I left Australia on the 7th hottest day on record in Canberra: it was 42 degrees. I arrived in Helsinki on a day that had a ‘normal’ January temperate; it was -11. Boy was it bloody cold – little did I know that I would endure -22 degree days on the regular but hey, what do you expect moving the closest capital city to the North Pole. For the first two weeks the sun didn’t rise until 9:30 and set about 3pmish every day – that’s if you saw the sun! But, besides the weather, lack of sun and extremely hard Finnish language I am LOVING IT. I have learnt however, that wearing earrings/any metal in your ears (or body part that is exposed to the weather) brings on a severe pain through your ear in any temperature below -15. Oh and also pre-frostbite is a thing… my friend was admitted to hospital with blue toes after we went out clubbing and she decided to walk barefoot home – whoops.
The Finns are funny people. Not gruff or rude as people had warned me at all! They are simply reserved and awful at small talk – I went to a group fitness class with my roommate in the first month and no one talked. Like I’m meaning NO ONE. The teacher would yell commands and they would follow – no questions asked, no whispering to their friend and definitely no eye contact with someone they didn’t know! However, they are truly kind-hearted and will help you however they are able. The other day for instance, I was in Lidl (it’s like Europe’s Aldi) and this lady spent 24 minutes (yes exactly 24) helping me find out which crackers were gluten free – and I didn’t ask her for help at all; she simply saw me with my translator app out and offered to help!
Moving on with all the boring things, but very functional things about the city, including things like the Floo Network in Harry Potter that connect all the central city buildings. Point being that if its -20 outside you can theoretically speaking get from one part of the city centre to another through a connection of tunnels! That is if you can find them and navigate them…
A not so boring but very dysfunctional thing about Finland is the pokie machines everywhere. In supermarkets, post offices, even outside kid’s day cares! Picture this, you just want to go down to S-market (Woolies) to grab some good old bananas and Gloggi (hot wine) then next minute you’ve spent your month’s rent on a pokie machine next to the fruit section. (10/10 would not recommend as the machines are in Finnish and you will lose your money).
But another awesome thing about Helsinki, and this is not coming from a girl who likes children or who sees herself with children in the future at all but the little kids in snow suits that can’t move any of their limbs are the bloody cutest things you’ll ever see. Instead of prams the kids are pulled in little sleds over the snow and argh it’s too good!
Off to ice skate over a frozen pond next to my apartment #JustFinlandThings, but be sure to follow my Instagram @thelifschutzlife and watch for new blog posts here about all my Finnish and Scandinavian adventures.