Walking speed

One detail that differs between cultures, is the speed of walking. I visited the museum of communication in Frankfurt am Main where you can among all the other things explore the speeds physically.

The task was to walk a so-called ‘catwalk’ as normal as possible and see which country your speed matches. The first time I tried to walk normally, as I do on the streets. The result was the speed of Sweden, which hits very close home up in Scandinavia.

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With a growing excitement, I tried all the different speeds to experience the feelings people have around the world while walking. I had to almost run to reach the fastest Swiss, and when moving as the Brazilians, I had time to improve my samba moves.

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Here are some examples of speed in different countries, for example the results of this walking test of 10 meters

What is not included in this test, is that people walk with different speeds also according to the area they are from, whether they live in a city or countryside, and whether they have to hurry or not.

Even though I don’t like generalizing things, and even less groups of people, but an average walking speed tells something about the culture. How about, which nationality would you be?

Belonging

Belonging to something is a big and important part of our lives. Cultures and all the groups around give us the privilege to fill the life with connections and caring.

We all belong to many subgroups, such as bloggers, surfers and teachers. But talking about deeper connections, we start to understand ourselves, how we have become the persons that we are. Also, we learn to see behind the actions of others and respect the different ways of living.

The surrounding people and areas have the biggest effect on our lives. From our parents, we get the genes and the heritage of the family history, and from school mates and teachers, we adapt many skills for life. All the people around us influence the way we grow to be. The city, country, cultural and linguistic areas and also different unions (such as European Union) build a part of us with their history, religions, laws and habits.

The main parts of one’s behaviour, attitudes and believes come from the culture they are born in, one gets raised to live following certain laws, and one’s morals in life are likely to be based on the believes of the main religion of the country. For example, even if I don’t belong to a specific church anymore, the cultural background of Christianity in Finland stays in me – I believe it is a right thing to do to be good to one another and respect the life around without destruction.

Every single person on this planet is unique with their personal background. But regardless of all the differences there might be, we all belong to one big group – human beings of this planet. All the same. We all have thoughts and feelings.

It’s natural for a human being to gather a group around, to have a stronger feeling of belonging, such as we see the cities, countries and different cultural areas as the result of this behaviour.

But a human also moves, gets attracted by diversity and wants to improve. Since in the end we are all the same, I personally don’t understand the self-destruction of societies and the whole world in general. Limiting moving by countries borders, manipulating thinking, blocking creating and in the same, making slower the whole evolution of a human being.

A very wise friend of mine put this question in my mind with awakening words: “Isn’t it just absurd that one human being born in a certain place in a certain time cannot move free on this very planet because another creature just like him/her has decided so?”

I’m wondering if there’s a solution for us to live in peace in full diversity without made limits, power of cash, wars and poverty. The Earth is a beautiful place to live and learn. Shall we ever give a proper chance for us to improve, succeed and most of all – belong to this place and time together?

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The silence of the midsummer’s nightless night // Keuruu, Finland

Insights to the closed cultures and countries – in 3 books

I prefer to feel the air of another country rather than watching it from TV, and hear the real stories behind the touristic brochures. But sometimes it is not possible, or it is hard to find someone who would say a word.

In these cases my way is to read a book written by an insider, sometimes even risking their own life in it as well. Of course, books and movies might lack some real tastes and smells that you can sense only at the very place, but they can give an insight to something extreme that otherwise would be impossible or deathly to experience.

I really want to share three books that I find interesting and revealing, and that have given me a lot personally.

1. Gomorra by Roberto Saviano

A book that reveals the reality of Campania area in Italy, the cruelty of one of the strongest mafias in the world. Italy and areas around Naples are open for anyone to visit, but it is a rare case to witness some of these events as a tourist. Mafia works very underground but still affects everyone’s life in the country, even abroad. The movie going with same title directed by Matteo Garrone gives a good support with images after reading the book.

2. A thousand splendid suns by Khaled Hosseini

A heart-breaking story of three generations of women living in Afghanistan. The book gives an insight to the life of normal human beings, and how their world is changed by different invaders, most recent and cruel being the talebans. The first book of the author, The kite runner, as well as the movie made of it, is worth of checking.

3. Nothing to envy: Ordinary lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick

This book is written by an American journalist that has created a story collecting material by interviewing the people that has escaped from North Korea. In the case of this country, it is quite impossible to get any information or experience the real life in person. So the stories of North Koreans themselves, or a book like this that puts all the pieces together, is the only way to get a look to the culture of propaganda, the culture of a closed country.

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My own copy of the closed country, in Finnish.

Creating New Culture,

Satu

You have to travel far to see close – Introduction to exploring

You have to travel far to see close. I heard this quote many times since a kid, but understood the true meaning only when I actually went far. And by this I don’t even mean physically travelling to the other side of the globe (which I also did). Even in your own home city you can explore something very far from your everyday life.

We are used to repeat our days. We have habits in everything, the route to work as well as which milk we choose in the supermarket next door. Even a little change can open your eyes, in these examples changing the car to walking one morning (meaning another route) or going to another supermarket that might not have the same milk brand.

Anyone may start exploring physically close but travel very far in the mind. Of course, abroad it’s more likely that several different things hit you that you’ve never thought of before. A holiday to the beach resort might not be the most culture shocking choice, since it is designed for you to feel EXACTLY as at home, most of the times also the travel guide speaks your language. If the purpose of the trip is to relax and have everything as easy as possible, ready package vacation is the one to choose. In this case though, the culture of the country doesn’t really open to you.

How to explore a new culture then? In the end, it takes very little effort. Most important is to keep your mind open, give a possibility for the new ways of living introduce themselves to you. Meeting the locals is a very good start, also when visiting your neighbour city in your own country. There’s always someone who is ready to show you the insights of their culture. Locals are likely to bring you to places that you otherwise wouldn’t find, make you taste something you’ve never heard of, and teach you a part of their history and beliefs.

Listening, hearing, seeing and feeling this new world will make you compare it to your home culture. What do I like better here, what I prefer at home? What could we learn from each other? You might learn a new language, or improve one. Interaction with anything different from you will give you so much, make you grow and think. It will make you richer.

Here I have some examples what kinds of things you could explore. All the pictures are from my travel archives of past years.

Exploring the miracles of nature, temperature changes, different landscapes and extreme experiences in it, getting to know the history and art, changing points of view and interacting through other visions and thoughts, tasting new flavours and sensing the vibes:

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Amazing view of Mediterranean sea. I was introduced to Sicilian culture by a local family, I ate fresh melons from their backyard, improved my Italian and explored the history of the area.
Erice, Sicily, Italy / August 2012

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Freezing moments with -30C degrees, glittery snow in the air. My home but always an experience to feel it.
Jyväskylä, Finland / December 2012

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White river rafting – feeling the great power of the nature, understanding our mortality, living full with adrenaline.
Rotorua, New Zealand / March 2011

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Going back in time, feeling the ancient. I found this place to visit thanks to my Sicilian friend.
Segesta, Sicily, Italy / August 2012

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Fresh provoking art on shirt with the happy owner – me, Spr Fkr
I participated open doors of the museums of modern art in the downtown of Los Angeles and changed points of view with a local, talented artist.
Los Angeles, California, USA / Februay 2011

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Interacting with the visions of the greatest artists of all times in Louvre museum. I have visited several times, but I never get enough of the master pieces in it.
Paris, France / December 2011

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Delicious bruschetta bread after a burning day by Mediterranean sea. ‘On a holiday’
Terracina, Italy / August 2011

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A very special flavoured liqueur from Finland, tastes similar to liquorice, just saltier. Definitely a must! A ‘little-piece-of-home’ present from a lovely friend visiting me this weekend.
Frankfurt Am Main, Germany / February 2013

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Vibes of a lake in the silence of a  nightless night. In the middle of all chaos and experiences it is important to stop and reflect.
Keuruu, Finland / June 2008