KORPO

Vacation week. Break during semester, great opportunity for some travelling. And something I haven’t experienced before-  in my country there is no such thing.  So, what could I do? My decision was to go for short bike trip, to town named Korpo. Why there? There is nothing extraordinary to see, just regular place somewhere in archipelago. My reason was the name: by word ‘korpo’ in my language’s slang you mean corporation. So, only reason to go there was to send greetings to my older sister from Korpo, just simple word joke, not very complex or smart pun. Weather was right, beautiful and colorful autumn- here I go!

Plan for short trip was simple- around 50 km per day, that makes 3 days on tour. From two existing ways, I chose one going through Naantali and then, with little help from ferries, to Nagu and then to Korpo. Simple way, through many islands and bridges- sightseeing tour!  Plan for today- get to Hanka, where ferry starts, with little luck- sleeping in neighbourhood of Nagu. Backpack filled with some sleeping equipment, food, crappy bike prepared for journey of its life, time to go. Sunny, warm weather and astonishing colours made my trip really beautiful. With every single kilometer roads where more and more empty- after 30 km I was nearly the only user of road- which made my trip more pleasant and safely. Especially, when my tempo was not really high.

My bike has soul. I knew it before and this trip only ensured me in this. Vicious and stubborn, but soul. And it cannot deal with the ‘bike part’ of its existence, which made cycling rather painfull, especially at the end of day. Anyway, its stubbornness work both sides- it made me exhausted, but from the other hand, surprisingly, it did not break down. Or brake at all.

After 4-5 hours of cycling, I get to Hanka’s , let it call, harbor.  Quick look at time table- yay! Ferry should be in 10 minutes! … and half year. Last one was at the beginning of September, now- it is middle of October. Well-made preparation! Changing plans just before leaving and being confident, that every ferry on archipelago works instead of bridge caused little disappointment at the end of that day. Anyway, I found some place to hang my hammock, ate little dinner and went to sleep. Next day was even more beautiful, than previous one. I couldn’t go any further, because Hanka was the end of that road, so my only choice was to move back. Trip was very relaxing, with all those colours and silence broken only by strange noises of my bike. Yes, that was definitely what I was looking for!

Day 67. Still no sign of ferry.

Day 67. Still no sign of ferry.

Well, this is almost the end of this impressive journey. Maybe I didn’t reach my point of destination, but certainly got my main target- to have wonderful time in silence and peace. Thanks to that, I had wonderful mood, which even mistake made by stupidity couldn’t break. Trip was definitely, in some way, successful. Finland is great!

Text & photo: Wojciech Lasota

Camp Kakola

It was random Monday at our Sales course when suddenly, Mikael came in the class with a picture of a dropped soap in a shower and asked who wants to spend two nights in a prison and get 4 ECTS. No more information, places are rare so we have to answer immediately. I thought: sounds strange, stupid and funny. I’m in! About two weeks later we got the information: bring everything by yourself except food, be punctual. The time schedule told us a lot of work and just a few hours of sleep. We were about 8 exchange and 70 regular students.

Before the group work started, we had some time to explore the prison and get a feeling for it. It is amazing to have the opportunity to see such a big and impressive building, especially the location in the centre of the town makes it even more impressive. Our task was to brainstorm about a topic and then switch the room after about 20min. Lunch and dinner was a potato soup with bread, typical prison food. At the dinner there was a guy with a camera and they made some interviews with professors and the new owner. Furthermore they want to interview some exchange students so guess what? I was chosen. So I also did my first interview in a prison, WOW. The task brainstorming doesn’t sound so difficult, but after brainstorming for about nearly 8 hours you’re definitely tiered. At about 1am we started with some Finns to explore the prison at night that was really funny and scary, well, for some of your group only. The night was short about 2 hours for me because the brainstorming started again at 5am. Finally we did the first night ready to come again in some weeks for the second night.Neu kakola

All in all the project was a great experience it shows that things are handled completely different, I cannot imagen that this is possible in Germany. Everybody who has the possibility to do a project in Turku, go for it.

Text & photo: Julius Neu

Kurjenrahka National Park

On a fresh Saturday my friend Pablo (who took all the pictures) and I decided to go the Kurjenrahka National Park by our own because the student union trips are always full. Due the fact that we have to make 6km from the bus station to the National park, we took our bikes. Some people told us it’s not possible to take the bike to the bus so we wanted to try it. The bus driver was so friendly and told us “yes, of course, no problem” and we were so happy and hopped in. The national park is amazing, very beautiful and everybody is so friendly. We saw lots of Finns picking berries and also tried some of them. Really nice is the idea of using timber planks for the way instead of dirt tracks. After about two hours of hiking around the National Park Lake, we returned quickly and exhausted to the bus station to catch the bus that runs only every hour.Neu1

We arrived with five minutes before departure at the bus station. The bus arrives, the woman which drove the bus hopped out, didn’t even look at us and just left for 5 minutes. As if we were not there. She returned (still without looking or saying anything), open the door, started the engine and then started to speak with us.

We ask friendly:

“Can we take the bikes inside the bus?”

“No!”

“But we already came with the bikes by bus.”

“I do not carry bikes.”

She closed the door and drove away. So we decided to start driving slowly back to Turku with the bikes. About 40 minutes later and half the way back to the city the next bus came. Same situation:

“Can we take the bikes into the bus?”

“What?”

“The bikes, into the bus?”

“No!”Neu2

So finally we made about 50km with the bicycle (mine is a little girl’s bike) and about 10km by walking around in the national park. Enough exercise for one day.

The National Park is unbelievable beautiful, I recommend it to everybody. But never rely to take the bikes in the public bus.

Text: Julius Neu

Photos: Pablo de Andrés

Finnish people

Finns. Mostly blond, mostly blue eyed people. Not really fans of small talk. Polite until the end. A multilingual community, almost everyone an English native level speaker. Used to the cold, they have 3 saunas every 5 citizens. The only country were people wait for the green light to cross the street, they love their nature and countryside.

The majority of those things are known by most people without even visiting Finland. But there are some specifics that not everyone might know. I’m not claiming that after a couple of months I’m an expert in Finnish culture, but I have noticed a couple of things. In this text I’ll go through some of them.

People from Finland don’t like small talk. That doesn’t mean they are rude or they won’t answer you back. They just don’t see a point in talking to a stranger about the weather. They are ok with silence. After all, isn’t it a bit weird how we talk to anyone about how it’s raining? I mean, it’s a bus. The other guy can see it too. He is soaked in water.

Being quiet doesn’t mean not helping or interacting with other people. This very week, while watching a hockey game, the Finn sitting next to me translated everything the speaker said, and even gave some background for the players. If you ask someone for help they will deliver, they just wait until you ask.

So, they are polite. And they usually speak 2 or 3 languages (at the least). I know a couple of Finns that speak over 4. Quite fluently. What’s more, Finnish is VERY complicated, with over 10 cases and very loooong words. Here is the weird thing. There is no word for please per se.Pablo Finnish people

Text & photo: Pablo de Andrés

 

Nature

Pablo NatureNature and Finland go hand in hand. Everyone always thinks of Finland as this country full of forests and with a very low population density. And yet, I had never imagined so many forests, trees, bushes… green areas (well, brown-orange-yellow in autumn). I still remember the first time I thought “Whoa, that’s a lot of trees”. After arriving in Helsinki, I took the bus to Turku and halfway there I had that realisation. Allow me to paint the picture. It was more or less like this:

Trees, trees, trees, trees, cottage. Trees, trees, trees, trees, and more trees. A field. Trees. And more trees. And oh, I forgot to mention, trees. Another cottage. Trees.

Let me explain, I’m not complaining. Nothing is furthest from the truth. See, I come from the north of Spain, and we also have loads of trees and mountains (there are not that many of those in Finland). But here it’s… endless. And so far, I’m not tired of it, and it doesn’t look like it’s happening any time soon. It’s just so full of life and colours.

And then you learn about the so called “everyman’s right” (Jokamiehenoikeudet in Finnish). By this right, any person can enjoy about 90 percent of Finland’s land for outdoor sports, camping, picking up berries and mushrooms and even fishing (with a rod and a line). All for free. The only requisite is that you follow some easy and common-sense rules.

You may think that since everyone can enjoy and roam the land, you will find waste and rubbish everywhere. I have yet to see some. After visiting Kurjenrahka National Park, I realised why. There, I saw families with small children with small cups for blueberries and mushrooms. I saw people camping and enjoying the environment (even though it was starting to get cold). I saw people leaving the path to let us pass. I saw Finns. Because that’s how Finnish people are. And that’s material for another post.

Text & photo: Pablo de Andrés