Monthly Archives: May 2017

Finland: Darker than Black?

Why the name? Heres why: everything we Finns  fancy are black or atleast dark colored. Just for example: salty liquorice, Salmiakki Kossu (Salmiac vodka), Rye bread, coffee and Heavy Metal. Even our sky is dark most of the time! But hey, no worries. We are not just dark colored people who walks under dark sky listening Nightwish.Kuvahaun tulos haulle angry birds

First of all, we Finnish may sometimes seem distant, and mistrustful of others but I ensure you, we are not. We love our personal space till we learn to know you better. Hugging is considered okay by many of us , thou kissing your school buddy is err… Not cool.

Under the black sky we play with snow bears in our igloos…. Sorry to dissapoint you, we don’t have either of them Instead we live in rental apartments near woods, drink water straight from the tap and eat berries we’ve found outside and gaze colorful lights (Aurora Borelius). When winter comes we make snow castles.

To ease the pain not having snow bears as pets, we go to Sauna (steamy hot room) and play Angry Birds.  Watch Moomins and eat Karelian pie with eggbutter. At the afternoons we have coffee and Fazers chocolate.

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So welcome to the dark side, we have the best chocolate in the world!

Small cities and big forests

Finland, population of 5,5 million people is sparsely populated and when ever talking to foreign people you usually get astounded looks on their faces and a sentence “oh, so the whole country has less people in it than there is in my home town”. Our big cities are microscopic compared to some of the world’s metropolises and we, as a nation, haven’t been living in the cities, where all the comKuvalähde: http://www.rantapallo.fi/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Tampere-Nasinneula-Flickr-Tuomo-Lindfors.jpgmodities are close, for long.

Most of the population lived in the countryside still in the 1950’s and I think that it has had an affect in our culture and in our identities. We still have a good sense what is living in the countryside facing all the hardships in that way of living and not having everything in your access all the time. Maybe that’s why we have been raised to respect what we have and stay humble.

We also call common sense “maalaisjärki”, which directly translates to “country/rural sense”. That tells a lot about the appreciation for the countryside, basic reasoning and doing things yourself.kuvalähde: https://kasteluetaisyydella.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/p1040678.jpg

We also respect the nature a lot. Many of the Finns own a summer cottage by a lake where you can go and relax and enjoy the nature. And because our towns and cities are reasonably small, you are able to go to the nature basically in minutes. It doesn’t matter where you are, in a city center or at your home, there’s always lakes, rivers and forests close by which you can enjoy of.

I think these reasons, among other things, have molded us what we are as a nation and given us common sense and “sisu”, which we appreciate in ourselves. We are a rational nation with a will to work hard and we won’t give up even facing hardship.

This is what I’ve learned to appreciate in Finland and in Finnish culture and I can be proud of my Finnishness in all of the metropolises of the world.

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Things that make Finland special

Nature

Nature is rooted in every Finn. I love just how easy it is to go out to the nature and take a breath of fresh air. How you can escape the stress of everyday life to peace and quiet. How the forests and lakes shape the landscape and change with every season.  I do think, that many Finns take their surroundings for granted. Still, one of the first things a Finn brags about their home country for any foreigners is definitely the beautiful nature.

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Sauna

Finns truly love to take a steam, which explains why there are over 3 million saunas in Finland. In the summer, we tent to go to sauna in our summer cottages and take a plunge in cold water afterwards. In the winter we go to sauna to warm ourselves after being outside in the cold. Some do warm their saunas every single day, some not so often. Sauna is a place for relaxation.

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Language

Finnish is often described as one of the hardest languages to learn. The fact, that there is no other nation, that speak Finnish as their mother tongue makes Finland pretty special. Whenever abroad, hearing Finnish will make you feel instantly confused, amused and weirdly safe all at the same time. Teaching basic Finnish words to your foreign friends makes you feel very proud of this special language.

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Safety

Finland is one of the safest places in the world. Finns feel safe to walk alone outside or using public transport despite the hour. You can be pretty sure, that if you walk with your bag open, no one will try to steal your wallet or belongings and you can safely leave your laptop on the table in a cafe and leave to get a refill. Finns generally trust each other and know that the police is a municipality that can be trusted if something happens.

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Hot and beautiful Spanish spring!

I am doing my internship in Spain. The internship is for three months and I have been experiencing the best of Spanish spring. When I first arrived on the first day of March, it was already +20 C. Now in May it is over +30 C and people here are making most of it.

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During my free time I like to travel, here is some Catalan cities like Sitges and Costa Brava. I hang out with people that I have met here, some of them are regular students and some Erasmus students from other countries. Few of my friends from Finland too have visited me here during my stay.

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My favorite place near Manresa (Where I am staying) is Barcelona. It’s just one hour away and it’s full of life! I spend like every other weekend there.

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My internship has been in Hospital in two different units and in one health care center. I have enjoyed it a lot since I have gotten to practice more demanding operations and I have gotten to do them a lot. Here nurses have more independence and take care of only medical tasks. In Finland we provide also the basic helps of the day to the patients but here there are practical nurses for that.

 

Surfing Between Sun and Darkness

With the northern location of Finland, your perception of this beautiful country might differentiate enormously depending when you happen to visit. You are also likely to be confused with the shyness of people in general, but happily surprised with the kindness they’ll show once you get in contact with them.

The difference between a day and night 

The difference between summer and winter in Finland is literally like the traditional difference with day and night. During the summer the sun hardly sets down and opens up wonderful opportunities to have late-night chill outs around a campfire socialising. It’s common to spend most of your weekends during summer on your cottage and enjoy the nature with a group of friends or family. Finns really appreciate the peaceful surrounding, with nothing but great views and sounds of nature around you. The more urban places get more lively at summer too. In fact, the most usual compliment you’ll hear about a Finnish city is “Place X is such a lovely summer city!”. Summer is my clear no. 1 pick for the best season. People are smiling, birds are singing and there’s just a cool positive vibe flying around.

Summer nigh with a traditional cottage view.
Summer night with a traditional cottage view.

When it comes to winter, there’s a downside to all that praise you can read about it. Sure, snow and Santa Claus are enjoyable. The Northern Lights are an amazing visual experience and the sunny days with snow on the ground are quite cool, sure.

However, especially in the Southern Finland it can get quite depressing. At the worst parts of the year there’s no daylight outside of office hours and even then the day light can be quite grey. Finnish are in the top 5 of the happiest countries of the world constantly, but we would be even happier with a different climate. The long dark winters are survivable, but if you’re like me and need sun light to be energic it can be a tough battle.

Luckily, there are ways to fight the negative effects of winter. Healthy diet and plenty of exercise give you energy and while the weather isn’t enjoyable outside you can focus on studying and past time activities aren’t restricted to things you can do outside. Enjoying a cup of hot chocolate or tea while playing board games with friends will help you relieve some stress. It’s quite common to take a holiday for a week or two from the winter as well. Travelling to a warm country and getting a break from the darkness gives a boost and once you get back to Finland your energy tanks are filled again.

My beautiful hometown, Tampere.
My beautiful hometown, Tampere.

All in all, most people would agree that they wouldn’t change the different seasons of Finnish climate even if they could. Winters can get bit rough and sad, but there’s always a new spring waiting around the corner and when the summer gets here, it’s not to miss! There’s no place on earth i’d rather be in summer than sunny and warm Tampere.

 

From warm south to the beautiful northern lights

One of my favorite experience of finnishness is definitely when i see the aurora borealis  or so called northern lights for the first time. I was only 6 year old then and now i am 29 year old, so 23 year later i still can remember how amazing it was! Several different colors and bright lights fill up the whole sky and the moment was breathtaking.

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When i was a child, i thought that every human knows what are those wonderful northern lights. Of course i also believed that Santa is real, but that is a different story 😉 Later on i noticed that those magically lights are pretty rare and some people even travel and pay a lot of money to see them.

A few while ago i heard that Asian people think if you want to have a baby boy, you just have to see northern lights. That sounds quite easy to having boy, right? When a couple wants to have a boy for a child, their have to travel here in Finland and their need to book a nice Hotel with a good view. Second thing to do their have to make sure when and where you can see it. Luckily, many Finnish Travel and Tourism agency sells different packages concerning travelling and northern light around Lapland. Having a good hotel with a great view should not be a problem.

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When those lights appear on the sky, hotel agent have to inform the couple and some case their need to wake up the in the middle of the night. Can you guess what happens next? Yes, their must make love at the same time when the sky is full of northern lights! Sounds very romantic. Chinese people are very superstitious, but i believe that in this connection they are right, cause the Travel and Tourism of Finland is rising up thanks to northern lights.

In my opinion everyone can believe in anything they want and I also imagine everyone want to make love under the beautiful sky (superstitious or not) <3

And if you believe enough, you might also see something else in the sky 😉

Greetings from sunny Tampere,

Taru

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Winter is Coming!

Summer? YES! My first thought was: Is there such thing here?

Summer!

Kind Of! One of the things that most impressed me about finnish people, is that they think that the summer in Finland is the most amazing thing that could possibly exist (It is still cold, rainy, and last year the summer was in a Thursday-necessary joke). Life in a way is surrounded by the weather predictions. It is the top1 thing everyone is looking forward. How will the weather be? I can say I have never done this before, in Brazil it will either be +30 or +32 (Always)

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As a Brazilian, I could say for sure I come from a “always summer” country. During the winter, we can easily have +32 and the unique difference is that sometimes it rains. But being from a summer country made me conclude: You should come to brazil during summer, because we are a warm country…

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But what about Finland? Oh! There´s nothing to talk about , it is a Winter country (And what a cold one!) But still!!!!! When you talk to Finn, they will say: Come here during the summer!     …      (what?)

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To all the people thinking about visiting Finland, here goes a statement: Come here during the winter! That might sound crazy, but that’s it! Its incredibly beautiful, cold (Oh my!) and the atmosphere is just perfect. Thats what Finland is good at! The possibilities are many, from sleeping in a glass room to watch the Northern lights, skiing and all those cool things!

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Honesty

In my opinion the most amazing aspect about the culture here in Finland is that people are very honest! I have never realized how this is an important aspect of life. The statistics prove that Finland is one of the most honest countries in the world, while on the other hand, Brazil is not doing well in that list. But the main thing that caught my attention, is the fact that this is not only related to the politicians or political aspects of the country, but the society as whole, every single thing here seems to work, all the banks, the schools, the hospitals and everything else. Finnish people have on themselves this duty of behaving properly and honestly, and that is incredible.

Life

In Finland life is close to nature and forests are everywhere. Sometimes the ladscape from a place to another can be incredible. One hobbie I have developed here is to take walks in the forest, they are safe, beautiful and the best place to take pictures and I also noticed that there’s always someone doing the same which means that nature is a important part of life in Finland.

Stereotypes are not great, but as a fact, most Finnish people are shy, and making friends in Finland might be a thing. But one thing I can say for sure: Once you have a Finnish friend, you truly have a friend you can count on.

This is a fascinating country and I could say even a hidden pearl in Europe.  But it is always good to have in mind: Winter is coming!

These aren’t the Finns you’re looking for

To get you to the mood: put this track on, imagine yourself on a finnish summer cottage on a lakeside and continue reading.

Eukon kanto

As a sport in Finland we carry our wives.Eukonkanto
There is even world championship race of wife carrying kept here. Race is kept in a track modified to meet the standards of Wife Carrying Competition Rules Committee. Track is 253,5 meters and the wife carried can be yours or someone elses. (If you’re brave enough it can even be your neighbours wife!). Wife also must meet the standards of WCCRC: she has to be at least 17 years old and weigh over 49 kg (~108 lb). The contestants run the race in groups of two couples, and the winner is the couple who has the shortest time. To make the race more interesting for everyone there is also awards for most entertaining couple, best costume and the strongest carrier.

 

Mämmi

TMämmihe culinarities of Finns. You may have heard of the strange recipes of Finnish people, which include rye bread, salty liquorice and mämmi. Mämmi is sweet traditional Easter dessert in Finland. It is traditionally packaged in birch bark bowls, called rove or tuokkonen. It can be consumed with or without cream and sugar, both of which give mämmi a little bit sweeter and more dessert like taste.

 

Jokamiehenoikeus

In Finland you have this rare thing Retkicalled ’Every-mans-right’ which gives you right to enjoy Finnish nature to the fullest. It still does not mean you can do whatever, where-ever. It gives you a possibility to go camping, go fishing with a fishing rod or jig and during your visit to the wilds you can also eat some berries! But you must know that there is limits to these rights , so you better make friends with the Finnish people first so they will tell you the basics.

Embracing the weirdness

Finland is a small country and we always seem to be overshadowed by our better-known neighbour Sweden. Finns are proud of their culture and country and they would like people to know us better, but at the same time our humble and shy personalities prevent us from making such a big deal of ourselves.

Swimming in an icy lake.
Swimming in an icy lake.

It is not common very to hear a Finn telling a foreigner how great everything is in Finland, how we have an excellent quality of life and lots of beautiful nature. Instead, if a foreigner would ask a Finn to tell something about their country, it would be more common to hear some funny but not so useful trivia about wife-carrying competitions or rolling around naked in the snow after spending some time in 100 Degrees temperature and whipping each other with whisks made of birch twigs.

The Dudesons.
The Dudesons.

It’s easier for Finnish people to speak about things like this instead of starting to brag with the good things we actually have. I think that Finnish people also like to embrace their weirdness and craziness. We think that this is something that sets us apart from the other Nordic Countries. If you think about what Finland is known for, this really makes sense. When I meet people abroad, they usually know our rally drivers, sauna, extremely cold temperature (even though this is only partially true) and The Dudesons. And that’s pretty much what it is like to be a Finn: you’re a bit crazy but you are secretly proud of it.

Wife-carrying competition.
Wife-carrying competition.

The comfort in silence and solitude

No small talk in elevators. No laughing loudly and shouting out comments in a movie theather. No asking directions from strangers. Claiming that you would rather stand the whole buss ride to avoid sitting next to the talkative stranger. Pressing the ”close the doors” –button in the elevator repeatedly so that you don’t need to ride it with your neighbour.

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For someone outside the boarders of our Lady Finland, these scenarios might sound a bit odd, even unsocial and rude. But to the extent that we need to admit that some stereotypes about Finns are true, these are frequent things in the life of a Finn that don’t seem that bizarre to us. However it’s not that we want to be rude and not meet our neighbours, we just relish the silence and need a bit more personal space.

To Finns small talk is relatively new concept and we’re still learning. When the American or British ask as ”How are you?”, we might start to tell a long story about our not so great day instead of replying with a simple ”I’m fine, thanks! How about you?” as we are expected. In most cases if a Finn asks you about your day, he is usually genuinly interested and wants to know the details. We don’t ask just for fun, instead we only ask when we really want to know.

Same stands for chatting with people in trains, buss stops or the queue waiting for your coffee-to-go. We are comfortable in silence and nowadays we are basically rescued by our smartphones in these kinds of situations, we can stare at the screen while waiting, hurraay! Otherwise you might accidentally make eye contact with a stranger and that might encourage the other party to engage in a light conversation.

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All in all we like our silence, but that doesn’t make us rude or unsocial. We like to give people their space and speak when we have something to say. The term describing this is negative politeness. To us, being polite is leaving people alone when no interaction is needed and not bothering them with unnecessary things. Handshake is a very nice way to introduce yourself and no more than a nod and ”hi” is needed when you’ve been introduced to a bunch of people.

And when a Finn asks about your day and smiles at you, they most certainly mean it. And you might even get an invite to their summer cottage. In the middle of nowhere, where you can hear the wind in the trees and the chirping of the birds. That’s our sanctuary of solitude.

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