Reminiscing Finnish summers

As some of you readers might know, I did my undergraduate degree in Finland. I lived in a small town called Kokkola in central Finland and I went there from Nepal when I was just 18. Coming from Nepal, in particular Kathmandu, which I think has a pleasant weather all year round, adjusting to the Finnish winter was perhaps my biggest challenge on first year. It was September when I arrived, and I remember I wore all my warm clothes including mittens and winter hat while everybody else around was dressed for early autumn.

Summer day in Helsinki

I remember on the first year as I was biking home, about 20 minutes in distance from school , my feet completely froze. It was a dark January evening, and I couldn’t move. It was because I hadn’t worn proper socks and boots for harsh Finnish winter. It took me lots of time, advice from locals and winter clothes actually bought in Finland to finally tackle the winter there. By the time March rolled around, I was pleasantly surprised as the days started getting longer and we could see more of treasured sun.

A hill near my student apartment after the snow started melting around mid-April

All this to say that I couldn’t wait to experience summer myself as everybody claimed that summers were short but gorgeous. As the school was out after the academic year for three months, picnics and outings started happening more often. On my first summer in Finland, I kept underestimating hour of the day due to the sun not setting until midnight.

Midnight sun in Finland. Photo from pixabay

I had to get dark curtains for my windows to be able to sleep and make sure to get groceries and such from the shops before it was 11 PM without even knowing. I spent hours playing basketball outdoors with some of my friends, biking to a nearby beach that I so loved and going to the nearby swimming pool. In Kokkola tori (town square), concerts, events and markets happened frequently in summer. The whole mood felt so different after months of cold and dark winter and happy faces could be seen everywhere.

Whole day of fishing, boating, grilling and sauna

One time we drove to a nearby lake (Finland is a country of thousands of lakes!) for some fishing. Before that, I had never done fishing and I actually didn’t like it at all – I realized that I didn’t have the patience. Once my friends caught some fish, the plan was to eat fish curry for dinner but I couldn’t eat the dinner as I saw them struggling and dying before my own eyes.

Serene lake scenery, central Finland

During my three summers in Finland, I visited small towns around Kokkola, Kalajoki, Swedish-speaking Pietarssari (or Jakobstad in Swedish), Turku, Helsinki and Tallinn in Estonia. My favorites were probably the towns in Central Ostrobothnia region because of the tidy and gorgeous countryside surrounded by plenty of stunning nature. I swam in the sea for the first time in my life in Kalajoki and it was an unforgettable experience.

Beach where I first swam in the sea, Kalajoki

What I enjoyed the most about these short drives to nearby towns from Kokkola was the scenery.  Idyllic little villages, vast lakes and the summer sun casting a beautiful glow on the numerous trees on roadsides. Some of the towns were so small that they had as few as 3000 people living in it! What I also liked was how there almost always seemed to be sauna and place for barbecue by the lakes. We made good use of those :p Summer in Finland was all about the nature and it was undoubtedly my favorite time of the year.

Outdoor sauna cabin by the lake






33 thoughts on “Reminiscing Finnish summers

  1. Hi Pooja. I enjoyed reading this blog. I’ve never been to Finland but I’d love those lakes and forests and doing some fishing. I’d never be able to learn Finnish though. It looks very daunting.

    1. Hi Dai. I didn’t speak much Finnish either. I got by just fine with English. Do you speak some Portuguese by now? The nature in Finland is fantastic, and even in big cities there are always lakes and forests around you. I really liked that.

  2. I do miss the Finnish summer!
    I have been few times to Kokkola for competitions and few friends came from there/ studied there. From my parents cottage it is about 200km to Kokkola, so not that far away for Finnish standards.
    Weird or not, I never had troubles with the sun not setting during the summers, same goes for my wife. In fact we never had anything to cover our windows during night time in the bedroom as it was just lovely to watch out the window and see the nature (our apartment was right next to a forest and a small lake in Vantaa!)

    1. Oh so your parents’ cottage is actually quite near from Kokkola! I’d really like to revisit as it’s been more than three years since I was there but I don’t think anything has changed.
      Hehe I actually liked window view in winter, mostly view of the sky and trees but the lights emitted by snow would make the sky look beautiful. I love Vantaa! Been there a few times, and I think it’s a really nice area in Helsinki region.

    1. I am glad of my Finnish experience in life too. It was wonderful living in a Nordic country as I was always interested in that region of the world as a young teenager – and I got to actually live it for few years. Thanks for reading and commenting Tanja! 🙂

  3. Finland looks beautiful, but there’s no way I could handle those winters. That sounds brutal haha. Maybe a summer visit could be on the cards though. Thanks for sharing Pooja!

      1. Yeah, that would help for sure. One of the things I loved about living in New Zealand was how distinct the seasons are there too. Maybe not quite as extreme as Finland by the looks of things, winter there sounds a bit more extreme haha

    1. I always associate Finnish summers with lakes, but maybe it’s because I lived in such a small town 🙂 I am sure in Helsinki there are more options for warmer weather than chilling out on lakeside hehe. Looking back at this post makes me miss Finland! I should revisit definitely.. it’s been more than 3 years.

      1. Reading blogposts on Finland, I’m becoming convinced that I’m missing out by living in Helsinki! 😂 There’s honestly not much to do here on a summer day. And it’s aaaalways so windy!!! Would love to go swimming in a lake. Well, I guess we’ll have to rent one when the boys are a bit bigger!

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