Have you heard about Vappu? It is a Finnish name for the event that is celebrated as International Labour Day around the world. In Finland, there is a strong and unique traditions for the happening.
Vappu is a traditional spring festival that is celebrated annually and it marks the end of winter in Finland. The festival is named after the English missionary Saint Walpurga, as Walpurga’s feast was held on 1st of May, she became associated with Vappu.
Vappu is something you really want to be a part of as a student. It is the biggest party of the year for students. Some students start the celebrations already few weeks before “pääpäivä”, the main celebration day. The celebrations can consist of different type of cheerful events depending on the University. For the Labour day itself, the traditional program is similar everywhere.
Vappu Eve is kind of a Finnish version of carnival. You can expect to see students wearing colourful student overalls – every University Faculty has their own colour. People are also wearing a white cap with black visor. All Finnish students get these caps upon graduation from high school to remind them of their accomplishment and good student days. Older people usually wear their caps only once a year, in Vappu.
The main festivities start on 30th of April, also known as the Walpurgis Night or Vappu Eve. In Helsinki, at 6 o’clock in the evening, students will gather at the Market Square to wash the statue of a nude female called Havis Amanda, before putting a huge white cap, on her. People toast with champagne and wish each other ‘Hauskaa Vappua’. The celebration goes on all night until next morning. On 1st of May, everyone heads to the parks where they have picnic and drink “skumppa”, sparkling wine. The best way to get rid of any tiredness from the previous night!
Now it is time to talk about what to eat and drink during Vappu. If you are visiting Finland be sure to order the following traditional foods in restaurants or at food stalls when you see them.
Sima, the Finnish mead
Sima is a sweet, low percentage alcoholic drink that is mainly consumed on Vappu, and is most of the time homemade. It is orange of colour and some raisins floating on top of it. A nice refreshing drink for Vappu!
Tippaleipä is a type of funnel cake. The batter is poured into hot cooking oil and deep-fried, then it is sprinkled with powdered sugar, Nutella works too.
Last but not least, munkki, a type of Finnish donut. It’s almost like a traditional donut, but different. Munkki is made of different dough and is usually round shaped.
If you are planning a trip to Finland during spring or you are currently studying there I can recommend participating Vappu with the Finns for the weekend. It is great way to experience a typical Finnish festivity with lots of parties and good food.
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Living abroad can be an exciting experience that encourages new world views, increases cultural curiosity and supports wanderlust. However, it may also bring a sense of personal disorientation because of experiencing an unfamiliar way of life.
Culture shock is a rollercoaster of emotions that one may experience when living abroad for a long period of time. But fear not! Read the following text and be prepared for what may (or may not) happen. In this blog post we shortly present to you the four stages of culture shock.
This first stage is overwhelmingly positive. You are extremely enthusiastic and excited about the new language, people, food and surroundings. At this stage, the move seems like the greatest decision you’ve ever made. It’s an exciting adventure you never want to end.
On short trips, the honeymoon stage may last throughout the whole experience. On longer stays abroad, the honeymoon phase will sooner or later fade away.
In a way, this stage is the most difficult of them all. Eventually, it is familiar to anyone who has lived abroad. You are conquered with a feeling of fatigue of not understanding local gestures, body language and tired of miscommunications that may be happening frequently. You may be tired of constantly having to explain your train of thought.
Small things, such as missing the bus or unable to find your favorite food in local restaurants, may trigger frustration. At this point, you might start to think that moving abroad was the biggest mistake of your life. The feeling of homesickness might overwhelm you. Bouts of depression are common during the frustration stage. But do not despair, it will be over soon.
Frustrations might diminish as you begin to become more familiar and comfortable with the people, food, language and general culture around you. It is easier to navigate in these new environments. You have established friends and other communities of support and you can better recognize the local languages.
Depending on the person, it could take weeks, months or even years of battling with the emotional stages described above. Sooner or later, the acceptance stage of culture shock will arrive.
Acceptance doesn’t mean that you completely understand the culture and behaviors around you. It rather means that you realize that complete understanding is not necessary in order to function and thrive in these new surroundings.
Even though it can be one of the most difficult parts of moving abroad for your studies, culture shock is just as fundamental to the experience as people, food and scenery. There is no recipe for culture shock preventions, but every individual is effected by cultural contrasts in different ways.
Don’t let culture shock scare you! Embrasse every moment of it, as it will shape your experience and mold your character.
Author: Dimitra PH
At first I came to Finland to pursue a bachelor’s degree in IT at Savonia University of Applied Science. I chose Finland because some of my friends already lived here. And after graduating as a Bachelor of IT, I decided to study more and applied for a master’s degree in Human Technology Interaction at the University of Tampere and got in.
My process for applying to study in Finland was quite long, but I don’t think it was difficult at all. For me, the travelling part was difficult, because I had to go from Nigeria to Ghana to take my entrance exam. Travelling to Ghana wasn’t easy, because Ghana was having an election during that time. Travelling didn’t affect me as much as it could have, because I was determined to take the exam and get in to the school. The entrance exam was easy for me. All in all, it was the easiest part of the whole thing.
In my opinion, the tuition fees that Finland have now set for the non-EU/EEA students are a good thing. It’s a privilege to have as good education as Finland offers. In the end, the only thing that matters is how good your education is. I think people shouldn’t consider the price of a degree an obstacle.
Higher education in Finland feels a lot different than the one in Nigeria. In Finland, the workload isn’t that bad compared to Nigerian schools. Also, I like the fact that in Finland, if something is written on the syllabus, it is actually taught in the class.
I would highly recommend the universities in Finland where I have studied. Advertising studies in Finland to my friends in my home country is difficult because of the money issue. Some people don’t have enough money to come and study in Finland. They have the drive but not enough money. I’m going stay in Finland if I get a professional job here. Otherwise, I will find a job elsewhere in Europe or other parts of the world. For sure, I know I’m not going back to my home country.
I must say that the best thing about Finland is peace and quite!
If I needed to choose only one season to visit Finland, the answer would be summer. During the summer months, the normally quiet country will be in full bloom. Here are few things that make Finnish summer simply amazing.
In June, the sun does not go down in Lapland at all and all other parts of Finland only get few hours of darkness a day, which creates an unique feeling of a nightless night. You can stay out late and enjoy the beautiful green nature around you. Hence, you can clearly see a change in Finns: people are smiling, being outdoors and enjoying their life. Cities can be described as vibrant. That’s something that is not happening in November. In addition, long hours of light will give you an energy boost – you’ll have more energy to explore the wonders of the summer for sure.
After few hours of night, you’ll wake up to a typical summer morning. The air is fresh even in the city centers and you can experience the morning dew every day. The scent of summer is unique and will wake you up even after a night of bad sleep. You’ll be ready for the day the moment you step out and feel the mild breeze touching your face.
Even though the air quality is good and nature is strongly present in Finnish cities, it is common to escape citylife to remote summer cottages and enjoy the silence. Almost every family has a summer cottage – there is over half a million of them in Finland. That’s quite a good number for a country with only 5 million citizens.
You cannot separate sauna from summer cottages. There is one in almost every summer cottage. The best part is to run from burning hot sauna directly to refreshing lake or sea. Finns can spend hours going to sauna, swimming, sauna, swimming… Ice cold beer is part of the experience. And even though Finnish people are known to be shy, in sauna that characteristic is not present. Usually, people enjoy sauna and dip to the water naked.
After sauna, it’s time for dinner. Finnish delicacies are one the best part in the summer. Meals are healthy and fresh. Grilled meat is usually served with potatoes, salads, and bread. Eating is a social event and people are enjoying the dinner until the late evening since the sun doesn’t go down. Nightless nights also make Finnish strawberries extremely sweet. A delicious combination of strawberries and ice cream melts everyone’s heart. In fact, Finns love ice cream and an average Finnish person eats around 12 liters of ice cream a year. That’s quite a lot!
Finnish summer is unique in a way that cannot be explained in words – you need to experience it yourself.
Check Visit Finland’s video to get inspired.