SOCIAL SAUNAS Originating from rural areas, the sauna has evolved over the years and now you can find a variety of styles, from luxury models to simple wooden structures around the world. However, in Finland, saunas are so prolific that by last count, the country boasts nearly one sauna for every two people. There are communal saunas and even saunas in student dorms, because in Finland and around Scandinavia, these spaces are for socializing. It’s a great way to meet people and make friends. If you get the opportunity to enjoy a sauna session in Scandinavia, a small, yet important, cultural di¡erence to keep in mind is that locals will most likely be nude. Even among strangers and in mixed genders. If wearing a swimsuit or a towel helps you feel more comfortable, then that is completely acceptable (which is a relief for this shy writer). The most important thing is to relax, socialize, stay hydrated, and revel in that blissful post-sauna feeling.

FEELING FRILUFTSLIV Living in a busy city, one tends to forget what silence is like or what fresh air can do to your mood. As much as a city person I may be, there is something magical that happens when I’m surrounded by nature. The deeper I walk into a lush forest, the quicker my worries peel away. Not only is this a common practice throughout Scandinavia, but there is a word for it. Long before the Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku (or forest bathing) became popular, the Norwegians were spending their summers living a “free-air life” with their philosophy of friluftsliv. Put simply, it’s a return to nature. You can experience it by camping, backpacking, or hiking — as long as you get outside. Although there are significant benefits, the focus shouldn’t be on exerting yourself or winning a race or doing better than those in your group.



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