Tag Archives: cold

How is it living in a cold country like Finland?

A question I’m constantly asked by foreigners when traveling anywhere outside the Nordic countries. Well, maybe Russia and Baltic countries included.

So, how can people live in a country where it’s always cold?

Ok, first of all it’s not cold all the time, all year round. Of course not. Otherwise we’d have all now emigrated to the Southern Europe.

Helsinki can also be like this! My favourite rocks at Eiranranta

A small forest with morning sun in Tampere, Finland

Also, cold is a relative term – the human body can get used to very strange conditions, also to -20C. At least for a couple of days of the year.

I feel many Finns have some genetic mutation, as they almost never complain about the cold. Or the weather in general. They also think it’s not good behaviour to do it – believe me, I’ve heard so many times the comment “please don’t complain, it could be worse“.

Well, here the criteria for bad weather is quite different as in most of the countries.

If you’re interested, here comes the average temperature of Helsinki during different months, as published on Travelhappy Climate Charts for Helsinki.

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You can read more about the Finnish seasons (the change is amazing!) on the page of Ilmatieteen laitos, the Finnish Meteorological Institute. They offer interesting info on the Finnish weather and its different phenomena in general.

Anyway, today I seriously reflected the question about the weather. We’ve been 2 weeks island hopping in Greece with my boyfriend with a temperature of 25-30C and guaranteed sunshine every day.

The thing is that I’m a person that seriously loves sun and warm weather. Especially in the winter, I ask myself why was I born in Finland where most of the time I’m freezing. (I also complained about the chilly wind in the evenings in Greece so you get an idea of my desire for hot weather).

Actually one of my life goals, which I confirmed this summer, is to be able to spend one entire year in a summer dress and flip flops. Let’s see when and where…

Today, when we returned to Helsinki (wearing my summer dress and flip flops) it was raining and +19C. Literally a chilly welcome. Eventually the sun started to shine and the temperature rose a bit.

Still, I wonder how this kind of very unpredictable weather affects the Finns living here? Does it make one suspicious towards the world… and everything? You can never trust that it will be sunny even for 3 days in a row – and the weather forecasts change all the time.

Winter evening in Kuusamo, Eastern Finland. To admire a snowflake you must go outside…

So the final answer to why reminds in the air – and in the minds of the ancestors who came to live in Finland.

Of course there are many excellent reasons for living in Helsinki. And the few hot sunny days we have really are wonderful!

Also there are many people in Finland who don’t share my view. Their attitude to weather is stoic.

Or maybe they mystically forget the bad days and remember only the best of all our seasons: the bright snowy days, spring blossoming and autumn leaves with amazing colors…

Autumn at its best! At Billnäs village on the South coast of Finland

Yes, of course all this is nice. Personally I just can’t forget that many many mornings you wake up and the world is grey and you go to sleep and the only change is that now the world is black. For me this is pretty depressing, for many Finns not.

I guess that’s the trick of living here! You need a bad memory or some genetic modification…?

Rowing my little boat on a rainy day, in Tampere, Finland

Rowing on the same lake on a sunny day. Quite a different feeling.

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The Art of Being Sick

I feel like the weather when I look outside to out yard full of wet snow and the gray skies above… It’s +2C in Helsinki so I guess the spring is very slowly approaching. At least the snow is falling from the roofs. A terrible accident took place yesterday near my office as a woman got killed when a icicle dropped on her head. A horrible way to day, on your home street in the middle of a sunny winter day.

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Icicles in Helsinki - pretty but very dangerous this time of the year. Credit: Yle.

Las weekend I spent in Turku, my old university city and the old capital of Finland, visiting friends and partying quite much. The result? A nasty flu. Yesterday I tried to work but today no option but to stay in bed.

What a feeling! I’ve been through flues hundreds of times during my life… All the body parts hurt, you can hardly breathe and a cactus has made its nest in your throat. Uff. Nothing new, I guess a flu is as old as the human being.

The new phenomenon is the social media with its thousands of “home doctors”. As soon as you come up with your first flu status update, people start actively commenting and suggesting treatments – I do it too. In the end, most of the tips offer nothing new, but psychologically it’s important to get them. It’s like searching up on the net the same typical advices again and again every time you’re ill: stay in bed, drink a lot, rest, wash your hands, eat vitamins etc etc.

My friends are a bit more original, though. For example, one suggested to make a hot drink with fresh ginger, honey, lemon, fennel and propolis. The other had tried, I guess with success, to make a “hard-core mojito” with some garlic, chili and avocado. It opens your nose, I guess.

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Ginger - they say it's very efficient agains a flu. And it tastes so good, heatlhy! Credit: ellit.fi

Anyway, we already have our cupboard full of medicines – most of them for our old friend, the flu. Vitamin D and the so fashionable zink (they say it’s the best thing against ful nowadays!), propolis, black current juice, ibuprofen powder with different flavours, normal honey and honey with ginger, multivitamin pills, dried blueberries and cranberries, pills for the throat and of course my Big Love: a neti pot for nasal irrigation. It really makes you feel good! Well, as good as you can feel with a flu…

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This is how the nasal irrigation goes! Looks a lot worse than it actually is.

In the end, the best tip I’ve heard so far is very simple but almost impossible to do: disconnect your computer and especially Facebook, also TV, mobile phone etc – and stay in bed without doing anything! Max activity is to read something light and preferably already read.

I’ll take up the challenge right now and move my sick body to bed – without my laptop! Let’s see what happens. But first, I’ll need some nasal irrigation.

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Cold, colder… -40C?

Finland today - cold as the colour suggests.

As most of my friends’ Facebook statuses declare: It’s cold in Finland, like in most of Europe these days.

Here in Helsinki the temperature is not as “bad” as in the Northeastern parts of the country, but we have our fair share of chilliness. Today it was about -20C, which feels like -32C because of the wind – that’s cold! Foreigners ask how is it possible to survive in these temperatures? Well, you just have to dress up properly. For example, today I was wearing all these things – and I only got frozen in the nose and cheeks:

  • a warm set of long underwear & jeans
  • normal socks and woolen socks and extra warm winter shoes with lambswool inside
  • leather gloves with lambswool and a thick woolen scarf
  • a feather jacket with a big hood
  • a winter hat like this one. (Lots of Finns wear this model, so I guess they’re either in fashion or just efficient against the cold…

My beloved winter hat. For you I still have my brain functioning.

With this clothing I almost feel ok outside – for a short time. Only the face is a problem. This morning I saw a woman (not a Muslim one) in the street wearing a veil covering ALL her face. Maybe you stay warm, but you don’t see anything!

Anyway, people here don’t tend to be afraid of the cold. In schools, children have to go skiing and skating in sports class if it’s less than -15C. And I’ve never heard that you’d get free from school or work because of the cold weather. Wishful thinking…

Helsinki some days ago - so cold but so pretty. Photo: Inka Soveri / Iltalehti

Let’s see what happens in the days to come: they say it might get colder than -40C in the Northeastern Finland! Wow!!!

I’m almost always cold, so I’m not a good Finn. Anyway, they say that a human being is capable of getting used to extreme temperatures. The aboriginal people in Tierra del Fuego, South America, can sleep half-naked outside in freezing temperatures etc. Some characteristics help you to survive in the cold.

  • Having enough fat to keep you warm (many Finns have learnt this too well…)
  • Having shorter legs and hands – the more compact you are, better you reserve warmth
  • Being a woman – we survive better in extreme temperatures
  • And avoid being tired, on medication, too old, too thirsty or  – most importantly – too long time outside!
According to researches, many mammals follow these rules. Maybe it applies to us too=? At least many Finns are a bit round and have short legs. Purely for environmental reasons…?

Enjoying the cold. Me and my friends snow-shoeing at -20C in Eastern Finland.

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Office work – more freedom, please!

Today’s 3 main topics have been volunteering, weather and – not that surprisingly – office work. (Well, I also had a great sauna, but more about that later…)

First, this morning I had a radio interview about volunteering for the national Yle Radio Suomi, as tomorrow we’ll organise an event where people looking for volunteer work and NGOs looking for volunteers meet. The idea is nice, and Finland actually is the promised country of NGOs – there is one for almost every purpose you can imagine!

The interview went fine, they said. Even if being in the studio and thinking of thousands of people listening makes you feel a bit strange…

All in all, Finnish people volunteer a lot, sometimes without even noticing: in NGOs, sports clubs, school associations, helping the old lady next door by bringing her milk from the supermarket. One in every four Finns volunteers and 50% of those who don’t would like to do something. Nice numbers, but there is still a lot to do – for a better world!

Cold and snowy Helsinki - this one is from 2010. Credit: Hannes Heikura, Helsingin Sanomat

Today’s second topic has been the weather. In brief, it’s -15C (or even colder with the chilly wind!) in Helsinki today. Luckily it’s also sunny and pretty with all that bright snow.

Stress Reduction Kit

We also have one of these at the office... just in case.

And then to the MAIN topic – work in the office! This evening I met two friends in a cafe of Ateneum Art Museum and we talked about work. We are all loaded with “interesting” tasks and projects. So we got some ideas to make our lives a bit nicer:

1. Office life. Do you know the UK series The Office? Well, it results that our respective offices (like I guess most of the offices in the world) have their “special character”. So, it would be great to film or at least record in the meetings and situations and maybe also to write a book about the a bit absurd aspects of office life. Unfortunately I guess we would be thrown out of the office before finishing the story…

Why not, if the work is done?

2. Working hours. Luckily my office is quite flexible and we are allowed to work from home – like I did today. But  we also have clock cards and our working hours calculated. It’s my first job with this system. After the initial shock I got used to it – even if I’m quite a free soul. Actually it’s nice to notice the hours slowly accumulating – and then you can have a longer weekend to compensate.

Anyway, why can’t it be so that when the daily work is done, you’d be free to go? People have different rhythms, some are early birds and some… well, are not.

3. Physical presence in the office. I’ve been seriously thinking about the necessity to stay in the office 8 hours a day. Why? I do no costumer service and all the information I need is online. So if there are no meetings, there are no real reasons for staying in the office.

I read a great blog (in Finnish) on how the sometimes archaic office rules should be updated. One of these rules is the physical presence of the employee. We would be a lot happier working from home, cafes, museums, parks, from a paradise island – wherever YOU’d want to! Especially for jobs that require creativity and concentration this is essential.

Well, maybe it takes some time to introduce these ideas but in many places they are already doing it… I really hope we’d get some changes before I get retired!

Ups

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