Other long forgotten differences of life here, and there
I am known to walk around with a notebook and a pen close by at all times. I have learned that when I have a good idea, I must write it down or risk losing it forever. This also includes recording those subtle differences I have noticed between here and where I come from.
Right-handed players are rare! I was (am) one! Do you play hockey, ringette, racquet sport, golf or baseball? I throw, shoot, golf and bat right-handed and so do a lot of people I know, but not in Finland! The Mr. is right-handed – but he shoots left in hockey. He golfs right, but it took him a very long time to figure out which hand he really was, because he could swing well from both sides. If you look at the stats of many of the higher level men’s and women’s hockey teams in Finland, the majority of them shoot left. It’s rather baffling actually and I’d like to know why so many players shoot from the left in Finland. Being right-handed can have its advantages – like maybe more ice time! I played hockey the first winter I loved here and on a team of 26 girls, only two of us shot right. Even with my inexperience, I was put on second line defense – for my size and because I was right-handed!
Class lengths in schools are an hour, which actually means 45 minutes. This was something I found out rather by surprise when I was in my first teaching job. So lessons had to be crammed into 45 minutes. I do teach as a freelancer though and for me an hour is an hour and I charge for an hour – not 45 minutes.
Time changes in the spring and the fall are not enforced the same weekend as they are in North America – so sometimes there is only a six-hour time difference between here and home.
Winter in Finland begins when there is snow on the ground; it is not dependent on the calendar. For me seasons will always officially begin on the calendar days they are marked on. The season is not always weather dependent in my honest opinion.
Speaking of calendars, the calendar week in Finland begins on a Monday! Keep this in mind if you give calendars as gifts to people in other countries. At home the calendar week begins on a Sunday. One year I sent my mom a fabulous Finnish nature calendar and she said she had to hide the calendar part because she kept getting her days screwed up!
Finland is metric, period. Trying to speak feet, inches, miles and pounds to a Finn (in general) will get you nowhere. You will get a blank stare in many cases. I have even adjusted my slang to make it more metric among the Finnish crowd, though I can still get away with talking about a “foot of snow” with Canuck friends.
When I lived in Sudbury to go to school I never had to wave down a bus because they always stopped automatically if someone was standing at a stop. Here in Finland if you want to stop a bus you have to wave it down. I felt like such a dork the first few years! It was like, “Why are you waving your hand, fool?”
Construction season is year round here. I will never forget how shocked I was to see an apartment building being built in late December up in Rovaniemi. The only thing you won’t find a lot of in the winter is road work and construction, for obvious reasons. House building slows down a little in winter, but it never stops.
It was heaven to begin cross-country skiing here. Not only is it free, you can ski on lit trails in the winter. Ever wonder why the Nordic countries have been home to some of history’s best skiers? Why the infrastructure to support skiing during those dark winters is a default -> lights. Paying to ski (cross-country), as I would have to do in some places at home, makes it exclusive. I am glad my tax paying money and my membership fee to Suomen Latu go to support a fantastic outdoor hobby that is (and should be) open to all.
Of course the range of car brands is different here, but I do remember making an observation about transport trucks and dump trucks – they have no “nose” here. Think about the standard North American looking truck and compare it to this:
I’ve exhausted my list for the moment… What else can you think of?