Meanwhile, over in Finland...

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by HerHubby, Oct 31, 2006.

  1. HerHubby

    HerHubby The SF Poet Laureate
    Gold Member

    Jul 22, 2006
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    The following is from one of my old college student newspapers. Interesting about the naked Fins wearing sailor hats and waving flags! :p Maybe our political parties in America should try that! :lol

    Stripping down in Finland
    An interview with Leslie Epling
    Jewel Aldea
    Posted: 10/30/06
    The only thing I knew about Finland before interviewing senior Leslie Epling about her experiences there was that, to Finns, late night host Conan O'Brien is a god amongst mortals there: he is a dead ringer for the Finnish president. Both of them are tall, with a flaming red coif. Her name just happens to be Tarja Halonen.
    On a personal note, I didn't know where to start - in addressing our mutual need to be nerdy and constantly talk about being abroad, I have heard much about her time last semester at the University of Turku, located on Finland's southwest coast. Getting past her initial thoughts ("It was really cold and clean, and the people there are nice and quiet"), we moved on to her initial preconceptions about Finland. "I thought they would be happier - they have everything a person could ever want, but they have the highest suicide rate in the world!"
    In her decision to go to Finland, Leslie felt that it would be interesting to be one of the first people from ETSU to participate in an exchange to that country. Also, she wanted to experience a truly socialized country. She says, "Everyone has health care; everyone has access to child care; all of the university students have their school paid for."
    She had to contend with the Finns' preconceived notions about Americans. In her classes, several professors assumed far too quickly that she was dumb and unable to think for herself. She proved them wrong, earning 19 hours and completing an internship - an ungodly accomplishment compared to most who study abroad. But that's why she chose Turku, a school renowned for its work in biotechnology and bioinformatics. Because of her experience, she now feels that a career in research would suit her.
    In some of her classes, Leslie was the only non-Finn, subject to wide-eyed stares.
    "No one would talk to me unless I spoke to them first." Though she learned enough Finnish to get around, as well as a little Turkish on the side, language was not a barrier. "In fact, I was the first native English speaker that most Finns had ever met. So, they were eager to practice their English with me."
    Leslie also remembers that Finns assumed that Americans were also "always enthusiastic" and up for anything. And she means everything.
    For example, an inebriated man asked her once if she would touch him "like Paris Hilton," citing Hilton's foray into the world of porn.
    Speaking of inebriation, I have my own experience with Finnish students in Holland, and they can put the liquor down. Leslie confirmed that this was the norm, not the exception.
    It's a matter of national pride that they are able to drink most of the world under the proverbial table, imbibing unusual liquors native to Finland. "Although I didn't get drunk while I was there, I tried all of the special Finnish alcohol, including one that tasted like black salty licorice, called salmiakki."
    The bulk of our interview dealt with one issue: nudity. "I had a lot of experiences with nudity in Finland, in the saunas mostly. Everyone has one - they're in houses, apartment buildings, schools." For up to an hour and a half, three to four times a week, the Finns take a sauna bath, sometimes while being hit with birch sticks to cause a little bleeding, flushing out the toxins.
    But why do you have to be naked? "The Finnish saunas are much hotter than any sauna here, about 82 to 90 degrees Celsius." (For you non-metric people, you have to remember that 100 degrees Celsius is the boiling point.) "The sauna would melt your bathing suit." She eventually adapted. "It's almost addictive. You feel as if your muscles melt, and you sleep really well afterwards."
    While most saunas are single-gender, some are co-ed, such as those on college campuses.
    Leslie and her fellow sauna-enjoyers were not the only ones who were nude. On May 1, Finnish students, as well as other European students, traditionally participate in political rallies as part of Vappuu, a national holiday. Some Finns ran naked through the streets.
    She didn't exactly understand with which party these streaking Finns were affiliated, but "they did wear sailor hats and wave large flags."
    To be continued. In the next issue: Finnish politics, sub-zero temperatures and learning to enjoy what Finland has to offer.
    © Copyright 2006 East Tennessean
  2. AnonymousOne

    Gold Member

    Jan 27, 2006
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    *sigh* I've encountered many that think all Americans are largely stupid dolts. Unfortunantly for us, it tends to be true. On a side note .... it's time we enter into a drinking competition with them. Someone get me some Bacardi 151 ...