Experience the four seasons in Finland
Autumn (In Finnish: syksy), everything is about ruska!
The school year starts in autumn. For many international students, autumn is one of their first impressions of Finland. The Finnish word ruska is probably the most important word in Finnish autumn. ruska describes the colourful Finnish autumn when the tree leaves turn red and yellow. The peak of ruska in Oulu is generally at the end of September until the beginning of October.
Are you ready for a day hike in Oulu to admire the beautiful autumn colours? The place I would recommend for a ruska hike (In Finnish: ruskaretki) is Pilpasuo. Pilpasuo is a nature preserve in Oulu, with nature trails and awesome swamps. Pilpasuo is around 20 km from the city centre, so why not take a bike trip? Pilpasuo has two marked hiking tracks with a fireplace to grill and rest. The hiking track marked in red consists of 1 km, and the blue one consists of 7 km, making it perfect for a day hike.
Another perfect hiking place closer is Letonniemi, about 5 km from the University of Oulu, Linnanmaa campus.
One activity you shouldn’t miss out on in autumn is berry picking. One perfect Sunday morning in autumn would be walking into the forest and harvesting some delicious fresh berries (blueberries and lingonberries are quite common in Oulu). Then why not try making a traditional Finnish food yourself, a blueberry pie (In Finnish: mustikkapiirakka)?
Winter (In Finnish: talvi)
The winter in Oulu is very long. The first snow is usually in October (although this year even earlier in September), and the snow may last until May.
If you think tough winter weather in Oulu is not suitable for doing sports, it’s actually the opposite!
I tried skiing and skating for the first time in my life in Oulu last winter, and I am looking forward to doing it again this winter! The winter sports opportunities in Oulu are fantastic, and some of them are free too.
The soccer field near your home will become a skating rink starting from December; skating season begins with good friends! Check out the ski tracks near your home, and off you go! Skiing is a good exercise in the winter, and you can enjoy the peaceful winter scenery along the way. It’s even possible to ski on the frozen lake.
Taking a walk on the frozen lake and sea is also interesting as it offers an opportunity to view Oulu from a new perspective.
If outdoors sports are too cold for you, you can still try wall climbing or joining OKKL group exercise courses. One of my favourite memories from last winter was dancing Zumba and sweating together in a fun way. My trainer used to encourage me that I would be stronger after the winter, and that’s true!
Although the sun might be gone for a month, it won’t be too dark because the snow will make it brighter. If you miss the sun too much, hang in there, you will be able to see the sun a lot starting from February!
Spring (In Finnish: kevät)
Although spring arrives quite late and there’s still plenty of snow, some festivals in spring can help us embrace and celebrate the spring.
Easter (In Finnish: pääsiäinen) happens mid-April. Although I am not religious, some Finnish easter traditions and food are interesting to me. For example, I grew easter grass and made Pasha (a delicious cake) myself.
Plants are growing, and flowers are blooming; why not pay a visit to Oulu Botanical Garden and admire the wonders of the plants from all over the world?
Summer (In Finnish: kesä)
Finnish summer is beautiful and bright; the only shortcoming is that it has way too many mosquitos!
I enjoyed summer a lot in Oulu. My favourite memories from last summer were grilling in the forest, exploring Hailuoto, the island next to Oulu, biking and swimming at Tuira beach and chilling with friends.
I also recommend visiting Koiteli, natural area with rapid in Kiiminki, 25 km from Oulu city centre. The currents are fast and dynamic. It’s incredible to walk through the beautiful bridges and take in the sounds and beauty of nature. :)
About the author
Peng Zuojia is from China and is currently pursuing her master's degree in Computer Science and Engineering. She was an exchange student last year and decided to stay because she enjoys the student life at the University of Oulu. As a language and sports lover, she finds Oulu has a lot to offer!