We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The Tripadvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

A foreigner in Vaasa: What to do, wear and how to go places?

Level Contributor
13 posts
8 reviews
13 helpful votes
A foreigner in Vaasa: What to do, wear and how to go places?

Hi guys,

Here's the thing, I'm going to Vaasa in a couple weeks for work reasons, but I'll be staying there for a couple weeks and I want to first, manage how to even exist there, and then manage how to make the most of that time.

I come from Latin America and I'll arrive at Helsinki, from there I'll take another plain to Vaasa and I'll arrive there probably around mid afternoon. A few things I'd like to know are:

1.) What do I wear?:

I come from a straight 30 °C all year round, I have no winter clothes whatsoever besides a couple hoodies. Someone sent me a picture from Larsno this time of the year and it seems to be covered in snow, so I'm guessing a hoodie won't do much in Vaasa... Keep in mind I've never seen snow in my life, and the coldest temperature I've ever withstood is probably 7 °C, nothing under zero. I'm probably good with cold, in fact I'm terribly excited about seeing the snow and playing in it, but the point is, I'm gonna need the right clothes and I have no idea what to buy. I've been trying to read online about the whole "layers" thing, but I can't seem to find common ground. Some people seem to wear giant jackets that seem to be made out of dead mammoths, while some others wear what seems to be a jacket and a hoodie. Then there's the whole issue about thermal underwear, winter boots, and all that! Could someone please just tell me what should I weak to not freeze to death and still look decent? I plan to buy this -what you recommend- in Miami since I'll stop there for a whole day before I depart to Helsinki.

2.) How do I get from Vaasa's airport to anywhere?:

I still don't know what hotel I'll be staying at, but whatever it is I know I'll have to get myself there. Like I've mentioned, I know nothing about subzero etiquette so please help me out. Is it ok to just step out of the airport in the middle of the cold and I don't know, get a cab o the bus?. I've heard Finland is extremely organized so I'm guessing I'll be fine walking in the streets as long as the elements don't kill me. But! How do I get to places? Is there a bus that can take me downtown or something like that, or maybe to the hotel? Or is it better to take a cab, and how much could that cost? Remember I'll have bags... hopefully I'll be prepared for the weather.

3.) Manners and customs:

I've been trying to work out the different culture thing, learning Finnish phrases and manners. I don't want to sound rude to people, and not even know that I'm being disrespectful or dumb. Hence my question before, will it be weird to people if I just step outside the airport with my bags and try to get the bus? That kind of things. I want to blend in and go along with people's customs. Is it still all right to ask the bus driver where' my stop? Will there even be a bus driver?!

4.) Where to go and what places to visit:

Of course, last but not list, what places should I visit there and what should I do? I'll be there for a couple weeks working but I'll probably have a weekend all for myself. Please recommend places and activities! I'm in a low budget but I want to make the most I can out of this trip.

Thanks in advance! Eager to hear form you guys.

6 replies to this topic
Helsinki, Finland
Level Contributor
1,130 posts
84 reviews
36 helpful votes
1. Re: A foreigner in Vaasa: What to do, wear and how to go places?

About clothing: no wonder you are confused as here in north we dress differently for indoors, outdoors (say commuting) and serious outdoors (several hours in wilderness). Inside offices and homes it is +20 C and dry. If you work with computers or academia, your hoodie and jeans will do, if you are into law and business type of work, a suit is probably recommended. And socks and shoes.

If you pop outdoors for only 10-15 minutes, you add to the abovementioned gloves, hat, scarf around your neck and a coat. And look at your shoes. Sneakers get very slippery in cold, When you come in, you take these off, even for longer bus journeys.

Then if you do outdoors activities, you add "thermal base layers" and other invisible stuff.

About blending in: do not worry. All Finns read English in school. Vaasa is a bilingual town (Finnish & Swedish) so everyone has met someone who does not speak their language fluently. "Hey" (for hello) and "kiitos" (rhimes with mosquitos, for thank you) will get you far.

Helsinki, Finland
Level Contributor
1,130 posts
84 reviews
36 helpful votes
2. Re: A foreigner in Vaasa: What to do, wear and how to go places?

For shopping in Miami: look at http://dresslikea.com/ post "Cold day inspiration for a casual weekend", those are the items you need. The brands he mentions are very expensive.

Finland
Destination Expert
for Helsinki, Finland
Level Contributor
7,136 posts
93 reviews
83 helpful votes
3. Re: A foreigner in Vaasa: What to do, wear and how to go places?

3.) Manners and customs:

I've been trying to work out the different culture thing, learning Finnish phrases and manners. I don't want to sound rude to people, and not even know that I'm being disrespectful or dumb. Hence my question before, will it be weird to people if I just step outside the airport with my bags and try to get the bus? That kind of things. I want to blend in and go along with people's customs. Is it still all right to ask the bus driver where' my stop? Will there even be a bus driver?!

Finland is pretty pan-European in this respect. A couple of phares like kiitos do no harm but are not expected. Use plain English. It will be widely understood. Finns are straight forward and uncomplicated, ofter referred as rude by foreigners. No sugar coating is needed in Finland, just say what you want. There is no fear of you blending in, you'll always be treated as a foreigner.

Rovaniemi, Finland
Level Contributor
3,398 posts
4. Re: A foreigner in Vaasa: What to do, wear and how to go places?

"There is no fear of you blending in, you'll always be treated as a foreigner."

That might be true... :) But as a foreigner you are also excused for a lot. If you are worried of being disrespectful or dumb, I would say Finns are even more worried how they look to you.

...

I'm not an expert of Vaasa, haven't been there since student times, but a big thing there right now is their hockey team Sport. They were promoted to our top league for this season. I would try to catch a game if possible:

http://www.vaasansport.fi/etusivu/

A cruise to Sweden perhaps? Not the biggest of ferries going between Vaasa and Umeå, but could be a chilling experience in the winter:

http://www.wasaline.com/en/?market=en

For other daytrips Tampere is just about 2,5 hours on train from Vaasa.

Helsinki, Finland
Destination Expert
for Helsinki, Oulu, Lapland
Level Contributor
6,819 posts
98 reviews
52 helpful votes
5. Re: A foreigner in Vaasa: What to do, wear and how to go places?

Info on getting from the airport to the centre of Vaasa: http://www.finavia.fi/en/vaasa/arriving/ . It's either a taxi ride or a bus (more or less one service per hour: http://www.vaasanpaikallisliikenne.fi/Lentokenttaliikenne ). Bus fare is 5.20€.

With luggage and in an unknown town, I'd take a taxi.

Finland is an extremely safe country, so there's no real need to worry about your safety apart protecting you from the weather ;) .

Helsinki, Finland
Level Contributor
1,642 posts
6. Re: A foreigner in Vaasa: What to do, wear and how to go places?

Clothes. The temperature varies a lot. But I would imagine that as you're not used to the climate, this combination might work for you:

- hat, maybe a beanie

- scarf, woolen if possible

- gloves or mittens, leather gloves can be a good idea, they protect from the wind

I mention these first because you will freeze your fingers and toes first and an uncovered head looses a great deal of warmth

- shoes that protect the ankles and preferably have some kind of lining, choose bigger rather than smaller

- it might be the best idea to invest on a puffer jacket, not necessarily on a proper parka but those puffy creations that usually have some feathers as insulation. Under that you can wear just your normal clothes

- longjohns under jeans would be pretty practical solution

Manners

No one expects you to speak Finnish, the language is totally non-comprehendable to foreigners. Most Finns know a great deal of English even if they might spoke little hesitantly. It's because we are taught to be careful about any mistakes. Spanish is a popular language especially among younger women, so don't be surprised if people understand your mother tongue. Our speech, in any language, can sound a bit monotonic to a Spanish speaker because of the way Finnish language is spoken. We do not use words please and thank you as much as other nationalities, and "how are you" would be a literal question, not a greeting. Our greeting most likely is something like "hi!". If we are just figuring out our answer, we are not necessarily saying "well..let's see" but stay quiet. Not everyone, of course, but these are the little nuances I often notice myself and they may make you feel like it's difficult to connect. Just remember that those won't be signs of not liking you or being involved.

And the personal space might be bigger for Finns, in elevators it is customary to stand as far from others as possible, if you try to get closer to someone, s/he most likely tries to move further away. I'm always first a bit jumpy in Spain or Italy because people come so close to me.

Finns tend to know about different cultures and are curious about them even to the point they don't advertise their own. So just being yourself and telling about your life is probably appreciated, no need to try to blend in. But in general, walking alone, eating alone, are very common here, so just grabbing your bags etc. won't look weird at all.

The country is as safe as it can get. Drunks on a Friday night might be provoked by ethnicity, especially if pretty ladies are involved (and pretty ladies usually really like latin guys, if stereotyping is allowed - be aware, in Finland women are more straightforward in expressing their admiration!) Alcohol has a big part in parties and is painfully expensive, so bringing a bottle of your favourite liquor pays off if you are planning activities like that.

Edited: 9 years ago
Reply to: A foreigner in Vaasa: What to do, wear and how to go places?
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted
Get answers to your questions about Vaasa
© 2024 Tripadvisor LLC All rights reserved.

This is the version of our website addressed to speakers of English in Ireland. If you are a resident of another country or region, please select the appropriate version of Tripadvisor for your country or region in the drop-down menu.