Monthly Archives: September 2018

Finland- home of punctual people

Finland is a place for people who enjoy meaningfull conversations, occasional silence and cold weather. Finns don’t like to fill the silent pauses in a conversation with meaningless chit-chat, when we talk, we talk about real stuff. Sometimes the ”realtalk” might even be while we are drunk.

FInlands nature in my oppinion is one of the most beautifull one in the world beacause of the variation of it. We have four very different seasons that all show different things in nature. In wintertime everything is frozen and covered in white. All the hundreds of lakes we have are frozen and filled with holes to go swimming to after you’ve gone to sauna. The spring bring all the color back in the nature and all the trees and plants start blooming. Summers are warm and lures most of the Finns to bar terraces to enjoy a good beer and laugh woth friends. Autumn brings forward the beautifull fall colors wich we call ruska (thats when all the leafs turn brown/red).

Finnish mindset is very work and goal oriented. I think when finnish people start doing something, they do it all the way trough. We are very precise with our time management. Allmost all the time we are punctual if not a little early. No one will be very happy or understanding if you get to a meeting fifteen minutes late.

If you think you can have good conversation, be on time and enjoy some dark humor you will get along great with finnish folks.

My Experiences of Finnishness

Finland has been perfect place to live sor far. We have everything you need for a healthy life. Our education is the best of the whole world and public healthcare works pretty well even though we complain from it all the time.. If you compare it to some other European country you’ll see that we don’t have anymore anything to complain about. We have just got used to so good and practically free healthcare.

When you talk about Finnishness with other people around the world, there are always few common topics: Sauna, drinking culture, weather and nature.

Sauna is the most finnish thing that you can imagine. Finns love sauna and there are saunas in almost every apartment. Well… not in every apartment but we still have a lot of Saunas 🙂 People go there together totally naked and I think that is weird thing to foreign people. Man and woman together in the small hot room and totally naked is really Finnish thing.

If you go to drinking with a finn you’ll see that the drinking culture is totally different compared to other European countries. Basically the main mission is just to drink as much as you can and getting drunk. In other countries the purpose is more like meeting friends, having couple drinks and have a lot fun at the same time.

Finnish nature is really beautiful. We have thousands of lakes and that’s why Finland is also called “the country of thousands of lakes”. Most of the Finns also have summer cottage next to a lake and we go there on summer weekends with friends or family. Normally those cottages are out of use in the winter time.

What comes to a Finnish weather.. Basically there are normally really short summer and the temperature is rarely more than 25 degrees. Normally there are also a lot of rainy days during the 3 months long summertime. There are also really cold in the winter but Finns are used to it so it’s not that bad for us. in the winter the temperature can be up to -25 degrees.

Being Finn

For me Finland is a extremely special and unique country. Our country is tiny but despite of that it has so much to offer. Rich nature, high-level school system, its citizens own way to do things and everything is well-organized. In my opinion, that is rare when you understand that there is only five million Finns in the world.

I love the things that perhaps no one else than Finns understand and value. One of the things is of course sauna. Finns can not live without their saunas. In saunas, Finns get relaxed and warmed up after a long and cold winter days, what we have a lot. The another thing, you can find from the kitchen. Finns have many different and little bit weird dishes and ingredients. Rye bread, salty liquorice, mämmi and the list goes on.

Finland – The land of thousand lakes

What are my experiences of Finnishness?

 

Nature and cleanliness

We have a beautiful nature and cleanliness makes it more beautiful. Finnish people do care of their environment and you can see it. We like to be in nature because it is so peaceful place with nature’s fresh air.

I lived in shared flat with African and her mother mentioned that it’s so clean here and we also have great trees. Cleanliness and for example green trees are sometimes taken for granted in here.

I appreciate our nature and I’m very grateful that Finland is my home country. There are countries in the world where the air is so dirty and unhealthy that you can´t always go out.

Mid summer

I have these words: summer cottage, sauna, lake, good food and friends.  These are things that everyone Finn knows. You can imagine the moment when you´re in summer cottage with your friends, beside of you is a beautiful lake and you’re going to swim after sauna.

Midsummer is the time when I also see my relatives. We come together to my grandparents’ summer cottage. We eat, talk, swim and go to sauna. It is a multiyear tradition although I wasn´t there in this year. The picture on the left has taken from the same lake (like the other picture on top) where the cottage is located. It has become so important place to me!

Finnish breakfast

I already miss Elovena porridge, cottage cheese, rye bread and Finnish berries! Like nature, food is also very clean and fresh here in Finland. You don’t need to buy all berries or mushrooms from grocery when you can pick these delicacies up from forest at autumn. But now I must admit I don’t pick them up from forest. It’s easier to buy Finnish blueberries from grocery…

 

Bus stops, personal space and Santa Claus

Every time someone talks about Finns, it’s always ice hockey, sauna, midsummer’s eve, long winters, Lapland…

But when you think about Finnishness – what makes a Finn – you might have to go out on the street and look at the “agreeable gaps” between people on the bus stops:

Kuvahaun tulos haulle finnish people on a bus stop

One thing that sets us apart and builds on what can be considered “Finnishness”, is our unannounced respect for other people. Of course there are always outliers, every society has its share of people who lack mutual respect, but there still lies an almost subconscious habit of keeping and giving personal space to one another. A feeling that makes us try and not to be a bother to others, even up to the point of sometimes being afraid of it. We don’t greet with cheek-kisses, we don’t sit next to people on the bus if there’s an empty row available and we most definitely don’t strike conversation with strangers – not that we don’t like them, but because we feel like they might be bothered or thinking about something really, really important.

Not every Finn likes ice hockey or sauna either. And being Finnish doesn’t mean you have to live up to the exaggerated reputation of being introverted and afraid of change. That’s why I think Finnishness stems more from what kind of people we are rather than what we do, our values, and our ability to take the best out of the worst situations.  On the contrary to what others commonly say, I do not think that Finns are slow to open up or skeptical towards other cultures. We just happen to have this stubborn, serene piece of home inside all of us that we won’t trade away so easily, a piece which keeps us level-headed and appreciative of the simple comforts of living. Nothing like sitting indoors on a dark, wet November afternoon and realizing you’re happy just because you’re at home.

Also, we have Santa Claus and a dark sense of humor. Maybe an unfair advantage?

About Finland…

After years of travelling around the globe and exploring different cultures few thoughts have come to my mind. There are many things that I would like to change about Finnish culture, but also many that I am truly grateful and proud of.

I love our nature. Me and my friends have often joked about how most of Finland is only forest, but I grew up in a small town and my house was in the middle of forest and I have to say that some of my best memories growing up was playing with my friends in the forest making tree houses. We have many beautiful lakes, and during summer the colors are amazing. There is nothing better to do during summer than to go to a cabin in the lakeside and just relax and enjoy the calm environment. The Finnish nature is also one of the most recognizable and curious part of Finland for foreigners. Whenever I am abroad and tell someone that I am from Finland, they point out the beautiful nature.

I also appreciate our healthcare. As someone with a disease that will last a lifetime, I am truly grateful of the medical care and reduced medicine costs I can get here. I often wonder how I would survive living abroad where the medical costs can be very high. Here in Finland we get good care, and everyone has access to it.

Today’s world is full of conflicts and war, so I would also have to point out how great it is that it is so safe here in Finland. We don’t have any big natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes, and crime rate is relatively low, and you can usually trust people. For example, in many other European countries, you couldn’t leave your bag unattended without someone stealing something. Security is very important to people’s wellbeing, and you can really feel that in Finland.

Something more carefree I also love about Finland is ice hockey. It is the only sport I understand and love to watch, maybe that is because it is one of the few sports that Finland is actually good at. When Finland is playing, almost the whole country goes insane with nothing but hockey in mind.

Part of Finnish culture that I don’t like is our eating and drinking culture. In Finland we eat dinner rather early in the day, around four or five, and we eat pretty quickly and then carry out with our day. In many other European cultures they eat dinner late, with whole family or with friends and spend time together. It would be nice to apply this more in Finland as well. I think Finnish drinking culture is a bit too much, as here many people drink just with the purpose of getting drunk, which is very unhealthy and bad habit.

Midnight sun and Polar night

In Finland we are so lucky to have four seasons. To me winter and summer are especially the ones that comes to mind when thinking Finnishness. These are the opposite of one another and we as Finns are very different in these two seasons. I am going to focus on these two seasons in my post.

Midnight sun – “Yötön yö”

During summertime in Finland we can enjoy light around the clock and that is what midnight sun describes. In Lapland there are times when sun does not go down at all. In the Southern of Finland, we are not that lucky, and the sun does go down, but the sun will rise again quite quickly. In my opinion Finnishness is very different in every Finn during summer compared to what Finnishness is in the winter. Finns are more open, more smiling and talks to one another.

As summer is the season when Finns likes to spend more time with each other – we have a summer celebration called “juhannus” which is Midsummer in English. This celebration is spent in the middle of the summer. Most Finns have their own traditions in Midsummer. The most traditional things that belong to Midsummer are Midsummer bonfire, sauna (of course) and a birch whisk used in sauna. I think that Midsummer is the most Finnishness celebration we have in Finland.

Polar night – “Kaamos”

Polar night is the opposite of Midnight sun. Polar night is experienced during the winter and actually it can only be experienced in Lapland. Although this phenomenon is only in Lapland, in Southern of Finland there is also very dark in the winter months. Kaamos begins in the end of November – in the beginning of December and ends in the end of December – in the middle of January – depending on which part of Lapland you are staying. In 2017 Polar night in Nuorgam started on 24th November and it ended on 17th January. Although it sounds bad and maybe even a bit depressing that the sun will not rise once – there is a time during the daytime when it is not that dark. On top of that, snow lightens the view. During Polar night you can enjoy the Finnish nature by skiing, skating or watching the northern lights. Despite of the lack of sunshine this time of the year can be beautiful as you can see from the picture below.

 

 

A Peek into the Finnish cuisine

I decided to introduce four very traditional Finnish foods that you should taste if you ended up in this country for some reason.

 

Mustamakkara (black sausage)

Mustamakkara is a specialty from my home city Tampere and has been produced by Tapola’s legendary family business for over 60 years. It’s a blood sausage filled with hulled grains and pork. Classic way to eat this delicacy is to buy a couple of bars of it from the market place and enjoy it with lingonberry jam and cold milk. The most traditional market places with Tapola’s stalls are Tammelantori and Laukontori.

 

Jaloviina (precious liquor)

Jaloviina (nicknamed Jallu) is a Finnish cut brandy, a mixture of cognac and vodka. It was released into the market in 1932 by Altia after the prohibitionary liquor law. Nowadays, Jaloviina is a very popular drink in Finland with half million bottles sold per year. Especially engineering students are well-known for consuming this precious drink.

 

Hernekeitto (pea soup)

Pea soup is a food that is served on almost every single lunch restaurant in Finland on Thursdays. It’s made of dried peas and usually includes pork.  Traditionally pea soup is enjoyed with mustard and sometimes with raw onion too. As a dessert, you will have pancakes with strawberry jam. Must try this combo!

 

Ruisleipä (rye bread)

Rye bread, the most loved bread in Finland. In fact, the bread in this picture below (Vaasan ruispalat), is the most sold bread in Finland. Rye bread is a good choice for breakfast or snack, or to be enjoyed with lunch. It’s usually eaten with butter, cheese and ham, maybe also with some vegetables like sliced cucumbers and tomatoes. And for some people, it’s a serious topic of conversation which is the correct order to place ham and cheese on the bread: ham on the top or cheese on the top. Rye bread is the first thing I miss in Finland when I’m abroad!

What being a Finn means to me

Culture is, in many ways, subjective. People view and experience it differently and there are as many aspects to a culture as there are people in it. There is no right answers or definite truths, and even the most common traits in a culture don’t apply to everyone. The following things, however, are my thoughts and feelings about “Finnishness”.

Safety

This is one of the things that keeps surprising me over and over again. Most Finns take being able to walk around big cities at night for granted and they don’t think anything of it when the bag they left to their seat in a restaurant is still there when they come back from a bathroom break.

We trust that we can live our every-day lives without having to fear for our safety or the safety of our belongings. This, however, is not the case in many countries. The more I’ve travelled the more I’ve realised how good things are in Finland. I have witnessed street fights, heard countless stories of harassment and even know a person that has been robbed at gunpoint.

In Brazil, I couldn’t hold my wallet or phone in my hand while travelling by car, because that would’ve made us a likely target for robbery. This would’ve never crossed my mind in Finland because things like that rarely happen here.

So yes, safety is an important part of the Finnish culture and I am very thankful of it.

No empty words

When somebody makes you a promise in Finland, it usually means you can at least trust that they are going to try their best to fulfil that promise.

In many cultures, a negative answer in customer service is unacceptable. This means that even if they know they cannot help you, they will still tell you otherwise.

As a Finn, I find this silly. I’m used to getting a straight answer and I much prefer to be told so if something isn’t possible, instead of waiting around for something that is never going to happen anyway.

Small talk is also not popular in Finland. You speak when you have something to say, but there is no need to fill every silence with meaningless chitchat. Not to say that small talk isn’t a good skill to have in some situations, but sometimes it’s good to be able to enjoy the peace and quiet.

Equality

This is one of the biggest and most important things about our culture, people are equal. Sure, there are still many things we can and should improve in order to be truly equal, but compared to most countries, Finland is a truly great place to live – no matter your gender, age, race or sexuality. As a woman, I’m truly thankful to have been born in Finland.

Every culture has its pros and cons, and there are things in my culture that I’m not so fond of. However, I love my culture and I’m thankful for all the chances it has given me!

Krista Tolonen

My Experiences of Finnishness

Beautiful nature, light summers, dark winters and sauna. That`s my Finland.

Finland is known as the Land of the Thousand Lakes and it is actually true. The whole Finland is covered with lakes and forests. Nature is also very pure, so here you can drink clean tap water and breath fresh air.

In Finland we have four seasons. Winter is long and dark, but all snow and ice makes it lighter. Spring is the time when everything wakes up and nature is beautifull light green. Summer is not that long, but it is warm and full of light. Actually in mid-summer sun doesn´t set at all for couple of days. Autumn is dark and rainy, but nature is also beautifully colorful, because all the leafs are changing the colour.

Last but not least my favorite thing in Finland: Sauna! Sitting naked in a small, hot room might sound weird for foreigner. But for us it is a place to relax and warm up.