Last November, before I left for my semester abroad in Edinburgh, I visited my sister Nelli in her new hometown, Nottingham. Nelli started studying costume design and making at NTU in last September, which also meant that she moved away from Finland to England and plans to stay there for at least the next three years.

Nelli moving to another country was a big deal for me. I couldn’t help tearing up on the last night before her flight, even though I knew I was going to visit her pretty soon. The idea of not being able to hang out with my little sister by spontaneously paying a visit to my parents’ house any time I felt like it was beyond weird.

A couple of days before my flight to visit her in the end of November, I got accepted for my semester abroad in Edinburgh Napier. Receiving my acceptance e-mail didn’t make me feel elated like I’d hoped – suddenly, my trip to Nottingham felt like a test run for my semester abroad. No matter how much I told myself that it was a different city and even a different country from my destination, I was terrified that I wouldn’t like it.

Despite feeling anxious about the trip beforehand, when I got to the airport I had to admit to myself that I felt excitement – that one-of-a-kind excitement that only occurs when your boarding pass says “London” on it.

After a four-hour coach ride from Heathrow to Nottingham, I finally got to see my sister. During the next couple of days, she showed me what it was like to live a student life in England, from noisy dorm halls to burger restaurants, from beautiful old buildings to rainy streets.

Our weekend consisted both of sisters’ geeking out time and touristing. Me and Nelli share a special bond when it comes to British culture and fantasy (which were both essential parts of our childhood), so the natural thing to do when in England was obviously to go see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (which, by the way, we both fell in love with). We also had an over-the-top afternoon tea at Wollaton Hall (how can a mansion in a big park be so ridiculously hard to find?) and went to see a Royal Air Force concert called Best of British (which was a bit too British even for us).

On the last day of my trip, I left Nottingham by train for a day in London on my own. Oddly, Nottingham had been both comforting and distressing. I was happy to see that Nelli had settled in to a new country so well, but at the same time I was terrified of the journey I’d have to take before I’d be in the same position as her. I had shed some tears in Nelli’s little room and wondered how on earth I could ever survive my exchange.

When I rode the train to London, I kept pondering whether I should accept my offer. The answer didn’t come to me then, but kept me waiting for a little while longer. What I was sure of then, and still am, is that my little sister is my idol. She has always pursued her dreams, not letting others’ opinions sway her. She’s the most creative and determined person I know – she’s a rockstar. <3

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