Finland native visits area

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 7/28/98.

Anssi Miettinen, a business journalist with the Helsingin Sanomat, the largest newspaper in Helsinki, Finland, recently spent a few days visiting the Paynesville area.

Miettinen is visiting the United States as part of the World Press Institute program through Macalester College. He will be in the United States until October. Miettinen will be spending two months touring the west coast, based out of San Francisco, and he will then head to Chicago before touring the east coast. Before heading back to Finland, Miettinen will return to Minnesota and Macalester College.

As part of the World Press Institute program, he has been taking classes at Macalester College in American History, media institute, American government and environmental issues.

This is Miettinenís first trip to the United States. He said the climate in Finland is cooler, and that they only have mosquitoes for one month in mid-summer.

ďEverything is great here. I like the area and found the people quite open, friendly and happy,Ē he added.

During his stay in Minnesota, Miettinen will visit the Mayo Clinic, Tower-Soudan Mine, Boundary Water Canoe Area, Minnesota Public Radio, the Star Tribune printing plant and their newsroom operation.

Miettinen arrived in Paynesville on Friday, July 17, to stay with Curt and Carol Wegner, his farm hosts. He spent Monday to Wednesday, July 20 to 22, with Peter and Lynne Jacobson learning about the operation of a weekly newspaper. While at the Jacobsonís, he spent an afternoon with the environmental protection service testing the clarity of the water on Lake Koronis.

Among his goals for the trip was to see as many people and places as he could in the United States. ďI wanted to get a different perspective of kinds of living in America,Ē Miettinen said. ďThere is a big difference from New York to Paynesville.Ē

Miettinen said he found the United States to be a lot like the movies he has watched, especially the scenery.

ďWhen you travel to other countries, a person often experiences culture shock. Not so in the United States. Everything seemed a little familiar but yet different,Ē he added.

ďIn many ways, the United States is like Finland. You have many of the same television programs, lots of lakes, small cities and foods. Paynesville is more lively than small cities in Finland. People seem to know each other and there is more communication,Ē Miettinen said. ďIn Finland, the people are not as open and friendly. They are not doing things together as a community. There just seems to be more things to do here,Ē he added.

Miettinen said the soap opera Bold and Beautiful is one of the most popular shows in Finland. Unlike its noon showing here, it can be seen on television at 6 p.m.

Miettinen admits he is a movie freak. ďI used to review movies when I worked for a smaller newspaper,Ē he said. He lists soccer, ice hockey and golf as his favorite sports. He had not seen a baseball game until he attended the Roscoe-Richmond baseball game with Peter Jacobson. Miettinen said he found the game exciting and a lot of fun to watch. He added waterskiing is a popular sport in Finland.

Miettinen hopes to be able to share his experiences in the United States with his readers in Finland. His newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, is the largest in Finland. He writes business stories, about economics and information technology about his country and about international businesses. The paper has a circulation of about 470,000 on weekdays and 560,000 on Sundays.

He said the big news story in Europe is the formation of the European Union, where 11 countries have agreed to share a common currency starting in 2002. ďIt will take that long to get all the different economic values straightened out,Ē he added. ďBusinesses wanted to get past the problems the year 2000 might create within their computer programs before making the currency switch.Ē

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