Thanks for visiting!

15 Oct

Hey visitor, thanks for stopping by! I rarely check this site and have (sadly) stopped writing for it since I left Finland. However, I’ve left it up as I hope it continues to be a useful resource for those wishing to travel to and/or study in Finland. Five years on and the time spent there remains one of the best years of my life! I’m still in touch with many people I met there, many of whom I consider my best, and lifelong, friends.

Hyvää päivää!


Kemi Ice Castle

6 Apr

Every year the castle is built on the harbour in the City of Kemi in Northern Finland. This year was its seventeenth year of being built, having been first built in 1996. It started as a gift from UNICEF to the children of the world – a beautiful concept. Each year there’s a different theme, and this year it was ‘Enchanted Forest’. The interiors were filled with fairytale characters, set alongside angry birds, a chapel and a small snow hotel.

It took just over an hour to drive to Kemi from Oulu and around two hours to check out the castle. Although pictures don’t do it justice all you (you really must visit!) here are some snaps from the day:

kemi snow castle

kemi snow castle

kemi snow castle

kemi snow castle

kemi snow castle

kemi snow castle

kemi snow castle

kemi snow castle

kemi snow castle

kemi snow castle

kemi snow castle

kemi snow castle

kemi snow castle


We were lucky enough to be there at sunset, when the bright sunshine began to subside, and the whole place looked lovely under the colours of the setting sun. After we’d frozen ourselves silly playing on the snow slide outside we stepped into the big cosy cottage for a cup of hot chocolate and some souvenir shopping.

While you can get the train to Kemi we went by coach because the university had organised a trip for us – it cost only 20€, bargain! Keep an eye out for a trip like this is you want to go because it’s a little cheaper than getting the train. I’d also recommend going in the spring where there are a lot more hours of sunlight to enjoy the castle in!


What do an ice castle, a medieval cathedral and Poland all have in common?

6 Apr

Answer: I’ve visited them all!

Okay okay that was lame.

But wowser – has it really been three weeks since my last post? Time flies! In that time I’ve visited Kemi, Turku and Poland, as well as participated in an easter egg hunt, organised a cultural dance and (of course) done a lot of studying!

So let me get started on a host of new posts to fill you guys in! I’m hoping that everyone’s well and I’ll be catching up on blogs for the next few days =)

A Finnish Sauna

15 Mar

Now that the days are longer the views from the sauna are stunning (it’s on the eight floor of the apartment block), so I wanted to share some pictures and show you all what a Finnish sauna looks like =)

finnish sunset

finnish sunset

finnish sunset

Finnish sauna


This is the main changing room

Finnish sauna


A door leads you into the shower room, and to the right in the sauna entrance

Finnish sauna

Finnish sauna

finnish sunset

finnish sunset

finnish sunset

finnish sunset


Have a great weekend!


Learning to Walk on Water

15 Mar

With spring break hitting in the US and my friends all heading to the beach to catch some rays I felt inspired to do the same. I needed some vitamin D and I was looking a little pasty so I grabbed my shades and hopped on the next bus.

The beach here, by the way, is covered is snow. And the ocean is frozen over. Did I forget to mention that? Oh, and it was minus 15.

It was quite an experience though, walking on water, if a little terrifying! It was freezing cold in the wind and it felt a little like being on a winter landscape, but it was incredible! I’ve never seen anything like a frozen beach. I really can’t describe it, so instead I’ll show it =)

beach huts


nallikari frozen ocean

This is the sea, all frozen over.

nallikari frozen ocean

nallikari frozen ocean

nallikari frozen ocean

nallikari frozen ocean

The ice is so strong it can be driven over!


nallikari frozen ocean

nallikari frozen ocean


Beautiful huh?

More Facts About Finland!

5 Mar

More facts for y’all, gathered in my own experience of the country, to combine my love of Finland and my love of making lists =)

#1: Finns are really chatty.

I know that this is contrary to everything you read about the Finnish people, but it’s true! Sure, they can be shy at first, but once you make friends and sit them down with a coffee or lunch they’re a super chatty bunch! Of course, as with any nationality, this differs for each individual, but many of my Finnish friends love to talk and we can spend hours together without running out of conversation topics.

#2: It’s a super-eco-friendly country.

It might seem obvious, being surrounded by nature and all, but Finland offers so many opportunities to recycle, use eco-friendly products and generally be good to the world. Even near the student housing there are recycling facilities, on lunch the excess food on your plate gets puts in a separate compost bin and the network of cycle lanes provides incentive for people to cycle all year round, reducing the need to drive.

#3: They do funky things with chocolate flavours.

Seriously, there are many mind-boggling flavours of chocolate and bizarro combinations of sweets, including chocolate mixed with licorice, licorice mixed with mint and lemon-flavoured chocolate. Buying sweets here is a surprise; you never know what you’ll end up with!

#4: Finns are incredibly helpful.

I remember being lost in my first week of classes and asking for directions – the girl didn’t know the room but she produced a map and walked me to the classroom! I’ve had the same experience many times when asking for directions; they won’t just point you but they will take you to make sure you arrive at your destination. This also applies to lending – my Finnish friends are the first ones to let me borrow something/cook for me/help me find a service in town. Make sure you return the favour when you can and show your gratitude! (Of course they won’t hold it against you if you don’t, but it sure is nice to let your friends know that you appreciate them =) )

#5: There’s a dessert for every holiday.

Runebergintorttu (Runeberg’s Tarts), Laskiaispulla (a bun with cream) and Joulutorttu (Christmas Tart) are just a few desserts to mark the festivities. At the risk of sounding food obsessed you should keep an eye out for these – it’s a fun way to experience regular Finnish life, by taking part in the food customs, and you never know what kind of foods you might fall in love with!

Stay tuned for more!

(I might try to create ‘themed’ lists of facts – got any suggestions?)


Spring is Coming!

3 Mar

I spent the afternoon on the Hietasaari island just walking and enjoying the sunshine! The temperature has been much higher lately and, although it’s dropped again this weekend, you can finally start to feel the warmth from the sun when you’re outside. The roads and pavements are a little dangerous where the snow is melting and they’ve turned to sheets of ice, but a pair of ice spike covers on your shoes will do the trick!

On another note I’m quit behind on all of your blogs – my apologies but I’ve got a scratched cornea and too much computer time is really painful for my eye. It’s slowly healing and hopefully I can get up to date next week.

Here are the pictures from my walk.













In And Around Ainola Park

27 Feb

It’s been a long time since I went to the park, but since the weather was nice and the art gallery was open until 7pm, I decided to take a stroll.


As usual I got a little lost an ended up taking a detour under this bridge, but I stumbled across this lovely bird box, at which birds were gathered, and it was a very pleasant place to have ended up. Sadly, it came to a dead end and I ended up doubling-back onto the main road, but I felt a little jealousy towards the people who lived right next to it in the apartment blocks.



IMG_0323In the right-hand corner of the above picture is the cathedral, visible from most places in and around the city centre. It’s a good marker when you get lost!



IMG_0327I finally made it off the road and into the park!


Here stands the ominous building of the Northern Ostrbothnian museum – worth a visit for the local history.



Some quirky, Sherlock related graffiti.





There’s an exhibition of textiles at the art museum currently – these guys take up most of the floor, and made me chuckle when I entered. It was, however, a bit weird being all alone in the room with them.



Every year the art gallery holds an exhibition dedicated to the work of just one artist. This year it’s Petri, and the top floor is filled with his paintings, a large, emotional collection. They were quite fascinating; morbid, beautiful and mind-bending. You really should check them out for the full effect.


My last view on the way home – a great way to spend a quiet Friday evening!



The Monkey at Linnanmaa

25 Feb

On another bright, blue, beautiful day I took a walk around Linnanmaa and through Kaijonharju, and just look what I stumbled across.


A big old ape reading in the sun. Why is he there? How long has he been there? What is he reading? I wish I had the answers. I think he’s meant to be a marker for the local library, but many have come to know the apartment opposite him a ‘The Monkey House’. He made me smile, anyhow.

Some other pictures from my walk:




I just love the blue colour of the sky when it’s clear!


Watch Out, Icicles!

24 Feb

Did you know that a falling icicle can kill a person? Me neither, until I moved to Finland. This is the country where there’s a whole new world of things to be considered, every day tasks that had never before crossed your mind. Evading icicles has become one of them.

Take a look at these badboys hanging from the roof of the kauppahalli:

IMG_0406 - Copy


Now imagine getting hit in the head by one of those things – not so pretty any more are they?

Okay, they’re still a bit pretty in the sunshine, but also a lot more menacing. Like the jaws of an animal waiting to bite. All around Oulu paths are blocked off and warning signs placed alongside buildings to warn people of the danger. Just last year an old lady died in Oulu after being struck by one.


As with most random things, if you Google it there’ll be a website. If you’re a bit morbid/bored here’s a list of ’10 Chilling Tales of People Killed by Icicles Around the World‘. I’m not even kidding, go see for yourself.

There is one positive side to icicles: they signal that spring is on its way. Finally. Okay, so it’s still going to be a long wait until the snow melts, but the temperature is climbing, the days are getting longer and there are birds in the trees. I’d never really realised the absence of birdsong until it came back, and it lifts my spirits to hear them singing in the morning.

At the moment, when there’s a some sunshine, I just can’t help myself and I have to go for a walk. I’m like a labrador scratching at the door with my lead in my mouth. Even if it’s cold I’ll find a long way to walk home, just to soak up the weak sun. Today I took the bus to town and walked from Linnansaari to Pikisaari and through the market square. Lots of other people had the same idea and I was surrounded by joggers, cyclists and nordic walkers, all out to make the most of the weather. 











Oulu is so beautiful when the sun is out! My top tip for this season is: buy sunglasses. The snow gets awfully bright in the sunshine and can cause snowblindness if you stare at it too long. Don’t be worried about looking silly, everyone wears shades, even if they’re bundled up in a hundred layers!

I hope everyone else has some lovely weather this weekend! Are there any signs of spring yet where you are?


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