“… and then you go outside and cover yourself with snow”

As I sit at my desk overlooking a snow-covered playground, snow-covered trees, a snow-covered basketball court, snow-covered paths, roads and street lights, it’s not hard to comprehend that I am sitting on the other side of the world to home. Everything is physically different. But a smile is still a friendly gesture and politeness is still valued. Inviting a person for a meal is still a way to get to know them better. Some things never change.

Snow on cedars... or rather, pines.

Yesterday most of the exchange students were bundled up and bussed to the “wild” by a student organisation called ESN. We went to a hut in the wilds. Actually, it was a very nicely built house with a big entertainment area with a fire-place in a forest that has ski tracks through it. When we arrived we played some ice breakers. The irony of playing ice breakers in falling snow was lost on all, even though I tried to explain it to some…  They just gave me that… “Ok, I have no idea what this crazy South African girl is taking about”

Sokkie sokkie (everyone takes their shoes off because otherwise inside would be wet and dirty)

For photos of what we did, have a look here.

We braaied sausages outside in the snow.

After some chilling and milling, some of us went in the sauna. They made one girls’ only sauna and one mixed sauna (which basically ended up being a boys’ only sauna). We sat in our swimming costumes and sweated our faces off while the Finnish girls regaled us with stories and histories of sauna (one girl started sauna-ing when she was 2 weeks old). When we were all piping hot, the Finnish girls said “Ok, and now we are going to go outside (it was subzero and snow all around) and cover ourselves with snow”. Um. Ok. No.

But next thing I knew, there I was with the other crazies in our swimming costumes outside in the sub-zero night screaming, yelping and throwing snow all over myself.  You don’t feel anything at first, but after about 30 seconds, the burn starts. It’s like a thousand pinpricks and all you can think is, “GET ME INSIDE THAT SAUNA, RIGHT NOW!” Then, you sit in the sauna and defrost and you feel pretty amazing.  10 minutes later, you’re back in the snow and process starts all over again. So, yay. First Finnish sauna done.

We bundled up again and took the bus back home.

Yes. Another snow picture.

In other news:  my flatmate has arrived. She is a lovely Korean girl who worked in a Japanese restaurant and has offered to make me sushi sometime. Oh yes please!

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