Brace yourselves

Winter isn’t quite here, but it’s coming.

First of all, where did the time go? I apologize profusely for the huge delay in posts, but there were many things happening. For starters, my parents came to visit me (finally), we had many projects due and then exams started to rear their ugly heads. However, now that the worst has come and gone, I’m back, hopefully with a semi-regular schedule!

So, unless you only come to study here in the summer, you will have to deal with winter here. However, it’s not all bad. Winter in Finland may seem harsh and unforgiving, but it’s not like that. Well, at least not all of the time.

Since I come from Canada, I’m used to snow and cold winters. In fact, I’ve found that it’s generally colder in my home town than here most of the time. We had snow back home in September! And here, in Jyväskylä, it finally started to snow not too long ago. Then it melted, then it came back. Sorta. I guess what I’m trying to say is that winter probably won’t be as bad as you think. But you still need to be prepared for it.

But how can you prepare for it?

Well, for starters, you need the right gear. Sandals and shorts are pretty much a no-no, unless a) you are very brave, or b) your legs are covered in so much hair that they look like bear legs. If you come to Finland in the fall, you will have plenty of time to find some winter gear. Boots that are lined to keep your feet warm are a good start, and they (mostly) look fashionable, depending on where you shop. Warm jackets can usually be found anywhere that clothes are sold, and even if it isn’t the most durable, you can always wear layers. However, winter gear can be quite expensive. Luckily, there is a Salvation Army/Pelastusarmeija in Jyväskylä where you can buy used clothes for a cheap price. There are also some groups on Facebook that have people selling and buying second-hand items, and if you shop online you might be able to find some good deals.

However, a decent winter jacket probably will cost you only about 50 euros. That’s how much mine cost, and it has served me well during the winters here. Mittens or gloves are necessary as well. I define mittens as these:

mittens2

And gloves as these:

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Mittens will keep your hands warmer for longer, as your fingers are all grouped together. However, gloves let you have more dexterity. Really, it depends on how cold you feel. Either will do the job!

Next, boots. Despite what you might think, snow isn’t always pristine, white, soft and fluffy. Sometimes, it gets mushy and gross and wet. That’s why you should get some boots that are at least water-resistant if you don’t want have wet feet all of the time. And, like I said before, they should have some sort of lining so they actually keep your feet warm. There are a number of shoe stores that sell winter boots, but generally they have their winter stock out once it gets cold. The boots can be also quite expensive. If possible, find some boots in your home country and bring them with you. Finland is an expensive country in general, so it may be better to buy boots and gloves/mittens in your home country, along with some other warm clothes. Winter coats are pretty bulky, so it’s best to find one here. Don’t forget, you can always ask your friends if they have winter gear you can borrow or buy!

Also, if you want to feel Finnish, find some thick wool socks. Nearly every Finn I know owns a couple pairs, generally knitted by a grandmother or mother. These things are the real deal. They are very warm, so if you can’t find any warm boots, wearing a pair of these should suffice as the lining. Ask some Finns where you can get some! It’s a good conversation starter.

Winter in Finland is really beautiful… what you see of it, anyway. What I mean by that is because Finland (and Jyväskylä) is so far north, the sun doesn’t really make the full trip up here. So, it gets light late and dark early. And, it’s generally not even that bright out during the day! It’s important to keep busy during the winter, or at least take a good supply of Vitamin D. It can become very depressing, especially if you get hom sick. There are lots of things to do in winter, however, like skating, skiing or sledding. There is a ski hill near by Laajavuori, which is in Jyväskylä. I’m not sure if you can rent equipment yet (the English page isn’t working), but I will let you know with my next post. The point: Stay active during the winter! It’s very important to keep your spirits up, even though it can seem very depressing. Being active is also good for you.

But dress warmly, have fun, and I’ll talk to you later!

-Jon

 

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