A taste of Finland

During my stay in Finland, I have had the opportunity to taste many different Finnish dishes, thanks in large part to some of my Finnish friends who I have gotten to know since I arrived. Before I came to Finland, I had absolutely no idea they had such delicious food. It must be a well-kept secret from here because the food here is just amazing. So many unique ways to eat even the simplest of foods, like the potato for example. I have tasted many meals with potatoes prepared as I have never seen them and it was great.

Even for special holidays like Easter for example, my Finnish friends had me taste a typical Finnish desert for this holiday called Mämmi. Served with cream and powdered sugar, this desert is very delicious. Another delicious desert I have tried was Finnish blueberry pie, which didn’t taste like the blueberry pie I have in my own country but it did not disappoint. This pie was probably my favorite dish that I have tasted here in Finland. I would strongly recommend it to anyone. (Who likes blueberries of course).

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Also as most people across the world know, McDonalds is a cheep fast food place where you can get a good burger for a low cost, even though the quality of the burgers usually take a downgrade as well. In Finland, they have a fast food company that has managed to keep a worldwide giant out of town. Hesburger is the local burger shop of Finland. It has been able to keep McDonalds out of the picture for a very simple reason; they have much better food for the same price. The quality of Hesburger, even though it is a fast food shop as well is very high. Their burger, fries, nuggets and ice cream is just so much better than McDonalds. Not to mention it is also a lot less greasy.

Text and photo: Marc-André Goguen

Activities in Turku

There are a lot of great things to do in Turku during the spring semester. It is often mentioned, that it is very cold in Finland. It’s true, it is cold, but there are a lot of good things about the cold. The cold allows you to enjoy fun activities, which you‘re not able to do where it’s warm. You can go sledding, play in the snow with friends and you can also go ice skating.

Ice skating was one of my favorite activities here in Turku, during the spring semester. There are a lot of different locations where you can ice skate and some places you can rent skates, for a small fee. Ice skating is a great way to keep active and to have a lot of fun. There are a lot of countries where you do not have the chance to try these activities, so take advantage. From my personal experiences, ice skating is always a fun time and a great way to spend a few hours enjoying the cold weather of Finland.

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There are also a lot of fun activities to do once the snow melts and the days get warmer. Turku has a lot of beautiful places to go for walks. The river that crosses through the city is a beautiful walk and a great place to see.  There are also places like the Centrum, where there are plenty of restaurants, shopping centres, bars and night clubs. The night life in Turku is one of the greatest I’ve been too because of the amount of exchange students and Finnish students having fun together in the most popular night clubs. There are other great things to do, like playing Laser tag, going to watch a movie with friends or signing up to the ESN events; ESN is a student group who organises activities and parties for the exchange students.  There are a lot of activities to do and I promise you won’t get bored in Turku.

Text and photo: Joel Richard

Finns and Finnish culture

It has become a common phenomenon for foreigners living in Finland to describe Finns, Finnish culture, nature and so forth. This is my very first time of doing so even though I have lived here for close to four years.

Many times most have described Finns as shy, reserved, calm, quiet, unfriendly and all that but I am of a different opinion. Finns are very interesting and trust worthy people. They are time conscious and punctual. They are the kind of people you should really get to know before they open up. This does not really make them boring, shy or quiet. Finns don’t really talk back during a conversation and they usually will not raise a topic but once you find the ice breakers, you will realize that one of the most interesting people to talk to in Europe is Finns.

Finland is a beautiful and a lovely country with outstanding nature, great people, exciting culture and delicious dishes. I am not really a big fun of Finnish foodPrattGodson3-pieni but I love the Christmas ham, mashed potatoes, makaronilaatiko and kirjolohi.  I saw snow first time in Finland and I have fallen in love with it ever since. I love the Finnish winter even though many usually complain that it’s too long and very cold. I enjoy all the winter, autumn, spring and summer months. It kind of feels like Finnish summer is sometimes warmer than Ghana. It is very common to hear that drinking beer and vodka is a Finnish culture but is drinking really a cultural thing? If so then I would say that vodka is more of a Russian culture than a Finnish. I like vappu. Most of us usually make fun of vappu as a period where Finns are allowed to drink themselves to death and that Finland is the only country in the world where there is a drinking holiday.

I have lived in about five cities in Finland, which includes Helsinki, Turku, Imatra, Lappeenranta and currently Salo. I have perfect experiences from almost all this cities and there is always something interesting to find in all the cities in Finland. I love living in Finland and to me, it’s the best place in the world currently.

Text and photo: Pratt Godson

Settling in Turku

To start off my blog articles, I am a student from Canada; I have a twin brother and love to travel. I came here with my twin brother and a friend. Therefore getting used to a new social network was easier for me because if ever I feel lonely, there’s always someone to hang out with.

We got here the first of January. Getting set up and making your new place feel like home is definitely a challenge. What is great about the exchange program here in Turku, is the tutors, we had amazing tutors who showed us around and really help us get settled in. They took us out our very first night in this new town. They even took us to the bank and to the shopping center to help with the basics. I can’t stress enough how much a tutor helps; it’s like knowing someone from here before you get here.

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Obviously once we got here it was cold and dark, it didn’t stop us from having fun! People in the student village or whatever residence you live in, are amazing. As long as you try, they will make you feel welcome. The other students and the teachers are also really friendly, I have class with a lot of other exchange students so it makes it easier to fit in and feel like you belong. There also is a lot of clubs and organizations that help you cope with the culture shock. ESN is an example; they help you along the way by planning trips and events to help you meet new people. You really get to meet a lot of people here in Turku, the stereotype is that Finns are shy and don’t want to talk to you,but  from my experience, I think that’s false, I enjoyed meeting lots of new people and a lot of them we’re Finns and they’re not shy!

Text and photo: Mathieu Richard

Saying goodbye to Turku

My last blog from Turku.
How weird does it feel to know that my trip to Turku is almost done. To be honest I’m actually not ready to go back home again. I do not feel like I’ve seen it all or done everything I wanted to do. And the students here become so close that it’s sad to say goodbye and to know that you will probably never see them again. Even though everyone says, ‘You can come back!’. Melodramatic is the answer: “But it will never be the same”. And realistically that is true, because these people, all with different nationalities, will never live together in one house again. My friends at home tell me to extra enjoy the last days. But how do you extra enjoy? I never understood that unfortunately.

Anyway, in order to try to see as much as I could from Scandinavic, this last week I went to Stockholm. A very beautiful city! Everywhere I looked there were beautiful views, and when I turned my head and looked to the other side there were even more historic buildings or churches  drenched in sun with bridges and water and lots of cute little shops. That sets me thinking because what do I actually have to look for in the Netherlands? What a tremendous hole with windmills and cows in it! And then our churches, can you already see a tourist visit one of those?! Absolutely ridiculous. Well maybe I’m underestimating Amsterdam. Because everyone is constantly talking about the great capital of the Netherlands. But compared to Stockholm…!! Amsterdam has three canal houses almost falling apart. Stockholm has some mighty big buildings, that’s worth something!

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Oh my bad mood is not over, it is too disappointing to know I have to go back. But soon enough my mood will swing. Saying goodbye just makes me melodramatic, which reminds me of melody, which reminds me of very ugly Dutch songs that I do not want to impose you with. So I’ll come to an end now: The bubble where I lived in for 3 months, where I found new lovely people to meet and enjoy when there was nothing else familiar anymore, that bubble has snapped. The world I build in Retrodorm, in Turku, in FINLAND is now a memory to savor an unforgettable time!

Text and photo: Anne André