Finnishness in the eyes of a non Finn

I mean I have lived here basically my whole life, but I still wouldnt call my self a Finn. My roots are from Bosnia originally. I’ll base this blogpost off of my own experiences and my own everyday life.

The first thing that comes up to my mind when talking about Finnish people or culture and I’m not even joking but alcohol.

Atleast among students alcohol is seen as a kind of stress reliever. When you’ve got 2 essays and a few difficult tests on the same week it can get pretty stressful, so a student party and a get together with your friends can occasionally help I guess. Also when you’ve worked the traditional 9-5 job the whole week you often find yourself drinking over the weekend with your friends. I’ve been in a couple of situations when deciding not to drink the people around me ask is something wrong, its actually kind of funny.

Some of the many boozes in Finland.

The second thing is sports. Whenever theres news that some Finn or Finns are doing good in some sport in a major tournament it gathers a lot of viewers. I’d say a good example is when a e-sports team called Ence was competing in a CS:GO tournament called Katowice Major. Myself and my friends have not watched any e-sports, but when we heard of this, of course we intented to watch it. The tournament gathered a lot of views from Finland and it was actually exciting to watch. They ended up in 2nd place and they really made a name for themselves. My point with this is that no matter the sport Finnss always gather up and root for their own to win, even though they have not watched the sport, like ever.

 

The last things come actually as a package almost. Im talking about cottage, sauna and nature. You cant have one without the other. Finlands nature during the summer is just beautiful to look at. Especially in your own cottage when you’ve got your own peace you can just relax and take it easy. Cottages usually at best reside by the seaside but most of them reside on the shore of a lake away from the busy city life.

A pic taken by me at my friends cottage

 

 

My Experience of Finnishness

Karhunkierros, Kuusamo, September 2019

Today’s tourism culture, globalisation and the constant evolution of world have done to make the world famous for Finns and Finland famous for the world. In few short years have we in Finland lot more tourists from Asia countries and all over the world. At same time we travel lot more and now days Finland have a reputation all over the world. In my experience, when you say you are from Finland you get more and more often approving gaze or comment: “I have visited in Helsinki.” or “I know Kimi Räikkönen.” All over world Finland is known for its athletes. For example, Kimi Räikkönen (the Iceman), Matti Nykänen, Teemu Selänne and Janne Ahonen. One common saying, which is connected to sports, is “Torilla tavataan!” That means “We meet at the plaza!”

Some years back, the most common stereo types of Finns were negative, fortunately no more. Finnish tourists don´t need to be ashamed of each other anymore, because in now days Finns are well behaved and reliable. We pay, what have asked, we are always on time or early and we speak other languages properly. Finland have a good reputation in the world.

Finland have succeeded at selling the Lapland´s “Winter Wonderland” for tourists, especially tourists from Asia. In Lapland we have reindeer safaris, husky safaris, ski resorts and much more. Tourists come to see aurora borealis and meet the Santa Claus. With Lapland, the most popular tourist destination is the capital of Finland, Helsinki. When the tourism is focused at these two main destinations Finland have lots of beautiful nature destinations an

Top of Levi, January 2020

d other Finland cities have something to give to tourists.

The Finland´s specialties are sauna, salty liquorice and the Moomins. Sauna = the hot wooden room.  The Moomins are very popular in Japan, but you can find the Moomin themed shops all over the world. I have found them in London, the Great Britain and Helsinki (of course) and I know that in Japan have couple of the Moomin shops. The Moomins have become more popular with the new television series, Moomin Valley.  We also have the Moomin World, here in Finland, in Naantali! Finland also have the world´s only the Moomin museum in Tampere.

All in all Finland is a very good place to live.

 

My Experiences of Finnishness

Karhunkierros, Kuusamo September 2019

Today’s tourism culture, globalisation and the constant evolution of world have done to make the world famous for Finns and Finland famous for the world. In few short years we have in Finland lot more tourists from Asia countries and all over the world. At same time we travel lot more and now days Finland have a reputation all over the world. In my experience, when you say you are from Finland you get more and more often approving gaze or comment: “I have visited in Helsinki.” or “I know Kimi Räikkönen.” All over world Finland is known for its athletes. For example, Kimi Räikkönen (the Iceman), Matti Nykänen, Teemu Selänne and Janne Ahonen. One common saying, which is connected to sports, is “Torilla tavataan!” That means “We meet at the plaza!”

Some years back, the most common stereo types of Finns were negative, fortunately no more. Finnish tourists don´t need to be ashamed of each other anymore, because in now days Finns are well behaved and reliable. We pay, what have asked, we are always on time or early and we speak other languages properly. Finland have a good reputation in the world.

Top of Levi, January 2020

Finland have succeeded at selling the Lapland´s “Winter Wonderland” for tourists, especially tourists from Asia. In Lapland we have reindeer safaris, husky safaris, ski resorts and much more. Tourists come to see aurora borealis and meet the Santa Claus. With Lapland, the most popular tourist destination is the capital of Finland, Helsinki. When the tourism is focused at these two main destinations Finland have lots of beautiful nature destinations and other Finland cities have something to give to tourists.

The Finland´s specialties are sauna, salty liquorice and the Moomins. Sauna = the hot wooden room.  The Moomins are very popular in Japan, but you can find the Moomin themed shops all over the world. I have found them in London, the Great Britain and Helsinki (of course) and I know that in Japan have couple of the Moomin shops. The Moomins have become more popular with the new television series, Moomin Valley.  We also have the Moomin World, here in Finland, in Naantali! Finland also have the world´s only the Moomin museum in Tampere.

All in all Finland is a very good place to live.

https://youtu.be/8SfvivN-IFs

Video of Helsinki

Finnish responsibility

I’m originally from Estonia so finnish culture was something new for me. Estonian culture is mostly borrowed from Russia etc. Finland, on the other handhas culture mostly of it’s ownWhen I tell foreigners about Finland I  begin with our education system and our healthcareThose are the things I’m most  proud of as a finn because our healthcare and education system are better than in most countries. 

As others have writtennature is important to us. We are proud of our forests and lakesThe best way to enjoy our nature is to spend time at the cottage in the woodsnear to a lakeThat’s where townspeople and hard workers relaxAlso we have many nature parks  near to big cities and the cities itself have lots of vegetation. Our nature changes with the  seasons and every season has it’s beauty. Finlands speciality is Laplandwhere the winter  is longest and snowiestSummers in Lapland are magicalThere you can experience the  green mountainsthe quiet deserts and the nightless nightsThe northern lights are a  must see!

 

Because nature and climate are so important to us, we carry a huge responsibility for themSometimes it can be overwhelming when we  make not-so-good environmental decisions. Like when we buy plane tickets to somewhere warm and sunny in the middle of depressing winter or when we choose spanish cucumber instead of finnish because the taste is betterBut we compensate our bad choices with many good choicesFor exampleour recycling  system is very advanced and most finns utilize it. Our grocery store are full of greener and organic alternatives and finns prefer domestic products. Also the popularity of finnish  recycled crafts and design is on the riseNot forgetting our comprehensive and functional public transportationwhich  reduces private car useFinnishness is love and great responsibility towards our nature. 

My Experiences of Finnishness

Evil skies over Kasiniemi 2019.

Finnishness is a way of life that means equality, freedom, nature and northern oddity.  I look my experiences from a pretty average Finnish family living in the suburban areas, in a peaceful society that have given me free education and healthcare. A blueprint that can be easily shared with almost any regular fin, and yet still be able to create your own path freely. This gives a strong feeling of equal rights that we have in Finland.

By having mostly equal backgrounds, there is a plenty of space for openness and freedom to express yourself in our society. However Finnish people tend to look outside little bit introverted, but it just respecting others personal space to make room for everyone to create and express themselves. Throughout my life I have had a freedom to express and explore myself in arts and music, which wouldn’t be always the case if we would have come from different cultural background.

Nature is also one of the key elements to finnishnes, that you can clear see only when you have travelled other countries. Living in the land of a thousand lakes, having purest water and air makes life much easier and safer in million ways. Having the four seasons affects how we behave and what kind seasonal activities we have. Coping with the dark times of the year we have come up with weird rituals such as ice swimming. Dipping in to ice cold water straight from hot sauna, can help you to get through the long winter, but also reminds you how we all are equal in the end of the day. Putting our naked butts next to each other in a crowded sauna without roles and uniforms.

Finnishness

What does Finnishness mean to me? When living abroad the things that were most visible in Finnish culture and the things (amongst many others) that I feel that I’m proud of are the possibility to get a good education for free and the attitude of “sisu” which is roughly explained as determination and perseverance.  These things also go a bit hand in hand.

Education

The free education that we have in Finland is really appreciated all over the world. And it is not just free, but it is really good as well. Everyone has an equal opportunity and also a responsibility to go to school and that means that everyone should have equal opportunities to succeed in life as well. And it is not just the basic education that is free, but our Universities also offer free education. You do have to qualify for your studies though, so it is not just an easy get away and a little work never hurt nobody. Our government also supports your studies with a monthly student allowance which gives the student an opportunity to finish its studies debt free and ready to face the world.

Sisu

Sisu is something that I really value in the Finnish style of doing things. We learn from our mistakes and move on after we fell. The Japanese saying fall down seven times and stand up eight really defines the mind of a Finnish.  If we decide to do something, we really make it happen. We are not quitters. And I believe that is valued in work life around the world as well. We are known to do our jobs well and not be slackers. That is something that I really appreciate in our reputation.

Finnishness

For me, Finnishness means lots of different things. The first thing that came to my mind is nature. I feel like most Finnish people have a close connection with it. There’s always nature nearby and you don’t have to walk far to find a forest. I love how easy it is to find a place where there’s no one else and you can just be alone and enjoy the silence and calmness. It’s the perfect place to collect your thoughts together if you feel stressed about something. Us Finns really appreciate the quietness and our own personal space.

I also love the contrasts in Finland such as the cold, long, dark winters and the warm, short, light-filled summers. Also, the change of seasons looks so beautiful in nature, especially in the autumn.

Even though the Finnish summer is short, there’s even more to do for example visiting the local markets, music festivals and amusement parks. The local markets in Finland offer lots of traditional Finnish foods and you should definitely go to one if you are visiting Finland. Finns love fish and I would recommend trying the traditional Finnish salmon soup or fried vendace. Afterwards, you should have a cinnamon bun with a cup of coffee. Did you know that Finnish people consume the most coffee in the world? Well, now you know!

My absolute favourite thing during the summer is to have a swim in the lake and go to a sauna after that. Sauna, swim, repeat! There’s nothing more Finnish than a sauna. In winter cross-country skiing is a must and would recommend that to anyone who’s visiting Finland during the winter. Nothing beats a cup of hot chocolate after your skiing session.

And you can’t forget mushroom hunting and berry picking. There are so many great things that nature offers us here!

 

Small land of equality and opportunities

I was raised in a small Finnish town in Satakunta. A town of 7000 people where every young person knows each other. We had quite nice time living there. Our school was quite small but everyone in there had big dreams. Nowadays I live in a bigger city of Tampere. Some people around me share the same background as me. Most of my classmates are from different cities and different families and have all their own stories.  Still all of us have the same opportunity of achieving something in life.

The fact that education is available for everyone and for free is something I am very proud of as a Finnish person. You don’t need to have rich parents or work night shifts on the side to go to a good university. Everything is possible if you work for what you want.

I liked living in a small rural town. I could go swimming in a river in our backyard. Even if you managed to swallow some of the water while swimming you wouldn’t get sick. Being surrounded by fields and forests make it a beautiful place.

In the summer all the small towns come back to life. Having months of not so good weather really makes the summer feel so much better when it finally arrives.  In my hometown Kokemäki there are several different events held in the summertime. My favorite is the annual VastavirtaRock festival. It is a free music festival for all to see. The festival is funded fully by donations and there have been some great indie performers in the past years. Another good event is the Riverside Kustom day – a classic car and motorcycle meet held by a local motorist group. People around the region gather to see cool cars and rock bands play. Those kind of events are definately the best time to live in Finland.

 

 

Of saunas, buckets and modesty: A brief look at Finnishness

Alright. Define ”finnishness” my guy. Simple, right?

Well yes, but actually no.

Finnishness is an odd phenomenon. It’s being super proud of our country whenever it gets mentioned anywhere in any context, but at the same time shying away from any praise, being all modestly self-deprecating. It’s a weird thing, and I’ll try my best with these four points to show you how:

1) The F is up with saunas?

Did you really think we were going to go through this without mentioning saunas? Ohohoho, no sir-ee!  It’s right into the stereotypical deep-end with this one!

First off, for the record, I love me my saunas. I love the fact that they exist. They are a massive point of collective cultural pride deep within our DNA. It’s the place where throughout the times people have been born and died in, it’s where some of our most important and famed political discussions have been held, and most commonly it’s the place where you go wash away the worries of your everyday life and relax – if even for the most fleeting of moments.

So why is it so natural for us?

I mean really, you go to a bus stop and people are standing meters apart from each other. At a public urinal you only ”go domino” (the act of using the urinal in between two vacant urinals) if you absolutely have to – and even then it’s up for discussion.

I don’t like you too near me, and you don’t like me too near you, got it?

Unless it’s in a steaming-hot room and we’re naked. Then it’s fine. Then it’s super ok. Then it’s actually super okay to the point of it being weird IF you have, say, a towel on to hide your body parts you were just so conscious of at the urinal. I mean bruh.

And riddle me this: If I gather around a bunch of friends, we undress, grab a couple of beers and sit around at very close proximity of each other in a room, it’s considered weird, right?

What if we start to slowly raise the temperature? When does it become socially acceptable?

Or is the idea of a sauna more in the wooden planks you rest those gorgeous cheeks of yours on? Where does it begin and end? (I’m serious, this shit has kept me up during nights)

So saunas are a thing – for whatever the reason. I guess that is something you would call ”finnishness” on some level.

2) Fokken buckets

I love this one man. Just the fact that we queue (hate that word, btw: is it just a Q followed by four silent letters?) for ages for a free bucket. I don’t know why, but I love it. Aren’t we cool!? Yeah we are! Not much else here to stay – I’m a Finn, born and raised, and I don’t understand it. But then again I kinda do. You go get yourself a bucket Marjut! Yeah! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

In the picture, you’ll find the author. And a free bucket he raffled. They are a thing!

3) The aforementioned pride of being Finnish.

Okay my guys, we are a humble bunch. You know it, I know it, your granny knows it, hell, your neighbours are probably aware of it as well. If you are a non-finn reading this, you’ve probably noticed this as well and if you haven’t, try it out: Go give a compliment to a Finn and watch them squirm.. We don’t like to take credit too much, and often brush praise off the shoulders with a ”Ahhhhh, it’s really nothing, it’s just yada yada yada..”

But man oh man if we don’t go nuts whenever Finland gets mentioned anywhere. Our schooling system and the results of those are on the top? YES! Bernie Sanders lists off the Nordic countries as an example of a working socialist democracy and says Finland? ALRIGHT! One Finnish person or a company is succesful abroad at basically anything? THAT IS OUR BOI! Right?

RIGHT!?

And don’t get me started on sports: Ice hockey, Teemu Pukki, or Lauri Markkanen? God damn! Even a person who has never done sports in their lives can’t help but feel some sort of weird, indescribable pride when you see a ”-nen” suffixed surname anywhere in the news from a foreign news outlet. We love it. And we should too! We are a small country with a population of an M&M’s bag, we have never in history been a superpower like our neighbouring countries, so when we ever get any appreciation or acknowledgement from anything, we take the praise with a smile. Maybe because it is not directly linked to us as individuals, thus effectively not making us squirm? Who knows, could be.

I mean, there’s that joke of a conspiracy theory going around the internet that Finland is not even a real country but a paper country, so it makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside when we are acknowleged.

Suomi mainittu – torilla tavataan!”

It’s brilliant.

And then the most important point, which in my opinion really reflects the Finnishness of the Finns:

Erhm, ladies and gentlemen,

4) Trustworthiness.

Look, we don’t talk too much. We look weirdly at people who are too open too quick, and roll our eyes if somebody just wont stop talking. We say what we have to say and then not too much else.

But!

You can always trust a Finn to give their honest opinion when asked (emphasis on when asked – other than that, we probably won’t even voice our opinion). It’s going to be rough around the edges, but man if it isn’t going to be honest.

A Finn sees a person drop a 50€ note on the ground and they pick it up and give it to the person who dropped it, probably with as few words as possible, maybe even with a tap on the shoulder accompanied with a nod. We would have the opportunities to go ”well, tough shit” and pocket it for ourselves, but we hardly ever  do. This has actually been proven as well in a research where 12 wallets were ”dropped” on the ground in different major cities across the globe with return details to see where the most honest people are? Guess what? In Helsinki, 11 out of 12 were returned! With money inside! Imagine that! (Read more here.

We don’t beat around the bush in the good nor the bad, and I think this is something we should truly embrace. It’s so engraved in us that most people aren’t probably aware of it. Be it from nature or nurture – who cares? We don’t even run a red light even if there is nobody else on the road. We are an honest and humble people. Let’s hope we dont’t lose that.

And with that note, I will down my way-too-expensive beer in HEL, and move on to my gate. I’m gonna make a quick stop in Arlanda and then move on to Amsterdam from where I’ll grab a train towards Rotterdam and probably (hopefully) the best six months I’ll see in a long time. Wish me luck!

Stay humble my peeps. Stay honest. And take a compliment next time one is given to you! Oh, and just as a parting gift, here’s a picture of President Niinistö firing an SMG whilst riding a velociraptor. You’re very welcome.

Cheers!

Kalle Lahtinen
https://www.linkedin.com/in/kalle-lahtinen/

My Finnishness – nature and behavior

If you want to get the best expierence of Finnishness, you should visit for example the nature of Finland in Lapland. I find the nature of Lapland very beautiful during winter but also during summer. You have to go skiing and downhill skiing if you are visiting Lapland.

         

 

You can get very beautiful pictures of the nature of Finland, but the nature can be pretty harsh sometimes. Especially in Lapland winter can be long, cold and dark. Everyone may be exhausted during winter beacause you don’t get to see and feel the sun often enough. As a result, the arrival of spring and summer always feels so comforting and pleasant. In summer, the Finns truly come out of their caves after the long and cold winter. Many Finns always have big plans for the summer because many Finns have their longest vacation during summer. Majority of Finns for example visit music festivals, attend different open air dancing events and go to their own summer cottage to rest. In addition, we celebrate Midsummer Day, which takes place in the middle of the summer. Traditionally we spend the day with out friends and family at a cottage and enjoy the nature of Finland in the middle of trees and lakes.

 

 

Nevertheless, it is also true that the Finns like to have their own personal space. We need to have our own space and our surroundings under control. You can witness this while waiting the bus or being in crowded place in public. If you sit next to someone you don’t know and there are free seats available on the bus, Some Finns may find that distressing or strange. Also, you are supposed to stand approximately one meter away from that person you don’t know, for example while waiting the bus. The Finns may seem angry and severe at first, but we are just shy at first. When you get to know someone, for example in school or work, we Finns are whole different persons after a couple of conversations. After breaking that shy ice, we Finns are social, kind and friendly.

All in all, Finland is very safe and wonderful place to live even though the darkness during winter may feel depressing sometimes, but you can always warm yourself in a sauna. The Finnish people may behave their own way at first, but just be patient and give it time. Over time the Finns are really talkative and energetic. You just have to get to know them at first.