How to survive Covid in a small northern town in Finland
Written By Drew Silverman
In the event that you fly all the way to Joensuu, a northern Finnish town, with an all-star team of MBA classmates to work with a client and then test positive for Covid on the first day, I have the information you seek.
Firstly, you need amazing teammates. I was lucky enough to be traveling with Kylie and Jingwen who did not panic when the two hot pink lines instantly surfaced on my test. They got me settled, threw on some N95 masks, and then shouldered the lion share of our client work while I hunkered down.
Sustenance is key for recuperating. Unfortunately, the soup selection in Finland is extremely lackluster (unless you’re enjoying their famous and delicious salmon soup which was unavailable in the grocery store). My teammates came to the rescue by making me homemade chicken noodle soup on a tiny induction stove in a hotel room. Supposedly they got some quizzical looks when checking out with the ingredients at the grocery store. Bringing good chicken noodle soup to Finland is a promising business opportunity…
Getting fresh air and sunlight at least once a day is also important when you’re quarantining. In the summertime in Finland this is a nonissue as the sun sets at 11pm and rises again at 4am. Joensuu has beautiful, extensive walkways along the Pielisjoki river, so taking advantage of those on daily walks will have you feeling better in no time.
Finally, once you test negative and begin the final recuperation phase, the sauna is the place for you! Finnish sauna culture is ubiquitous and is definitely one of the reasons why Finland is ranked happiest country in the world.
There are over 2 million saunas in Finland, and most people have one in their home or apartment. I went in the sauna as often as I could once I was out of quarantine, and the temperature extremes of the scorching sauna to a cold shower or plunge definitely contributed to my revitalization. My team and I tried many saunas in Joensuu, Utra, and Helsinki including wood-burning, electrically heated, and smoke saunas.
On my final night in Finland, seared from the sauna, I plunged into the 40º Baltic Sea under a bright sky and was overcome with clarity and gratitude — for my teammates, the Haas IBD program, the ability to explore new places, and even the misfortune of Covid, which made my days discovering Finland all the more precious.