Finnish summer

Once again, it’s been a while since my last post. I had a short break over Midsummer and went to my fiancee’s parent’s house again. I’ve been back in Turku for a week now but have had an unexpected amount of work come in so I haven’t been able to share my photos yet. Not that I’m complaining because it means my finances are slowly getting better so the rest of this year might not suck as much as the first half did.

We’re in the middle of our Midnight Sun period right now and only when it is incredibly overcast is there proper darkness during the night. No matter how many summers I spend in Finland, I still don’t get used to seeing skies like these in the middle of the night:

Taken at 10:15 PM

Taken at 10:15 PM

Taken at 2:45 AM

Taken at 2:45 AM

And that’s in the south where the Midnight Sun is the least intense. Further north where I spent Midsummer it was even brighter.

Finland is one of the only countries left where Midsummer is still celebrated as a national holiday. Some other Nordic nations also celebrate it and I think Germany does as well, but those are the only ones I can think of that do so. Back home in the UK only Neopagens celebrate Midsummer at sites such as Stonehenge, although some people just want an excuse to get drunk at an ancient monument.

Midsummer is like Christmas part two in Finland, only without the commercialisation which many argue has ruined what is supposed to be a religious holiday.  It’s a time for family get togethers but you won’t be dragged to visit all of your great aunts and uncles or sit through a long church service. There are elements of Finland’s ancient shamanistic culture like lighting bonfires, but today Midsummer is mostly used as a break from work.

I’ve spent one Midsummer in Finland before but since it’s my first Midsummer living in Finland, of course the weather was awful all week. When I tell people here that the British summer is even worse than the Finnish one they have a hard time believing me. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t get to visit the summer cottage and do all the things we were planning like swimming or fishing. I also didn’t get much of a chance to take some pictures to compare with the winter pictures I took at Christmas.

These are the ones I did manage to get:






Next month I’ll be spending three weeks visiting my parent’s house in the UK. It will be strange to be back after spending nearly a year abroad. Has it really been a year? I feel like I haven’t done that much or learnt any Finnish. Maybe that was because I had a lot of other issues to deal with this year. But I’m not planning to leave Finland any time soon so I still have lots of time to have many more Finland adventures.

Spring update and photos

It’s been a while since my last post. In that time, spring has very slowly come to Turku and although it’s still not very warm and the trees aren’t in full bloom yet, it’s a nice change from the winter weather. I’m hoping that it will get warmer over the next month and that I’ll be able to go away somewhere and relax for Midsummer, which is an important holiday in Finland.

I’ve had a few good things happen to me this spring. I edited two full length manuscripts in the same month and had my first magazine publication for a Finnish language learners magazine. I’ve also gotten a part time book reviewer job contract and one of my articles on my writing blog was selected as a teaching resource.

Even so, the last two months haven’t been that great for me. Some of the things I was hoping to avoid when I moved abroad ended up happening. I didn’t handle them particularly well and I went through a bad period of anxiety and depression. Things are starting to improve now and something that does make me feel better is going out and taking photos.

Practicing photography was one of my new year’s resolutions and it came at a great time as I was asked to submit some pictures with my magazine article, so I guess I could say I’m a published photographer as well as a writer. Here are some spring pictures from the area near my apartment block. I foolishly forgot to take any of the same area during winter. Although it was a pain to get around during that time, it was at least very pretty. I’ll have to wait until next year to get those. Until then, enjoy some pictures taken on a much sunnier day than this one:


A fishing wharf near my flat. I like to go there when I want some alone time to think, read, or pray.


Random coloured things because why not. Clearly I still need to practice my photography because I spent ages getting the right angle and still forgot about the electricity pylons.







Tiny daisies growing on the ruins of what I assume was once a church or temple. There are still religious services held there sometimes.






Five things that are weirdly popular in Finland

I’ve been living in Finland for just over six months now and I’ve found that when you live in a foreign country for long enough, you start to see patterns that don’t exist in your own country. You particularly start to notice things that each country likes and doesn’t like. For instance, over here I’m spoilt for choice when it comes to heavy metal bands but I can’t get salt and vinegar flavoured Pringles anywhere.


What is this fuckery?!

I’ve been thinking lately about Finland and the ‘Germans love David Hasselhoff’ trope and wondering why certain things become hugely popular in one place compared to another. Why do some things become a more integral part of a country’s national identity than they do in the country they originated from? I’m going to look at some things that are weirdly popular in Finland and try to find the answer.

  1. Emmerdale
Nothing like a bit of soul crushing misery at tea time.

Nothing like a bit of soul crushing misery at tea time.

One of the first things I noticed when I visited the DVD section of the local supermarket was the amount of British drama DVDs. That’s no surprise since Britain has some of the best actors and writers in the world. (Not that I’m bragging or anything…) What I did find strange were the DVDs of what I assume are old episodes of the British soap opera Emmerdale. Of all the popular soaps, why the most depressingly boring of them all? Why the one that for some reason my grandma watches religiously but I had to stop watching because I realised I like feeling happy?

I thought that maybe the concept of seemingly normal people dealing with normal issues appealed to Finns. Except that these ‘everyday’ issues involve euthanising your paralyzed gay lover, discovering you just made out with your long lost sister and a plane crash destroying half your village.

  1. Ginga Nagareboshi Gin (or Silver Fang Gin)


Anime and manga are generally very popular in Finland, but Silver Fang Gin, despite being very obscure in most places, is hugely popular throughout the Nordic countries. It became one of the few anime to receive a Finnish language dub, although by all accounts being popular wasn’t enough to get it a good dub.

It’s obviously because it’s about dogs and bears and snowy climates, and definitely not dumbed down for children. Just like in the show, there really are dogs in Finland trained to hunt bears. (And they’re adorable!) I’m wondering if it’s also because the bears are the villains in the series, and bears are often used as a symbol for Russia.

The giant bear is totally not a metaphor for communism.

The giant bear is totally not a metaphor for communism.

  1. Conan O’Brien.


Now this one is kind of weird. Don’t get me wrong, Conan O’Brien is great and all, but supposedly the main reason he’s popular in Finland is because he bears a slight resemblance to the former president Tarja Halonen.

Or maybe it's this.

Or maybe it’s this.

Apparently O’Brien started this rumour himself and it just caught on, which makes much more sense. I wonder if he looked through pictures of world leaders to find one he looked like so he could become popular in their country and get a free trip there. He must have been disappointed when it turned out to be Finland and not a warmer country.

  1. The Spoony Experiment.
I definitely didn't choose the picture with the cute puppeh on purpose.

I definitely didn’t choose the picture with the cute puppeh on purpose.

Now this one does make perfect sense. Spoony, real name Noah Antwiler, is an internet critic who reviews movies, video games, table top games, and anything nerdy. Finland is basically the kingdom of the nerds (yet for some reason we still get bullied in Finnish schools) and I think his extreme geekiness and how comfortable he is with his nerdy lifestyle appeals naturally to Finns. Finland has never had its own king, but I reckon Spoony should be our first.

Spoony even said in the commentary of one of his videos that he was invited to a Finnish comic con and a fan dressed as his incredibly obscure one off character ‘Stereotypically-drunk Mexican Cyborg Early 90s Otaku Kid’. Spoony personally gave him his seal of approval as ‘the number one fan in Finland’.

  1. Donald Duck.

aku ankka

Another slightly confusing one. Donald Duck or Aku Ankka comics are amazingly popular in Finland. You can buy them down at the local corner shop. It’s strange to consider now that Donald Duck was initially criticised in Finland because he doesn’t wear trousers and is supposedly living in sin with Daisy Duck. Whoever made that claim probably wouldn’t like me pointing out that The Moomins walk around naked all the time and are completely accepting of homosexuals.

He has his own section in the book shop. I don't think he even has that at Disneyland.

He has his own section in the book shop. I don’t think he even has that at Disneyland.

Why do Finns love him so much? Maybe it’s because Donald’s a sailor. Maybe it’s his anger issues. Maybe it’s because he’s the dark horse of the Disney characters, despite obviously being the best of them all.

Finland is just one of the countries where Donald Duck comics are produced, and have been since 1951. There was even a Donald Duck version of the Kalevela, the Finnish national epic poem, which is kind of like if Bananaman made a version of Game of Thrones. Actually, that might have potential…