Living in Singapore, we’re often used to heat and humidity in our everyday weather. Never would I have imagined myself going to a hot and humid room to ‘relax’. Yet, in the cold winter of Finland, the sauna is a place and time I look forward to everyday.
Known as a national pastime with over three million saunas in Finland for a population of 5.5 million, the traditional sauna is a small wooden room heated with steam. Woodfire is used to heat up stones, which then turns water to steam, warming up the sauna. Clothes are optional in the sauna, but I preferred to wear a pair of shorts.
With daily temperatures in the negative, my friends and I often look for comfort in the saunas. Lucky for us, we had a newly renovated one in our hostel. However, public saunas are also widely available, such as in our host university or at national parks. There is even a popular free, community based sauna known as Sompasauna. Built and maintained by members of the community, it is a favorite destination for locals and tourists alike.
Jumping from the boiling temperatures of the sauna into the freezing air was definitely an amazing experience and one that I would never forget.