Getting ready for the Finnish winter: A beginner’s survival guide
The essentials: Vitamin D and winter clothes
I brought Vitamin D from my home country since it was cheaper. Consider that you will need to take vitamin D from October to March/April, although some Finns take it all year round, it’s up to you! It’s extremely important to remember to take them accordingly, or else you will start feeling fatigued and exhausted.
About the clothes, I would strongly recommend getting them from Finland, unless you already have good quality winter clothes. For me, the winter clothes I had proved to be useless in Finnish winters. Keep in mind that there are plenty of second-hand stores and outlet shops in Oulu, so you will be able to get good quality clothes for really inexpensive prices. I got brand new winter boots and a winter coat for fewer than 60 euros, and I assure you there are also cheaper options out there!
These two are indispensable- you will need an adequate dose of vitamin D, and proper winter clothes if you don’t want the Finnish winter to get you.
Mental health-wise: Socializing, sauna, and exercising
For me, these are the main pillars to maintaining good mental health during the winter. Personally, I would recommend you try and combine them. I usually go for walks with my classmates, and afterward, we would go to the sauna. If walks are not your thing, don’t worry! There are plenty of opportunities to do sports in Oulu, from gyms, swimming pools, sports clubs, and other activities. Also, make sure to try winter sports!
Socializing with friends in winter is a bit more difficult since it's cold outside and you might not feel like leaving your warm and comfortable bed. Still, try to organize some nice activities with your friends: going to discover a new coffee shop and try Finnish pastries, watching the sunset at Nallikari Beach, getting together to cook something, or organizing a fun party in a club room!
Seeing your friends and doing something nice can really brighten your day, especially during the dark months.
The Sauna Experience: best thing Finland has to offer
I personally use the sauna as often as I can, because I find there is nothing the sauna cannot fix: a bad day, feeling tired, or sad. Once you’ve been seating in the hot sauna for a while, it starts to fade away. Especially if you do it with friends! Most PSOAS apartments have a sauna in the building, so make sure to try it. You can also try one of the public saunas in Oulu; Some are located in the middle of the river. This means that you can swim in the cold frozen river in between sauna sessions!
Forget about surviving: Enjoy it!
I have to admit the Finnish winter has become my favorite season; it is beautiful, and it looks like a Christmas postcard. It’s true that it can be hard to get used to, but remember that it won’t last forever, so might as well try to make the most out of it!
Still, if you find yourself struggling and having a hard time coping with your day-to-day life, remember to reach out! The University has many services available to provide support to students, ranging from the Wellbeing tutors to the FHS health services for students. Or, if you are just like a plant and miss the sunlight too much, you can try a sunlamp and attempt photosynthesis to get your energy back!
About the author
Núria from Barcelona, Spain, is a first-year master’s student of Education and Globalization. Her hobbies include traveling, reading, and complaining about the cold weather despite being secretly in love with winter in Oulu.