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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.

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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:

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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.

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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. 


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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?

 

A Lake at Sunrise

10 Feb

It’s been a slow weekend of Radio 4, reading and occasional bike rides. Saturday morning’s trip out yielded this beauty – the sun rise over the lake. Sadly it was the most sun to hit the sky and the rest of the day was cloud-covered and cold. Temperatures have hit another low and it’s chilly, not quite minus twenty though, thankfully. I shall try to be more productive next weekend, but I felt like relaxing and lounging round the house. Any suggestions for next weekend’s itinerary?

finnish lake at sunrise

finnish lake at sunrise

 

What did everyone else do this weekend?

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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