Is Finnishness a real word?

Studying abroad in Finland is and will be one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.

Having resided in Tampere, Finland for almost 20 months, I would say that I have adapted to Finnish culture quite fast and overall, everything is quite good!

Back home, I am  always surrounded by people and transports. It is usually very loud and noisy everywhere I go. I did not really appreciate the silence. Everything seems to be different here in Finland. I start to realize the beauty of silence. I manage to live alone and now being alone is a part of my daily life.

I never used public transport back home, and now I never use anything other than public transport in Finland. What a life changing experience. You can never imagine me feeling nervous for the first week utilizing buses in Finland. You have to wave, or raise the bus card for the bus to stop. It is actually different etiquette depeding on regions. I went to Turku and nobody waves except for me and my friend. Suddenly we became weirdos 🙂

I did not really like sauna at first because it was too hot and believe me or not I come from a tropical climate country. Somehow, I cope with the hot issue now. I would go sauna once or twice a week currently, sometimes with friend(s) and usually alone. I am very comfortable with being 100% naked in the sauna!

I notice myself going for fast food 100 times more than me back home. Here many people like burgers just like me like rice. Unfortunately, rice still beats over burger if I have to choose only one option for lunch/dinner. Mentioning about food, I learnt all kind of Finnish table manners. What I come to conclusion is that you can do whatever you want. It is a free country my friend.

Spotify is very popular in Finland. My friend told me because the application was cheap and sufficient to use. Everybody here use internet packages so that they can get access to the Internet 24/7 anywhere around Finland.

Somehow, I like the idea of Finns wanting to have their own space. I mean, it is great to live in your own world without anybody disrupting it! Being lonely and alone is completely different. I like the quiet atmosphere now. It is like your mind and the whole universe just emerge into one. I know it sounds fun in a way, however, trust me on this, the silence is actually very loud as well.

Last but not least, my student mentality of going for free stuffs fits Finns’ mentality as well. Great!

Go back to the question posed in this blog post heading, according to Oxford dictionary, the answer is no.

 

 

Home Sweet Home

People around the world comes to see amazing views of Lapland and the famous northern lights. They do winter sports and take as much as photos they can reach. My granny lives in Kolari which is small town in northern Finland so I have been spending a lot of time in there in my life. This is the reason why I feel being in home when I am in Lapland. Every winter I go back there just to see the real winter with a lot of snow and the freezing nights. Those days when there is so cold that the snow is crunching under my shoes are loveliest days of winter.

Spending all my summer and winter holidays there I miss all the time the peace what I have in there walking around the forest. Nature what we have in Finland is a magical and I think we Finns don’t appreciate that as much as we should. From a little girl I have been hiking in Ylläs and in Äkäslompolo. Walking around in the forest hearing only voices from birds and little streams is what I call peace. We should tell the entire world that Finland is beautiful in summer time too. Best thing for me I can do in Finland are of course hiking, fishing and picking berries. My aunt spends almost whole summer in the forest picking all kind of berries. She has taught me to appreciate the nature and all the things its giving us.

 

I know that I am not the only Finn who loves the peace of forest and I think that is the reason why people say that we don’t speak much and we need our own place. I love being on my own and well I don’t care if someone says that I am quiet. My opinion of that is that it should not be a negative thing to say about us. We should be proud of that we don’t need to be loud all the time and that we are independent persons. Well at least I am proud of that because I know it is a part of who I am. Still the world is changing and so are we Finns so we will be more open to strangers. I know that we young people are already and so the change has already happened and it has not stopped. I want to learn about different countries more than especially my grandmother has ever wanted. Now when I go to Slovenia I will be a proud Finn and I will tell everything what they want to know about our beautiful Finland.

Cursing, Darkness & Freedom

When I first was introduced to Finland and started trying to learn a few words I quickly took an interest in Finnish curse words, as they were funny to me. I learned quite a few and was proudly saying them out loud. It then since slowed down, as the words became less funny to me, but that was when I started noticing cursing happening all around me. Often, I’d experience old people on the bus bursting out in the classic “Vittu, Saatana perkele”. It has taken some getting used to as I would almost never hear an older person curse in Denmark, but I guess it’s part of the Finnish culture.

The darkness quite surprised me when I first moved to Finland. I expected the winter to be colder and darker than in Denmark, but I was quite taken by surprise. Since then, I found out that the darkness really can affect your health and have recommended all people that I know to be sure to take vitamin-D supplements. Furthermore, maybe the darkness is also a cause for the Finns love for their private space?

Finally, the last thing and one of the more peculiar things I have experienced is the degree of freedom found here in Finland. You are free to be what you want, who you want and look however you want. While I believe this to be a good thing, ultimately it is hard for me to comply as someone who has been very used to looking certain ways at certain occasions. For example, we had a networking event at TAMK and while me and one of my close British friends arrived wearing a blazer and shirt, many Finns were casually walking around in some T-shirt and sweatpants. Something that you would never see in Denmark.

Finland has been an eye-opening in many ways. In some ways Finland and Denmark are so similar but at other points so very different. Finland is a weird, cold and free country

Sincerely a Dane.

My Experiences of Finnishness

I love Finland.

I do really think that it is the best country in the world. There have been a lot of blog posts written about the beautiful lakes and forests, our drinking culture, our swearing words etc. I think they are an essential part of Finnishness. I decided to write my blogpost about the equality in Finland, since our beloved country is is one of the leading countries in the world in terms of equality.  Did you know that Finland was the first country in the world to give political rights to women? The year was 1906. I think that is great and makes me be even more proud of my home country. Long before Finland became independent (1850), the ideas of equality in Finland were born.

During the wars in Finland, when men were fighting in the battlefront, the women were working in factories, hospitals and farms. After the wars the women didn’t return home, they stayed in their workplaces which is why more and more women were working.

Finland has come a long way during the century in its equality “business”. Finland has had a female president and prime minister.  Nowadays Finland is discussing about breaking the gender stereotypes and the roles of men and women have been diversified. In 2017, the law of gender neutral marriage and adoption to same sex partners was come into effect. There is still lot to do in making Finland even more equal but I think we are in the correct path.

I am proud of my home country. I am proud for the equality that we have here. Last year (2017) Finland turned 100 years old. It was great to see the patriotism that the people of Finland have, no matter their age, gender, basis, history or experiences.

Reetta Pienimäki

 

Thoughts about Finnishness

In normal daily life we as Finns, might not think that much about our own culture with its own special features but when going abroad you will notice those things about our special way easier.  For a start, wherever you go, and you start talking in Finnish, people will turn around and look at you and wonder. What is that language? The Finnish language is something special on its own, super weird but also cool at the same time! People who doesn’t speak Finnish doesn’t understand anything what we say, it’s like a super skill that we have. When abroad you can speak all the things that you want, also in a very public place. No one has an idea what you are talking about, unless there is a Finn next to you! Well, depending on the topic, sometimes those situations might be very interesting and also a bit embarrassing…

If you have a conversation with foreign people and you mention that you are from Finland, mostly people’s reaction is something like this: “Wow, really? Oh, that’s pretty amazing. I have heard Finland is such a beautiful place!”

So, 1) they are extremely amazed that you really are from Finland because people say and think “it’s so far away!” (yeah but so far away from where?) but yeah, it depends on what you compare that with… AND 2) they have never visited Finland. That also depends on where they are from. If they are Scandinavian or from eastern Europe for example they might have been to Finland already but most people that I have talked with are from Spain, Italy etc. and they have not yet visited Finland, but they say they really would love to visit or they will visit someday.

Thus, we come to the second topic of Finland and Finnishness that I’d like to highlight: we have super pretty country with its amazingly beautiful nature! Finland has thousands of lakes and a lot of greenness with plentiful forests and fields. In the summer Finland shows its most beautiful side, with the blooming of the different flowers, trees and berries ripening. During winter there will be a lot of snow (unfortunately these days we have to say: there MIGHT be a lot of snow) which is beautiful too, only a little cooler. Not to mention the Northern lights that people almost always ask if we can see or not. Yes, we are able to see it but not everywhere and at all times. So, it depends on the location and the timing.

Also, there are questions about saunas and snow angles. Do we REALLY spend hours sitting in an extremely hot and damp room and when it gets too hot go outside and jump naked in the lake or in the snow and start doing snow angels? Yes, we do!

Okay for the second part, I’m personally not used to do but have heard about it, haha. How crazy as it sounds, Finnish people really do love going to sauna (some people, including me, many days a week!).  Plus, it has many health benefits and it’s super relaxing.

So those were some of my thoughts about Finnishness with some points that I am really happy about. And I’m even more happy and pleased if people from abroad would know some of those things custom to Finns and Finland when talking with them.

My Experiences of Finnishness

I have lived my whole life in Finland. And even though I like to travel a lot, it’s always great to come back home to Finland. I think that Finland is a great country to live in because we have such great health-care systems and high-quality education. Also, we have a possibility to get financial support from the government which makes living easier. Of course, there are always budget cuts and people complain about them a lot, but things could be worse and basically, we are really lucky to be living in Finland.  

I have been told a lot that I am “a typical Finn”. That’s mostly because I have blond hair and blue eyes and I am quite tall. I am also very shy at first, like most Finns, and honesty is really important to me. And I love sauna. I think living here in Finland has made me who I am and Finnishness will always be an important part of me. I am really proud to be a Finn and I think that most people see that in me. Still there are parts of me that I would like to change and which came with my Finnish heritage. For example, I don’t like that I am so shy. But luckily that’s a thing I can change about myself and I have been trying to do that. I think this time abroad will increase my social skills even more and I am really excited to become a more open and courageous person. However, I am glad that I have been so shy because it has taught me to be cautious and really listen to others which have helped me to get this far.

I think it’s funny how Finnish people avoid strangers in public. Everyone wants to mind their own business and don’t want to interact with others. For example, in bus stops people who are waiting for the bus always keep their distance (usually at least two meters) and never even smile at each other. I have noticed that people will think that your weird if you just smile to strangers (this is extremely annoying because I like to smile a lot). And when people finally get to the bus, they don’t want to sit next to anyone. If you have to sit next to someone you might get a very angry look and a deep sigh from the other passenger. I think this is because personal space is very important to Finnish people. But even though we value privacy and personal space a lot, we tend to value friendship even more. I think that friendships mean a lot to Finnish people and we appreciate our friends. Because when we bother to open up to someone and let them close, the friendship lasts for life.

In my opinion the best thing about Finland is nature.  I love the fact that we have all four seasons here: winter, spring, summer and autumn (you can see all of them in the pictures). Winters are the most beautiful on sunny days when there is a lot of snow. And you might also see Northern lights, which is an amazing phenomenon, especially in Lapland. In the winter, it’s also really cold here, sometimes even over -20 degrees, but I think it’s worth it.  In the autumn you can see the forests change color and that’s also really beautiful. Summers here are not quite hot, but they are warm enough. I don’t know a better feeling than hanging out with my friends on a beautiful summer day in a park and eating ice-cream.

Learning new everyday

I’ve learnt a lot about the Finnish culture and Finnishness from the exchange students from all over the world that are currently studying in Tampere. Basically, we all know these “Finnish people don’t speak or sit next to stranger in a bus”, “They need their own space in the bus stop and they stand there quietly” and “Finnish people don’t know how to do small talk.” However, some of the exchange students have started to “mix” it a bit and they’ve started to do random conversations with stranger wherever but mostly in the bus. When I travel with the exchange students I’ve noticed that we get a lot of looks from people and I’ve also recognized that some of the people for example in the bus doesn’t even answer if you try to speak with them. And actually, that’s what I find weird about Finnish people.

I really like to hang around with international people because they really open my eyes. I see Finland whole different now and I see different countries and cities differently nowadays. There are a lot of things that seems normal about your own culture before you experience some other cultures. You don’t even think about the fact that somewhere else it’s different and some things are not as good as in Finland and you start to appreciate it in a new level. And I think that’s the most important thing, that you appreciate your privileges.

Another thing that exchange students told me is weird in Finnish people is that we mostly don’t look in the eyes when we shake hands or cheers. Now that I’ve paid attention to it I’ve noticed that it’s actually very weird.

The thing that I’m most grateful from is that I started to appreciate Finnish nature in a whole new level. I mean I’ve always enjoyed watching the sky full of stars and loved the different seasons we have here in Finland. But after having the exchange students in here I started to enjoy the snowing and the great winter we had here this year. The coldest days of the winter were the best. I realized that it’s not “a basic thing” that you can walk or ice skate on a frozen lake.

 

All together I really appreciate the fact that I got to know a lot of awesome people and now I have a home in almost every country in Europe and even outside. I cheer everybody to get to know some other cultures and see the different side of the world. And I believe I’ll learn a lot of new things about Finnish culture and Finland once I leave Finland and will be living in Malta for four months.

My Experiences of Finnishness

Finns have their own quirks like every nationality. For me, this blog post was hard to write because there were so many topics already covered in previous posts. However, I found some topics to write about.

Need for private space is very obvious. Finns don’t want to get close to strangers so if there is space, it gets evenly filled. In a student restaurant, for example, we don’t go to sit opposite to a stranger. An unwritten rule is that we always leave at least one or two empty chairs in between whenever possible! In case of a smaller table with only four chairs we maximize the distance by leaving the nearest opposite chair to the stranger empty. This way we avoid looking the other person straight in the eyes which would be uncomfortable. The attached simple illustration tries to show this need for private space.

Circles are chairs. Black circles represent occupied chairs.

Modesty shows in many ways in Finns behaviour. There is always someone better than us for doing a task. For example, when inviting guests to your place and serving food for them, it’s common to say that “I hope this is eatable” etc. It means that the guests could probably cook better than us. Another example is when you’re going for a date with a Finn. Please start discussing about your mutual interests instead of stressing to what you can do the best even when you’re very good at it. As a professional ice hockey player you should try to downplay your abilities, at least a bit.

One common hobby that many Finnish people have is to collect stuff. Whether it is something small or big or something in between, you can always find someone who collects the same items like you. For example, in Finnish Huuto.net auction website there is over 250000 collectibles now being sold. Some collectables I’m aware of are:

  • Bread ties
  • Bottle caps
  • Moomin cups
  • Newspaper articles which have spelling errors
  • Postage stamps
  • Ice hockey cards
  • Money
  • Cartoon figures
  • Glossy, often embossed, image (kiiltokuva)
  • Old guns

 

Bread tie plant

Of course, I’m now generalising all this. Not all Finns are what I just wrote but sometimes you have to do stereotypes.

Finland – the only place I call home

Hello everybody! My name is Miia and I am doing an internship at Hokkaido University for three months.

Finnishness. What does it really mean? Some people might think that Finnish people are shy and don’t talk a lot. Some think that we drink a lot. Well, all those things are partly true. Even the Finnish people think that. But why it is only partly true is because there is so much more in Finnishness. The concrete things that you might think about Finland are sauna, nature, alcohol and the crazy people.

But what is Finnishness really? For me, one example is when you have the long silence with your friend. You can be with someone without talking for a long time and still feel comfortable. I love it. There is no need to fill the silence. It doesn’t mean that we are shy if don’t talk a lot, sometimes the words are not needed just the company of a friend.

Another example is the punctuality of Finnish people. Most of the time Finnish people are on time or even early. Also if you are making plans with a Finnish person the plans are not vague. There are not maybe plans with my friend circle. If something is agreed it is actually going to happen. I don’t like to inquire about the plans. I want to know and with Finnish people you know exactly where and when and usually what is the plan for the meeting.

One thing that I love very much is the Finnish nature. I love the four seasons. The nature is so special for me. I love to see when everything comes to life in the spring and summer. I also love the winter when it is so cold that it literally takes the breath away. I love being in the forests. The plants and the animals and the water make me calm and relieve the stress. The best part is that you don’t have to go far from your home to find nature, wherever in Finland you live.

I guess the most popular thing in Finland that Finns are very proud of is the sauna. People used to give birth there. It is a place to wash away the dirt and the worries. It is a place to relax. It is a place where all the best ideas come to mind. It is a place where you can spend time with your family and friends. For me, it is more

like an event than just a place to go get cleaned. In summertime at my family’s summer cottage, I like to have sauna marathon. I like to go to sauna and then to swim in the lake and then have something to drink and then repeat that for several hours. The summer holiday at the cottage includes great food and great memories.

I guess I am very proud to be from Finland. I think that Finland is the greatest place to live in. I love traveling and seeing foreign places but I also love to return home. That is why Finland is the only place I call home.

 

 

 

 

 

“Yksi, kaksi, kolme”, “Vittu Saatana” and “Kippis”

This blog post comes a bit late. I should have written it before my exchange but I had some problems with the website.

I am doing a exchange training at Holbæk hospital, Denmark. The exchange takes in total 2 months which I am going to spend in Holbæk. My goal is to learn to speak Danish and brush up my Swedish and English skills.

The topic for today is Finnishness. To be honest I am not that thrilled to write about this because it feels like I should bring up awkward stereotypes like example Finns being shy heavy metal-lovers that only come talk to you when being drunk etc. Who the hell are these people? Not me nor my Finnish friends at least.

Now when I am already in Denmark I think it is more interesting to talk about differences and similarities I have come across these past days. Danish culture is pretty much based on hyggeism and design. One cannot simple find a ugly coffeeshop around here. “Hygge” is danish way of thinking, living and especially coping  during the winter. Roughly it translates to cozyness. They say that Danes are the most happiest people on the planet. The gallops also show that the Danes use more alcohol compared to other Scandinavian countries.

Danish people usually mention metal music, freezing cold weather, ice hockey (and they usually remember to mention Finland’s shameful  scoring in football) and saunas. Some locals can count to tree with a cute danish accent, they never forget to mention some Finnish swore words and usually end the whole sentence cheering “Kippis”, the Finnish cheering when drinking.

Finns are seen as a modern day vikings who can deal the cold weather sweating and bleeding on a ice hockey rink when heavy metal echos in a background. I think that both of the cultures have their own way to prepare themselves when the winter hits hard on the face. Danes temp to “hygge” inside their minimalist design houses taking pictures of their cocoa cups behind their snugly blankets. Finns, on the other hand, have a total different point of view: “kalsarikänni”. Helsingin sanomat, Finnish newspaper wrote an article about the topic: Forget hygge! Here comes kalsarikänni! It is a Finnish way of living, where netflix and kalsarikänni = drinking beer with your underwear at your home with no intention to going out. The word is not translated in any other language, only Finns have invented a meaning for it. These days kalsarikänni is going viral in social media.

Maybe there is a small piece of cultural truth behind kalsarikänni. It is a honest way of living when one does not have a interest of being a snob. In a weird way there is still a hint of “sisu” behind it, another Finnish word that has no perfect translation. “Sisu” is determination regardless of the cost and persistence that is still living strong in Finnish culture heritage. Probably it was part of a Finnish war propaganda at first. These days “sisu” is still known globally.

In the end does it really matter do you hygge or kalsarikänni? The main key is to embrace differences equally.

 

Resource: https://www.hs.fi/nyt/art-2000005092923.html