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

 

Aurora Borealis

Moi!

My name is Pablo and I am a Spanish Exchange Student, currently finishing my Computer Engineering degree at TUAS. When I think of what made me choose to do Erasmus in Finland rather than in another European country, one of the things that comes to mind is the Northern Lights.

As someone coming from what I now consider the very warm and sunny south, the Northern Lights came across something mysterious and only seen in movies.

My first experience with the Aurora is not what you would call a success. Wednesday at midnight, class the following day at 8 and reeeally tired. So when my friends told me the Lights were visible I thought “Well, it’s been only a month since I arrived and this is Finland. They probably happen every week on winter”. ***Buzzer sound*** Wrong!

Luckily, some weeks later they were active again. And even more luckily, they were pretty strong. As in, they hadn’t been this strong in a while. As in, even Finns were surprised. This time, I wasn’t going to miss them. Especially being photography one of my hobbies.

They were AMAZING. We took our bikes and went to an area with less city lights, a field next to Student Village. I had heard the term “dancing” before, but I had never thought they could really do it.

One thing less in my bucket list!Pablo Aurora Borealis

And now, some info for those who don’t know much about this light display:

The Aurora (Borealis, in the North) is a phenomenon caused by solar wind (geomagnetic storms). The visibility depends on various factors, but obviously, darkness is required (which is why in the winter months they are the most visible). The scale used for measurement is called the kp index and it goes from 0 to 9 (highest). From 5 upward they are strong enough to be seen in Turku.

There are several forecast websites and apps, but the problem is the accuracy. Solar storms are hard to predict more than two hours in advance and a high kp doesn’t necessarily mean that you will see the Northern Lights for sure. Nevertheless, the sun follows a cycle reaching its moment of highest solar activity (Solar Maximun) every 11 years. Last one was on 2014, so it is still pretty active.

To sum it up, I think the Aurora is one of those things you should see, at the very least, once in a lifetime.

Text & picture: Pablo de Andrés