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Things that make Finland a good place

When I think about Finland and Finnishness following words come to my mind; honesty, trustworthy and safe.

Finns are almost always described being honest. Honesty is greatly valued in Finland and it is expected from everyone. Finns are taught since childhood that lying is bad and being honest in any situation is the best way to go. Honesty is highly valued in any relationships, whether it is between friends or business partners. This makes Finns ideal to work with.

Being honest, makes Finns also trustworthy. If a Finn promises something, they will keep their promise. For example, if something needs to be delivered within two days, Finn will deliver it within two days. Finns expect that they can trust a person the same way the person can trust them. Trusting people is so common in Finland that we sometimes forget how lucky we are that we can trust other people’s promises.

Safety is a word that is associated a lot with Finland. Finland is known for being safe country to live in and Finns are proud of that. For example, in smaller towns people leave their front doors unlocked and trust that nobody tries to come inside. There are barely any situations where I did not feel safe in Finland. The importance of safety can also be seen in things like safety during plane or train rides, in amusement parks and during festivals or concerts. It might seem that Finland has strict regulations and rules but they are there to make sure that Finland stays safe.

Finnishness

I remember reading an article a while back,  about peach and coconut cultures. I thought that this idea rather nicely summarizes the cultural differences between human interactions. Essentially, a peach culture is more open to strangers and individuals that classify as peach, will more openly discuss with strangers and acquaintances. A peach culture is seen as initially more friendly but once you start advancing to deeper relationship you will hit the stone inside the peach. The true personality is protected by this hard stone and the initial friendliness was just the soft part of the peach.

We Finns are more like coconuts. We have a hard shell that protects our true personality, we don’t open up and interact as freely with strangers. However, inside this hard shell lies the true person – you just need to get past the hard shell protecting it. Also, we Finns like to complain often and thus may come across as a bit grumpy, but once you do get to know a Finn you will see the genuineness and hospitality shine through this grumpy façade and hard shell.

One more thing I truly appreciate about Finns and Finland is honesty. I have never had to be afraid of my stuff getting stolen despite leaving them out of my line of sight. I have even had complete strangers asking me to take care of their stuff while they need to do something elsewhere.

Having visited my exchange destination already this summer and having seen the multicultural environment, I’m sure I will blend in just fine with my Finnish mentality and habits! What I will definitely miss though, is the sauna during the winter time!

Getting to know Finns

Finnishness – what does that bring to your mind? What are those special characteristics of our culture that separate us from other nations?

Often Finns are described as a bit shy and reserved. That is the feeling you get at least when you meet many of us for the first time. We like to have our own space and be friends with our close circle of people. Add the lack and will for small talk so how do you build relationships with Finns? I believe if you show genuine interest to the other person and are willing to get to know them, they will be likely to open up and even speak deep things about him and the world. You need to cut the small talk to minimum and ask real questions. You will get some real answers in return. That’s right, Finns tend to speak honestly and tell about relevant issues. They are efficient with their words and save energy for the issues that matter. Small talk does not matter, for Finns at least.

Has the coldness something to do with saving that energy? I do not know but coincidentally or not, the hot sauna is the place where Finns might be willing to open up a bit more even for strangers. You might notice even some small talk if you pay careful attention. It is possible. Add some energizing winter swimming to the mix and it seems you’ve entered a whole new culture. People are greeting and chit chatting with strangers while having a big smile on their faces.

As said before, many of us Finns like to keep some distance to others and appreciate being alone at times. Even though, as humans, we have a need to connect and be part of groups. During the dark and quiet winter time, the public saunas are a great opportunity for that. Typical for Finland, they are usually surrounded by beautiful forests so not only will you feel connected to people but also to the nature.

 

Sweet, sweet Funland

Hello! I am a finn named Kati “Kaz” Nieminen. Nice to meet you!

I have never really thought about how fun it is to live in Finland, as I have lived here from the very beginning. In my opinion, in Finland you have multiple choices how to live your life without having to live in fear, loneliness or emptiness. It is really your own choice – and I know how cliché it sounds.

 Of course I can only speak for myself but majority of the people living in Tampere doesn’t really give a toodles what you are – so you may express yourself freely. Surely, you may attract some glares if you look different than the others, but some of the glares are actually admiring – and what if they’re not? Who cares?

(My speciality is shooting pictures of animal butts, enjoy. I don’t take my life too seriously)

Here are some pictures of Tampere’s finest cafés – A bunny café and ”Purnauskis, The Cat café”. I really adore all the different cafés they have in Japan, so having these fluffy encounters in Finland with a cup of ice tea makes me really happy. I’m not particuraly disappointed in common Finland cafés, finnish cafés are usually very delicate, clean and make sweet, pure and stunning dishes, but part of Finnishness is trying everything new and refreshing.

Here is a picture from a moving bus which I took on my way home from my night shift. I like having many trees in the city centre. You can see one of the greatest landmarks and membered finnish structure in the foliage – Särkänniemi’s Näsinneula (Näsi’s needle? Is there an english word to it?). Finland’s summer is somewhat hot and it is supposed to spend in homeland, whether you spend it in amusement park like Särkänniemi or grill some sausages on a cottage. The taste of freedom can be experienced in both.

To me, I’d describe finnishness with single words or phrases:

pure, tough, one with the nature, trustworthy, good and fair sportsmanship

tough winter, lovely summer, freedom, sisu, patriotic, funny traditions

work hard, play harder, never give up, peace of mind, forests

 

That’s all for now what I have in mind about being a finn and all in all in finnishness. In one week I’m taking a flight to Jinan, China and I am going to live there for half a year. Quite a shocking experiment as I have not traveled anywhere in the world (Estonia doesn’t count, they are like our little brother).

See you next time!

 

~ Kati “Kaz” Nieminen

Finnish land

Country of endless forests, black winters, thousand lakes, silent neighbours and many more weird things. In Finland it’s totally normal to sit next to someone and be quiet for a three hour bus trip, and I love it. Of course it’s nice to have a little chat with someone and make new friends but just being in silence is gold when you are tired or having a bad day. So if a Finnish person doesn’t start a conversation with you don’t worry, he or she is not being impolite, propably just in the mood for not talking. Feel free to ask anything from us, after all we are pretty social and we like to help people.

Nature in Finland is pretty amazing. In winter you can do skiing in the moonlight or jump naked into -20 degree snow and go to +80 degree sauna after that, sounds healthy right? Good thing about long winters are that when the summer arrives it feels extraordinary! Usually summer lasts about two weeks and everyone are just smiling becouse the sun is shining at last. Lakes in Finland are one of my favorite things. Best thing in the Finnish summer is to spend a day at the beach with friends and get drunk. Yes in Finland we don’t drink, we get drunk.

Finland is a safe country to live and you don’t have to worry about bad things when you are walking home in the evening. Of course crimes happen here and if you are getting a late night snack 4 am in the morning, you might get yourself into a fight if you really beg for it. In general Finland is one of the safest places in the world.

Most Finnish people are also pretty sarcastic and has own kind of humour, so you shouldn’t take things too seriously when you live here. Welcome to our country and I hope you enjoy your stay!

What I love about Finland

Even though I often find myself only mocking Finland and its culture, it is not hard for me to recognize the parts that I truly adore in being a Finn and living in Finland. Maybe that too is one of the fundamental parts of being Finnish, not giving credit for yourself or for your country, being too negative.

Anyhow, first thing I need to bring to the table is the nature. I think Finland has quite an unique nature and there is a lot of it too. I´m pretty sure that there are not many places in the world that have such pure air and waters and so many clean lakes and forests as Finland does. It is quite amazing too that in Finland everybody is allowed to roam around the nature freely, no matter who happens to own the forest or field. For myself this huge resource of nature means relaxing, which I think it is for many other Finns too. It gives a great balance after a busy week at the city to go on a hike to a forest on the weekend and enjoy some campfire food. Then of course the nature in Lapland is even more unique than in the rest of the Finland. Almost once a year a get this urge to visit Lapland and to enjoy the peace of its winter.

Being a Finn there is one thing you simply have to say when speaking about Finland. It is the Sauna. Sauna is the place where otherwise shy and bit reserved Finns share their stories and emotions. In the sauna we Finns can be our true selves and there is no need for any disguises. Going to the sauna is also a perfect way to relax. It helps to relax both your body and soul. Moving to abroad, sauna will definitely be one of the things I’ll be missing the most.

Apart from the clichés I love how in Finnish culture it is totally ok to be silent even when you’re spending time with someone else. It is not awkward, and you don’t have to quickly come up with something to say. Quite the contrary, I think that Finns take it as a sign of true friendship when you can be with someone silently and it doesn’t feel weird at all. This said I don’t mean that I and neither Finns would like to be silent all the time.

Another trait that I just love about Finns is that they are truly trustworthy. When you agree on something with Finnish people you can be sure that they act by it. If a meeting starts at nine o’clock it will start at nine o’clock. And if you have agreed that someone will for example come and repair your TV they will come and repair your TV. Also you can be pretty carefree in Finland, since there aren’t a lot of robberies or other small crimes like that.

Good things about Finland and being here

When I ask myself, what’s the best thing about Finland, all I can think about is how beautiful and peaceful our country is. There are so many places in the world where safety is not guaranteed like it is in here.

I think most Finnish people are calm, polite and helpful, which really culminates the feeling you get when you live in Finland:

Nothing too sparkly, but safe and familiar.

I really enjoy the nature in all four seasons, how it changes the views and how the air smells. Mind is at peace when you get to walk your dog around forests and lakes just a few steps from your home.

Nature, in my opinions, is the best and most important aspect in Finnishness. We appreciate our land and we nurture it, we have countless amazing hiking routes across the country and every city is left with plenty of trees and parks.

 

 

 

If there’s one thing that Finns can talk with each other, strangers or not, it’s the weather. Very few conversations end up without a mention or two about current too cold/hot weather, amount of snow/rain or the lack of it. That is actually the first annoying thing that comes to mind when thinking negative things about the people in Finland, constant complains about things that are next to meaningless. Oh here I’m complaining as well, time to shut up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An educated nation

Since most common aspects of Finnishness are already covered in other blogs like this one, I would like to discuss 2 untouched, I think, before qualities of Finns. Namely, education or erudition and politeness.

Now, don’t worry, I am not going to talk about how much I like my university or enjoy Finnish educational system. Here I would like to depict a real level of those perks among Finns.

And what is a better way to assess a nation than checking its drunks and hobos? (<- a joke)

taken from https://inktank.fi/12-signs-learned-drink-finland/

(taken from https://inktank.fi/12-signs-learned-drink-finland/)

During my last 3 years in Finland I had 2 very close encounters which I am going to discuss below.

1) First one occurred within first 3 months after I entered TAMK. On a cold October evening, when I was waiting for a bus, speaking Russian with my pal, we were approached by a gentleman in his 30s, who was slammed-drunk, but looked descent. He recognized our Russian speech and came up to us to talk about it. Though he was barely standing, his English was pretty good and clear. The Sir was not very happy that day, so having refused his several (extremely polite) fight offers, my friend and I left the scene on a bus.

2) Last summer I’ve gotten myself into another peculiar situation.

I was traveling back home after coming to Finland for a week and decided to spend some time in Helsinki, waiting for a train transfer.

Suddenly, in the locker room of the railway I was approached by another man with a bitten face that smelled like vodka. He asked for some cash and I handed him 2 euros – all spare coins I had at that time. I walked away, put my luggage in the locker, inserted all 6 euros I had on hands, but the door wasn’t closing. At this point, I couldn’t leave. I couldn’t neither take my bags and leave (and lose 6 euros), nor leave the bags in an opened locker for an extended amount of time. So, I called that man and asked him for an advice. To which he replied “Hold on”, brought a railway station worker within 1 minute and stayed with me until the issue was resolved. Needless to say, this time the man was speaking fluently again.

(taken from https://inktank.fi/kippis-the-strange-history-of-finlands-love-affair-with-alcohol/)

I may have been lucky, but both situations showed me that in Finland, all people are people and may be helpful no matter what mental condition they are in (and hey, they still manage communicate with you in English freely). This is vastly different in some other countries I’ve visited.

I don’t speak Finnish that well, so I prefer using English in my everyday life in Finland. I’ve talked to many people in many sectors and I’ve only met 2 old ladies in all the time I spent in the country, who couldn’t express themselves in English. I definitely would like to talk to more drunks to find out their average language skill and intercultural knowledge.

Jokes aside, to me, this shows a great achievement in Finnish educational system, which greatly surpasses my home country’s one.

People among the thousand lakes, fir forests and neverending supply of salmiakki

Yeah, judging by the title alone, this text is going include starker stereotyping and more heavy-handed symbolism than a Finnish joke book containing nothing other than jests about swedes.

See? Got there already.

For a good while of my younger, adolescent life I didn’t pay that much attention to how my mind came to be the restless, nihilistic beehive that doesn’t give me a moment’s peace, yet as I came to know people outside of my national consciousness of rye bread and wife carrying, they offered me insight on how peculiar and occasionally simplistically insightful our small little nation beneath the northern star can actually be, even if our tongue sounds a mix somewhere between Sindarin and R’lyehian.

And yes, that wonderfully nerdy comparison is an actual sentence from my foreign friend’s mouth.

Stuff like phone throwing competitions, air guitar championships, cultural significance of “kalsarikännit”, aforementioned wife carrying and downright abysmally confusing amount of flag days are minor local oddities that always catch an eye of  those who are not that accustomed to these latitudes, but they still often remain as ephemeral oddball attractions. Those are merely the results of the “Finnishness”. I try keep the actual quotations in appropriate minimum, but what I have come to gather from the feedback of my friends outside of Finland, our charm lies in emotional honesty. We are stoic, serious people in work or whenever it is required and are willing to express our utmost jubilancy on the moment of simple, individual elation or when our small country raises to the world stage for that beautiful 15 minutes of stardom as our team wearing the lion sigil on their chests have managed to put a rubber puck into a net in an ice rink. We drink, rejoice, regret going to work next morning, we start planning for our summer holiday, continue working, rinse and repeat. Yet low and behold: We are content.

We are a small nation. A freaking miniscule entity in a stage where United Nations cover 193 countries under its banner. By some miracle this little slice of the north has gained a reasonably respectable authority among other countries and much of it is thanks to that straightforward cultural identity and sauna diplomacy that has to be the one word that defines Finnish political program during the Cold War. God, you just got to love history. Others compare doomsday weapons and space programs, we Finns pool in our resources and have structured our diplomatic channels to go through a sweat box that forces even the toughest men to open up their souls.

If my that last sentence would be taken out of context, some might consider us Finns as sort of deranged. Well, yeah. We are actually proud of that. Midnight sun and dark, lightless abyss of winter months would drive anyone insane, we just have a couple thousand year head start and we have found a way to capitalize it. Slight insanities keep life fresh and straightens the perspective on what actually matter. We are a small, stubborn, to many seemingly hostile collective of mämmi-eaters, reindeer breeders and people from Rauma among others, but besides that we appreciate honesty, hard work, unity and that spark to jump right into that madness that makes life worth living.

Also hockey. Hockey and beer. And salmiakki.

Torilla tavataan.

More trees and more lakes. There is no escape.

 

Land of a Thousand lakes

The summer in Finland is a breathtaking time year after year and I wouldn’t rather spend it anywhere else.  Especially this year, when the weather has been great almost whole summer.

             

 

 

 

Finland is a full of lakes with a beautiful clear water and next to them there are small villages that awaken at the beginning of the summer. Outdoor activities in sparsely populated Finland are endless and I will definitely miss it while living in a large city abroad. Finns, at least I, spend the summer near the lakes in the countryside as much as possible and enjoy domestic dishes, vegetables, local fish and new potatoes.

This summer I spent in Finland’s capital, Helsinki, which is far larger city than where I previously lived and I learned to appreciate nature even more. On the other hand, thanks to the unique seaside of Helsinki, I enjoyed it very well and I understand why so many tourists want to visit Finland in the summer.

One thing I definitely want to mention, when I write about Finland and Finnish people, is the fact how pedants people are here. That perfectly concretized when Finland was able to hold a one of the biggest political event in 2018. During the summer, a summit between two major leaders was held in Helsinki. I was truly impressed with the Finnish polices arrangements that I managed to follow when I lived in the heart of a downtown.

Finland received the honorable mention of good arrangements and security during that summit, and that is something that all Finns should be proud of!