“Mat” on Exchange in Finland

So after being in Finland for only quite a short time I am already starting to see what Finnish people really value. I am of course talking about the one thing that Finnish people consider to be truly theirs: (actually there’s two things but Santa Claus is the other one) the sauna. It’s one thing in Finland that i have definitely fallen in love with. After being outside in the freezing cold there is nothing better than getting into the sauna, which i have had get to about 110C and warming up a little. It is the perfect place for just relaxing and forgetting about everything else. An important part of the Finnish sauna culture is being naked and not being ashamed of the human body, which is very different from in Australia. However it hasn’t been a problem, after all I really don’t mind getting my clothes off.

While I know that you can go to saunas at some swimming pools and the like in Australia, it isn’t anything like the real thing. In saunas here stones are heated up on the kiuas (a miniature fireplace) and water is then thrown onto the stones to make steam. This wet kind of heat feels completely different, and much better than the dry heat of the saunas you can use in Australia. Perhaps the only thing that can improve the sauna is coming out for a nice refreshing swim in a frozen lake before returning for more sauna. This isn’t always possible though so it means going out for a roll around in the snow or just a cold shower instead and since the snow has melted it’s only been the latter for me.

Another thing I have noticed while I’ve been here is the way language is so important and yet not at the same time. While it is not so necessary for basic communication, where English and sign language will do (I will be an awesome charades player by the time i return) I think it will be very important in being close with Finnish people. I can now understand enough to know what people are talking about but not necessarily what they are actually saying and can say very limited things, usually in the manner of a cave man. So I am on my way now to really being part of Finland