Tag Archives: avanto

Pakistani way of enjoying Finnishness

When talking about Finland often you will see people talking about how they are introverts and how boring it can get in Finland, if you do not know how to have fun that might be true.

Being a person who was born and raised in the hot region of Saudi Arabia while being from Pakistan, I already had a pretty high tolerance for weather and different kinds of people. Coming to Finland was more of an adventurous experience for me, with a mindset of achieving what I had in mind and making loads of connections which was a must given the studies at TAMK.

There are a lot habits I may have picked up on to better understand Finland and enjoy its all year round winter and most importantly keeping yourself warm and motivated in such weather. Although, coming from a hot place such as Saudi, my cold tolerance should have been little to none but even my Finnish friends are surprised as to how much I can take tolerate. On the other hand, I just believe Finnish people have low tolerance for cold at least the Finns in my circle.

MUNKKI

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This treat that is much more than just a sugar coated doughnut is the perfect combination with your morning coffee. Although I have not seen a lot of Finns do that but I guess I can get a bit creative when it comes to mixing up cultures and creating new combinations in general. Of course one is not enough and if you eat too much then you would be ruining your summer body, luckily for you there is a lot of time until summer, here in Finland. A fun challenge could be, as the famous saying goes you are a legend if you can eat munkki without licking your lips (as in cleaning the sugar that gets stuck to your lips and mouth), Try it the next time you have one or the first time you have one!

 

AVANTO

What I am about to tell you is going to blow your mind and you might think that is crazy talk but here in Finland we actually can prove that nothing is crazy talk we do crazy on daily basis. One of the best activities and a great way to bond with your friends or friends you just made is to go to Avanto. Although I am not quite sure what the activity is called but my friends and I have been calling it Avanto and that’s what we would like to call it for forever more. This is also a very interesting activity as you may learn a lot about your new friend circle or just a great way to better understand your friends and their personalities.

So imagine having -15 degrees which is not a lot in Finnish scale and image there is a hole in the lake within the ice/snow and you have a sauna that is almost always 95 degrees hot, now imagine combining these into a crazy adventurous activity cycle that lasts for usually an hour. Apart from the health benefits you can gain from such an exercise, you need to have certain amounts of guts and daredevil attitude to do something crazy like this. You start off by taking a shower and then relaxing in the sauna when you feel your body is  getting to hot or you feel as in you have enjoyed enough then you go to the hole or body of water in ice which is actually warmer than the temperature outside (usually 1-3 degrees) and you take a dip. I have not dip my head in the water all these years but I have been told you feel like you might pass out so remember, other than your head you can go crazy and dip in for as long as you want and then you come out (not to forget all of this happens outside so the -15 is not a foreign factor playing a part but your best pal in a way). After the dipping and if everything including your hair hasn’t already frozen and is about to fall you go back into the sauna and basically “melt off” and relax.

Although you can repeat the cycle as much as you want but do remember to take some sausages with you to fully enjoy the experience and needless to say all this hot and cold mess is going to make you very hungry. Image result for avanto

SOLU

I still remember having a group with my friends called SoluBois, but this if you know TAMK you would know where to get your free coffee from and if you did not know, well now you know. Not only is it a place to just get free coffee but the Student Lounge is so relaxing and calming that it does give you a bit of extra motivation during your lecture breaks. I have been in various parts of the world in very interesting situations but Solu is by far the best place to meet new and interesting people, where you do have the sign of “No discrimination” but you still do discuss heavy politics and in general heavy topics with a person you JUST met. Of course all of that while respecting the other person and keeping it a healthy debate, however, time spent in Solu has definitely made it worth the while and almost certainly guarantees a smile on your face even if you have 10 minutes to spare.

My advice would be, before listening to people’s opinion about how boring it can get and how there is almost nothing to do in Finland try the activities locals do, the culture is filled with different sorts of vibrant and colourful stuff even if the weather is not so colorful. Definitely, trying avanto will grant you a lifetime experience and will certainly introduce something about your personality that you were not aware of.

Also don’t forget to eat a lot of munkkis and drink a lot of coffee so that you are hydrated and warm within your winter jacket.

The darkness and survival

Let me tell you a little about the cycle of Finnish mood. I am writing this in July, which is the peak of Finnish mental happiness. The dark, long period of coldness and grayness is contrasted with the most beautiful couple of months. Like a lover returning to you from the darkness you once thought had digested her/him. The peak is short but sweet, followed by a positively melancholic autumn which slowly dips you back into the cycle of seasons. Accompanied by a warm, loving embrace telling you that the good times will come again but until then you must find the beauty from places where it´s rarely searched, but where it has learned to survive the harsh environment.

 

The road to true ecstasy is hard and torturous. We call this torturous period the “kaamos aika”, aka the polar night, aka a period of darkness north of the Arctic Circle when the sun does not rise over the horizon. It is still enough to feel the effect if you are just close to the arctic circle. There is a place in southern Finland that got a majestic two hours of sun light in a period of three months from December to February in the winter of 2014. It is within these kind of periods that one might suffer from “kaamosmasennus”, aka winter depression.

There are ways to treat the “kaamosmasennus” but the best one is just to get the hell out of here. If you however don´t have the financial situation to balance this out, you might want to try something out of the ordinary. Embrace that beast of darkness and dig a hole through that frozen lake and go for a swim! I´m not even joking. In a situation like this it is very nice to have a sauna near by to relax your tortured soul. It is called avantouinti (winter swimming). It feels really good to take your body through those extreme temperatures, and when your body feels good your mind feels good. There are places in Finland where people go to do this, if not every day then every week. It buzzes you up and makes you feel alive and relaxed both at the same time. If you are really lucky you might escape into the finish wilderness and heat up a mökki (cottage) which usually includes a sauna by a lake. You will feel super authentic as you heat up the sauna, make a hole in the ice with a chainsaw, get naked and dip yourself into the cold lake. Gaze up at the non light polluted starry sky keeping that nice hot sauna in mind. This is something that keeps me going through the sunless season and something that I miss during the sunshine season.

FINNISHNESS

FINNISHNESS

Finland is an amazing country. I have traveled a lot through my whole life, spent 6 months as an exchange student in USA and backpacked two months in Asia (Thailand and Vietnam). Those experiences have taught me a lot and made me appreciate my home country. I love travelling and getting to know other cultures and people but it feels always good to come back to Finland! Anyway, now is a time for another adventure and this time I’m heading to Slovenia for 4 months!

As I have dug up all the information about Slovenia and their culture it is now (before the take-off) important to think about everything about Finland and Finnish people. Finland is a small country in northern Europe between Sweden and Russia. Even though it is small, it surely isn’t a bad thing. 2017 Finland has been 100 years independent and nowadays Finland is often among the top countries next to other Nordic countries.

Here are some examples where Finland has succeed:

Finland is the most stable country in the world.
The Fund for Peace, Fragile States Index 2016

Finland is the safest country in the world.
World Economic Forum, Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2015: Finland

Finland has the best governance in the world.
Legatum Institute, the Legatum Prosperity Index 2016: Finland

Finland has the least organized crime in the world.
World Economic Forum, The Global Competitiveness Report 2016–2017: Organized crime

Finland’s judicial system is the most independent in the world.
World Economic Forum, The Global Competitiveness Report 2016–2017: Judicial independence

Finland has the best press freedom in the world.
Reporters Without Borders, 2016 World Press Freedom Index

Next to Denmark, Finland is the best country in protecting fundamental human rights in the world.
The World Justice Project, Rule of Law Index 2016

Finns’ trust in other people is the second highest in Europe.
Eurostat, Average rating of trust

Finland is the second most gender equal country in the world.
World Economic Forum, Global Gender Gap Index 2016

Finland has the most human capital in the world.
World Economic Forum, The Human Capital Report: Human Capital Index 2016

Finland is the most literate country in the world
1.W. Miller and M. C. McKenna, World’s Most Literate Nations: Rank Breakdown

Finland is the second best country to be a girl in the world.
Save the Children, Every last girl: Girl’s opportunity index

Mothers’ and children’s well-being in Finland is the second best in the world.
Save the Children, State of the World´s Mothers 2015, 16th annual report

Finns drink most coffee per person in the world.
International Coffee Organization, Coffee Trade Statistics

Finnish adults’ English skills are the fifth best in a comparison of 72 countries.
Education First (EF), The world’s largest ranking of countries by English skills

Finland is the third best travel destination in the world in 2017.
Lonely Planet, Best in Travel 2017: Top Countries

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Well enough of those statics now, I’ll now tell more about Finnish people and their habits. Finnish people are known for 3 S-letters. Sisu, sauna and Sibelius.
SISU

To the Finnish people, sisu has a mystical, almost magical meaning. It is a Finnish word which loosely means stoic determination, grit, bravery, resilience, and hardiness and is held by Finns themselves to express their national character. Sisu is the quality that lets Finns to pick themselves up, move on, and learn something from previous failures.

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SAUNA

Sauna plays a big part in Finnish culture. It is estimated that there are two million saunas in Finland, for a population of 5.3 million. It is little room heated to almost 100 Cº, where you will sit, naked, with others for a while and sweat. Almost every household has a sauna and there is also many public ones. When you go to sauna in winter time it is common to go outside  and jump (still naked) through a small hole in the ice on a lake, the sea or whatever and refresh yourselves in the freezing water – or roll in the snow instead.

 

Here is a video about Avanto= Hole in the ice

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQJ4LGOMAVs

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  JEAN SIBELIUS

Sibelius is a Finnish composer (Finland’s pride and joy, for good reason) who was born in Hämeenlinna in the 8 of December in 1865 and died the 20 of September in 1957 in Järvenpää. He is the most known and appreciated Finnish composer of all time. His music has had a great impact in Finnish culture. He did 7 symphonies, 150 piano compositions, 60 orchestral work, an opera, over 130 songs and a lot more! His most famous compositions are Finlandia and Karelia suite.

Here you can listen the song called Finlandia.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5zg_af9b8c

 

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FINNISH NATURE

 The land of lakes and forests.

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apital city Helsinki.