Winter in Finland: Sauna, Skating, and Snow
It’s only November and most of Europe is still basking in the last warm days of autumn, but Finland has already experienced several bouts of snow and minus degrees Celsius weather. This is significant for me because it’s the first time in 7 years that I am experiencing snow and cold, shivery days. It’s the most amazing experience for me; the snow feels absolutely foreign, yet so familiar. It’s so beautiful to wake up in the morning and see a sea of white. And then, in a few days, it’s all melted away and some warm weather greets us, and then the cycle starts again. My favourite part of winter is playing in the snow, and just taking long peaceful walks in the forest and seeing that I am the only person that has been there that day.
About five months have passed since I packed my bags and moved to this little, obscure country on the other side of the world. In this time, I have had the most amazing experiences and met some wonderful people who have become true friends. I also feel like I have grown and developed as a person in this short space of time–more so than I have in the past few years. Not only that, but Finland has proved that there are so many things that one can know about a country, and yet not know anything about it.
It seems to me that every day I find out about yet another thing that has been invented by the Finns that I had no idea was Finnish. And I thoroughly enjoy learning about the language and the culture, and socialising with the locals who are so friendly and welcoming. I think every day I am falling more in love with this country, the food and the traditions.
The sauna is an important ritual now, especially after a cold day in the snow. And, my favourite dessert treat has become pulla (a dessert bread that is flavoured with cardamom seeds). I look forward to being better at ice-skating this winter, when the lakes freeze up and every town and suburb will have their own free outdoor ice skating rink.
In a new country, I have found my strength and my belief and that has helped me smooth things out and keep calm.
I think now that some of the culture shock has worn off and I have become accustomed to the country, I feel more at home and at ease in my environment. I miss my family, and sometimes I wish that I was back in Australia on a lovely beach in +40 degree Celsius weather, swimming with my friends and family and basking in the sun. But, then I think about this past summer and remind myself that in a short six months I can, again, go swimming in the lake and have lots of fun with my new friends.
Soon, I am moving to Helsinki to start my life as an expat, and truly be independent for the first time. It’s a scary step, and in Australia, I delayed it for as long as I could. But, in a new country, I have found my strength and my belief and that has helped me smooth things out and keep calm. For anyone else who is looking to make the leap, just do it. It’s stressful and it is lonely sometimes but the pay-off is amazing.
I’ve gone from dreading waking up to face the new day, to leaping out of bed and starting the day excited and energized.