This has been a big week here in Finland. I went to Helsinki for a Fulbright event early last week, and picked up my little sister Abigail who’s here for a 3-week visit. I took Abby on a crazy 1-day whirlwind tour of Helsinki before dragging her up into the ridiculously secluded far north of Lapland. The cherry on top of this week has been Eurovision 2013, the European song contest. But first things first: Abigail’s grand tour of Helsinki. Continue reading
Ah, March. Pretty much everyone I know here has told me that March is the best month of Finland’s winter. It’s relatively warm, actually sunny, and the days are getting longer and longer, so you can enjoy it all. This means excellent skiing conditions, and I have had the great pleasure to watch some professionals at play.
One of my absolute favorite things about Finland is that it’s totally normal that I walk around everywhere with a pretty substantial knife hanging off my person. When I glance at this portable evidence of my badass-ness, I think about my childhood crush on ‘Crocodile Dundee’, and wonder if more of Texas rubbed off on me than I was ever aware of. Anyway, sometimes when I’m feeling low about my crappy Finnish language and/or science skills, I focus on the fact that I live in place where it’s cool to take a visible deadly weapon everywhere with you. In Finnish, the kind of knife that you carry around strapped to yourself is called a ‘puukko’ (pook-koh). ‘Veitsi’ is another word for ‘knife’, but that would be a kitchen or butter knife, so if you’re wanting to be super clear about what you’re carrying about, you call your personal blade a ‘veitsi puukko’.
Why does your nose run so much in the cold?
In the cold, your nose works like a radiator. To keep your nose warm, your body increases blood flow to your nose and the blood vessels expand so that as much warm blood as possible pumps through your nose. 92% of blood is water and because of all that extra blood flowing under the skin-surface of your nose, the water starts to drip out of your nose. The minute you go inside your nose warms up, the blood vessels contract and your nose will stop dripping. This mechanism is astoundingly reliable. In the cold, your nose works like a leaky radiator.
Visiting Kim in Finland
A particular favorite phrase of Finns (at least the ones I listen to on the radio and watch on the TV) is ‘se on totta’ [say on toe-tah], which literally means ‘it’s true’. There was a similar phrase in Hausa (‘gaskiya’, gas-key-ah), that was also used to express a sort of camaraderie of thought – like a verbal version of a fist-pound to your heart/chest to express that you believe the person/thought to be (in the) right. I find myself thinking this phrase a lot lately – not sure if it’s a sign of a more relaxed and resigned attitude, but there it is. Example: this forest is stunning. Se on totta!