Category Archives: Finland

In my country, the 30th of April is not a particularly special day anymore since Queen’s day changed into King’s day and changed dates. In Finland, they go all out. Vappu, or Walpurgis night, is a big celebration in the streets and parks where people dress up and party. Students wear team clothing in bright colors, wear wigs and crazy hats, and the streets are decorated with confetti. During my exchange in Jyväskylä I was lucky enough to be there for it. Drinking in the streets is no problem at this time of year. Although the party will continue in the bars later, it is first and foremost a party in the streets. When I arrive in the center of the student town Jyväskylä, lots of students are gathered around the church. Spring drawings are being painted on faces and people walk around with colorful flags. I feel like I…

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In the south of the Netherlands we celebrate carnaval at the start of the traditional fast before Easter. In Finland they’ve got their own way of celebrating: Laskiainen. The day I celebrated Laskiainen coincided with valentine’s day or ystäväpäivä. The university I went to had a cool program for exchange students called the friend-family program. When you sign up for this you get matched to a Finnish person so you can experience some of the Finnish culture. On Laskiainen some families teamed up to create a traditional Finnish day for me and two other exchange students. My Finnish friend Suvi took me to a new part of town for some sledding and socializing. There were heaps of families present and I loved that not only the kids went sledding, but the whole family joined in. With bruises on our bums we also got the opportunity to try some cross-country skis.…

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One day on our big Lapland road trip, we planned to go to Norway. The idealists, or fools, among us thought we should go to the North Cape. After two days of being late all the time they still hadn’t learnt this was just not realistic. We opted for a small village that was much closer. Entering Norway the landscape changed. It was less flat and there were less and less trees. The ground got rocky. We saw water that wasn’t frozen, although there was a big layer of snow around it. It seemed so special, as we hadn’t seen this in months. The houses were beautiful, picturesque. We made a few photo stops and lost sight of the other car. When we saw them again, something was wrong. They had slid and spinned over the icy roads. Everyone was alright, but it was definitely an eye-opener. The condition of…

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I’m excited about our road trip to Lapland when I walk over to my friend’s flat. The first thing he tells me is that we have good and we have bad news. The good news is that the car we rented, which he picked up the night before, works, the bad news is that you have to give it a little push before it does anything. Renting a car comes with its risks, especially when you rent from an unmanned depot where you can pick up your car late in the evening. The boys that had to pick it up were struggling with the car for hours until they decided it would have to be good enough for the trip. It was this car or delaying our trip. They did ring the owner, but he was drunk and not really interested in what they had to say. The battery is obviously…

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Bright colors, wearing T-shirts, sitting outside even it’s still a bit chilly to catch the first sunshine, new flowers coming up… springtime! A few years ago I spent this time of year in Finland. It was gorgeous to see the snow melt and the flowers come up. We would go to the lakes for barbecues and fires. It was a time to celebrate! For more springtime photos, check out the Weekly photo challenge: spring!

We’d planned a day of winter activities in Finnish lapland. I went to the big house to ask where we could find something fun to do, but unfortunately there was nobody home who spoke English. We drove to a petrol station near the Norwegian border. There was a supermarket as well, so we could stock up. Just across the border was a big farm that could organize some activities. Unfortunately for us there was a big husky competition going on and all else was closed for the day. Back in the cottage we had a 3 o’clock lunch and then spoke to the owners. They could arrange something with snowmobiles. We were getting really excited as we thought we could drive the snowmobiles ourselves. When all was ready it turned out there were two snowmobiles with big sledges behind them. We all got helmets and sat close together on the…

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The Arktikum museum in Rovaniemi, Finland, deserves more time than I could give it. Being on a time limit I felt like I had to rush through the exhibits. The different sections of the museum showed a lot about living in the arctic. There was a replica of an old Sami village, the original inhabitants of this area. There are lots of photos and tools and objects used by the Sami. Of course there were reindeer, but there was also his bigger brother. It scared the shit out of me! Suddenly I saw it from the corner of my eye. The beast was bigger than any horse I’d ever seen and had humongous antlers. So this is a moose! I hoped we wouldn’t come across any of them on our trip. This is the cause of many a car accident. Every year about 2000 moose are hit! So big and yet…

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I was on a road trip through Lapland (Finland) with 9 fellow students. Driving into Oulu we immediately noticed a foul smell entering the car. It must have been one of the many factories, or the combination of them. One of our crew really wanted to find the university for a cheap meal. However, we were already 3 hours behind schedule and when I said I’d rather find something quickly and see the snow castle, I found out I wasn’t the only one. Basically, there was one guy in the team with very strong opinions and one of many discussions started. A discussion about where to have lunch. We parked in town, walked around some statues and an indoor market and then found a pizza place. Lunch time! When we asked the waitress where the snow castle was, she said Oulu didn’t have one. We had to drive to Kemi.…

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In the Netherlands I own three bicycles. I use them to go to work, to go to the shops or to visit friends. It’s my main mode of transportation. While travelling I don’t often get the chance to go on a bike ride and when I do, it can get quite uncomfortable. All of that is forgotten when you are cruising through a gorgeous area like Ruissalo. Ruissalo is a small island that is connected to the Finnish city of Turku  by a bridge. The first bit of the ride is quite boring, but that is made up for as soon as you enter the island. Finland is known for its beautiful nature and there are many areas where you can enjoy the peace and quiet. I entered a world of forest and singing birds and immediately understood why the islands are a popular holiday destination. I passed sheep and…

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Turku is a city in the South-West of Finland, located by the sea and close to the Turku archipelago. In the city center you find a beautiful river which is a perfect place to chill out on a sunny day. You can walk along the riverbank, all the way to Turku castle. On the way you’ll see some ships and the big maritime museum.   Not to be missed is the handicraft museum. It sounds pretty dull, but is honestly one of the coolest historical museums I’ve seen. The Finnish know how to present history without singing you to sleep like my high school teachers did. It’s an open air museum with original houses that survived the big fire that went through Turku. Each house was decorated to portray a certain craft. There was the bakery, the post office, the rope maker, the clock maker and a whole lot of other things.…

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