Sommersemester in PH Vorarlberg from a Finnish point of view




You have found your way to read about the experiences of a slightly socially awkward Music Education student from Finland living in the middle of a foreign culture and people speaking in an incomprehensible dialect of German language. Welcome to follow my days filled with distant-learning and outdoor activities.


I sincerely hope you enjoy what you're about to read.




- NEVER trust the weather forecast. Why? The weather by the mountains is very unpredictable. You might get snow or you might get sunshine. You just have to deal with it.


- Speaking in a foreign language can be exhausting. The brain has to work harder than when your communicating with you first language. Especially if you're not that good at the language you're (desperately) trying to use. 


- People tend to greet everyone they come across. For a Finn that likes minding her own businesses that was rather scary at first, but you'll get used to it.


- I've forgotten my English due to the amount of German input I get daily. Even though I don't study at the PH at the moment, all the distant-learning and actually just the daily life here require me to hear, speak and read so much German, that at the moment it is easier for me to think of a missing word first in German and then in English while writing this.



For someone coming from a country like Finland, where there might still be snow in May (at least in the Northern parts), it feels weird to have temperatures rising over +20°C in the beginning of April. Not that I didn't enjoy doing my long bikerides and runs in T-shirt and shorts. It just feels weird seeing pictures of my friends cross-country-skiing in Finland. 


The COVID-19 or 'Corona' as it is normally called, has (of course) impacted life both here in Austria and back home in Finland. I was offered an option to go back to Finland in March while there was not yet a proper outbreak in the whole Europe. I decided to stay where I was as I wasn't ready to let go of my dreams of mountains just yet.


As I am writing this the PH has been closed for 3 weeks and we don't know when it opens again. The same goes with all the other schools in Austria and for most schools in Finland as well even though in Finland the schools haven't been closed for that long.


All the non-essential stores are closed. At the moment only supermarkets and drug stores are open in Austria. In Finland such regulations haven't been made to date (5.4.). In both countries the restaurants are closed.


Social contacts in person are being restricted in both countries. In Austria all the meetings of more than 4 people are now forbidden. In Finland the amount of people allowed is 10.


One could easily argue that during the times of Corona-restrictions the Alps have been the only reason I've (at least to some point) managed to keep my mental health in balance. A hike on the mountains or a long bike ride in the postcard-picture-like valleys have offered me a way out of the chaos. Being an exchange student can be a lonely work especially when the amount of social contacts (that was rather low from the start) had to be reduced to the bare minimum.


While hiking in the Alps I actually really enjoy the fact that I get to be alone. My phone (for some reason) switches to the Swiss phone network when I climb high enough and while my phone plan doesn't cover Switzerland, I usually have my phone in airplane mode for the hikes. This allows me a break from being reachable 24/7 as well as from hearing the corona-news all the time. It feels surprisingly refreshing.


  • Hohe Kugel (1645m)
  • Staufen (1465m)
  • Kapf (1153m)
  • Breitenberg (1105m)
  • Schloßberg (703m)