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Zig-zag Baseball

The streets of Helsinki and Jyväskylä are full of joggers, Nordic walkers and cyclists. This may have something to do with the fact that both cities have lots of students, but the trend seems more general than that. Today`s questions are organised around sports an outdoor activities.

Posted by Bruno

Getting (un)dressed

Summer has not yet ended officially, but the changing colours of the Finnish trees show that colder seasons are on their way. Temperatures are on their way down, heading for levels close to minus 30 in wintertime. Finland is covered in snow a good part of the year, giving the country an entirely different face. People change as well, but the impact on daily life is fairly limited. Here`s an overview of Finnish tactics to stay warm.

Posted by Bruno

Knowledge economy

Finnish is a very difficult language for outsiders, and maybe that is exactly why they are all so good at English. If you can speak Finnish, you can learn to speak any language. So that`s what the Fins do. Most of them speak English fluently. They all get at least three years of education in Swedish, which is the second official language in Finland. Apart from that and depending on their own preferences, you may also hear many speak Russian, German or to a lesser extent French and Spanish. But the skills of the Finnish people are not limited to languages alone.

Posted by Bruno

Across the Finnish Gulf

As you can notice from the flag in the upper right corner of the website, I am done with Estonia and have moved on to country number 5. Lithuanians and Latvians told me that Estonia was much like Finland. The ferry trip from Tallinn to Helsinki is therefore a perfect setting for an investigation into the differences and similarities between the Finnish and the Estionian, and into what they think of each other.

Posted by Bruno

Out of the three Baltic countries, Estonia is definitely the most developed one. Its closeness to Finland and Sweden has helped it make quick progress after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Strict monetary policies and the fanatic support to foreign investors have caused an explosion of commercial activity. EU membership in 2004 further boosted the people`s confidence in the economy. Today, I am trying to find out how people are taking advantage of their newly acquired financial freedoms.

Posted by Bruno

Liberation or occupation?

Estonia does not often appear in foreign newspapers, and when it does, something serious must have been going on. Last April, the capital city Tallinn did make headlines. Russian youth groups clashed with the police over the removal of an old Soviet monument from the centre of Tallinn. The incident showed how the Estonians and the Russians, even 15 years after independence, still don`t get along with each other very well.

Posted by Bruno

Estonian Language

It may not come as a surprise that the main language in Estonia is Estonian. Over one million people speak it as their first language, leaving a second place for Russian which used to be the main language of public communication until the early 1990s. Estonian is related to Finnish and, at a larger distance, Hungarian. This so called Finno-Ugric language group has very little similarities with other European languages. Today, I am hoping to learn more about the language that Estonians are so proud of.

Posted by Bruno

World Politics

11 September 2007. Six years have passed since it became obvious that the world would not be the same place again. Terrorism, fundamentalism and their counter-variants are at the same time fighting for freedom and destroying it. Far away from the real world, I am trying to get a hold of the Estonian view on global politics.

Posted by Bruno

I arrived in Estonia about a week ago, and on every one of these days, somebody `had to go to Tallinn` or somebody had actually left for Tallinn. Everything big seems to happen in Tallinn, and people may complain about having to go there, they all seem to have to every now and then. I`m on the island of Saaremaa today, psychologically speaking almost the furthest one can get from Tallinn without leaving Estonia. I am trying to find out how the different regions in Estonia compare to each other.

Posted by Bruno

Discovering nature

In a country as sparsely populated as Estonia – less than 30 inhabitants per square kilometre – you are bound to find a lot of open space. Nature, all there for exploring! Today, I am joining a group of Estonians on their trip through Soomaa National Park. First of all for fun, secondly to find out how much Estonians are atteched to nature.

Posted by Bruno