yelled and hollered at the screen and celebrated together. But what was even more amazing, was the final men’s game - Canada vs Sweden! I was beyond excited to live this once-in-a-lifetime experience where my home country would be facing my host country for a gold medal in the game we love so much. We found a nice sports pub and happened to find about half the bar filled with red and white! I couldn’t believe how many Canadians had been hiding in Malmo! We grabbed a beer and stood proud among the Swedes for the whole game.
It was surprising to me how civilized things were in that pub, and it was a really great way to watch the game. All the Canadians cheered together, shook hands and got to know one another. The Swedes also supported their guys throughout the game and one woman even said to me that lots of people knew Canada would win, but they were proud to have made it to the game against us.
The moment I got to sing my national anthem in a Swedish bar was one I will never forget. Who could have imagined four years ago that I would be celebrating Canadian gold against Sweden.. in Sweden!? Sochi 2014 will always be a memorable Olympics for me.
I also was away for my birthday for the first time ever and it was incredible, thanks to all my friends here. From midnight until 12am the next day, my day was celebrated and shared with so many great people, who surprised me with breakfast, cards, cupcakes and “happy birthday” sung in about six different languages. I even bought myself a
new gently used bike to replace my stolen one as a present, so it’s good to have wheels again.
We danced the night away and I couldn’t have asked for a better day. I had a really amazing year being 21 and already am starting off 22 with great people around me, and beautiful adventures ahead! Here’s to what the next chapter will bring.