How To Make Friends In Hostel?

Hello all fellow shy travelers! Today’s travel post is all for you. As totally introverted and socially awkward person traveling and especially hostel life may feel like a nightmare. You want to make new friends and learn about these amazing different cultures but something inside you just makes it impossible. With these tips you will be step closer to being that social traveler in hostel. (Or at least everyone will think that you are the social one…)

Of course anyone asking themselves the question ‘How to make friends in hostel?’ can follow my tips but these are made especially for all us shy people who wouldn’t usually start conversations with strangers.

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Photos from Unsplash

Everything starts with a smile

Don’t laugh, it’s the truth! With smile you can go a long way making friends in hostel. If you look like you are having the best day of your life, other hostel guests will more likely begin chatting with you than if you are just sulking in the corner. Make eye contact (not too often that’s just creepy) and smile. They will probably answer to your smile and if you are lucky even start talking with you.

This usually works because there is two types of people in hostels. Those who want to talk for others and those who don’t. And then of course those subcategories for people who only talk for pretty girls, with the staff members or when they are intoxicated. So, when you smile people know that they can safely approach you and start talking. Soon you may find yourself with new friend!

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Greet everyone always and everywhere

After smiling greeting other guests is the most important thing in making hostel friends if you ask from me. I have had many people starting interesting conversations with me after I have greeted them for a few mornings and evenings in row. Some people just take longer to warm up for you and greeting them every time you see them is good way to achieve just that.

In the other hand. It’s also the best way to make new friends on your first day in the hostel. And with the people who have just arrived to the hostel and are going to spend there their first night. You could call it the good first impression. You will snatch the best new hostel friends for yourself before they make friends with someone else and starting conversation with them will be harder.

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Easy questions always work

The most usual way to start conversation with someone in hostel is to ask where they are from. You might think that asking persons name would be one of the first questions but surprisingly sometimes it may take hours of talking before thing like that comes up. Crazy, right? But if knowing someone’s name is important you can always tell the “by the way, my name is ____” and they will probably tell you theirs.

The beginning of conversation when making friends in hostel usually goes by asking and answering questions. You will get hold on to it quickly after making your first few hostel friends. Ask them about their home country, how long they are going to stay in the destination, where they are going next, where have they been before, what they know about your home country and even tips for some destination they have been before. After a while the conversation will start flowing on its own. So, don’t worry too much.

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Pay attention to the small details

Paying attention to people around you is important part of making new hostel friends. Why? You may accidentally find reason to start conversation. I just recently talked a little with another hostel guest because we had identical laptops.

A few times I have made friends because I saw someone reading books, watching Youtube videos or talking with someone else about concert they have just been to. If you know something about the subject yourself, feel free to start conversation. “Excuse me, I could not hear you talking about being in the concert. You have good music taste, I love that band.” It may seem hard at first but after a while you will get used to it.

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Ask help or offer help

You are sitting in your dorm room, new guests walks in and you greet them happily. They start searching for their bed but look a little bit confused by the numbering system of your room’s beds. You have been following them in the corner of your eyes while surfing on your computer. Then you ask if they need help and tell them where their bed is. They will probably thank you and you can introduce yourself and ask where they are from. After that it’s easy to start talking and if they don’t look too tired after traveling you can even tell them that you were just leaving to eat something and ask them to join you.

Asking help and offering help is easy way to break the ice and start new friendship with your fellow hostel guest. I think this is one of the most common ways of making friends in hostels.

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Bride with food

You can’t get true friends with money but food is totally different subject. Some of the most interesting hostel friendships I have had have started with food. Recently in Bremen my dorm roommate made me breakfast because I woke up too late to eat it every morning. We talked a lot after that. During my Japan trip I made friends again and again with food. I especially remember the Halloween night when group of us ended up sharing candies to everyone and talked far into the night.

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Everything starts from the common room

After long day adventuring around the new city you are probably ready for the bed. However staying unsocial in your dorm room means no easy friends for you. Buy food or snacks from convenience store, take book or computer with you and set towards the common room or kitchen area. Then just find nice spot for yourself with many seats around you and began your waiting. Eventually someone will start talking with you.

Just remember all the other tips I have shared. Remember to greet every guest arriving to the room. Usually if you greet someone and even more often if you are the only person in the room, they will ask would it be okay to sit with you. Then just start talking. Ask them where they are from and hope for the best.

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The more the merrier

Don’t be scared of big groups. It’s more than normal for hostel friend groups grow uncontrollably. You may talk with one person, then third person starts talking with the two of your, fourth person asks if you know any good restaurants and you start all together planning meal together. Then a few hours later you will find yourself with six other hostel guests from too small restaurant for you all to fit in properly. Just normal hostel life…

So, be prepared to hang out in bigger groups and don’t be scared to start talking with people even if they are already with someone. And if you are asked to join group going out say yes! You can regret later and find stupid excuse to escape.

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It will either work or not

In the end you can’t force hostel friendships and making friends in hostel is more about lucky than social skills. Sometimes you make too many friends to even remember their names and sometimes you will only smile for someone and that’s it. That happened for me in Sweden. During my stay I only talked about two sentences with my roommates and I never met anyone else in the hostel. Bad luck.

My last tip for making friends in hostel for shy people is to just go for it. At first it is hard but you will get used to it quickly. Always keep in mind that if you don’t want you don’t have to see anyone here ever again. Heck, they don’t even know your full name so they will never find you anywhere. You can make fool of yourself or be totally awkward without any consequences. Making friends in hostel is perfect way to learn social skills. Feel free to fail as many times as you need.

And that’s all I have to say now about making friends in hostel from the introvert’s point of view. Do you have any tips or tricks for making friends? Or maybe someone more social person would like to tell how they start the first conversation in hostel? Like always all comments are welcome and thanks or reading.

And btw, don’t forget to follow my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!

I hope you are having an amazing day!
With love,

Lost Viivi 

10 Things To Do In Finland During Summer

I get quite often asked for things to do in Finland and especially things to do in Finland during summer. So as promised here is list of 10 things you should do during summer in Finland. Some of these are more specific while others can be done almost anywhere.

Before listing all the things I have in mind I just want to mention that if you have only time to do one thing in Finland you should just walk around the nature and enjoy our fresh aired green forests. These tips are mostly something we locals do during summers. Totally normal for us but something foreigners may not try without encouragement. Enjoy and all Finns feel free to share your own tips on comments!

 

10. Day trip to Suomenlinna

Travel Blog Things To Do In Finland

Suomenlinna (Finland’s castle) is sea fortress and small island that is part of Finland’s capital Helsinki. If you are looking for perfect day trip destination in Finland, Suomenlinna is just perfect in every way. Idyllic small city, historic castle (that isn’t really castle but hey at least it sounds cool!) and of course perfect picnic spots with sea view. Lucky ones may even wave for cruise ships sailing right next to the island or take part to interesting events happening during summer.

Suomenlinna has earned its place on our ’10 Things To Do In Finland During Summer’ list. In addition to beautiful walking trails and cool cafes you can find handful of museums. If history isn’t your thing I recommend visiting toy museums. It’s not too expensive and I live for the small cafe they have. Try their matcha tea, I would die for it!

 

9. Free tours around churches

Travel Blog: Things To Do In Finland

Finland has this thing called Roadside churches that are open every summer. Basically you can enter these churches freely during their opening times. There is usually guide who is ready to tell you about the church, Finnish culture and near by destinations. Even if you are not one to get interested about history, religion or things like that roadside churches are still fun places to take small break from your busy day.

I have myself worked in roadside church and I can tell you that it is definitely interesting place to visit. Finland has a little over 200 churches open every summer and visiting at least one of them is definitely must thing to do in Finland during summer. Because Christianity as religion has been in Finland for quite short time many of the roadside churches have many interesting stories (and not only religious ones) behind them.

 

8. Swim in lakes and visit Finnish sauna

Finland summer, lake, forest, blue sky

You may have heard about Finnish saunas aka hot steamy rooms we go to relax. You should add this experience to your must to do things in Finland during summer list. When during winter we like to visit sauna and roll in snow afterwards, summers are dedicated for days on the beach. Colorful water toys, swimming in the still chilly lake water and then warming up in sauna. What would be better way to spend summer day in Finland?

As visitor in Finland you should look for the closest public sauna you can find. You can find them almost every city in Finland. Go there bravely and if you don’t know what to do you can always ask help from locals. In Helsinki good choice is sauna restaurant Löyly standing next to the ocean.

 

7. Visit outdoor museum

Travel Blog: Finland

If you want short look to the way Finns used to live, local art or even have picnic among statues, find the closest outdoor museum. Because Finns love to spend our limited summer days outside outdoor and open-air museums are popular places to visit. In Helsinki Seurasaari Open-Air Museum is perfect example of traditional Finnish outdoor museum. Old buildings, people dressed in national costumes and of course cute animals. If statue parks are your thing, I have heard many good things about Parikkala’s Sculpture Park.

 

6. Colorful old towns

Travel Blog: Things To Do In Finland

If you have been reading my blog for some time now, you may have realized that I am totally in love with old towns and colorful cities. That’s why my top 10 things to do in Finland during summer list wouldn’t be complete without sunny trip to pastel colored old town. Don’t get me wrong. These are good places to visit even at winter time but during summer Finnish old towns come to life. Small cafes, art galleries and of course locals having fun. My favorite ones are in Kokkola, Naantali and Mariehamn.

 

5. Day trip to Moominworld

Travel Blog: Moomins

Moomins are adorable fairy tale characters from Finland. These cuddly and friendly characters are well known from cartoons and comics. Every Finn knows them but surprisingly in the last few years Moomins have taken over Asia and more specifically Japan. Tourists around the world come to see Moomins in Finland but also locals love these characters. Most of us grew up watching these magical stories.

From pretty Finnish seaside city, Naantali, you can find theme park dedicated for Moomins. Moominworld is popular among local families and tourists. Even if you have never before heard about Moomins it is definitely worth of visit and good place to get know something more of Finnish culture. Remember to take bikinis with you because they also have idyllic beach!

 

4. Hike around national park

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Nature and Finland walk hand in hand. There is only under 6 million of us but we have a lot of area. One of the best sides of Finnish national parks: you can go there, hike and use everything freely. Just respect the nature, don’t litter and keep on trails when asked to. All national parks in Finland have good hiking trails that are well taken care of. There is even outdoor toilets, places for campfires and shelters to sleep in.

So, how can you do your perfect overnight trip to Finnish nature? First get tent, or hammock, or just sleeping bag (because like I said there is shelters you can use for sleeping). Step two: go to internet, find the closest or the most interesting national park and get free map. And finally take bus or tax or lift to your destination. Then walk. That’s it. Easy, right?

 

3. Enjoy the sun with cold drink on terrace

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Photo from Unsplash

Finns are known for heavy drinking but even if you are not one of those party animals drinking cold beer (or glass of fine wine) on sunny day while watching people passing by is almost perfect moment to have. It is something locals do. When it gets warm and days get longer every place from bars to restaurants and small cafes open their terraces. And at the same time those terraces get full of Finns enjoying our short summer warmth.

 

2. Crazy festivals

Travel Blog: Finland Festival

Because summers in Finland are short we love to enjoy them as well as we can. This is why visiting festival is one of my must to do things in Finland during summer. We have everything from music festivals with world class names to small village happenings with local musicians and events varying from family olympics to dance performances.

Maybe the most popular celebration of summer in Finland is for midsummer (juhannus). Midsummer fest is also event to celebrate our nightless night. Traditional ways to spent midsummer are burning a huge pile of branches, drinking and doing summer magic like try to find out your future husband through dream. Just find out from internet where the closest festival is and go. A little alcohol and warm summer day makes even us Finns friendly and talkative. You will fit in perfectly.

 

1. Enjoy peaceful Finnish summer cottage life

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Photo from Unsplash

Maybe the most Finnish thing you can do here during summer is to spend weekend living in cottage. You will get bonus points if the cottage is next to lake, has wooden sauna and no water toilet. It’s like escape from city to just be peacefully with yourself, your friends and family. You can play traditional Finnish summer games like Mölkky, boot throwing and of course board games. There is nothing as atmospheric as playing game of Uno in candle light chocolate as price while listening radio.

Other important cottage (in Finnish ‘Mökki’) activities are swimming and eating. Barbecues are normal things and especially eating sausages and as dessert traditional Finnish pancakes made on campfire. But in reality there is no rules for cottage life. Just enjoy and have fun with your closest ones.

 

Have you any summery things to do in Finland you would like to recommend? All comments are welcome like always. It’s already June so I just want to wish good summer and happy holiday for everyone! And thank you for 2 000 readers. I don’t know what your are still doing here but you are highly appreciated. This writing thing would be super boring without you. 🙂

With love,

Lost Viivi

Surviving Finland: The Cold

Hello there! Today I’m back with new post of my Surviving Finland series.

Twelve months of cold weather in year makes Finns experts at surviving extreme weather conditions. For foreigner coming to here in the cold months (read when ever you decide to come…) may be challenging. The next advice will prepare anyone to come and travel around Finland even if the temperature would turn out to be nightmare.

(In this post when we talk about cold it means under zero Celsius. The “cold” that is over zero Celsius is subject on its own.)

 

Check the Temperature

I can not emphasize this part enough. Before coming to Finland check the temperature and what kind of weather it usually is at that time of year! If you don’t, there will be trouble coming to your way. Taking right clothes is important and knowing how much snow you had to encounter when going outside.

 

What to do when going out to cold?

  1. Don’t go outside if not necessary. Only exemptions are skiing, skating and sled hill.
  2. Prepare yourself mentally. Whatever you do it’s going to be freezing.
  3. Check the temperature. Knowing it will not help you but at least you can complain about the weather like locals.
  4. It’s time to dress the under layers. Some long pats or tights, socks and long sleeved shirt. Even better if you have special wear for cold weather. It’s made of material that keeps the warm in.
  5. Then put on more clothes. Another shirt, more socks and as much clothes as the weather requires.
  6. Wool socks. Don’t forget this important accessory.
  7. Then the last clothes you will need. Outdoor clothes. Some warm water proof winter pants, jacket and boots. Your boots should have spikes on bottom to survive the ice on road.
  8. Then scarf, hat, gloves and mittens. If you have done them by yourself, don’t forget to mention it to everyone you see. Knitting is like Finnish national pride. We even learn it in school. (And still only a few can do it…)
  9. It’s time to leave. If you are using car don’t forget to leave at least half hour before normally. Your car is going to be buried under snow. If using public transport, leave at least half hour after your bus is meant to come. The drivers never learn and will be late because of the snow and slippery roads.

 

Ways to survive while outside

If you are feeling brave and have decided to threaten the mother nature by going out, here is some tips to keeping warm. Follow the points above before leaving outside and you have at least small possibility to live through your Finnish experience.

Other than dressing warmly there is six major ways to keep warm:

  1. Share body heat. Finns have a big personal base but when it’s about being warm we can get close to people we already know. Hug your friends and share some heat. Don’t however surprise unaware Finns because they may not appreciate you coming on them.
  2. Rub your hands together. This is one of the best ways of warming your frozen hands. Friction makes heat.
  3. Move your toes and fingers. I don’t know if there is any scientific evidence for this but moving your toes up and down should keep you warm.
  4. Blow hot air to your fingers.
  5. Don’t stay still! Moving in cold weather is important.
  6. Drink something hot. Go to have cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate.

 

The first aid after returning inside

Finns have many ways to get warm after coming back to home (no I don’t mean intimacy even if that may work…) Next we have list of the best ways to melt the ice freezing you from inside.

  • Water: Widely known secret to save your hands after cold is put them under hot water.
  • Sauna: I already did write about surviving sauna HERE. But this hot room plays important part of surviving Finland and the icy temperatures. After you have froze yourself to the dead going to sauna will melt you.
  • Hot Chocolate: (or coffee, tea) Your motto should be “Warm yourself inside to get warm outside” (I know I’m not good at making mottoes…) But the idea is more important than motto! When you drink something hot, it will warm you starting from inside and spreading to outside.

 

Finns and Cold

You shouldn’t ask Finn if she/he is cold because there is big probability after that she/he has to play brave and pretend it’s not freezing at all. This also occurs between native Finns. It’s not unusual to see someone walking in t-shirt when temperatures are closing zero Celsius. (Usually those crazy people are teen boys showing off…)

Finns love complaining about the cold but get exited every year when it starts snowing. So best advice how to talk for Finns about cold is complain a lot (but never claim that other countries have more cold problems than Finland), don’t play you know anything about cold weather -because you don’t- and never insult our snow!

 

When to visit Finland? (AKA when it is not cold?)

Our summer is in June, July or August (or like this year right now in May). You can’t predict the cold and usually the Mother Nature can be quite evil. Last two summers have been like hell or well better said opposite of the hell, sweater weather. No using tops and shorts for Finns…

Basically this question doesn’t have answer. Couple of weeks ago it was snowing and cold but after one week it turned out to be first summer heat (over 20 Celsius). This is just one example of the hard ships we have with the changing conditions. Should or should I not buy new summer clothes for this year? This is the hard question we have to try predict every year…

So come Finland when ever you want! We have always cold and if you are lucky you may even see snow. (Well luck hasn’t anything to do with that… We have more snow than warm months.) Just remember to take warm clothes with you and -I will not promise but- I hope you will be okay.

 

 

There was everything I can teach you about the cold and just as reminder: don’t take too seriously anything I say (expect the cold! It’s very real concern here…). Don’t forget to comment below about what subject I should do my next Surviving Finland post. And thanks for Joyce Belfort because she gave me the idea for today’s topic.

Read more Surviving Finland posts from here.

See you next time and welcome to Finland!

Viivi Severina