IN FINLAND, Valentine’s Day is a relatively discreet occasion. Unlike its Anglo-Saxon cousin, the Finnish ystävänpäivä is more generally about celebrating friendships, rather than being a day just for lovers. Nevertheless, the overabundance of pink hearts and factory-made confessions of love (in the form of Valentine’s Day cards) that go with the original V-Day are enough to turn off just about anyone.

INCREASING numbers of students from all over the world are now coming to Finland to complete degree level studies and, as has been more tradition, as exchange students. As is the case with most students who travel abroad to study, most of the foreign students in Finland flock to the capital area, with its bright lights and buzzing social scene.

Add a pair of headphones to the list of items to bring with you when heading out clubbing.

The Finns (the people, not the political party) have invented some bizarre things in their time. Swamp football and wife carrying are two of the more well-known odd pastimes originating from this land of the midnight sun, but a slightly trendier, if ultimately ridiculous, habit that began here has recently spread around Europe. Silent discos are club nights where partygoers listen to music on headphones, together, in a large room. Supposedly the first example of such an event, at least visually, was in a 1969 Finnish science fiction film called Ruusujen AIka. In the seventies the idea failed to set the world on fire before it was resurrected by some British people during the early noughties.

Although voice-over dubbing is utilised only for children’s films in Finland, the local scene has nothing to be ashamed of in terms of quality.

UNLIKE IN many other European countries, generally TV programming and films in Finland are subtitled. We Finns like to think of this as a sign of openness to other languages and cultures, in addition to largely explaining our relatively good English skills. And yet the main reason behind the practice is, disappointingly, a financial one: dubbing is many times more expensive than subtitling, making it unfeasible in such a small market as Finland.

An average of 200 people drown in Finland every year.

ASIDE from an abundance of daylight that leaves most newcomers to these shores scratching their heads, summer in Finland is also renowned for something less than amusing, with many dying each year because of drowning accidents.

An average of 200 people drown in Finland every year, the public’s fascination with such unfortunate statistics peaking with the annual figure reported in the media of how many people drowned during the juhannus weekend.