Archive | February, 2013

Finnish Treats

8 Feb

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Good as both hot chocolate and milkshake

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Salmiakki chocolate is delicious – much nicer than I expected!

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Yummy Angry Birds lollipop – did you know that Angry Birds is Finnish?

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Moomin flavoured tea, different from the tea that I’m used to at home1 My favourite is the blueberry muffin flavour

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Moomin tea – ‘The best moment of the day!’

 

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My Favourite Things To Do In Oulu

5 Feb

The prospect of coming to Finland can be daunting; the winter is long, dark and cold. The language is different and Oulu is particularly far away from the hub of culture that is the capital city. This is a glimpse of my life in Oulu and what I get up to on a regular basis – proof that Oulu is far from boring, or lonely! Here are my favourite things to do in this wonderful city:

 

Lunch on campus

Lunch is a real social event here, and it’s a great way to make friends with classmates. If you spend enough time in the main restaurant, Aula, you’ll see a whole bunch of familiar faces. At only 2.70€ for a student lunch it’s a great way to save money and avoid cooking. My favourite day is Thursday, otherwise known as Pizza Day! Tuna pizza is the best and I would highly recommend it! Yum.

 

next to Julinia ravintola

 

 

Going to the movies

Finnkino is a great cinema; it’s spacious, comfortable and shows a wide variety of movies. Since I’ve been here I’ve attended two film festivals, ‘Nordisk Panorama’ and the ‘Children’s Film Festival’, which are great for showing less mainstream movies and promoting independent film-makers. If a film festival is on while you’re in town don’t miss the chance to catch a couple of movies or shorts. It can be a little pricey to see a movie, but if you go frequently you can buy a roll of tickets and exchange them on the day for actual tickets that only cost 8.50. Also, look out for half-price deals!

 

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Take a bike ride

There’s an extensive bike path network throughout the city and it’s much easier to cycle than walk – the distances between places can be quite long! Cycling is quicker, a good form of exercise and a great way to see Finland. In winter paths are kept clear and as long as you’re careful there’s no reason why you can’t keep using your bike. Check out my article on cycling in Finland and take a look at this website for some routes to get you started.

 

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Go for pancakes at the ‘Pannukakkutalo’

The pancake house in Oulu is popular with all ages, nationalities and professions and it’s easy to see why once you sink into your first pancake. There’s a range of savoury and sweet pancakes, as well an a creative kids’ section. My favourite to date is reindeer and smoked cheese, followed by a sweet chocolate and fruit ‘dessert pancake’. Students with a valid student card (from any country) get a free cup of tea with orders over a certain price. Their website features a menu in English to get your taste buds watering.

 

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Visit the art gallery

A small but worthwhile gallery, admission is only 2€ for students and free on Fridays. With a ticket to the art gallery you can also visit the ‘Northern Ostrobothnian’ museum on the same day, bargain! Seated just outside Ainola Park you can soak up some fresh air, get some culture and finish the day with an inventive cake in their sublime cafe (when I was there I sampled  mint chocolate and black pepper cake!) Check out their current exhibitions and find more information here.

 

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Watch a hockey game at Oulu Energia Areena

There’s nothing like the excitement that fills the air at the start of a hockey game – especially if it’s your first one. Fans get together to cheer and boo and, as a foreigner, you’ll be looking on in bewilderment as hockey players flick back and forth across the rink, all chasing a tiny piece of plastic. It is  incredible to watch, and the half-time junk food is delicious. Wrap up warm and read up on the rules before you go!

 

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Spend some time in Stockmann Department Store

By far my favourite store and probably the biggest in Oulu, Stockmann has everything! There are two cafes, a range of make-up counters, a deliciously well-stocked food store and a super fun kids’ toy section! At Christmas its range of decorations are not to be missed, and keep an eye out for its interesting design pieces, like these funky designer cows!

 

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Besides this there are plenty of other things to do – there are many bars and cafes, a bowling alley, events run by student groups on campus and a theatre to keep you entertained. Hopefully this has given you a good insight and a little inspiration!

 

The Silent, Magical Woods of Oulu

4 Feb

I took a video of a short walk through the woods in Oulu – short because it was freezing and I had, stupidly, forgotten to wrap up warm enough. Tip: never leave the house without your gloves!

The video isn’t terribly exciting but it shows the beauty of the nature in Oulu and gives a little glimpse into the magic that you can encounter only minutes from the university.

Enjoy!

 

The Finnish Word for Lake is ‘Järvi’

3 Feb

Finland is known as ‘the land of the thousand lakes’ because of the vast number of lakes that make up 10% of the country. There are around 180,000 lakes of varying size and they provide Finns with sport, food and a more moderate climate than the other northern countries. Water sports, fishing and swimming in the summer are replaced by ice-hole fishing and skiing in the winter.

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There are two lakes within walking distance of Oulu University and both are great places to watch for Northern Lights. The above lake is named Kuivasjarvi and if the weather’s right take advantage of it and go for a walk or bike ride.

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Most lakes in Finland freeze over in the winter and it’s normal for them to be turned into skiing paths or ice roads. Make sure you’re careful before you venture out, wait and see if a local goes out before trying it yourself! It’s incredibly dangerous to walk on a lake if it’s not fully frozen and you shouldn’t do it if you’re not sure.

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This article on the Lonely Planet website gives some tips and routes to make the most of the Finnish lakes, something which I’d like to try myself before I go. I’d highly recommend a walk on a frozen lake, brush away the snow to see the clear glassy surface beneath!

Check out my other post for more pictures from this morning’s trip out.

 

A Bird Drinks From A Frozen Lake

3 Feb

This morning’s bike ride, combined with the sun, blue skies and falling snow was a great way to start my day. It only lasted around an hour and I was lucky enough to catch this interesting combination of weather and some great photos.

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snow falling on Kuivasjarvi


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a bird drinks from a frozen lake

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there’s nothing more beautiful than sunshine on snow

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the snow looks like glitter in the sun

Hopefully the blue skies will appear more frequently!

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