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All of these things are not like the other…

February 14, 2006
I spent a few weeks in my hometown area over Christmas and it was amazing to observe some differences between life / society here (in southern Finland) and there (Sudbury region, North Shore and Sault Ste. Marie). Read on…
 
Skiing – Having to pay to cross-country ski in the Sudbury region and in Sault Ste. Marie was a bit shocking for us. Like I wrote in a previous post, it would be criminal to have to pay to cross-country ski in Finland. Maybe if more people in Canada would ski they wouldn’t have to pay to ski on groomed trails! (I hope the recent silver medal from Beckie Scott and Sara Renner at the Olympics in Torino will produce some change in the sport in Canada…)
 
Smoke-free bars – Imagine my surprise when we walked into a bar in Sault Ste. Marie over the Christmas holidays and… WHA??! Nobody was smoking. Excuse the cliche, but what a breath of fresh air man! Various laws have been enacted across Canada in recent years to reduce and in some cases eliminate smoking in bars and restaurants. While it initially caused a furor among some groups of people (including groups that supports smoker’s rights), the noise has died down some… A proposal in Finland is in the works to ban smoking in bars and restaurants that serve food by 2007. I can’t wait!
 
Huge vehicles on the road – I realized how much smaller things are in Europe after I had lived here for awhile. At first I used to think, "Oh that is so small." (i.e. house, apartment, car, etc.). But I realize the efficiency there is in things that are small. We rented a car for our time in Canada and we got a full-sized Buick Allure. It was like driving a boat! In northern Ontario I can understand the practicality of having something like a pick-up truck; but when you drive a full-sized SUV or truck in southern Ontario, I think it is kinda pointless. (Unfortunately the same trend is occurring here in Finland and people are starting to drive bigger cars – the thing is – the parking spaces are not big enough for them!) I’ll stop whining about cars, that’ll just get me started on how people drive them…
 
Shopping – This is one activity that is definitely cheaper in Canada than it is here in Finland. There are two things that are cheaper here in Finland than in Ontario – beer and milk. Figure that eh? Your money will go a lot farther in Canada than it will in Finland. The price of clothes, CD’s and books in Finland alone is enough to motivate me to save up and shop ’til I drop when I go home to visit. Cars and houses are a lot cheaper and so are a lot of other products and services. Too bad home wasn’t a little closer to Finland.
 
News reporting – The day that commercial channels in Finland start reporting the news as they do in Canada and the States, I will turn the TV off. News reporting has become ridiculously sensationalistic in recent years in North America and it’s painful to watch (literally!) I appreciate the CBC because they don’t hype it up like CTV does. I can say the same about news in Finland, thankfully news organizations here are not over the top with their news pieces, well except the tabloids – and they really overdo it!
 
World Juniors – The 2006 World Junior Hockey tournament was held in Vancouver earlier this year. It was great to be able to see some of the games on TV while I was home (www.tsn.ca). One thing is for sure – in the games against Sweden and the U.S. (for the bronze medal), the Finns were the crowd favourites. And the boys didn’t disappoint with their sisu. Pundits put the Junior Lions outside of the medals and I am glad that they proved the critics wrong in front of a supportive crowd in Vancouver. (And man did we ever yell when Finland beat Sweden 1-0 in overtime. Tuukka Rask was phenomenal in net; it is no wonder that he is already playing pro hockey here in Finland. He showed his opponents that he is a force to be reckoned with and it is he that kept the Finns in the tournament!)
 
For now those are the few bits of life that stood out while I was home in northern Ontario. Living in Finland is what you make it and so far I am having a good time. I think I’ll stay…
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