Posts tagged “finland

Where I Cling To

Posted on 8 August 2016

Ten years ago I saw an empty city. The sun still glowed above the roofs, despite the hour, and brightened the grey streets that hardly anyone trod upon, apart from me, my family, and my friend. We looked for food and all that was open was a McDonald’s. I think I ordered an ice cream for dinner. And yet, in the photos I’m grinning, my cheeks almost uncomfortably wide, flashing a thumbs up. It was juhannus, midsummer, and it was my first time in Finland, in Helsinki. My first impressions of Helsinki were a bit weird, being based on the unusual reality of the city’s population clearing out for the holiday. Finland drew me in, to be sure, but my first visits were centered…

Endless, Expanding Returns

Posted on 1 April 2016

Some places tug. This can be a problem: there’s a line strung between places known and unknown, and you can only set yourself at one point on this line. I stumble, here. I visit places for the first time and it only entices me to learn more. This year, in less than three months after returning from Myanmar, I’ve already read three books on the country. I visit a place again, and only get sucked in deeper. I studied abroad in Saint Petersburg, and years later returned to Russia by way of Irkutsk. This year, I’ve also read three books on Russia and keep scheming up adventures for far-flung corners. And then there’s Finland: I’ve been seven times and am looking forward to my…

Steam Dark, Steam Light, Mushrooms, Night

Posted on 23 February 2015

The air was beginning to shimmer a warm golden grey as we pulled up to the summer home in Hämeenlinna. It sits by a lake, of course. Between the house and the lake are apple trees and a sauna. The light wrapped us, holding on a little longer, and then it departed. By this hour, dinner had been made, and we ate. And then, flashlights in hand, we walked down to the sauna and disrobed.     The changing room exuded the familiar sauna smell of wood, birch, damp. I stacked my clothes in a little pile. The lack of electricity emboldened me somewhat: we were girls and guys together. Despite being no sauna newbie, this was fresh to me. I had been camping…

Finland! Things to Do.

Posted on 19 February 2015

  I love Finland for many reasons, many of which relate back to some of my favorite Finnish activities. I’m lucky to have spent long periods of time living with Finnish friends who have introduced me to all sorts of Finnish customs. When you visit Finland, make sure to try the following activities in order to enhance your bound-to-be-wonderful experience! Read More… This is the last article in a series I was asked to write for Pink Pangea as their Country Expert on Finland. But don’t worry–just because I’m done with this series, I’m not done with writing about Finland! I’m never done with Finland.

What’s Mine and Isn’t

Posted on 8 February 2015

I don’t know why, exactly. From 2006 on, there has always been a tug. It can get severe. In 2007, on the departing train, I cried for an hour, by myself, heavily. I was leaving a place that wasn’t wholly mine, but felt like it should be. I was leaving a place that felt more like mine than anywhere I’d been before. Always the question: what if I were Finnish? What if I could stay? And when I am gone, well, there floats a weight of absence somewhere in my chest. It dimmed somewhat when I knew that I’d be back, just like the year before. Until I wasn’t. Until I sat at my computer, doing my graduate school work but really half examining…

Finland! Tasty Foods.

Posted on 3 February 2015

When my Finnish friend Elina visited my small Kentucky hometown, her accent prompted a lot of curiosity. We were sitting in a coffeeshop, and along with the embarrassing blank stares and questions came odd assumptions about food: “You must eat a lot of herring there!” From what I’ve heard, the stereotypes surrounding Finnish cuisine presume the consumption of much fish and potatoes. Even as a vegetarian with a limited diet, I love Finnish food and have found it to carry options for everyone. Here are some foods I highly suggest you try the next time you visit Finland. Read More…  

Finland! What to Do in Helsinki.

Posted on 20 January 2015

Truly, if I had to choose one favorite city, I would pick Helsinki. I happily had the chance to live one full summer there, sharing an apartment with a Finnish friend and studying Finnish at Helsinki Summer University. This was my first proper experience in Helsinki, since the first time I chose to visit Helsinki, it was empty. In 2006, my family landed at the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, spending one night in the capital before taking the train to Seinäjoki the following morning. We arrived in Finland on midsummer, Juhannus, which is an important holiday. People leave the city and flock to their summer cabins. No joke, the streets were basically empty. However, now I have ample experience both living in and short-term visiting Helsinki…

Finland! Know Before You Go.

Posted on 5 January 2015

As a Westerner traveling to another Western country, I sometimes can get slightly lulled by a sense of familiarity. On the very surface, things appear to be similar to my home in the United States. It is easy for me to figure out transportation, use the grocery stores, and even the bathrooms, for example. In this way, when I visit Finland, it is much easier than when I travel to non-Western countries. And truthfully, Finland is very tourist-friendly. However, it is also its own unique country, and with that come a few things that would be useful to know before visiting Finland yourself! Read More…  

2014, Mountains of Everything

Posted on 28 December 2014

Dividing the year by months perhaps isn’t the easiest thing to do. This year, more than many others, stretched and shrank; some days did not end and some weeks flew by, for better and worse, all blurry and already past. My brain was not a reliable instrument. Some things it refuses to remember clearly. What happened to me in January, in February? It is hard to say. And then, what in August, in September, in October? Too much to say. Nonetheless, I split the year into twelve parts, simply because I like lists. January. The year turned over grey. February. I couldn’t hide. Everything was bleak was seemingly endless. That’s all I’ll say. March. It began with headaches, but gradually that passed. And I…

Finnish! Words to Know.

Posted on 24 December 2014

  It is easy to not speak any Finnish in Finland. The blunt truth is that if you plan to visit Finland, you don’t need to know any Finnish to get by. Most Finns speak excellent English and are not at all offended that you can’t speak Finnish. After all, they are well aware that their language is small and, when compared to other European languages, and a bit strange. However, in general, I believe it is important to learn at least a few phrases of the local language wherever you go—not only does it demonstrate respect and curiosity, but it will probably lead to some fun conversations with locals who enjoy teaching you silly words. Read More… This is the second article in…