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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.