From 30 to -20°C

Written by: Laura from Martinique, international volunteer at Metsäkartano

How many of you shivered when you read the title of this article?
Know that it’s not as hard as it sounds if you prepare properly. I don’t like the cold and yet today I live in Finland one of the coldest countries in the world.

But why do that to myself?


I like to venture into countries that we, Caribbean people, rarely think about. I started by living in Ireland and England after my undergraduate studies and then travelled whenever I had the chance. I created a small circle of friends from various countries and I promised to visit each of them at the rate of one to two per year. Among all the possible destinations, Finland seemed to me to be a surmountable but difficult challenge.

Watching Christmas movies, we imagine going to a cold country to experience impossible adventures under the tropical sun such as snowball battles, the discovery of northern lights, sledging etc … Nevertheless, a few of us really plan a trip to live them.

I’m under 30, I want to participate in a project that benefits the population, I want to increase my knowledge of intercultural and international without finding myself on the straw.

“Let’s combine business with pleasure, I have to do European volunteering!”

So here I am, in Finland participating in an ESC project. I should have enough time to learn the language and to enjoy the activities and traditions associated with the different seasons. I can, therefore, count on my Finnish friends, my family and all legal entities (or not) involved in this program to support me and facilitate my experience.

How is it going so far?

Now that the winter solstice has passed I can say that I survived fall and half of the Finnish winter. When Paris complained of having dropped below 15°C and Martinique maintained its 29°C, my face froze at -3°C.
During December it was -20°C and the worst is yet to come because the coldest month is February with -30°C, but you know what?

I am ready!



I spent several months mastering the art of accumulating layers of clothing and socks, coupling different materials depending on the temperature and the activities planned during the day. I’m no longer cold, I even sweat ….

Okay, I’m lying … I’m rarely cold.

I can cut wood, make a fire, brew coffee on it and extricate myself from a meter of snow. I still haven’t seen northern lights because let’s face it, I sleep at night  but I practised doing a snowball fight, a snow angel, a miniature igloo, sledging, skiing etc. In short, lots of things for which I am proud of myself.

So I invite you to do the same and go on an adventure, do not be afraid of the language barrier, the temperature, discrimination, distance with the family, or anything else …. Go!

Leave to come back better; leave to have something to share; to train; to discover yourself; because it’s free; or just because it feels good.

Contact us!