Saturday, September 22, 2007

On a different note... (September)

Alright. So, I haven't quite achieved the goal of posting every two or three days. However, I do have a good excuse. I was away in Lapland for awhile and now my mother is visiting me from the States. She has gone to Norway to explore the fjords for a few days, so I have some time to catch up on my blogging. Next week, I'm going to meet up with her in Copenhagen, which I'm really looking forward to. I've been interested in Denmark and, more specifically, Copenhagen for awhile. In fact, it was my first choice to apply for a Fulbright to Denmark. Unfortunately, they only had one scholarship to grant this year and it was for marketing research/lecturing, which ruled it out for me. As a result, I'm here in Finland and not Denmark.

Anyway, I'm going to devote a separate post to the topic of Lapland. I don't want to go into my trip too much right now, but suffice it to say that it was spectacularly beautiful. I took a ton of photos, so I'll make sure to post them on this blog.

The purpose of this particular post is to introduce a new concept. Every now and then, I'll walk around Helsinki and see something that catches my eye. Usually, it's something that is unique to Finland/Helsinki (or at least to me it appears unique). More often than not, it's an observation I find humorous or interesting and, as a result, would be something worthwhile to post on this blog.

So, I thought I would start this thing called "On a different note..." and each month I'll try to post these different observations as I make them.

For example:
1) A trend amongst men here appears to be to grow their hair long (i.e., long enough to put in a ponytail), but then they pull it back into this thing that's like a samurai knot, instead. I've noticed this on more than a few guys. It makes me think of that Tom Cruise movie about the American samurai.

2) The Finns have a real love affair with candy. They particularly appear to like candy with licorice flavoring and gummy candy (like gummy bears, gum drops, etc.). If you go to the supermarket, you will see at least one entire aisle devoted to different varieties of candy in bags. It's INSANE. Plus, I've had conversations with Finns about this and each person seems to be the devoted follower of a particular type/brand/mix of candy. I had occasion to go to the Helsinki convention center awhile back and, I kid you not, there were at least four or five kiosks devoted exclusively to candy. Crazy.

3) Here in Finland, they do not appear to have mastered the art of the door frame. It appears very common to walk through an exterior doorway only to find the door has this little lip to the bottom of the door frame. 'not such a big deal if you know about it, but somewhat dangerous if you're not looking out for them. I learned my lesson pretty quickly. After about a day here, I tripped over one (no, I didn't fall flat on my face). Anyway, it's the weirdest thing. It doesn't seem like there's any practical reason behind this (they're only about an inch+ high, but enough to really hurt yourself if you trip and fall). I mentioned it to another American who lives here and she knew exactly what I was talking about when I was like, "What's up with the door frames?" According to her, there have been stories in the papers, etc. about the door frames and how they're dangerous. What were they thinking????

4) Last, but not least... I joined a gym here and one thing that is sort of funny (but also a bit gross) is that people don't wipe down the machines after they've used them. I, like a lot of folks, have seen all those news pieces in the U.S. about gyms and how they're virtual breeding grounds for germs. So, whenever I see a person dripping sweat all over the machines and just getting up and walking away, I cringe. What makes the whole thing funny, is that most Finns are fussy about taking their shoes off when they get home/enter an apartment/etc. So, the deal with the gym is that people will take their shoes off and leave them on these shelves and then change into another pair of sneakers to work out. Why? So they don't track germs or dirt into the place. On the one hand, they're compulsive about keeping the germs out of the gym, but then there's this total inconsistency because everyone's sweating and not wiping down the machines in a super-warm room (read: incubator). Interesting.

Enough for now. Like I said, I'm going to try to keep up with this whole "on a different note" idea. I'll try to post again tomorrow and fill you in on Lapland because it really was a singular experience.

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