I had never seen snow in my life until we arrived in Finland few years back.
We left a ”normal” South African weather just a few hours before and I never imagined that we would see a complete opposite weather than I have seen in my entire life.
Just after we were greeted a hearty ”welcome to Finland” by a man who put on a forced a smile on his face, we stepped out to pick a taxi and then we got the shock of our lives; the roads were frozen and I couldn’t imagine anything whiter. The phrase ”as white as snow ” came to my mind and I guess it must have originated from the whiteness and huge amounts of snow at the peak of Finnish winter.
The journey to our temporary abode brought me closer to the real meaning of winter in Finland.
Trees and houses were covered in snow and the roads were barely motorable.
I saw heavily dressed people from the window. Each had a very serious look on the face and marched with all seriousness, as fast as their legs could walk.
[alert type=white ]I saw heavily dressed people from the window. Each had a very serious look on the face and marched with all seriousness, as fast as their legs could walk.[/alert]
My first distant encounter left a strong impression on my mind. I imagined that these serious-looking people who I saw through the frozen window may never want to speak with anyone who isn’t one of them. I expected them to snub us when we asked for directions to the guest house.
I was wrong!
The first person was kind and even brought out his telephone to find the exact place for us. Unfortunately, his GPS couldn’t find the address. He didn’t stop there, he called out to the next passer-by who knew the area better to direct us. I was impressed with his kindness as he stood in the freezing cold with us the whole time.
As we walked into the house, I thought about the conflicting perception of the people in our new environment. ”Perhaps Finns are friendly and we’ll have a good time in the country as the one of the immigration officers wished us. ”Enjoy your stay in Finland!”
I still remember my first impression of Finns, yet, the friendly and open-minded people I have come across in the last four years make me want to erase that image completely from my memory.