Raha – what does it mean to you?

It’s no secret… Finland is an expensive place to live in.

Raha is Finnish for money but in Swahili means joy or happiness. It is no secret that Finland has a high cost of living, but there are some ways to make raha (Finnish) bring you raha (Swahili).

I was seated in a bar and got chatting with a friend about life in general. The conversation went towards how one can stretch a euro for as long as possible. So this is my two cents on what a person can do in Jyväskylä. Of course these are not the only ways.

Bike Vs Bus Vs Walking. Jyväskylä’s bicycle and walking path network is expansive. That  means there is no need to compete with cars for space. So why would it be a good idea to own a bicycle? Well, its good exercise, you have space for parking in nearly every building and in the long run it is cheap. Allow me to give you some figures, a bus trip is 3 euros per trip so by the end of the day its 6 euros (to and fro). If you buy a bicycle for 70 euros (a modest bike), the bike saves you money after 12 days. Sounds logical.
But what if i cannot ride a bike?  It is said that 30 minutes of brisk walking is good for your health. Another good thing about the location of the student housing areas, is the close proximity to the city centre. From personal experience, i prefer walking in late autumn and winter because the roads are icy and with good clothing i feel warmer when i reached my destination.
What if I do not like walking and I cannot ride a bicycle? A money saving option would be to purchase multiple trip tickets. They have a range of options to choose from. If you consider this option, the http://www.jyvaskylanliikenne.fi is the website of the local bus company. Google translate would be useful for the Finnish words.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Like in many consumer societies all around the world, From outgrown clothes to household furniture, 2nd hand stores, yard sales (mostly in early autumn and summer), counter trade stores are found in the many parts of the city. The concept of counter trade, especially in the student villages is one of a kind. It works on the simple principle of take what you need and bring what you don’t need as long as it is not broken or damaged. 2nd hand stores would be worth visiting especially on a tight budget. You may be lucky to find some new items that someone else didn’t like.

Putting your culinary skills to the test. I must admit, am not a chef but I can cook for myself and anyone else not fussy about what they eat. I love food from my home country and also a lot of Indian food. However, I went to a restaurant and my jaw dropped at the prices (after converting to my home currency and comparing the prices). It was then I decided, that I will try making it that following weekend. To cut a long story short, the food turned out edible for nearly half the price. I discovered student groups that had cooking classes (depending on the area, some are free; all you need to buy are the ingredients) and participated in some.

Internet purchases, e-bay. This is to be used at personal discretion. Use trusted sites only. A good source of items within Finland is the huuto.net which is the Finnish version of E-bay. I must admit, it is quite handy especially once you have the hang of the rating system of the sellers and the bidding system. Remember to check if the shipping, postage and/or other taxes are included in the price.

Keep your eyes peeled… A friend of mine was always on the lookout for sales, coupons, loyalty points, discounts, promotions etc… mostly advertised in the local papers and she got really good deals on many items. The two major sales seasons are in January and July (at least from what I saw), where good quality can be offered to up to 80% discount (seeing is believing). This tactic requires patience, luck and planning.

Remember you are a student; use it to your advantage… There are all these student discounts in many shops, cafeterias, restaurants, buses, trains, airlines, clubs, travel agencies and so on. If you have a student card, ask if there are discounts offered. My personal favourite is using the student card in many museums on Fridays … Free entrance.

Follow the rules and don’t lock yourself out of your room… Not long ago, I went to school as always and in my rush locked myself out of my room. With no spare key and since it was outside accommodation office hours, I called the janitor to open the room for me. When the janitor opened the room, he immediately billed me for the service. Experience is a good teacher.


Night walk

First and Foremost I would like to thank Arto, Elina and the rest of the gang who co-ordinate Feel Finnish Habits for organizing the night walk around. Jyväskylä (the city of lights) comes alive in the silent dark cold autumn night. Starting from the highest point in the city, Harju then the church park (Kirkkupuisto), the harbour and finally back to the city centre… all the pictures were taken by yours truly.

BIG DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional but an amateur photographer.

Looking towards the East

Looking down from the tower.

Since Halloween is here… the lights and the unexplained images….

Another side of the city… why do these shadows keep hovering?

it’s like a fire in the forest that does not burn

Church. I was lucky with the clouds

The snow is with us. Summer is in 7 months (Power of optimism)

A random bike

blue stairway to somewhere or white.

Walking a long the harbour. Question; If there are no boats, is it still a harbour or just water with wood planks?

Last call…. The only boat left in the harbour

Kuokkala bridge. One of the landmarks of the city.

Above all the traffic below.

City centre walkway.

Thank you… Kiitos. For reaching the bottom of this post. Like the facebook page below.

The Bike trip story

“If you want to travel fast, travel alone; if you want to travel far, travel together.”-African Proverb.

Once upon a September, my friends (Budi and Roshan) and I decided to go on a trip to see some of the landmarks close to the Jyväskylä. We planned to cycle as far and as long as possible. So we assembled one Saturday morning….

  Two heads are better than one; Also two maps are better than none. We found following street names that we had noted, previously, to be useful.

After a few hours of riding and sight seeing along the way, we got to Petäjävesi but…

  Disappointment, as the church had caught the flu that was flying around in the fall. I hope it gets well soon….
Aha! This was the cause… Hay Fever. ’Bad hay, naughty hay’.  
  For a sick church, it stands quite proudly and strong. Interesting fact about Petäjävesi old church: it is a UNESCO world heritage site, it is made of wood and it was built in 1763-64. It is open to the public in late spring until mid September. Check out http://www.petajavesi.fi/kirkko/index.php?lang=enfor more information.

With surroundings like these, who won’t get better. Quite serene, isn’t it? If you look closely to the right, you can see a faint rainbow.

  After a break, we were off on our journey…
Down-up-down-up-downnnn-up-up-down. AND UP.  

With so much excitement, we decide to rest our legs and bikes…

[budi] Luck is one of the most important ingredients of a good trip. That time we got lucky with the weather.  

As we cycled on our way, people wave and greet us. It was a good feeling. Then we stumbled upon a horse farm…

  Then we had an idea; WHAT if we used the horses for the rest of the trip?  When we ’whispered’ the idea to the horses….
Well, I don’t think the horses were up for the idea.  

With a horse rejection, we continued on our way…

  This is why i like cycling out of town…. very light traffic and beautiful landscape.
After an eight-hour trip with a number of stops, photo sessions, water and food, we completed 85 km.  

Ahhh… a little to the left. (Kids, Please don’t try this at home). Small joys of this world.

There are some bike map routes from Jyväskylä that can be found from http://www.jyps.info/pyoraily/pyorareitteja-keski-suomessa (use google translate/chrome, if you don’t understand Finnish).

The recipe for a good bike trip in Finland:

–         A good bike. A bike with gears is preferable.

–         Bike Map

–         Appropriate clothing (wind jacket, water proof jacket, gloves, eyeglasses (depending on the weather). DO NOT OVERDRESS, you will get hot from peddling ).

–         Food (sandwiches mostly), water, juice, energy drink, sweets, chocolates…anything that can rehydrate and energize. Alcohol is not recommended during the trip but after…

–         Puncture repair kit and small first aid kit.

–         Saddle cushion (optional, but a good idea if you like your tooshie.) There are also cycling pants with padding that are available.

–         Small pump (optional).

–         If your Finnish is very sketchy, a small phrase book is helpful but not necessary.

Anything else guys…

[budi] 1) Keep your bag light, or else you’ll suffer in uphill track. 2) Bring about 2-3 litres of water. If you’re brave enough, bring just one small bottle and ask locals for free refills. 3) Repair/service/oil your bike before the trip to make sure it works flawlessly.

I’m really glad I went to this trip. It’s a mix of everything I enjoy about travelling: nature, physical activities, spontaneity, experience, low cost, and good friends. I won’t forget that time when we ate lunch on a bench just next to a graveyard in the middle of rain. And also the moment when we finally arrived in a “real” civilization. The feeling of achievement was just so overwhelming. After we concluded the trip by sauna, the day was perfect for me. Cheers to Derek and Roshan for the company during the whole trip. We shall do this crazy $#!+ again in winter 🙂


I would like to thank Budi and Roshan for their contribution to the article and for making this a memorable trip.

Autumn is near or already here.


Coming from a tropical country, it’s a strange feeling to have different seasons other than the two; long and short rains. The new school term or semester begins in September marking the beginning of autumn or fall. Trees covered by rusty brown leaves and eventual falling of the leaves. Like the leaves, the temperature also falls, the days becomes shorter and the sky is often grey (Small chance of looking at stars). Sigh! People’s energy levels also take a dip. Here are a few tips on how to beat the autumn blues:

Do not panic… there are lights everywhere. Jyväskylä is known as the city of lights. Let me rephrase it, Finland’s own City of Light. I was surprised the first time; my flatmate took me to a running track in the forest that was lit. There are few areas in Jyväskylä that are dark (except deep in the forest). Normal activities are carried out even when the sunsets at 3 pm (that is not a typo; night comes early at this time of year).  Check out this website: http://valonkaupunki.jyvaskyla.fi/english/cityoflight

Dress like a kid… I don’t mean literally wear the same clothes but dress as warm as one. If you are not sure as to how warmly dressed you should be, observe what they (children) wear; if they are wearing gloves and jackets, do the same. The trick is layering. Wear as many layers of clothes, it keeps the warmth in and if too much, peeling off the layers will cool you off. A pipo (Finnish, for woollen hat) will be your best friend. You might also notice people sporting reflectors; it is for your safety and the safety of everyone else. If you decide to buy a bike, include in your budget a bike lamp or headlamp unless included in the price.

Add a little sun into your room… I will not go into specifics of how a full-spectrum light bulb works, all that I will say for now is that, it ‘mimics’ the sun. The general benefits are improved concentration, less eye strain, improved mood and better colour perception. But why not use a compact fluorescent light bulb? Yes, you can use them, they are generally cheaper than full-spectrum bulbs except may be the difference is in the light temperature. It is better than using incandescent yellow light bulbs, trust me I have experienced it. Early morning sunshine is a good source of vitamin D but since that will be in short supply; the next best thing is to take vitamin D supplements or foods rich in vitamin D like cheese and salmon.

By Tania Skaradek

Take a walk… Or a jog or a bike ride or join the gym. The temperatures may be low but exercise is still important during this period. Maintaining a regular routine will ensure that the body clock does not become chaotic. The university of Jyväskylä is equipped with indoor sports. (supervised and unsupervised activities). If you are not a sporty person, there are organised hobby groups and clubs in scattered all over the city. Activities ranging from board games, knitting, cooking classes, dance classes, martial arts,  DIY (Do It Yourself) groups, cultural conversation groups, singing… the list is quite large so I will save time and stop there.