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A grasp of Freedom

FINLAND | Wednesday, 14 May 2014 | Views [84] | Scholarship Entry

I stop pedaling and I allow my tired legs some rest, while the bicycle steadily takes me down the cycle way, to the small Finnish town of Säkylä. There are still five kilometers to go, so I make sure I catch my breath for a few minutes. The clickety-clack of the roller chain is a soft music for my spirit and blends in perfection with the gay chirping of the birds, hidden in the branches of the dense forest that surrounds me.
I look around, dazzled by the intense colors of summer; green, blue and brown entwined in different patches - it could well be a knitted artwork. I am flabbergasted with the beauty of the path that extends in front of me and a thought pops in my mind: 6 months ago I wouldn’t have dreamed to be in this place, yet here I am. I’ve made it.

It’s a pleasant morning. The pines exude life and their fresh scent enraptures me. The sun is way up in the sky, even if it’s still early and at my right hand I can see the gleam of the lake Pyhäjärvi . Warm and dry, it arrives to me through the gaps between the ancient trunks of the forest and, because I am in movement, it flashes in front of my eyes and momentarily blinds me. It’s perfect.
There’s the occasional squirrel climbing up a tree, and I can only wonder, with intense delight, what other types of animals can be found in this beautiful Finnish forest. It’s all so neat and clean, just like the Scandinavian lifestyle that I’ve grown to admire in the last two months. This place feels like home, in a way.

I think now about what I’ve left behind, in Southern Europe. I arrived here alone and ready to face the challenge of a new life. The massive differences of lifestyle have astonished me completely and have made me wonder in innumerable times what am I really doing here. On the other hand, it has forged in me a sense of character and it has brought my inner strength out. It is now visible for everyone; it shines from me. I am growing, learning and adapting to a whole new way to do things. It’s a new World, and I am becoming the person I am meant to be.
Suddenly, an ultimate epiphany makes its way to my mind: This is it. Now that I’ve left the nest, nothing else could take me back. This is a World with mysterious places and fascinating people to discover. Stories hide in the most unexpected corners and I am ready to take it all in. I am no longer a Southern girl, not even European. I am a Woman of the World, in all my essence... And this, this is my first grasp of Freedom.

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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