elämän puu ~ the tree of life

tiikerikani's adventures in grad school in Joensuu. A big city Canadian in small(-ish) town Finland. Home of "#things that are different in Finland".
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The bag of badges meets the pink overalls (finally!)

Shopping hours in Finland are heavily regulated to encourage people to patronize smaller businesses.

Though it is no longer the case, when I visited here in 2008, large supermarkets were not allowed to open on Sundays at all, but only during Midsummer and Midwinter seasons. (Wikipedia revision history for details on that here.)

When there are two holidays very close to each other (eg. Good Friday and Easter Monday), shops are closed for the first one, but opening hours for the second holiday have some special rules depending on the square footage of the shop. Shops up to 400m2 can open for a total of 4 hours between 10am(?)-6pm, and anything larger than that cannot open at all. Mini-marts up to 100m2 in size have unregulated hours and are exempt from these laws.

One enterprising owner of a larger 24-hour supermarket in Oulu decided to set up a mini-mart in a shipping container in front of his regular store for the Easter weekend so that he could keep doing 24-hour business over the weekend (picture is an archive photo of a different temporary shop). For Big Business one might say that it proves the law is stupid and people will just go around it like this, but one could also consider that in effect this guy’s getting rewarded for his ingenuity.


god fucking dammit
why haven’t I done work yet

(via dandelionjourney)

Months after the Chinese mixed rice vermicelli dish I made (I didn’t post it here but it was really good), I discover how NORMAL FINNS buy bean sprouts without spending 3€ on a small (not really fresh) bag from the Thai grocery.

Photo: Sales associate at a children’s clothing shop donning a witch’s hat today.

For Easter Saturday, Finnish children dress up as witches and go door to door exchanging branches of pussy willows for candy. This is better than American Halloween trick-or-treating because the kids have to give something to get something; nothing in life is free.

(I took a bite out of it to show that it’s chocolate all the way through.)

Fazer’s Mignon eggs are kind of an Easter institution in Finland. It’s an almond hazelnut nougat chocolate egg made by pouring the chocolate into an emptied egg shell. The marketing copy says they’re made by hand, but who knows.

Edit: Watch how they’re made here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPvtCcINJlI


We’ve got two new entries in the SpecGram Video Contest: “Studying Abroad” by Tuuli Mustasydän and “We Didn’t Start the Satire!” by Audie O. & Hannah Graham.

There’s still time to enter your video for a chance to win a free SpecGram book.

Check out the silly video I made because I want a free book.

Putting the “crawl” back in “pub crawl.”


(Erm, I have a whole pile of tickets because there’s a bulk discount, and my friends and I are pooling money to buy them. They apparently printed some tickets with the instructions in English and I didn’t really need one, but they offered, so I let them give me one.)

One major event of the Finnish university student’s party calendar is the appro, or student pub crawl (I’ll explain the name in a bit), which, for some reason, I have a nagging feeling also originates from the Engineering schools, just as the student overalls tradition does. Generally, it’s one student club that organizes it and then opens it up for students of any faculty or institution to buy tickets and attend. Pretty much every city with a major university has one of these pub crawls.

The appro isn’t just a pub crawl; you have to walk from bar to bar and collect stamps on a card for each drink on the appro menu you consume. Depending on how many stamps you collect during the evening (there’s limitations on how many you can collect from each bar), you earn a “grade” and therefore its corresponding badge for your overalls. You can do the pub crawl again in subsequent years and attempt the next grade up.

Most appros set up their “grades” based on the Latin-language Finnish matriculation exam grade system, hence the name:

  1. Approbatur [~”pass”]
  2. Cum laude approbatur [~”good”]
  3. Laudatur [~”excellent”]

  4. Doctor
  5. Honorary Doctor (does not have higher requirements than “Doctor” level, just means you have completed “Doctor” level twice)

Rules differ from place to place, but many require you to start by completing the lowest grade and work your way up each year, so if you go on the pub crawl every year of your undergrad, you’d expect to get your Honorary badge in your last year. (When Markus did it back in his more youthful Engineering days in a different town he was able to aim right for the Doctor level and skip the lower levels.)  My university’s Kasi(8)-appro allows you to buy two stamp cards and complete two levels simultaneously in the same evening. Kasi-appro is also nice that they’re offering a “Alcohol-free grade” for those who want to participate but stay sober (or want to get credits for ordering soft drinks), as well as allowing you to earn one stamp once each for ordering food and singing karaoke (because, as you know, I’ll be right on that).

After the “pub crawl” part of the appro, you trade in your stamps for the badge(s) and a ticket to the after-party—because what is a Finnish student event without an afterparty?

(The only pub crawls I know about in Canada—since I’ve never been on one—is the excursion kind of pub crawl where there’s a bus you’re all on and you make stops at various bars. There will also a be a country excursion pub crawl kind of thing going on another day, but—and I’ve been on something like this before—buses make everything so much more messy, in my experience.)

A real donkey! (at Joensuun tori)

The lengths church architects go to have consistent pew lengths all the way down the room.