How to survive with the Finnish Culture as a Foreigner?

Kiosk, sauna, Angry Birds, Nokia. This country is well known for these innovations that changed the global society of creativity and technology. It is also known as the Land of Thousand Lakes and Forests. And oh don’t forget the endearing and contagious laugh of the world’s most popular person during Christmas Season, Santa Claus. Welcome to Finland!

Like most migrants, there are always challenges facing upfront when you move to another country. From the tropical Land of the Pearl Orient to the Land of Midnight Summer, the move was ambiguous. Floro Cubelo gives you a gist of the Finnish culture.

Five years ago, I changed my perspective on migration. Most Filipinos move to English speaking countries as the latter language is considered as the second official language in the country, so it never is a problem to move overseas. Like any other foreigners living in the
country, there are peaks of excitement and intermittent loss of desire to achieve one’s goals. But how did I survive for a half-decade living in the country with a contrast of culture? These recommendations might help you also integrate with the Finnish culture.

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Hyvää Pääsiäistä! – Happy Easter!

Finland is a country that owns and maintains many traditions. Many of these traditions have been inherited, mixed, and adapted over time. The Easter tradition has a mixture of pagan and Christian customs, as well as a reference to the Spring time. It is common in this period that children dress up as witches, paint their faces and go for the houses of the neighbourhood, together with their magic wands, made of willow branches decorated with feathers, ribbons and flowers.

This powerful artefact can bring to your home a blessing that is said by them, but to be blessed there is a price to pay, sweet and easy price to negotiate. When they arrive in each house, the little witches push away the evil spirits reciting the enchantment “Virvon, varvon, tuoreeks terveeks, tulevaks vuodeks; vitsa sulle, palkka mulle!” (Translating: I have a magic branch for a new and healthy year, a branch for you and a candy for me!).

The lucky and now blessed inhabitant receives the magic wand that will now be his/her amulet that will bring luck and protect him, in exchange offers chocolates, candy and sweets to the benefactors. (Do not worry if you are visited by these lovely creatures and you are not prepared with sweets, you can pay in cash, sometimes the traditions also accept the modernity in case of need). This tradition was inherited from the ancient peoples, who used to bless cattle, plantations, and people in the early spring, and the healers received some reward.

Another old habit that still happens is the planting of grass in early spring, today children plant grass seeds in pots and observe their growth, symbolizing the renewal, when the grass is grown and green, is decorated with small chicks called “rairuoho”, which are used to decorate the table.

The houses are also usually adorned with garlands, flowers and symbols of fertility (pre-Christian), like rabbit and eggs. Among the religious celebrations is usual rituals and celebrations throughout the holy week, on Holy Thursday they have the “kiirastorstai” which is the celebration of the Lord’s Last Supper. Stages of the passion of Christ are also popular, in Helsinki happens procession of the Passion of the Way of the Cross. In some places, bonfires are lit on the Sabbath of hallelujah to ward off the evil spirits and ensure a quiet and happy Easter Sunday.

Easter brings the family together in the Sunday lunch time, usually the main course is lamb shank, and for dessert they have “pasha” which is a type of creamy pudding made from curds, eggs, butter, sour cream and candied fruit (sometimes decorated with religious themes) and “mämmi”, a soft brown-looking pudding of malt and rye flour that is eaten with milk. They say “mämmi” is a recipe for the 16th century, originally it was eaten during Lent. Its laxative properties were associated with purification. As the dish can be kept for several days, it was also a convenient food for the Holy Friday, while cooking was against religious customs.


Mämmi (Mämmi picture: http://www.wikiwand.com/en/M%C3%A4mmi )

Finally, the 4-day holiday is perfect for the transition from the cold and difficult period of the harsh winter to a mild and flowering spring period, celebrated with visits to family and outdoors tours, to welcome the new season that can change not only the landscapes but the state of mind of those who live here.

Matheus Soares Costa

From planning to executing – Let’s shape the future… TOGETHER!

First to say, it was not my first time in Egypt; however, it was my first visit to Alexandria. By the time we arrived (me and Szabi) we were welcomed with a clear sky and a warm weather which was a nice change after a very long winter in Finland. We started our day, though exhausted from lack of sleep and travel lag, the energy of people from PUA was contagious and very welcoming.

I was surprised by the size of the facility, and how well equipped it was when taking into consideration the large number of students in there. Staff members and teachers were very helpful throughout the visit, so nice and friendly and made us feel home. They arranged everything for our lectures from timetables to location and made sure that it would proceed as planned. You could feel the strong bond between them and the closeness which could explain how they are able run and maintain such the faculty successfully.

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It is more than just a degree

How exciting is it to finally receive that one email you have been longing for, with several attachments and one of them happens to be a letter attachment labeled as the “letter of acceptance” stating,” We have the pleasure to inform you that you have been accepted to the university of eastern Finland.”? After receiving this email, I clearly recall, asking myself how it would be like. I even had fictions of my imagination on how I was checking in at the airport, -this could me my second experience flying-, in the university corridors, in class and how I would have my first snow experience. I have to say; this email blew my mind. As Finland holds a very strong reputation internationally for the quality of its education overall, I surely did not want to miss my chances of being part of it-I mean who does not want to part of one the best education systems in the world?

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