Let’s face it, we Finns do not generally rank very high on the list of the most romantic nations. Sometimes, however, that works in our advantage. Today, on the 14th of February, while the rest of the world celebrates romantic love and those without a relationship might feel excluded, we here in Finland celebrate friendship. For us, today is the day when no one should feel alone.

One of the most important gifts ESN and our mobile lifestyle gives us is friends from all around the world. Friend of different heritage, from different cultures, with different backstories. People whose lives and minds are complete opposites to ours.

No matter where we come from, being in the same situation, having the same values and working for the same cause brings us together in a way that cannot be imagined by someone who hasn't experienced it. Sometimes you feel a connection right away, sometimes you end up being friends with someone you never expected. When we all believe in the same thing so strongly, none of the rest of it matters.

Imagine going to an ESN event. Whoever you end up talking or working with, whatever you end up discussing, you know that deep within, it’s the same force that drives you. It’s very likely that neither of you is having the discussion in your mother tongue, but still you speak exactly the same language. Wherever you go in the world, you feel right at home. Someone you met five minutes ago feels like family. At the end of the weekend, you find yourself heartbroken saying teary-eyed goodbyes and see you soons to people you just met two days before.

These are the people that are there to cheer you on when you’ve lost faith in yourself. They show up in the middle of the night to bring you cake and hold your hand, when you’ve injured yourself and ended up in the hospital. They are there to laugh and cry with you, when you miss your train stop after a long day on your birthday. They defend you to the people who hurt you and are there to comfort you when you’ve let yet another bad girl break your heart. They are always ready to carry some of your work load together with you, no matter how much they’ve got on their own shoulders. They love you at your best and at your worst. And everything in between. And trust me, they have seen all of it.

If you’re really lucky, one of these friends might also end up being the love of your life in the more conventional sense. But today, for us, the real loves of our lives are the ones we’ve learned, loved, laughed and grown with. They are so much more than just the people we work with.

They’re our family. 

Find yours here.