While most of the other students from my year chose warm destinations like Spain, Turkey and US, I went to Finland for my exchange semester. Why? It was the only place that offered the course I wanted (music management) and it seemed a country I wanted to explore on a long term basis. Today I am sharing some interesting/typical things I ran into.
You might not think there’s anything weird about the photo above, but what if I tell you those slot machines are located in a supermarket? And they are everywhere: from restaurants to local stores. In Finland they love their slot machines and it can be compared to lotteries in other countries (though they also have lotteries). The money that is made from gambling and lottery is used for non-profit organizations.
Why a drying rack by the sink when you can have a cabinet where you can put dishes to dry? I still miss them every day.
Mämmi is probably the most unusual dessert I tried in Finland, it’s a traditional Finnish Easter dessert (usually eaten with vanilla ice-cream or sweet cream) that you will see everywhere ahead of Easter. Some love it and some just don’t, but everyone will talk to you about it and try to make you have some, just to see your reaction . It looks like brownies, but tastes nothing like it, it tastes like dry gluten and wheat free bread. Once your brain realises it’s not brownies and you add enough ice-cream it’s kind of ok. But one portion was enough for me.
UK has Cadbury. Germany has Kinder. Austria has Milka. Switzerland has Lindt aaaaand Finland has Fazer. And Fazer do good chocolate, but the most interesting thing they make are handmade Mignon chocolate eggs (filled with almond-hazelnut nougat inside a real eggshell) which you can buy around Easter.
It’s common to have a warm meal during lunch which usually comes a drink. Now, Kalja or alcohol free beer isn’t necessarily unusual but it’s just weird that one can get it in the university cafeteria.
Depression is a big issue in Finland, another thing is that the Finnish are not great talkers, so that’s where a Hali Card (hug card) comes in. It’s basically the business card for an organisation that promotes and supports students’ mental well-being handed out a few times at my university, although I haven’t seen anyone show one in exchange for a hug or two it’s a great way to ask for help without posting vague Facebook statuses.