Today marks the end of my first week in Helsinki! This week, I’ve been occupied with orientation for both Aalto University and the Fulbright Program. There have been endless events including: a reception at the American Embassy, a bus tour sponsored by the City of Helsinki, and a primer on Finnish Art History followed by a guided tour from the curator of the Finnish National Gallery (Atenuem). I thought I’d quickly share a few fascinating things I’ve learned this week:
Translated exactly, the word for dentist in Finnish means “tooth station.”
At a reception this evening, all of the Fulbrighters received complimentary reflective gear. We were told that a law in Finland mandates these reflectors for pedestrians and cyclist to increase visibility during the dark, virtually sunless winter months.
I visited a place called “Troll Mountain” (Peikkovuori).
The current American Ambassador to Finland, Bruce J. Oreck, was formerly a tax attorney, a real estate developer and a body builder.
A traditional Finnish dish called Blood Pancakes is made with the blood of reindeer. One can purchase frozen blood at some Finnish grocery stores. (Here is a recipe.) Also, a friend of one of my fellow Fulbrighters habitually eats the eyeballs of reindeer.
While Finns may have a reputation for being reserved, there is both a public pool in Helsinki that permits naked swimming during certain hours and a nude beach. The beach has separate areas for men and women while the pool has different hours allotted for male and female swimming in the nude. I have never heard of any public swimming pools that permit nudity in the United States!
I was also introduced to the band, Lordi, winners of the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest.