GEXP to Finland #1

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I am currently on my last week of exchange here and am feeling very bittersweet. On one hand, I’m very happy to be going back home and spending the holidays with my family after probably the longest I’ve been apart from them. But on the other hand, I will be saying goodbye to all the friends I’ve made on exchange and whom I will most likely not see for a very long time. The last 4 months in Finland have taught me a lot about living alone, but also about cultures from all around the world which I feel is even more important.

As it is one of the most important things to me (and to many people I think!) I thought I’d share about Finnish food for my first blog post. Unlike Singapore, with all its convenient and affordable coffee shops and hawker centres, eating out in Finland is quite pricey. Hence we all soon learned that cooking our own meals was gonna be the bulk of the food we eat. Here is a simple pasta dish all the SUTD students whipped up on one of the first days we reached.

School food

One of the best things about Finland was that school food was always €3.20! During Orientation, I was so surprised to see that Aalto University had many different canteens that all sold food at a fixed price. They were very similar to IKEA restaurants, where you would take a tray and move along in a line to get food, only that it was self-service and you could take as much as you want, provided it fit in one plate. The menus varied from canteen to canteen, and they even sold different items on different days. The best part was that Aalto had come up with an app for students to be able to check on the menus for each canteen each day. As someone who gets sick of eating the same foods quite fast, this was amazing for me. Unfortunately, I kept forgetting to take good pictures of the food, and the only one I have does not look quite appetizing.

Example of school food. Choice of 1 of 2 carbs and 1 of 2 meat options, with salad and bread (not pictured).

Trying the local Finnish food

Of course, being in Finland, I had to try some local food. I had the Karelian Pastry or karjalanpiirakat, which is a pastry with a thin rye crust and rice filling within. Rye bread is one of the national foods of Finland, and the pastry was decent, though slightly on the starchy side.

I also tried reindeer meat! And although I felt bad for the reindeer at first, I learned that Finland has laws on the maximum number of reindeer it can have, and as over 1000 are born every year, some reindeer have to be killed for food. It was actually quite tasty, sort of like beef but without much of the red meat taste. It would not be something I would enjoy daily, but it was nice to try it at least once.

That’s about all for now, I guess I will enjoy my last week in cold weather before heading back to (very) hot Singapore.

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