It can be mighty difficult to describe all the odors that exist in Helsinki, or any other city for that matter, but in my mind Finland smells like a combination of sizzling makara [Finnish sausage], forest-scented air fresheners, the sea, and freshly baked pulla.
After spending the previous summer in Vaasa and Helsinki, studying Finnish language and culture, I moved to Finland in 2012 as a Guest Researcher at the University of Tampere. My time was spent between living in Helsinki, commuting to Tampere two days a week, researching Finnish music, language, and culture, gigging with the Hi-Fly Rangers, the Barnshakers, and many more great musicians, editing Angry Birds books for the American market, and frequenting the country's finest sound archives and record shops. My dissertation, Performing America and Rebelling in Finland: 60 Years of American Roots Music In Finland (1957-2017), was successfully defended in 2020. Though I can't say I understood it, pesäpallo, a variation on baseball and the Finnish national sport, really grew on me and my favorite bands were expanding on a daily basis.