Learning the Finnish they don’t teach in school

Kalsarikännit (noun)

Literally: “underwear drunk”

Example of usage: “Pysyin kotona ja vedin kalsarikännit.” (“I just stayed home and pulled a kalsarikännit.”)

Less a word than a lifestyle, kalsarikännit describes a day or weekend in which the speaker failed to achieve anything as ambitious as actually getting dressed, and instead subsided into a stupor of watching Dr Phil, eating microwaved makaronilaatikko, and emptying a mäyräkoira (12 pack) of beer.

While browsing through the books at a library in her Ukrainian hometown of Donetsk, Anna Gavlirenko, better known as Anna Gav, came across a book that changed her life. It was Coco Chanel’s biography. At the time Anna Gav was 13 years old. Today Gav, 32, is a designer of bead jewellery.

“Chanel is for me a symbol of strong women who are not afraid to change the world,” explains Gav. “I see that strength very much in Finnish women. Here women are independent and courageous enough to challenge established concepts of arts and behaviour. I also consider myself a strong woman and I want to be as open-minded as possible. I want to change the world around me and make it more attractive for women,” she continues.

Should the proposed media fee become a reality, it will mark an end to Finland’s dated television fee system. Moreover, it would render extinct one of Finland’s most disliked occupational groups, the television fee inspectors (ranked number 379 among 381 occupational groups in a 2007 survey), and put an end to an era of intrigue and subterfuge.

You may have received a stern phone call, a note slipped into your mailbox or even a visit from these inspectors who, according to tv-maksu.fi, the official online portal for information related to the TV-fee, “continuously make visits to households, which according to the television fee register have not submitted a television notification.”

Cuts in health funding for postgraduate students at Finnish universities have infuriated students. The reduction in health care services implemented by Ylioppilaiden Terveydenhoitosäätio (YTHS) has seen an angry response issued by the Tsemppi organisation for International Degree Students at the University of Helsinki. With very little information having been issued in English concerning the YTHS changes, many foreign students are unaware of their effects.

“To my knowledge, the decision was influenced by the low number of postgraduate students who applied for membership in their local student unions,” Tsemppi’s Giuseppe Lugano fumes to SixDegrees. “Unlike with undergraduates, postgraduate membership of student unions is not mandatory. The lack of demand for membership was probably interpreted as a low need for the services available to postgraduate students that membership offered.”

IN mid-November each year families in Finland and the other Nordic countries celebrate Father’s Day. Each year, children prepare crafts or buy presents for their fathers and the family as a whole spends a nice day together, celebrating fatherhood. It’s another cherished union of family and retail, a warm-hearted celebration of the nuclear family.

Not so in Germany though. German men celebrate their particular Vatertag on Ascension Day (the Thursday 40 days after Easter). Men celebrate themselves by taking the day off and having male-only events, a temporary leave of absence from their familial duties.