• Oluoma Okaro
    19 October 2019

    It’s been just about 45 days since I arrived in Hämeenlinna, Finland. I am a 23-year-old Nigerian woman who was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. I always had a dream to someday travel the world while making a profession out of it, however I never knew it would be volleyball that would turn that dream into a reality. Volleyball has been in my life now for about 8 years, as I started playing when I was 15. Originally, I did not know if I would pursue a professional volleyball career because as many of you know, we do not have professional volleyball in America. Those who are fortunate and dedicated enough are willing to expand their horizons and embrace the unforeseeable nature of starting a new life in a completely different country or continent. There are many people who play for 1 year to gain the experience then return back home, whilst many who play for several years and make a home to the new lifestyle. This is my first year playing professional volleyball and I am grateful to have started my career here in northern Europe. This country is filled with many hidden gems and I plan to uncover quite a few before venturing off to my next destination.

    1. Helsinki 

    I’ve been to many cities here but one that I found outstanding was Helsinki, the capital. Helsinki is a city known for its prestigious designs and clenched the City of Design Award by UNESCO in 2012. While roaming downtown through the unique streets and shops of Helsinki, it was easy to see why. If you’re a city girl like me, you will find a sweet escape in this exquisite, urban setting. There are a variety of shops where you can find whatever it is you’re looking for whether it be that chic sweater or some casual boots for the cold winter. 

    If you haven’t spent all day wandering in the shops making use of that paycheck you just received, there is still a lot to see that won’t cost you a dime. There are many monuments and buildings here that immediately caught my eye. One of these was the Helsinki Cathedral.  This white cathedral is a trademark of Helsinki. It was built in the neoclassical style with a height of about 62 meters and is encompassed by four cupolas and statues of the Twelve Apostles at the roofline. 

    2. Hämeenlinna 
    Hämeenlinna has many hidden gems of its own. Although I am a city girl, I am also one with nature. I absolutely love the outdoors here and am very appreciative of being able to go outside and just take a stroll in one of the many beautiful parks. Aulanko is among one of the many scenic reserves where you can gaze over the magnificent landscape, especially when you get to the top of the castle. 

    Since I’ve been here in Finland, I truly have been enjoying myself with a great atmosphere of awesome people such as my terrific coaches/staff and great teammates. They are definitely helping to take the ‘sick’ out of ‘homesick’. 

    Still on my list to see in Finland includes Santa Claus Village, visit a lighthouse Island, hike in one of the national parks, ski under the northern lights, and many more. Can’t wait to keep checking things off my list of things to see/do while here in this magical country of Finland! To keep up with my journey follow me on Instagram @alongcameoly