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Finnishness to us

Finnish nature is one of the most important thing to us about Finnishness. There is four so different seasons as you can see from these pictures.

Finland is known about its breath taking nature. Finland can be divided into three different areas: archipelagoes and coastal lowlands, a slightly higher central lake plateau and uplands to north and northeast.

One picture is worth a thousand words:

Lapland, Autti

Lapland, Pyhä

Lapland, Rovaniemi

Lapland, Vikajärvi

West coast of Finland, Yyteri

West coast of Finland, Merikarvia

West coast of Finland, Kallo

 

Southest point of Finland, Hanko

Central Finland, Leivonmäki

(kuva Marko Kauko, Savon sanomat)

Central Finland, Himos

Also summer cottages, saunas and long drinks remind us about Finnishness.

 

 

Mira Siljavaara & Aino Sävelä

 

Finnishness to us

Finnish nature is one of the most important thing to us about Finnishness. There is four so different seasons as you can see from these pictures.

Finland is known about its breath taking nature. Finland can be divided into three different areas: archipelagoes and coastal lowlands, a slightly higher central lake plateau and uplands to north and northeast.

One picture is worth a thousand words:

Lapland, Autti

Lapland, Pyhä

Lapland, Rovaniemi

Lapland, Vikajärvi

West coast of Finland, Yyteri

West coast of Finland, Merikarvia

West coast of Finland, Kallo

 

Southest point of Finland, Hanko

Central Finland, Leivonmäki

(kuva Marko Kauko, Savon sanomat)

Central Finland, Himos

Also summer cottages, saunas and long drinks remind us about Finnishness.

 

Mira Siljavaara & Aino Sävelä

 

Finnishness

As I started to think about Finnishness, I noticed how hard it actually is to describe that definition shortly because there are so many things that I could write about. I am sure that every Finn who has traveled or met people from other cultures have come across with some of those somewhat hilarious prejudices about Finnish people. All those talks about our poor small talk -skills, us standing in lines with good distance to others, standing in the bus rather than sitting next to somebody, being asked about igloos and polar bears, being stalked by elves and telling our kids about this chunky man living with reindeer. Spending our free time drinking (a lot) and eating our at least interesting-looking traditional foods and not to mention our sauna-culture. Prejudices can be hilarious but there is so much more behind.

     

Despite all those strange things and habits, we are known or believed to have, there are deeper roots behind certain acts or things we do. The integrity and the meaning we put on the words are admirable. Finns are not comfortable with saying something that’s not true. Finnish comprehension of time makes things happen and systems effective. If you have set up a meeting at eight o´clock it really means that you will find Finn usually couple minutes early in the agreed place and well prepared. Schedules are accurate and promises are meant to be kept. Besides Finns respect honesty, effectiveness and time, they respect others, and have curiosity towards other people, globe and environment. The Finnish ”sisu” that’s this dedicated, persistent mindset which has its roots in our country’s history, thrives people toward results and boosts desire to be successful also in global scale.

Finnishness means safety and freedom. Freedom to wonder in the forest, fishing, picking berries, swimming in the lakes (and there are a lot of them here), breathing fresh air. Having free education and care from the very beginning regardless of one’s background, having support system as life mistreats you or gives you gifts like offspring. Having local libraries, health care, maternity packages and functional travelling systems. Having a courage to pursue goals owing to the support systems we have here.

Finnishness is also a great (and maybe a little bit weird-ish) mix of contrasts. We are highly educated country keeping up with the global issues and bringing knowledge, innovations and ideas in to global markets. Then again, we love to escape for the countryside to our cottages with no electricity, running water or inside bathrooms. We are small country in the north but still in the top in various global competitions, indicators, statistics and lines of business. We are one of the happiest countries in the world but still complaining about some silly little things that appears to annoy us. We are known as introvert people with poor small talk skills but still if you ask a Finn for a help you will in all likelihood get it no less in understandable English. (And not forgetting to mention yet being able to go to public saunas half-naked with unknown people. As it is said, “the Finnish personal space does not apply in sauna.“) Also Finns are ambitious and hardworking but still humble and not bragging about the achievements or property. Finns are usually full of ideas and opinions but still calmly waiting for their turn to open their mouth in conversations.

Finnishness is richness. Richness to enjoy all the four unique seasons – seeing the beauty of nature’s variation and the possibilities that every season brings with it. Winter, spring, summer and autumn create opportunities for multiple hobbies, sports as well as vibes, mindsets and ideas. Every beginning of the new season gives you a chance to start as if from the start with good energy and motivation.

It is richness to have a chance to observe and explore the world, its diversity and people living on this same planet with dissimilar values, behavior, and circumstances , through our school systems, local libraries and by travelling.

I found myself struggling whether I am able to define this expression clearly enough but then let myself be satisfied with by scratching the surface of the Finnishness and Finnish culture because that’s what culture is – having something collective and unique that cannot be fully told to others. We have wide spectrum of people, skills, values, cities, landscape, forest, opinions, goals, opportunities, traditions and lifestyles. I think all the contrasts and dimensions of our culture and the warmth of Finns (despite the personal space and the lack of smooth small talk skills) makes it easy for foreign to get along with Finnish people and visit here.

Finnishness is richness in so many levels.

Four seasons from a Finnish perspective

What Finnishness means to me? For me it is surviving from different kinds of weathers all year round, but also enjoying them at the same time. Everyone in Finland loves our nature, but how do we really take and feel about all of the changes? This post may or may not help you to answer your foreign friends when they ask you what is the best time to come to Finland.

The weather in Finland and how we take it, is such a big part of Finnishness. Somehow we manage to love and hate all the four seasons at the same time. Around December till February when it is super cold, we love to take snowy pictures, wear sweaters and pretend that we are in a Christmas movie drinking some hot chocolate and making snow angels. But always, every week, we have to, just have to remind ourselves and others how cold it is. Just in case if someone did not look the temperature after waking up. Even of course they did, because you have to prepare yourself every morning whether you have to wear one or two pairs of claws.

We love the snow and star skies, we love to ski and snowboard, and ice hockey of course. On winter we try to post a picture of the most coldest day of the year. Why? Because secretly, we are proud of that. We are proud about our weather and how it can literally change in one day. For example, do you think that it can start snowing in June? The answer is; yes, why not.

According to our ”We have 12 months and 4 seasons, so one season is three months” -talk, our spring starts on March. And oh boy the joy in our faces when the days start to be longer and snow starts melting away. Of course it is impossible to wear rain boots, so we have to tell out loud how wet our shoes get at this time of the year when you don’t really know, is it still winter or already summer. Can you imagine that when you wake up and go to school or work to 8am, it is pitch black and freezing cold, but when it’s time to go home, the sun is shining so warmly and you are sweating your ass off? That is the spring time in Finland and we love it, we hate it.

Oh sweet summer! Summer season is a huge part of Finnishness. Although, we are known for our cold winter and all the things happening at that time of the year, summer is actually a big part of Finnishness. We love to go fishing, swimming, boating and use the lakes a lot in the summer. The weather is nicely warm but not too hot. Going to buy berries and vegetables from marketplaces is a tradition what all the Finnish people do. In summer it’s never dark so you can enjoy the sleepless nights all summer long.

All the things listed above are 100% true, but everything has a down side as well, right? Too many times we have to wonder that is it even summer, because the weather is actually not that hot. Fun fact: still, no matter what the weather is on summer, for sure you will see us wearing t-shirts and summer dresses. We also have a lot mosquitoes flying and biting us all summer long. Finnish berries are pretty expensive, so do we actually even have money to buy them? And because of the endless light, it is pretty hard to sleep at night unless you have blackout curtains. Are you already so confused with our mindset?

Fourth season is fall. Fall is the time when we can finally be warm for the first time of the year because it is still summer but we dress like in winter. We are excited about the brown colors and hiking trips when it’s warm but you won’t die to the heat. We give ourselves a permission to shop till we drop because we need new school clothes. We start putting candles everywhere because it starts to get darker day by day. We get sad that the summer is over because we did not feel the hot summer days on the beach with our mojitos like they did in Southern Europe. Summer went by so fast, we wonder: “Did it ever even come?”

In Finland the schools usually starts on September. It is a warm month, summer month, but it is a beginning of the school year and we say that we go back to school on fall. ”See you in fall”, is the last sentence what the teachers tell you when you leave school end of the May. Why? Why we are one or two months ahead? Why we can not just leave in the present? 

All this is a part on being a Finnish. Part of Finnishness. We are silently so proud of our nature and our four seasons, but why we still complain about it? Why we can’t always live in the present? Maybe it is just a part of surviving? It’s maybe a mindset to always look for the future and forget the past. Is it our way of being humble? Only if more people here would have time to pause their lives and just look at the sky in Finland. They would start to appreciate more how incredible lucky they are to live in this country and realize that sometimes you can just live in the present and take the seasonal changes little less seriously.

 

Two things about Finnishness

When I think about Finnishness, two things comes to my mind: summer and sports.

When talking about summer, the whole country comes to alive. Nature wakes up after  a long and dark winter and people are getting out of their homes. In the summer you can see happy and smiling people all around the cities. Having a picnic in the park, swimming and sunbathing at the beach, having a beer or two at terrace.

One of the most Finnish things about summer in my opinion is music festivals. You can find some kind of music festival somewhere in Finland from the beginning of June all the way to the end of August. Maybe the most popular festival is Ruisrock. It’s held annually on the island called Ruissalo, located in Turku. In the last 3 years there has been annually 105 000 visitors over 3 days of the festival.

And then the sports. In Finland people love any kind of sports. It doesn’t matter if it’s the most popular sport ice hockey or Finnish national sport “pesäpallo” there is always people watching. The finns also has weird habit of having national championships in all kind of sports. You can compete in wife carrying or in swamp football or maybe boot throwing is the right sport for you. So it’s not big surprise people usually refers Finland to “Sports nut Finland”.

Uniqueness of Finns

I want to start by saying that we Finns are unique people. Unique country so to say. We are not exactly a Baltic country and i feel like we are only partly a Scandinavian country. I think that’s why we like to be alone and love our personal space. I chose as my three topics: Our love for the nature, Finnish efficiency and sauna culture. Sauna was a bit easy one and obvious, but i love to go to sauna. That is why i have to take this easy choice as a third topic. I think that is what i am going to miss the most during my exchange.

Love for the nature

I really did not think about the nature and how much i appreciate it, before i started my school in TAMK. In TAMK i started to meet a lot of exchange students and foreign degree students. Hanging around with these people opened my  eyes. They were all the time glazing for amazing views and seeking awesome view points. Suddenly at Rosendahl’s Jalkasaari (Not sure that the rocks name is correct.. but anyways) i realized how amazing the Finnish nature is. And it is around us everywhere! That must be the sole reason why it took so much to appreciate it. I have traveled to México, Cuba, Italy etc. seen awesome views and big cities, but still there is no better view than our green trees and silent lakes. Clear blue ocean is nice, but real peace of mind for me is still at the lake. Maybe this is the reason why we are calm nation.

Finnish efficiency 

What i have learned while working in multi-cultural teams and meeting a lot of foreign people, is that we truly are efficient nation. If in Finland something does not work, it is made to work immediately. Or otherwise people are complaining in social media. In a work environment when task is presented, we may not be the noisiest problem solvers but at the end of the day we make sure things are done. I appreciate the Finnish mentality. We get things done, even though bureaucracy can be on our way sometimes.

Sauna

Oh the final third topic. Sauna. When i lived at my parents place, we went to sauna every day. My step-father owns a farm, so going to sauna is the only way to get the smell of the bulls away. Now i have lived on my own for four years. I don’t have a sauna in my flat, but in my building yes. Every Tuesday i go to buildings sauna with my grandpa and catch up. Every winter i go to public sauna Rauhaniemi with my friends. It is truly something, which is build up on me. Sauna makes me calm, i love the heat and the euphoric feeling after you have finished the sauna session. So, if you are exchange student reading this blog post. Take advantage of sauna while you are here. Try different public saunas for instance! Rauhaniemi, Kaupinoja and Lentävänniemi.

Photo i took from my hiking trip with my friends at Repovesi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our lake sauna.

My thought about our culture and what makes us Finns, Finns.  Calm, efficient and quiet nation.

–Santeri

Very Finnish opinions

Finnishness at it’s core is fighting over whether or not pineapple should be considered as a fine pizza topping or not. It’s questioning if throwing away your “talviturkki” (your first swim of the year) in May would be a good idea. It’s shaming your siblings over their dislike for salty liquorish while calling them a traitor to the country, yet preferring Oreo cookies over the Finnish equivalent Domino’s yourself. It’s about making sure there is rosolli salad and lutefisk at the Christmas table just for the sake of tradition, although none of your family members even really care for the said delicacies. Finnishness is  weird language related things like calling a clothespin a laundry boy or calling your loved ones “it” and your precious pet cat a “she”.

Finnishness is also having a sceptical face on while reading the news about us being the happiest country in the world, and not even realizing what a privilege it is to live in a country like this.  Equality, free education, fresh air, general safety…oh and rye bread!

As for a few of my very Finnish and not so Finnish opinions, I’d like to share some right here: 

Putting pineapple on your pizza is icky. I’d personally recommend trying some nice grilled strawberry on that slice, so I’d say I still qualify as a Finn with my weird tastes in pizza. 

I really enjoy summer the best when the weather is hot and humid. The more humid the better. 

I find Finnish to be a very expressive language and I enjoy the freedom it gives to the speaker to play around with different ways of saying the same things. 

I appreciate people being mindful of ones personal space and understanding that shared silence doesn’t have to awkward.

And last but certainly not least,  you eat your porridge without any protests!

– Se puuro syödään vikisemättä!

 

 

Finnish education is an export product

I Titta and a physiotherapist and studying alongside work of Social Services. I have studied additional courses in addition to my full-time employment history, developing my skills and to keep up motivation. That is why I want to highlight Finnish education in my writing.

The Finnish education system consists of high-quality, affordable early childhood education and free nine-year primary school. With the help of subjective day care, all children have the right to pre-primary education. Pre-primary education became compulsory in 2015. Each child participates in pre-primary education before school starts, during which the child’s school readiness is also assessed.

In Finland, every child has the right and the duty to attend primary school. In Finland, poor, women and people with disabilities are allowed to attend school on an equal basis. Equality is guaranteed by Finnish law. In comparison, Finland has been ranked as the second most equal country in the world. Only Iceland outperforms Finland in its equality. The history of Finland’s equality dates back to 1906, when Finland, the third in the world, gave women the right to vote and at the same time allowed women to stand for election to the Parliament. 1907 The first women in the world were elected to Parliament.

You do not have to be a Finnish citizen to attend our Finnish elementary school. Immigrant children, even when they do not have a residence permit, are placed in school as soon as they come to Finland. In Finland, children in need of special support may be in regular primary schools and receive personalized assistance and learning support according to their needs. In Finland, the teaching of girls and boys is also no different.

Compared to the rest of the world, Finnish children start school late, but still Finland has been at the forefront of Pisa studies. Why is a Finnish school so good? The success is explained by the skills of highly educated early childhood educators and teachers, the short days of the first years of schooling, and the importance of play and exercise in learning.

There is a statutory compulsory education in Finland at the age of 16. After elementary school, you can get education with government grants and free vocational training schools as far as you can and want. The Finnish education system is admired and imitated throughout the world. It will be explored from abroad and has become one of our export products.

Free school food has been one of the cornerstones of our school system for 70 years. Since 1948, the state has provided free school meals to school-age students every school day. There is no such thing in the world as in Sweden, and only there since 1973. Finnish school food is not unhealthy, for example, burgers, it is nutritional requirements.  In addition to food, the state pays all school children for basic education and organizes free hobbies alongside the school.

Our unique school system has raised our level of education to one of the best in the world. Our reading and writing skills are the best in the world, which is why we are probably such a hardworking library user and have a very large number of top professionals and products in the world that almost everyone in the world knows. Who wouldn’t know Angry Birds, Marimekko, Alvar Aalto, Nokia, for example?

Titta Kähkönen

Thoughts about Finnishness

For me personally, Finnishness means safety, cleanliness, and quietness. The first two are most apparent when comparing Finland to southern countries, where you can see the opposite. I appreciate the fact that the environment is kept clean and waste is sorted. I’m disappointed to hear news from abroad about harassment of women and their experience of insecurity. I’m not saying that those things don’t happen in Finland, but when measuring equality, northern countries are on their own level.

For myself quietness is a double-edged sword. I’m socially more active, than an average Finnish male. That’s why traditional silence and withdrawal makes me confused. After all I don’t see myself as a prototype of a Finnish person. My roots are from Eastern Finland and Karelia, which is nowadays a part of Russia. I have noticed that people who grew up in those areas are often more talkative, social, and carefree than the people from Western Finland. There are many types of Finnishness. You get three totally different people when you take one from Pohjanmaa, one from Lapland, one from Savo, and bring them to the same room. Despite the differences in people’s characters, cleanliness, honesty, promptness, and individual freedom are common values for every Finn. In this context I must mention the unofficial national beverage: coffee. With coffee you can surely make a quiet Finn chat.

When comparing Finnishness to the surrounding nations, one must consider the Finland’s young age. Finns have existed for ages but most of the time under the control of other nations like Sweden and Russia. This means that decisions were made elsewhere, and Finns were forced to respond to demands from others. Although a modern Finn does not have a straight contact to those ages, their effect is still noticeable in Finnish identity. Freedom and defending it is one of the holiest values in Finland. This resulted in tragic wars in nations early years.

People are humble and honest. The importance of community is worth more than individuals. In this matter we are living in a transitional phase. In recent years, the importance and appreciation of the individual has strongly increased. Things have changed so that communality, and the good things it has brought us, are in danger to fade away.

Overall, the average Finn has lived in wellbeing for only the last fifty years. Before that, the coldness, hunger, and deceases have followed the everyday life of the Finnish people. Most of the people lived a miserable life under scary circumstances. Now when these problems don’t exist anymore, most of the people can enjoy their lives wholeheartedly and that’s the way they want to keep doing, and if possible, on the individual level, increase their standard of living. People want to make their dreams come true. Hard times can still be seen in the older citizens’ frugal and humble behaviour. In these features, there is the hidden the power that brought Finland from one of the Europe’s poorest countries to one of the wealthiest. Times will change and I think that we live in the middle of changes. I believe that after the next ten years my home country will look very different than what it is now.

Finland man and flag pin

(Royalty free stock photo from Dreamstime.com)

Finnishness

What I love the most about finnishness is our honesty and sisu.

I don’t know another reliable nation. When we see a line, we go to end of it and wait nicely. When we find a lost wallet, we usually return it. Sometimes even find out who it belongs to and take a contact him (Ashamed to admit, but it happened to me a few weeks ago. I got a new message request on Facebook and somebody said that she had found my credit card. I hadn’t noticed yet that it was even lost). When we broke something, we tell that somebody or maybe even fix it. I am noticed that it’s not obvious everywhere. I still don’t claim that some Finns wouldn’t do these things like stole losted wallets etc.  Fortunately for the minority.

What is sisu? Sisu is a characteristic, a substance that you either have or you don’t. It’s something that can make you push through when times are rough, win against all odds, survive even you think you won’t. It’s something like stubbornness, yet combined with guts. At time it’s valour, at times resilience. But however you translate it, it’s something you most certainly need in the face of advertisy.  I hope that our sisu help us all when something difficult come ahead during the exchange.