Welcome to this week’s Postcard From – the feature where I chat to some lucky explorer about their recent travels. If you would like to take part please get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org or @em_luxton – I would love to hear from you!
This week’s Postcard From guest is Sanna, a 27-year-old Communications Professional and Travel Blogger from Finland. Sanna has visited 27 countries so far and the plan is not to stop there. Travelling, movies and good stories in all forms are Sanna’s great passions in life. This is exactly why she hopes to share great stories around the world through her writing and her blog, Adventures Of A Finn. She is currently doing a journalism internship in Upper Peninsula, Michigan. This is the first time Sanna has been to the U.S. so she is very excited to see this part of the world with her own eyes and not just through movies. You can keep up with Sanna on Facebook, and Twitter and Instagram @Sanna_Tolmunen.
Hi Sanna! Tell us about your new home town!
I’ve been living in Hancock for about two months now. It’s a small town in Upper Peninsula, Michigan. When I found out I got the internship position I applied for at The Finnish American Reporter, I was a bit nervous because it is such a small town and kind of in the middle of nowhere. But at the same time I knew it was a unique opportunity, so as an adventurer I couldn’t say no to that and I’ve been so happy I came here.
Sounds pretty amazing – congratulations! What’s winter like in Michigan?
It has been snowing almost non-stop for weeks now! I am Finnish so snow is not a big shock to me but the amount of snow has been overwhelming and the fact that it started snowing so early. I’ve been told that usually it doesn’t snow here before Thanksgiving. So if you’re into winter sports this is a great place for that! I really want to go snowshoeing but haven’t gotten around to it yet, but I will. And the snow probably won’t melt before April so I have plenty of time to do that!
Is Hancock a nice place to live?
Hancock has a small town charm to it which I’m sure you couldn’t find in bigger cities. When you walk around here people say hi to you on streets even when they don’t know you. For somebody coming from a bigger city in Finland this feels very strange but only in a good way. People have been so welcoming. I even got invited to have dinner with someone’s family even though I didn’t know them. That doesn’t happen every day! And living expenses are low here compared to bigger cities so I’ll be able to travel around with the money I save (New York, New York!).
Perfect! So, besides landing your dream job, what’s been your highlight so far?
I’ve had a chance to see some great sights here in Upper Peninsula. The highlight so far has definitely been a fall colour lift ride I took up to Mount Bohemia in October. You get to take a ski lift ride to the top of the mountain with just $8. The fall foliage here is amazing and I’m really happy I got to see that before snow covered everything.
How’s the food in Michigan?
Upper Peninsula of Michigan is known for its pasties (a baked pastry; crust filled with vegetables and ground beef). The Northern part of the peninsula is also known as the Copper Country because the area was built from the prosperity of the copper mining boom. The copper and iron mines opened in early 1850’s and many Europeans immigrated to Michigan from countries such as Finland and England.
It is said that the pasties were brought over from Cornwall England by the immigrants. The pasties were easy food for miners as they could put them in their pockets and with them to the mines. Now there is even an annual Pasty Fest here in Calumet, Michigan in the summer. So if you want to try some pasties I bet this festival is the place to go to!
I love pasties, but I never knew they were eaten in America! Now, have there been any mishaps since your move?
I love Halloween which is why I was very excited to be in the U.S. for it. The only problem was that a few days before Halloween all the stores in the area ran out of pumpkins. Which was crazy considering the amount of pumpkins they had there just a few days earlier! Me and my roommate solved the problem by stealing one from our neighbours. Okey, it wasn’t actually stealing as they had moved out a bit earlier and left the pumpkin behind. So I owe a big thank you for my ex-neighbours here in Michigan for providing me with a pumpkin to carve. It was my first time carving one.
Have you learnt any American slang since leaving Finland?
Yoopers is a fun term which refers to people from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The term comes from the initials U.P. which stands for Upper Peninsula.
And finally: Do you have any tips or advice for anyone heading to Michigan?
I would say Upper Peninsula Michigan is worth a visit especially in the fall with all the beautiful colours. I’d say make it part of a road trip in the U.S. if you’re planning one! The public transportation is not so great up here so a car will definitely be useful.
NB – all images are owned by Sanna Tolmunen