Finland, Santa’s real home

MGN Online

Annah Chulam, Staff Writer

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One day I woke up and realized I wanted to travel. It is hard to explain why because I am not so sure myself, I just know it is what I love to do.

About two or three years later, I was on a plane to Finland. I won’t say that getting there was an easy process because it wasn’t. Nevertheless, I went to Finland and spent 11 amazing months in this tiny little city called Pirkkala, where I made incredible friends and learned not only a different culture but a different lifestyle.

What people ask me the most is “why on earth Finland?” Well, my first answer is “why not Finland?” I could have gone to Australia, New Zealand or South Africa, but after I did some research, I fell in love with Finland.

I found out Finland is located between Sweden and Russia they use the Euro as a currency, and they speak this odd language spoken by no other country in the world, Finnish. I found out that Finland’s school system is known for being one of the best in the world. Nokia is a Finnish brand and Santa Claus was actually from there, and not the North Pole.

When people ask me what I did in Finland, I smile. I smile because firstly, what happens in Finland stays in Finland, and that is the rule. Secondly, I remember all the adventures I had with my exchange student friends, such as all the times I got lost, all the weird food I ate and the challenge of understanding Finnish, one of the hardest languages in the world.

For example, “tuli” means fire, “tuuli” means wind, “Kurkku” means throat… or cucumber. Can you imagine how weird it was when I heard the sentence “would you like throats in your salad?”

If I could define Finns in one word, it would be gorgeous. Blond, tall and beautiful blue/green eyes. Finns are considered to be shy, which is true, but once you get to know them, they are very friendly and kind. The funny thing is, even with all that shyness, their tradition is to do sauna naked, no bikinis, no covers. I mean, it was pretty shocking when I found out that in most public saunas, one is not allowed to enter with a bathing suit.

Of course, now I have to talk about food. Besides eating potatoes almost every day, I also ate chicken with jelly, this salty liquorice called Salmiakki, this Easter dessert, called mämmi, and this dark bread, called Ruisleipä, that did not suit my taste at all. The best things I tried there was this chocolate named Geisha, this apple pie (Omenapiirakka) and this oven made macaroni called Makaroonilaatikko.

Being there was pretty awesome. I went skiing, sledding and ice skating. I did snow angels, snow castles, snowmen, snow horses, snowball fights and ice sculpturing. There were a few days during winter where the temperature was -20º Celsius (which would be like -4ºF). Can you imagine that?

Summers are cool. While during winter there are only about three or four hours of sunlight in a day, during summer it gets dark around 10 or 11 p.m.

Yes, I am a travelling fool from Brazil whose next stop might be Portugal, Mexico or Italy. But, for now, I love Moon Township and RMU.

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