Welcome To Finland

First of all, I have to admit that I knew no more of Finland than it was a country of lakes, there was Lapland, from where Santa Claus came, then Kalevala, Alvar Aalto, Sibelius, Merimekko and obviously NOKIA – and probably polar light can be added, which is said to be sent to the Earth by the spirits of the dead according to the local legends. Well, if someone wants to become acquainted with this country in more details, and hit the road without becoming deterred by the short, freezing cold days and long, gloomy nights, Finland is probably one of the perfect destinations even during winter. In addition to the features mentioned above, one can experience the feeling of the genuine, untouched wilderness for the pacification of the mind: Lapland in the north and the central part of Finland, i.e. the region of thousands of lakes, or the islands of South Finland with a multitude of picturesque faces enchanting visitors in the winter. This is the youngest northern country, which is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its independence this year, and is becoming broadly known for its gradually growing “intellectual import” in addition to her natural endowments. Hundreds of internationally recognized researchers arrive at the universities of Finland from all corners of the world for shorter and longer study periods. I have also been given the opportunity to conduct research here at University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio campus, and experience the Scandinavian lifestyle with my loved family. Probably, owing to the conscious educational policy, which has been consistently followed for decades now, by today the country has found its national identity, and in spite of the sometimes arctic environment and the limited resources she has been able to create a high standard of living and welfare society from the 1990s for her population. By presenting my own photos, I want to give an insight to the honourable readers into a novel and very interesting facet of this lifestyle. Namely, just recently the first world ice arts championships have been staged in a cave system originally designed for underground cross-country skiing (Vesileppis) at the small town of Leppävirt (see on the map) of some 17 thousand inhabitants. The international professional jury selected 12 of all the projects submitted from all over the world, and requested the artists associated with these best creations – including a Hungarian pair of creators – and eventually coming to the town to physically realize their works. The ice-carving masters were cutting, chiseling and sometimes even scraping the amorphous ice in an area covering three football fields on two different floors, 20 meters under the ground, defying the permanent, controlled temperature of –5 °C, for nearly a week to eventually bring their marvelous creations into life. While the ice sculpture of the Hungarian pair was not awarded, they also added to the unforgettable experience that the thousands of visitors could have. If you want to see some other creations, just visit this website: www.icecave.fi

Szabolcs Felszeghy DDS, Phd (Habil)

UEF, Institute of Dentistry / Biomedicine