The first weekend in Finland was anything but uneventful. I am a sucker for the quote section in Pinterest (super soft confession), but one of my favourites is the quote that goes something like: “you should do something for the first time every single day.” I have rollover first-time-somethings for the next couple months. I’ll try my best to give you the best, most efficient recap that I can!
First, on Friday I moved into my apartment. Ville took me to the apartment, I dropped my things off, then went to lunch with my coaches, team manager (Marina from the airport), and another practice player who is also named Ville.. (I definitely could have heard that wrong, as I have heard many wrong things these past couple days). This lunch was one of the most overwhelming things I have experienced as my coaches speak Italian, Ville and Ville (I’m sorry that’s super funny to me) speak Finnish, and Marina speaks Croatian, so there are a ton of conversations going on around me that I cannot understand at all.
After meeting the team, I realized that many of them speak a minimum of 3 languages (Finnish, Belarusian, and English are pretty common), so I told some people I speak Spanish (which I kind of do, but am not fluent in any regard) to fit in. So far, they buy it. But, the team was very nice when I met them and I felt super welcome. Before the sauna party, there were a ton of speeches (all in Finnish) and they all helped translate for me, which was super clutch.
I am going to go on a tiny tangent, because this is just one of the many little stories that are hilarious to me. So, first, this man is taking all these pictures of me, but seriously, he is maybe 6 inches from my face. He just kind of walked right up and held the camera up and asked me all of these questions in Finnish, I think for an interview, so if he posts it to Facebook, it may just be me smiling and looking really confused (the translators weren’t there for this). Then, this other man starts telling me this time next week he is going to be gone, and I ask him where he is going and he says what sounds like a zucchini toss. I thought of Spain and that holiday where they throw the tomatoes, so I am very interested, asking if they throw zucchinis at each other! (In my head I am thinking that this would hurt, but it may be a thing in Europe) It took me 5 minutes to figure out this man is going to Zakynthos in Greece. First impressions are my specialty, people.
Then, we went to the sauna. As I previously wrote, it was so hot, but I also got some extra therapy from the leaves of a birch tree. What they do is hold the leaves over the rocks in the sauna so the leaves get really hot. Then they asked me to lay down on my stomach, and just hit my back with these leaves. It is supposed to help with muscle circulation, but at first, I was wondering if I was being hazed. In the winter and after our lifts, we will go in the sauna, then lay in the snow, then back to the sauna, until our muscles feel relaxed. I am really looking forward to doing naked snow angels.
One thing I have noticed over the weekend is that Europeans are super green. As an environment major, I can dig it. Some examples: I don’t have a dryer for my clothes (you hang them), everybody walks or uses their bike (and no one locks their bike), you have to buy a shopping cart or plastic bags to put your groceries in, there is no air conditioning in my apartment or many buildings, and there aren’t dishwashers. With this being said, I have been to the market maybe 6 times in 2 days because I refuse to buy the plastic bags. It also takes me at least an hour each time, because I cannot read any signs in the market, except the random tex-mex sign they have, along with all of the Casa Olé products one could ever need.
Also this weekend, there was a world market-type fair. There was an Asian food booth, a booth selling meter long liquorice, and tons of booths selling salmon filets that were almost as big as the liquorice. I walked around, stopped in a couple booths to practice my Finnish (I only know hello, so you can imagine how this goes). I go up to the booth, say “Moi!” and then the person starts chatting with me and I don’t know whether to feel proud of my blending in with the Fins, or if I should feel bad because I have to motion that I have no idea what they are saying.
At this fair, on Saturday, we had to hand out these flyers of a sponsor, and I swear they gave us 5,000 flyers. I don’t even know if there are 5,000 people in the downtown area at the fair, so everyone was trying to scheme these ways where we could actually hide 7 in 1, so we could get rid of them faster 🙂 I finally made some friends by suggesting that we put it in people’s car windshield wipers, and it cut down the time from 3 hours to 45 minutes. It was potentially a resume-worthy moment.
I don’t want this post to be too long, but I am going to leave you with a few things that I miss already! I miss iced coffee, roll on deodorant, and cheap wine. Wine here is minimum 7 Euros, which is like 9-10 Dollars in America, but I got used to the Trader Joe 2.99 special wine. I hope my budget can handle this change because I don’t know if I can cut that out of the grocery list. One thing I do not miss is Netflix in the US. The selections here are incredible, from The Great Gatsby, to Brave, to Silver Linings Playbook, to Magic Mike. I am set with movies for a lifetime.
I will also post some pictures from the weekend so you can see my apartment and the fair!