Sautéed pizza or how Italians are going back in time and Finns stop shooting reindeer

Living in a world where climate change poses the greatest challenge for todays and future generations, animal product consumption is an important point of debate. From a rational perspective, it seems quite clear that people must consume fewer animal products, especially in countries where there is an abundant offer of other food available. But it is not so simple. Food and cooking are very deeply anchored into humankind’s imaginations of home and culture. In this text we will have a look at two examples of well-developed European countries: Italy and Finland. We will compare some of their data with Switzerland and discuss possible cultural reasons for the differences in meat and milk consumption. 

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To feel at home?!

Now, after five months, I am back. Back in my home country and every day since I have been back, I think about Finland, about my friends there, the daily routine I had and how I enjoyed my time there. Everything just seems like a dream and nothing here has changed. Everything seems the same as before. It seems as I had been away for only two weeks, but then I think about what I learned, how many people I met, how much I travelled and and and … I would never have been able to explore so much in just two weeks.

All my plans were made up to the day of my return to Switzerland. I hadn’t planned anything after my return and then suddenly I was back, and I had no idea where to start or what to do. From one hour to the other I was with my family, I knew the places I went to and everything felt familiar to me. But I recognized that I was not used to my living style in Switzerland. I cannot just come back to find everything is like before. I realized that I had lived another life, that I changed and that I had another daily routine for five months. 

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Yksi, kaksi, kolme …

In my first blog I already spoke about where Finnish people meet to talk, but how they talk is another topic. Finland belongs to the kind of country that has its own specific language. It is not like France, where the official language is French and in more than 25 other countries on our planet French is the official language too. Finland is the only country with the official language Finnish, but for example in Sweden, Russia, Norway, and Estonia some people speak or understand Finnish too.

In the beginning of my exchange, I was a bit worried about going to a country where I don’t know the official language and I knew that there were a lot of challenges waiting for me.

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The place to meet and talk

Before coming to Finland, I talked with several people, how my exchange in Finland could be and what kind of people and environment I should be expecting. One common point, which everybody always mentioned, was, that Finnish people are quiet. They do not like to speak, and they are shy. I thought that it will be a challenge for me because I am talkative and open minded. I start talking to a lot of people in every situation in my life. With this prejudgment I took my plane and was curious to meet these silent people in Finland.

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Becoming familiar with Finish necessities

Before going to Finland, I had been to saunas in Switzerland, maybe once or twice a year in combination with a spa day. It was okay to be in a sauna for twenty minutes and then to go outside and take a cold shower but it was nothing I was super excited about.

When I moved into my student accommodation in Helsinki I knew there was a sauna in our building but I had no desire to go there. I could not understand why the Finnish people were into saunas  so much and why it was so important to them to have one in almost every household. A sauna is a standard element in swimming baths and sports centers, hotels, holiday centers and camping sites. We even found a sauna at a motorway service! When I started to get to know Finnish culture better, there was no way to avoid the sauna, because it is a substantial part of it. For Finnish people the sauna is a place to relax with family and friends and also a place for physical and mental cleansing.

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Reflecting on Finns and their attitude towards the environment

One of the first things I noticed when I arrived in my apartment in Helsinki was that there are many little garbage bins in the kitchen. I asked myself why is there not just one big one. I realized very early that those little garbage bins were meant for waste separation. I always thought that Switzerland is leading in recycling but Finland is way more into it. Finns are very aware and concerned about environmental problems and separating and recycling waste material is an easy practical way you can do something that will benefit the environment.

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