“Christmas month”

Joulukuu. The Finnish word for December! Literally translated it would be “Christmas month”. Latest on December (usually in September) the windows, front yards and bushes start glittering of Christmas decoration lights. I do think (not everyone of course) that the majority of the Finns enjoy the Christmas time.

I hope everyone has an actual advent / Christmas / December calendar, with chocolate or anything else. From 1 till 24 December, I will write a series of posts related to Christmas to get everyone to the ultimate mood!

The mood-booster for 1 & 2 December – My Christmas month

I will tell how Christmas usually goes for me. Earlier I wrote about Santa Claus… And even got a respond from the official Santa Claus from Alaska (read here: Sinterklaas and Joulupukki (a.k.a Santa Claus) ). To respect both (the one living in Alaska and the one we have living at the North Pole) – I leave it here.

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The wait till the Christmas Eve usually goes pretty much the same,

Delicious Christmas treats

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Pre-Christmas parties

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Sometimes lucky enough, real Northern joys

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The famous sister and some lake skating…

And when the big day arrives, after days of sweating and arguing with family members due to the preparations and how everyone is stressed, busy and tired…

24 December starts by Morning Sauna. Followed by rice porridge, topped with cinnamon and one almond hidden in it – The lucky one who gets the almond from the porridge, get extra luck and success for the coming year. (It can also mean getting married for singles, boy child for one who doesn’t have kids, a must to give a speech right now or a chance to make a secret wish)

As soon as these are done, is time to put on the Christmas outfit and as soon as everyone is at the door screaming – My lovely sister usually yells all of us back to watch the 12 O’clock “Christmas Peace Declaration”.The declaration is given in Turku (The ex-capital city of Finland). The declaration is read from a vintage paper roll and the first declaration took place already in 1320. In the beginning, it was read only in Swedish but the turn was around 1710 to Finnish and since then it has been read in both official languages (Swedish/Finnish). The speech is in total only a few minutes and after that the national anthem is played. All in one the declaration takes less than 10, but yearly, over thousands of people are present in Turku to hear it.

Usually, around this time the family heads to the graveyard to remember those who already left, or sometimes if the visit has been the day before, our family is allowed to take a small break. The ‘official’ programme of Christmas starts after all of this. The most important, visiting the family and relatives means also food and having lunch/dinner very slowly going through the whole year and all the exciting events. If you get through this without less than 10 arguments, the Christmas Eve in considered successful!

-> Rest of the evening is the most fun, unwrapping the gift and eating! Playing board games, listening to music, real family time. On 24 December, there is some kind of magic in the air. Especially if it is white snow or even snowing!

Finnish Christmas by Buzzfeed:

22 Ways Finland Wins Christmas by Buzzfeed

 

 

 

 

Have I learned something in The Netherlands?

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This year, oh boy. Last summer I came back to my hometown, got really close to my family and spent awesome time with my grandma as I was living in her house. Felt pressure to decide what to do in the future, but also that something will change soon. In august, when I left everything behind, I soon found something that basically changed my whole life. A bit later in autumn, I got very bad news from Finland and thought that I should come back, at least for a few weeks. A huge thank for my visitors from home, because of them I got myself back together and noticed that I’m still part of their life and distance started to feel less far than before.

Somehow during everything, I decided to start to live this life for myself and to do whatever I want. The things that I’ve got from The Netherlands, besides awesome people and unbelievable moments, are… 

If I wouldn’t be a Finn, I would never try to learn to language. No no no. The more I study or think the Finnish language, the more confused I am. Though, maybe now I could finally pass those Finnish exams I had a few years ago.

Dutch as a language, even if its rated one of the easiest to learn (from European languages to native English speaker).. I don’t believe this. I cant even pronounce the basics yet and I have been here for 4 months. I hope the miracle will happen soon.

Christmas eve and Santa Claus are not the only nice family celebrations and I did learn something new from Sinterklaas -celebration that I think its actually better than the tradition I’m used to. Now I can put both together “get the best of both worlds”!

The fact that I’m born in one country, doesn’t mean that I need stay there forever. It is OK to have more than one family and it is totally fine to build the life you want, even far away from the closest people.

When I communicate with different language, I should maybe explain myself better sometimes.
And I should give up totally with my awkwardness and just go with the flow of kissing and hugging people more.

It is cheaper and faster to travel from Amsterdam to Helsinki than from Helsinki to very north of Finland.

Note to self: Don’t keep those meltdowns inside, let them out straight away and you’ll get rid of them!
Note to all: If you really want something, you’ll always find a solution to get/keep it.

“Life is the best time of the human being” Literally translated orig. “Elämä on ihmisen parasta aikaa”

A Happy New Year to all! Peace and love for the year 2016!

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First of all, Happy Christmas for everyone!
December in Finnish is Joulukuu. Literally translated it is Christmas month, imagine, one month of christmas 😀

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100 days ago I arrived to Amsterdam airport.
Started to study in The Hague University
Rolled down the Dutch stairs
Course registration straight after bar made me sick > Had to visit a hospital and get antibiotics
After I could talk again – moved to my own place
Somewhere in between I spend a day in Belgium and learned dialogues in Spanish
60 days ago I spent amazing weekend celebrating Oktoberfest in München
54 days ago I ran to the central station to pick-up a friend
46 days ago I ran there again to pick-up another friend
And around this time, I got lost in Malta
19 days ago I had so called “movie scene” when my big sister arrived and when we hugged, everything disappeared around us and seconds felt like minutes
in 22 days, I’m going to home for the christmas break
And 24 hours ago came back from Berlin

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So excited about coming christmas holidays, so as that I’m staying in the Netherlands for (at least) 6 months more!

Sinterklaas and Joulupukki (a.k.a Santa Claus)

WARNING! This subject can be very sensitive to some and those who believe that Sinterklaas and Santa exists, keep believing, I do so too.

Like 80% of Finnish people, I love christmas. Christmas to me represents happiness. Time with the family – getting my two nephews to stand still for a minute to take photo together. To stress about the food and everything with my lovely sister. To call ten times in a day to mom just to tell what I wanna eat and to pass the buck to her since I don’t know how to cook any kind of tradional food.

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Pretty much every christmas goes the same. I decide start the christmas usually around september and plan what kind of cards I will make for people I want to wish Merry Christmas to. It is a strong tradition and stays even when I’m in the Netherlands! 😀 Another very special tradition is my mom to give me a (Fazer chocolate) christmas calendar. This year I phoned to her to ask if she could send me one – and she answered that she already did! Love you mom

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My family dont wanna talk about christmas before December. Well, I dont respect that because I dont understand who doesnt love christmas and talking about it. So basically every year latest on November I start twisted mind-game with the family to make sure that we will spend as much time together as we can and that we could have cute christmas photos together. I guess by pushing and pressing my family to their limits I’m showing how much I love them.

During the past years I have noticed my way to be effective. The secret is, more you talk about it – more other people will think about. Thinking something for a while again helps them to adjust theirselves to the idea. The easiest approach is food since our whole family loves planning dinners – Sharing a few links to delicious recepies and food pictures.. And voila, faster than they even notice I have brain washed the whole family with me to the christmas circus. Everytime when I succeed in the game – I’m happy but also the whole family spends more time together. So it is a win-win situation for all.

If somehow my game isn’t perfect and  I dont get what I want (like a real christmas tree), best way to get it is to start talk about it with my nephews and convince them that they want the same thing as me.  They are younger and cuter so they usually get what they want, like last year 😉

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Then, imagine a situation when you are in a country where no one believes in your Joulupukki-bullshit. Yes, I put myself into a country of Sinterklaas. Sinterklaas who comes on the 5th of December with Zwarte Piet. Sinterklaas who lives in Spain. Am I the only one who doesnt understand this at all? Like Santa who lives in Spain?
However, part of the living abroad thing is obviously that you try to integrate to the culture so after “melting” this thing a bit – I decided to believe in the Dutch Christmas tradition. At the same moment I realized that if I believe in it, I will have Christmas twice this year. More the merrier right?

(To explain to those who doesnt understand Joulupukki (Santa Claus). He lives in Lapland, Finland (of course). He works with the elfs (tonttu, plural; tontut) and deliver the gifts with Petteri Punakuono (a.k.a Rudolf the Rednose) on the 24th of December.)

Sinterklaas and Joulupukki still have something common. They both come from the chimney! So this year I will get a new tradition and hopefully maintain the christmas circus when I go back home for holidays.

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And for those who still thinks that Joulupukki comes from North pole, here is an evidence that he lives in Finland – Very succesful reality serie straight from Joulupukki’s village.  Yes, I still watch every episode every year.

Okey, after a comment from the Santa Claus in Alaska – Lets just say that real Joulupukki lives in Lapland and real Santa Claus in Alaska.

SUOMEKSI:
Joulupukki. Joulu. Tonttu Toljanteri. Joulukalenteri. Joulu on taas!

Playing a tourist in Tampere

What to do with a French monkey who has already seen Finland more than you? Well, I found out that she hasn’t been in Tampere and after I found cheap bus tickets  for us, we were ready to go.

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1. Keskustori

WHAAT? I’m not used to see any markets during the weekdays so I was a bit surprised to see Tampere’s market square full of people, stalls, live music, an open-air flea market..

We had to have our brunch there. For the dessert, I convinced the French to taste Finnish traditional market delicacy – Viineri! 2,50€ for Viineri size of my head wasn’t bad at all.

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2. Vapriikki – Mineral museum, The Finnish Ice Hockey museum, The Natural History museum, The Shoe museum and many more.. This museum centre won’t let anyone down, especially students who get the entrance for 4€. For adults it was 10€, which is still not bad at all.

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3. Pyynikki

For Finnish doughnuts – the place to be. After coming back from the observation tower, you can reward yourself with one of the most famous doughnuts in Finland. Fee for the tower 2€, a doughnut 2€ (or 1,90?)

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Basically, everything you MUSt see is in walking distance. One way by bus is 2,60€ and a 24hr ticket is only 6,00€. If you happened to have good weather, going by bike can be alhttp://www.liikkumisenohjaus.fi/tampere-citybike/

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Special thanks for the tourist office, who helped and gave us a bunch of maps and brochures!

Stuff Finnish people like #1

One month behind and a few to go in the Netherlands plus last summer in Germany. After living and travelling abroad is always nice to think about the differences between other countries and home. International friends often ask how you do this in Finland or how this is like in Finland. So here you go, briefly explained some things about Finland and Finnish people.

  1. Being on time
    In the Netherlands, I have done a lot of waiting and getting fat. Every day, I’m way earlier than others. I have learned from my mistakes and now I usually  ask when we set up a meeting that is it Finnish, Spanish, French or American 5pm?
  2. Using card instead of cash
    Yeah this I really hate the most. International cards works in Finland quite well and it amaze me every time when travelling that how often countries accept only their own cards.
  3. Darkbread
    Ok they have darkERbread in Europe but it is not the same. It has to be almost black and taste like it.
  4. To sit quiet while others are talking
    People think I’m often bored or not listening when I’m not saying “Yeah” or “Oh really” all the time. I do care what you are saying and I don’t want to interrupt you! Finnish people don’t do small talk or useless words.
  5. Awkward hugs
    “When I can let go”. We should really be better in this. Love is for sharing.
  6. The wooden houses
    Almost every Finn has a dream to live in a wooden house some day. It is the most common type of house that we have. In the Netherlands, bricks bricks bricks. In Germany, concerete or bricks. Other european countries, also concrete and bricks.

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    Porvoo, Finland
  7. Bring your own beers
    The reason why I carry my own beers to everywhere and ask “Really?” twice if you offer me a beer, is that I’m not used to pay 3€ for sixpack of beers. I’m used to pay at least double the price. And how about the wine bottles, YES, cheapest for me is almost 7€ which is ridiculous compared to the prices in anywhere else.
    We call it “squat wine”, since the cheapest wines are always bottom left on shelf and you need to squat to get them.
  8. Translating finnish sayings to english
    Why say “Vested interest” when you can say “you have your own cow in the dike”. That is how we would say it in Finnish, so I’m gonna use it also in english. Then I will leave you to think what I ment.
    The 14 dirtiest Finnish expressions
  9. “Living in a hurry” – customer service
    Sometimes, especially here in the Netherlands I would like to yell to the casher that “GIVE ME MY CHANGE!” but I manage to calm down because I know that sometimes we tend to live in a hurry in Finland, and I think that is something we should let go – if you really don’t need to hurry.
  10. Tattoos and coloring our hair
    I can’t even count how many times I have heard that “Why you have two colours in your hair?” or why you have so many tattoos? I could say that nowadays it is really common to colour your hair or have tattoos in Scandinavia.
  11.  Changing the gender middle of the sentence
    Yes. She and he. Finnish language has only one word which is both, because its neutral. I confuse people a lot by talking first about she and changing it to he in the middle of the sentence. I am really sorry and I promise to improve in this.

Ready to hit the road again

According to my blog, last time I had energy was in November! Nothing big in my life after that. One trip to Russia, St. Petersburg – Had great time there with locals!

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This is what I have done during past few weeks. Exploring Kouvola as it is! (I’ve noticed that Kouvola actually is pretty big in sports)

Today we will start our holidays. This time I’m spending it with two friends and we’re going to have a road-trip > Hyvinkää – Turku – Porvoo – Kouvola. Maybe we’ll get something to write about!