Life in Finland & traveling in the Nordic Countries!

Posted on December 1st, 2008 by BreAnn

I’m kind of sad—and sorry—I really haven’t posted anything since I arrived in Finland on October 21st.  It’s been a really fun time and great experience, and I wish I would have written more so I don’t have to post a TON of stuff here right now!   I think part of the reason is I’ve just been enjoying my time here relaxing, spending time with Martti, and just not worrying much about the “outside world” —other then my job, of course!

The first week I moved into Martti’s apartment in Lahti, Finland, the only way I can describe the experience was— HONEYMOON!  Seriously . . . I’ve never experienced anything in my life… it’s almost “sickening” how cute and in love we were, and kept telling each other, “How can this be SO GOOD?”  Haha.  Well, as you can guess, that wore off after a week or so, when we went back to “normal life” and the bickering about stupid every-day stuff began.  However, in general it’s still been amazingly great between us and we cooperate with everything around the house and really DO enjoy all our time together.  I’m home in the apartment pretty much 90% of my time . . . since I work so late now (until about 3 to 6am), I sleep until about noon or so, and then by the time I get up, eat, clean the apartment a bit, the sun is going down at about 3:30pm, so I have VERY little hours of daylight now!   Yikes!—short sunlight-time in the nordic countries!   Then Martti comes home from class in the afternoon and we sometimes do errands, then make dinner together (usually I plan the meals and do most of the work–which I actually really like anyway—but he ALWAYS offers to help me, and always does the dishes afterwards), and then it’s working time for me again, and he does school work or watches TV or something. Wednesday nights we often meet some friends out for a little “Wednesday party night” which is OK for me since I don’t have to be up in the morning for anything, but a little challenging for Martti since he has class at 10am.

In the beginning of my time here,  we were running outside together almost every day, when the weather was from 30 to 45 degrees fahrenheit (can you believe it??  I wouldnt even run in weather under 50 degrees in LA!), but once it started snowing and the temperature dropped more, I had gotten a gym membership at a place nearby. So, now I go to dance classes or just work out on the gym machines in the afternoon.  And no– surprisingly it’s not too hard to follow along in Dance or Kickboxing classes when they are speaking in Finnish.

Martti brought his sister’s old bike from his parent’s house for me, so it was nice that we both had transportation around the city (buses are like 3 euro EACH WAY,,, SOOO expensive!!) … and I realized how “normal” it was for people to ride bikes in 25-40 degree weather, even through tons of snow and ice!!  I mean, I guess there isn’t much reason to NOT be able to ride a bike in this weather, I think we were just always “spoiled” in the US to always have cars to take us wherever we wanted!


Oslo, Norway. Gro & boyfriend.

 The weekend of November 7-9, I took a one-hour flight to Oslo, Norway to visit an old college friend, Gro.  She was a Radio/TV/Film major with me at UW Oshkosh, and she also had lived in Los Angeles for about one year (and became good friends with my cousin, Angie.)  But the STRANGE thing at first for me when I arrived in Oslo, was that I hadn’t actually seen her in person in over 5 years!!  Regardless, Gro and her boyfriend were very welcoming to me into their apartment and were fabulous hosts!  Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t very cooperative… it rained the WHOLE WEEKEND!  It wasn’t TOO cold, though (haha, by “not too cold” I mean it was about 40 degrees), and I was still able to see some things around the city, and I REALLY enjoyed seeing the orange and yellow leaves on the trees and on the gound, pretty!!   In the end, it was a fun weekend away, and I was glad to have experienced Norway and Oslo. Everybody was extremely nice to me, the country in general is very Western-ized so there are a lot of similarities to the US, and the majority of people speak English.

Finland, meanwhile, has become  more snowy and much darker.  The sun comes up around 9:30/10 am, and then sets around 3 or  3:30pm.  However, the darkness hasn’t affected me TOO much (except sometimes not motivated to ride my bike through the dark and snow to go grocery shopping or go to the gym!), and I’ve winterfunactually been SOOOOOOO excited to experience the first snowfall, and snow-fun in general…. it’s been about 7 years since I’ve had that!!  We spent some kid-time playing in the snow, making a snowman, snow angels, and Martti actually wrote “I love you BreAnn” in the snow REALLY HUGE, it was cute and sappy and kind of funny actually!  Click here to see pictures of Winter Snow Fun in Finland!   In addition there are SO many trees here, and the snow sticks to all the branches and it’s SO BEAUTIFUL, it’s like a winter-wonderland from a postcard!   In addition, it’s the the first time in a LONGGGG time I am completely in the Holiday spirit, and SO EXCITED for Christmas to come!!  I think that’s probably understandable since living in LA with no snow and a temperature always above 50 degrees doesn’t really make you feel like Winter or Christmas are coming!

The weekend of November 14-16 we relaxed at home and went out for dinner and to party with Martti’s friends, but the following weekend (November 21-23) we took a one-hour bus down to Helsinki—the capital of Finland—(with Sonny!) to visit a mutual friend from our Spanish school, Jenna.  Once again, the weather—and the lack of sunlight—somewhat ruined our chances of seeing much in the city… there was a HUGE SNOWSTORM in the city, and as we trudged through the snow unable to see in front of you as you walked because it was snowing SO HARD—me, with plain tennis shoes and a couple layers of clothing, but wet gloves and hat—–it was the first time I was thinking WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING HERE??  But I was pretty miserable at that point, out in the snowstorm, and of course anybody in that situation might think the same! 

Places I've visited in the Nordic Countries

Places I've visted in the Nordic Countries

As you might guess, the next day I had come down with a cold,  and I was upset because we had plans to take a cruise to Stockholm, Sweden that week over Thanksgiving weekend.  I was really excited that I had two days off work, so we were able to actually go somewhere for a FULL WEEKEND and an extra day!  Fortunately my cold wasn’t too bad for our trip. That Thursday, Nov 27, when all you guys were eating your Turkey dinner around the table and enjoying company of your families, Martti and I were swaying back and forth on a cruise ship headed from Turku, Finland over to Stockholm , Sweden.  I was actualy really sad to be missing Thanksgiving this year 🙁  but I guess taking a cruise wasn’t too bad of a second option!  And it was a ton of fun for us!  Since it was just an overnight cruise, I didn’t  expect it to be too special or fancy… but it was pretty nice actually!  And was fun to have a nice buffet dinner, enjoy some wine in our room, and then go out to a couple bars on the ship later on.  Upon arriving in Stockholm at 6am, we were DEAD TIRED from only sleeping about 3 hours that we actually crashed out in the Cruise-ship termanal sitting straight up!  haha!   Then we got up and walked around the city for awhile and I was extremely surprised and impressed by how beautiful the city was!  The old part of the city was especially charming with beautiful waterways all throughout.  We stayed overnight there with another mutual Spanish-school friend, Ylva, which was kind of strange because we stayed at her parents house which was located a bit out of Stockholm actually… but was less awkward because her parents were out of town for the weekend.  Regardless, we had a great time in the city for the two days and one night we had in Stockholm, and then boarded another ship that Saturday for another overnight cruise back to Finland!
Click here to see pictures from our trip to Stockholm, Sweden

Now, I’m sitting here as I’m writing this, reflecting on all the exciting travels I’ve had and all the fun times I’ve had with Martti the past month and a  half, and realizing the time is slipping slipping slipping away . . .   and soon enough it will be time to leave it all behind!   🙁   . . .  teardrop . . . teardrop . . .

However, I AM glad and feel SO lucky to have had all these experiences and memories of Finland and the Nordic countries, though, things I will always remember for the rest of my life!

One response to “Life in Finland & traveling in the Nordic Countries!”

  1. Ann says:

    sounds like it’s been an amazing time! so happy for you!

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