(Leena Potila, 29,Admissions Officer at RSM)
“I was born and raised in Kokemäki, Finland. My parents had a farm there. In 2007, I came to Rotterdam on an exchange and… fell in love with my tutor! Not immediately, though. For Gerben, it was love at first sight, he told me later – from the moment he saw me!
At first, I spent most of my time studying and doing an internship. When that was over, I had a few weeks to spare before going back to Finland. That’s when boredom set in, so Gerben often took me with him to different places. The moment I knew I was smitten was during a concert by Armin van Buuren; we wanted to move forwards to the front and Gerben took my hand to lead me through the crowd. And that was that! Gerben then came to Finland for his exchange and when I later got a job in Rotterdam, we decided to live in the Netherlands. In Lekkerkerk actually – first with his parents and after a couple of years we got our own house. And now we’ll be getting married soon!
Where do we spend Christmas? We alternate, one year in Finland and the next year here. This year, we’ll be staying in the Netherlands. I must admit that Christmas is the time of year when I sometimes feel homesick. In Finland, we celebrate on 24 December. We start the day with rice pudding made by my mother. We then watch the Declaration of Christmas Peace in the old capital of Turku and take candles to the cemetery. That’s so beautiful – a sea of light! And then we eat – and that’s a long meal with lots of food. The children all get so excited about Father Christmas coming! In our family, we have a tradition that we give each other pyjamas – so halfway through dinner, everyone has changed into their pyjamas and are sitting comfy. Sometimes, we then have a sauna! 25 December is a quiet family day.
This year, I’ll watch the Christmas peace online – at least that means I’ll be part of it in some way. And for the rest, I’ll be celebrating with my fiancé and his family – and that’s great fun too!”