05 Mar Lines Written in Winter
As March begins it feels like the dreaded Finnish winter is finally coming to an end. The temperature has risen from -12 to -1, and I no longer have to wear my oversized winter coat (seriously, it’s like wearing a duvet, which sounds great until you have to enter a building). Texting outside no longer makes your hands go numb either!
That said, winter in Turku does have its perks. The city looks beautiful in the low sun, particularly by the riverside. Occasionally the Aura becomes solid enough to walk on; while it looks tempting, I’m not sure I’d be able to hold my nerve… At the sign of the first crack I would definitely be running for the shore (which probably wouldn’t be the best thing to do in that situation!).
Instead of river-walking, I recently tried out the classic Finnish winter activity of ice-skating. There are various outdoor rinks throughout the city, including in Kupittaa, around 15 minutes’ walk from the main campus. This circuit is open throughout the winter and ice skates are available to rent for the very reasonable student price of €3 (though Finns simply bring their own; they are so ubiquitous here I assume every newborn baby is given a pair as a Christening present).
At this stage I should point out that my ice-skating prowess is very limited; all my previous attempts have involved an injury of some kind, from light bruising to a hospital visit. It was therefore with a certain amount of trepidation that I tentatively pushed off on to the ice. There are no barriers to cling on to, just mounds of snow on either side of the track for a soft landing if required (it was required).
I think I may have broken the record for the slowest ever first lap, being passed by several small children and an elderly man who smiled at me sympathetically. However, I started to get the hang of it and soon enough I was gliding along, not exactly gracefully but at least with a limited amount of arm-flapping.
Despite my initial concerns I can definitely recommend ice-skating to international students, even if you are a novice like me. It’s a fun (and cheap!) activity to do with friends, and a great way to clear your head after a week of lectures. Plus, it really makes the hot chocolate you drink afterwards taste much sweeter!
How do you think you would manage in the Finnish winter? Could you imagine yourself ice-skating in between classes? Or are there any other winter activities you would like to try? Let me know below!