After more than one year since I’ve moved to Finland, it was time to make an evaluation so I’ve written an article for Paimion-Rasti club-magazine and I wished to share it on that blog-post:
Even if I’ve traveled abroad quite a lot throughout the year for training camps and competitions, I have spent the major part of my time in Finland this year (~33 weeks/52 => 63%=more than majority!); and I’ve survived! I have even enjoyed my time here! How is it possible? ;)
Finland is an extremely peaceful country where the cities and people are close to the nature. One doesn’t feel too stressed by others or the quiet environment. Turku is especially nice because it is a fairly large city where we can find everything we need; but it doesn’t feel too big and oppressing (particularly for me as a French farmer). It's easy and fast to travel through, around and for example to get outside to the forest... I haven’t perfectly understood/discovered Finland and all the Finnish culture yet, but I think to have got some clues:
- Sauna is really important: Not only healthy to warm up the body when it’s cold, but also socially while plenty of things are said/decided in-there!
- Bathing in the lakes or the sea is really enjoyable: Either when it’s very warm outside to get cooler, or when there is a hall in the ice (also to get “cooler” but easier to go after sauna).
- Even if there is no (real) mountain, we can still find ski-jumping hill almost everywhere. And there is usually a worthy view from the top (at least, we can see all the forest around!)
- If you love forests, in Finland you can be really happy!
- It works also if you like lakes (It’s no hazard if Finland is called “the land of a thousand lakes” even though there are much more lakes than 1000, there are not so many around Turku!)
- Frisbee-golf can be played everywhere in Finland whereas I have never seen it in France, and it can be really fun (Even if it might be easier to put the Frisbee on the tree than in the basket…);
- It might be quite dark during the winter, but there are plenty of lightened ski-tracks (with or without snow) so people can go out and exercise, and stay healthy.
- It can be really icy everywhere, then it’s much safer to drive a car with spikes-tires than to walk with normal shoes!
- However, coming from France, I wouldn’t say that the food in Finland is always the most “refined” that can be found. At least, for sure, it’s not the best place to find good fresh fruits (especially with reasonable prices).
- In addition, the weather is not always the best up-there and I have heard that the winter can be very tough (But that, I haven’t seen yet! :p )
- But the biggest problem in Finland for me (and other foreigners) remains the language! I can’t say that other languages as French are easier, but Finnish is so different to anything else so it’s almost impossible to be able to get few words of a conversation. And talking is still a mystery for me! Luckily, Finnish people can usually speak quite well English (At least much better than French people)!
An evaluation about my orienteering improvement should also be done to see if it is a good place to be as an orienteer: I feel much more confident and I think to know better how to run on Scandinavian terrains so I’m convinced that the good job with Turku training structure and the club has paid-off. My performances this season has been also quite satisfying, especially considering the quite big changes in my life (New situation, country, work…):
* Medals on both WOC and EOC relay (Main goals of the season);
* EOC individual performances were rather promising with 5th place in the long-distance and some good parts in the sprint (1 big crash though!);
* WOC individual performances were disappointing, especially the PM in catastrophic sprint as the 3rd year in a row where I’ve jumped over a control during a WOC terrible sprint final.
(The long was partly good though, especially in the beginning);
* The world-cup was not a main goal but it’s still important to run it well, however most of the world-cup events I’ve run were not really satisfying but still rather solid (top 20);
* WUOC was quite a success with a gold medal in Long and bronze in Sprint (Not a main goal for me and not focus so well on it, but the WOC preparation was not too far behind!)
* Tiomila and Jukola team performances were really promising. However some material troubles stop our way already on the middle of the relay during Tiomila and the top 10 was really reachable for Jukola but we finished close behind!
o Finnish champion in relay,
(Also 1st in sprint but without getting the title as a foreigner)
o 4th at 25-Manna, (best result of the club!)
o 1st at Halikkoviesti.
Finally, I can say that Finland is a really nice place to be, especially as an orienteer. The Finns might look rather distant at first, but they can be very friendly, great and fun people with a slightly different but interesting culture than in France. On my side, I really consider that it was worth to come and I’ve even signed to stay at least one more year, while I know better the places, the system and the people, but it is still possible to learn and develop!