Kirsi ist 30 Jahre alt und lebt in Savonlinna, in Ostfinnland. Sie hat ihr ganzes Leben in der Gegend verbracht, ist aber innerhalb der Stadt mehrfach umgezogen. Ihr Elternhaus ist etwa eine Stunde entfernt in einem kleinen Dorf namens Ahvensalmi. Sie sagt, sie fühle sich in der Region so heimisch, dass sie nie wirklich den Drang verspürte, an einem anderen Ort leben zu wollen. Reiseträume hat sie aber noch eine Menge!
Kirsi hat einen Abschluss in Fashion Design und arbeitet vorübergehend als Büroangestellte im örtlichen Friedhof.
Tell us a bit about the city where you live. What is it like to live there? What makes it special?
The two most special things about Savonlinna are its nature, and our own Medieval castle Olavinlinna. The city (or town, there are about 35,000 of us but the area we’re spread over isn’t that small :-D) is surrounded by nature, as it’s built on islands. Over a third of our city’s area is lakes and small islands. I like it here, because I’m not too keen on big cities and their hustle and bustle. Although I live right in the city center, there’s nature all around me, and it’s peaceful and relatively quiet. In July, the annual Opera festival takes place in Olavinlinna, and the whole Savonlinna is buzzing with tourists. During the Winter, you’ll mostly see lots of snow and ice and a couple of crouching people freezing inside their winter jackets. It’s amazing how much the city changes.
What do you like most about your country?
Nature, again. 😀 Finland is a tall country so the nature in Lapland is completely different from the nature in Helsinki for example. Relatively speaking, Finland is safe, we have good welfare to help if one’s struggling, we have good and relatively cheap health care and our gender equality is good. Of course, there are many problems in the mentioned areas still, I’m not saying everything’s perfect, but things are relatively good. Oh, and I love how we don’t dub our tv-shows (kids’ ones we do of course). I’d hate to watch dubbed version of Friends for example. 😀 I also love the diversity between different areas. The culture, the dialect, everything’s so different between the South/West and North/East for example.
And what are the things you don’t like about your country?
Mostly: the current state of politics. Finland also has problems with toxic masculinity, alcohol consumption and lately, I’m ashamed to admit, racism/xenophobia. Our food is expensive, many people are unemployed and the politics and the recession have made some people’s lives harder and I believe it’s feeding to the issue that can be seen in some other European countries as well. And on a lighter note: I really don’t like the slippery winters as my balance is quite poor. 😀
Would you like to live somewhere else? If yes, where? And why? If no, why not?
I hope it doesn’t make me sound closed-minded but I have never really wanted to live anywhere else. I guess I feel so at home here, I have no urge to move to someplace else. Traveling and visits are a different case! I’m such a housecat that I appreciate a steady HQ more than the opportunity to move somewhere. 😀 I’ve moved so many times inside Savonlinna, I’ve really grown to hate moving.
What should someone who visits your country do and see?
Travel around to see the nature! There are awesome sights, woods and nature close to the cities so you can manage to see a lot even without driving around for days. If you dare, go to a sauna (it’s not the naughty erotic place some people seem to think and I don’t blame them having heard the history of sauna in different countries :-D) and take a dip in the lake or the sea. Enjoy the nightless night in Summer or the pitch black of Winter. You might even see the Aurora Borealis if you’re lucky! It all depends on what you’re looking for, if you’re a nature person or looking for a city holiday!
And what should they definitely not do?
All I can say is don’t do anything you don’t want to! If someone invites you to a sauna and you don’t feel like it, or offers some odd food (like mämmi!) and you’re terrified, don’t try it. We’re not that easily offended. Listen to your gut but be adventurous when it feels right. Finns appreciate their personal space. Being too hands-on or getting too close and kissing cheeks might make many Finns uncomfortable. It would not be seen as offending, but if you want to play it safe, keep a small distance physically. 😀
What are your favourite meals of your traditional cuisine?
Fried vendace with mashed potatoes during the Summer! Yellow chanterelle stew and pie I could eat for days. Oh! And blueberries with milk. …now I’m getting hungry. 😀 We also enjoy our pizza with pineapple which I’ve heard, is an abomination in many countries, but I love it! 😀 Fish, potatoes and mushrooms. Those are the main ingredients in my favorite traditional cuisine meals.
And how about drinks? What drinks should we try when we visit your country?
The only one that comes to my mind is long drink, or _lonkero_. It’s an alcoholic mixed drink made out of gin and grapefruit juice. There are other flavors like blackcurrant and cranberry as well. Our tap water is good enough to dink, and many people make juices of the berries that are plenty in the forests during the fall. But long drink is the one that I think is special for Finland.
How do you get around in your country? Do people use public transport or do they prefer not to? Why?
The distances can be daunting between bigger cities, so almost everyone owns a car. Inside the cities, usually, (not in Savonlinna though) the public transportation works relatively well. Bicycles and walking are also good ways to go from place to place, but usually only in the Summer. During winter, I recommend using busses. 😀 Busses are a good way to travel during other times of the year too. I just visited Helsinki and enjoyed my 5 hour drive watching the X-files on the buss’s free wi-fi and charging plug. 😀 You can also rent bikes, cars, boats, what have you.
Which artists of your country should we check out? (authors, musicians, painters…)
I know Nightwish, HIM and Poets of the Fall are the first bands that come to my mind when I think about known bands here. My all time favorite band is called Apulanta. They played punk in the beginning, but now it’s more rock. So just because my bias, I’m saying Apulanta. 😀 Other interesting ones are Paula Vesala, Verjnuarmu (Savonian metal). Out of authors my two favorites are Mika Waltari and Sofi Oksanen, both very well known and for a reason. Of contemporary painters, my favorite is Katja Tukiainen.
What does your ordinary day look like? Do you think it’s a typical everyday’s life for people in your country?
Mine begins at 6 o’clock. I wake up, get ready for work, and got to work by 7:00. My day ends at 15:30, and then I either go home or to the grocery store, cook some dinner, take a shower, do some chores and then go to sleep. During the summer weekends, I usually wish to leave to our summer cottage after work, grill something delicious (chicken and vegetables for example), go to the sauna, swim in the lake, and enjoy a couple of long drinks. 😀 I believe my days are quite the regular ones. Working times of course vary, but the activities vary a bit less. During the winter it’s quite the same. Good food and sauna, but not necessarily grilling and swimming in the lake. 😀
What’s the best season for visiting your country? Why?
I’d say the fall. You can still enjoy the warm weathers but also see the colors in the trees exchanging ( google “ruska”! 😀 ). It all –again- depends on what you’re looking for. Every season has its pros and cons. The more I think about it, the more I personally like fall the best. Nothing beats sitting on the porch, in the dark night, when the Moon is up, after a trip to the woods to gather some mushrooms and then sauna, and listening the crickets chirp around you.
Tell us something about traditional activities, festivals or holidays in your area. Which do you enjoy most? How do you celebrate them?
In Savonlinna, St. Olavi’s day (27th of July) is the birthday of our city. Nationally, vappu (the eve of the first of May), juhannus (Midsummer fest) and joulu (Christmas) are the biggest of “all around” festivities. During Christmas, people usually gather with their families so it might not be as interesting for the tourists. Usually we celebrate Juhannus and Vappu by grilling, drinking bubbly, gathering around the parks and beaches and summer cottages and going to the sauna. In Olavi’s day, we here usually have some special stuff like live music and different kinds of happenings around the town’s market area and the stores are open longer than usual. There’s also a firework show during midnight. It’s one of my favorite days of the year here.
Where would you like to travel in your life? Why?
Oh my! The first locations that come to my mind are Las Vegas, Singapore, Northern Ireland, Portugal and Poland because I have some awesome pals there and I have never visited those places. I’d also like to see Italy, France and Japan some day, because of all the literature and culture I’ve gotten to know of. And hey, those are the ones that came to my mind first! So many places, so little time! I wish someone would invent the Stargate soon so traveling would get faster and easier! 😀
Most of my readers are from Germany and Austria. What comes to your mind when you think about these countries? Are there any stereotypes about Germans or Austrians in your country?
Mostly only positive ones. Germans and Austrians are stereotypically trustworthy and good workers (something that is valued in Finland), and enjoy a good pint of beer with their fellow Finns. I’d love to visit German and Austria because the over all reputation is so good. Things happen when they’re supposed to, people are nice and helpful, and there are so many sights to see. Interesting sights and culture, good beer, good chocolate and good food are the other aspects that come to my mind when I think about these countries. My spouse and one of my dear friends are quite familiar with Germany and Austria and just based on their stories, nothing negative comes to my mind.
What do you think: Which stereotypes exist about your country and its people? Are they correct – at least partly – or not?
Stereotypes about Finland are that we’re silent drunks who battle each other with knives. To some extent, that is true. Most typical of the homicides here are drunken knife battles between fellow drunken Finns. But we’re also very helpful, and once you make a friend of a Finn, they’re there to stay. We’re loyal, true and even when we’re silent, it’s mostly because we’re enjoying the moment or listening what you have to say and thinking about what you’re telling us. We might be hard to get close to in the beginning, but once we’re close, we’re there as long as you want. Loyal to the bone.
If you could change one thing about the place where you live, what would it be?
Current politics. I’d love to see the Peter Pan –effect. Give from those that have more than plenty to those that have not enough. We are all people and people should help those in need if they have more than what they need. Greed, territoriality and amorality are the things that will ruin us. And in lighter terms, I’d love to be able to see more tv-shows and movies on Netflix. Hehe.
Your dreams for the future?
Being healthy. My family close by (I’m quite close with my aunts and cousins and their families and spouses). Pets (I love animals!). My own flat or house. A steady job so I wouldn’t have to worry about my income. That’s it. A house to call home, family and friends and a steady income so I could travel and see my awesome penpals. That’s all I dream about. After all, some very basic things.
Die Idee hinter diesen Interviews:
Wir reden und schreiben so viel über die Länder dieser Welt und auch über die Menschen, die darin leben. Die Einblicke, die wir als Reisende in diese Länder bekommen, sind doch immer nur kurze neugierige Blicke von außen. Blicke durch ein Schlüsselloch quasi.
Statt über die Menschen zu schreiben, so dachte ich mir, sollten wir sie doch einfach einmal selbst fragen. Gerade in den heutigen Zeiten, in denen Menschen ferner Länder doch meist nur einen Klick entfernt sind, ja, wir mit ihnen sogar häufig in sozialen Netzwerken befreundet sind.
Deshalb starte ich diese neue kleine Serie, in der ich Facebook- und Brieffreunde, die ich in aller Herren Länder habe, einfach eine Reihe Fragen stelle und mich neugierig darauf einlasse, was sie dazu zu sagen haben. Auch dies wird ein Blick von außen durch das Schlüsselloch bleiben – aber vielleicht vergrößert sich das Schlüsselloch doch ein bisschen?
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