You don’t always have to be move from another country to experience cultural differences or point them out. I did know it theoretically beforehand, but was surprised how I really in practice experienced this when moving to another city. I have lived my whole life in Helsinki and Vantaa, so the capital area of Finland, before last Autumn I moved to Turku for my studies. I knew some things would differ, like the way of speaking and maybe some small details on how to act in certain situations, but never would have I known what kind of differences I could face just by moving about 120 kilometers away from where I grew up.
I think culture is not just defined by our nationality, but also by other things. The Finnish culture is something that lies within every Finn somehow, but I see culture also as a very personal thing: it is within us. Everything around us; the environment, the people, the routines, they all have an effect on our own personal culture, which can differ from the national culture you also possess. You could think of culture as bits and pieces or pebbles and pearls, you’ve collected on your way as life has gone by. You’ve picked up those pieces you find important and interesting.
Moving to Turku made me not only see the aspects of the Finnish culture better, but also made me understand where my bits and pieces have come from and which parts have I gotten from my Helsinki-life. In the capital area people tend to talk less. In Turku people tend to care more about cycling rules and wearing a helmet. In Helsinki you could take the bus around the clock anywhere you want. In Turku you can talk to your neighbours without being weirdly looked at. Both cities have their own type of ”silent rules” which you only discover by discovering the culture of the people in those cities.
Adjusting to Turku was not hard for me and I enjoy my life here, but I have to admit there have been points when I hear myself thinking why Turku-people do or think something the way they do. Or why have I always wanted to do my thing the Helsinki-way, when there are several other ways to do it? This the richness of cultures and mixing them: you get to get a hold of the best parts and let go of the bad ideas and routines. I think everyone could make some great points of view if they just stepped outside their comfort zone and lived somewhere else for a while. And like I have seen and told, it doesn’t have to be more than 100 kilometers away. Thank you Turku for teaching me this!
Text and photo: Jenni Laulajainen
The Fish Market: something very traditional, something very common and something absolutely very finnish. The Fish Markets are held all over Finland but most commonly on cities nearby the coastline. Turku is one of the cities which arrange different kinds of fish markets many times all around the year. Normally the market stalls are put up by the River Aura on both sides and last for the whole weekend. The market stalls are something for all to look at. A couple of weeks ago there was a Fish Market with an archipelago theme held in Turku by the riverside.
I personally love the atmosphere of these markets. Many times you don’t need to plan going to the market; you just go when it’s there. You can wander around for hours just enjoying yourself and discovering all the lovely goods there are to offer. The fresh air, the happy sales men and women, the lovely fresh food and handmade crafts…a perfect combination!
The Archipelago-themed market was held on a nice weekend with a good weather, which made it really nice to walk around. I visited the stalls on Saturday and Sunday, not really looking for anything special but just enjoying myself. This is something very common for people to do in Finland; just go walking around the markets, maybe grab a nice bite of fish at one stall and a homemade bread or bun on another. The whole day goes by fast just by doing nothing, and at the same time taking some fresh air.
I love fresh fish cooked with love and this is exactly what you find from the markets and what many people are after. The smell of a good fish on a stall is just irresistable: can’t deny it! So what I did, and what I suggest everyone to try at least once, is to take some time for yourself, wander around a finnish fish market and buy yourself a good portion of fish cooked with love. You won’t regret it!
Text and photos: Jenni Laulajainen
Having someone to share your happy and sad times is important and necessary. And we all know that one of the best things during Erasmus programme is meeting new people. And so did I. From the first day in Finland I started to get to know a lot of girls and boys from all around the world. And together we have a wonderful time here in Finland. From watching movies, cooking, having a parties, visiting different places and even studying.
We came with an idea to make a special dish from our country. Spain, Italy, Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Russia, Turkey… A lot of countries, a lot of amazing evenings cooking together. But the most memorable night was when we made a real Italian pizzas. I have two Italian neighbours who were happy to share with us how to make tastiest pizzas in the world. It took a lot of time to make them but results were worth our time.( It was so good that we made pizzas after few weeks once again)
Without cooking we also travel together. One of the biggest trip was a trip to Lapland. We organised everything by ourselves and we had a wonderful time there. Arctic museum, Santa Claus village, Husky safari, sauna and snow swimming and even I had a chance to celebrate my 20th birthday there…Oh…And yes, we were lucky, we saw Northern lights. BBQ, frozen lake in the middle of nowhere and Aurora. I will never forget that night…and all week…
Text and photos: Akvile Voskaite
You know, sometimes I’m just wondering… Am I doing my Erasmus exchange or am I on holidays? Or maybe 2 in 1? Let’s check on that. My usual day starts around 11 a.m. Rays of sunshine gently wake me up through the window.
View from my window
I lazily stretch and decide to get up. Then I prepare a fresh smoothie from bananas and frozen strawberries for breakfast (healthy lifestyle) and come back to my bed to nap just a few minutes more. When I feel ready to face the world I get up for good and prepare to go to university. As Finnish education system is quite different from my back home, I usually have only several hours of regular classes per week. That is pretty comfortable because I can actively spend my time doing sports, going for a walk around the nearest forest, going to sauna.
Take your card, sport suit and join us!
Right after school I am heading for one of several shopping malls just to have good time with my friends wandering around the shops. Then we go to Kauppatori to buy some fresh vegetables and fruits at reasonable price. When I come back home I take a short rest before going to yoga classes. At the beginning of the semester I bought a sport card from Tuli ry sport’s club that allows me to take part in all activities organized by them. I love it! The price is low and the classes are great and, what is important, they are taught in English if there are any non-Finnish students present. You can relax doing yoga or burn some calories during energetic Zumba classes.
One of my favorite activities here is swimming because the swimming pool is almost private – there are very few people coming so you have the whole space just for you. When I am back from yoga and swimming I take a walk to the nearest forest to enjoy the wild nature in here. I can admire birds singing around me, blooming spring flowers and experience this unique silence that makes you calm and happy.
In the evening I often have a sauna session. There is no better ending of the day than relaxation in pleasantly hot sauna. Soo does it sound like a busy school day? Or more like wonderful day of your holidays? Greetings from Turku!
Text and photos: Joanna Dziag
Trip to Lapland is always an amazing experience. For some it is childhood dreams-come-true (you finally will meet Santa Claus) for the others it is adventurous trip to unknown Arctic Circle. I want to share what my friends and I did besides the obvious – skiing, husky safari and snowmobiles – to have amazing memories.
Learn about Sami culture
Sami, also known as Lapps or Lapplanders are indigenous people living in arctic area. The museum of Sami culture is situated up the hill, right next to the ski lift and you enter it from hotel’s lobby. Entrance costs 8 EUR for students (remember to bring your uni student card) and off you go to the atmosphere-rich hall with dim lights and tribal music. You will learn there origins and customs of the Sami people. What also caught my attention was display of beautifully photographed Finnish nature.
Meet the reindeer
What I did not mention earlier, is that by the entrance to the museum you can buy a bag of moss. Why would you? Well, at the back of display hall there is exit to the reindeer pen where you can pet and feed them. As long as you wish!
Eat the reindeer
Reindeer meat is red and lean. It tastes very much like beef, but with touch of wild. It is one of these unique to the area foods: tasting reindeer in Lapland – it will not get any more genuine. You can go for single packed reindeer snacks, traditional roasted reindeer with mash potatoes and lingonberry or something less traditional as a reindeer pizza.
Text and photos: Adrianna Pakula