In the spirit of Finnish composer Sibelius (whose music is in our concerts with the Gryphon Trio), we interviewed our lovely Finnish intern Salla Tonteri to hear her thoughts about Calgary, the CPO, and Finland! Salla is acting as a Development Assistant. She’s helping out our Development Department, and right now, works closely with our Special Events Manager, Jessica, to organize and execute our Cork & Canvas events. We’re very lucky to have her!
Q: What are you studying back in Finland?
ST: I’m studying in a degree program called International Trade. My courses are a mixture of marketing, accounting, communication studies and languages.
Q: Are you in University?
ST: My school is called a University of Applied Sciences, but in Finland this school “ammattikorkeakoulu” isn’t considered to be the same thing as University. These studies are more practical and less theoretical than the traditional University studies.
Q:Why did you come to Calgary?
ST: My Canadian boyfriend wanted to come home after his studies ended in Finland last December. We were very happy to hear about this opportunity at the CPO.
Q: What’s the most surprising thing you’ve experienced in Calgary?
ST: My hometown and Calgary are different in many ways. Lahti has around 100 000 citizens and Calgary over 1 million. The landscape is also different; Calgary is mostly prairie and in Lahti there is a big lake and lots of forests. In Lahti, people bike and walk everywhere because the city area is rather small. Here in Calgary I rarely see people walking or biking in communities, people seem to drive cars everywhere.
Q: What have you learned from your experience at the CPO?
I have learned a lot about the Canadian culture while working at the CPO. I have deepened my skills with Microsoft Office and learnt a little bit about the software they use here. I also feel that my verbal communication skills have improved.
Q: What have you enjoyed the most about working at the CPO?
ST: I enjoy the great work atmosphere and the friendliness of the staff. The work tasks are very versatile and interesting.
Salla’s Fun Facts about Finland: Three Public Holidays
1. “Palmusunnuntai” – Palm Sunday 13th April 2014
On Palm Sunday children go from door to door dressed up like witches with decorated willow branches casting a “spell” on people for the upcoming year. The spell is cast by waving a decorated willow branch at people and singing a poem: “Virvon varvon tuoreeks terveeks tulevaks vuodeks. Vitsa sulle, palkka mulle.” After the good spell has been cast, the person should give candy to the “witch” as a reward for the service. This tradition is more popular in Finland than Halloween.
Vappu honors the Finnish working class. A traditional way to celebrate Vappu is having a picnic in a park. People wear their graduation caps, dress up in funny costumes and drink champagne. The biggest picnic is held in the Kaivopuisto –park in Helsinki.
Juhannus is a mid-summer celebration. It is the brightest day of the year, also known as our summer solstice. Even in Southern Finland the sun is up for 19 hours on this day! People celebrate Juhannus by burning large bonfires by lakes, listening to live music and dancing to the music, ballroom style.