Tag Archives: beer

Finnishness for me

For me, Finnishness is the unique experience of not bothering and also of not being bothered by people in public places.  There is a special day when Finns talk to each other, especially to strangers. It is called a “Friday”. On Fridays it is customary to enter the warm embrace of the closest Sauna that you can find and enjoy a beer – “Saunakalja” – with friends, or in more public places, with strangers. On Fridays you may also see intoxicated Finns wandering the streets, looking to impart great knowledge upon anyone they bump into.

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Jokes aside, I have no idea  what it actually means to be Finnish. What is it that actually defines our culture? Is it our laws, our holidays or maybe our education? I don’t know. I’m not qualified at all to tackle this question. I’m not a very group-oriented person.

What I do know, is that every country has its own stereotypes, and they do exist for a reason. There will always be people that embody those stereotypes, but in my experience everyone is an individual in the end. Even if someone seems to fit into a stereotype, once you get to know them, you might see them in a somewhat different light. Everyone has their own history, dreams, fears and regrets. Other than the language we speak as our mother tongue, I can’t think of a thing that separates a Finn from the rest of the human race.

I was born in Finland, grew up here and went to school here. As a child I regularly traveled to Russia (5-10 times a year, for 15 years) with my family and I can confidently say that generally speaking, people in both of these countries are in many ways similar. We are all just human. Individuals suffering or enjoying their current circumstances.

 

 

My experiences of Finnishness

Being a Finn is so much more than just living in Finland and speaking Finnish as my native tongue. Travelling has opened my eyes to some of these specialities of Finns.

Shyness

Everyone knows that Finns might be a bit shy and quiet. (On the other hand, Finns are pretty talented at drinking alcohol and booze makes us seem more social.) Especially older people in Finland don’t mind the silence at all. I think I’m pretty social and talkative – when I’m here in Finland. When I travel abroad, it hits me how shy and awkward I actually am. I also need more personal space than people from another cultures. As a Finn I think a firm handshake is enough when greeting someone you just met. I guess kisses on the cheeks or hugging would scare me a bit too much and bring out all my awkwardness.

Finns might be shy but one thing I know is that we are also very proud of our country and our inventions, for example, Angry Birds and Nokia. We’re very committed to using those products since they’re Finnish. Even when Nokia was hitting the low point, Finns didn’t abandon Nokia. When Angry Birds became popular, every Finn had to play it. It isn’t that fun but it’s Finnish. On the other hand, our personal accomplishments mostly make us feel awkward. We’re humble.

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Angry Birds

Education in Finland is widely known to be good. Most Finns can speak also English and Swedish – not only Finnish. There’s also so much people who can also speak German or Russian etc. Our shyness just keeps us from using our skills. We’re too afraid of making mistakes. Questions like “What if I’ll spell that word wrong?” and “What if my pronunciation isn’t right?” are crossing our minds and make us really nervous. This is one reason why Finns are so shy.

Favorite things of Finnish people (food, countryside, sports and sauna)

Usually when people ask about Finnish food, we’re likely to say there’s nothing special in Finnish food. It isn’t spicy or anything extraordinary. Still, that’s our speciality – mostly healthy food preferably from our own garden. We want to hunt our own food or at least go fishing every once in a while. It makes us feel a bit more Finnish. Finns appreciate simple things. We also enjoy coffee, beer and barbeque. We like to have a good time with our families and friends, those simple gatherings with the closest people in our life make us really happy. Finns enjoy quality time spent with their loved ones instead of meaningless small talk.

Finns enjoy quiet environment and being on the countryside. That’s where most Finns spend their holidays – summer cottages are great venues for relaxing and gardening. The most important thing every Finn needs to have is sauna. We enjoy hanging out naked with a bunch of random people we’ve never met before. It’s funny how Finns can’t stand small talk but are fine with this.

One thing every Finn must love is ice hockey. Finns love watching ice hockey and when Finnish team wins, we celebrate, A LOT. The most important ice hockey game is always against Sweden and it really brings people together. Even if you don’t mind sports a lot, you have to watch the game. Football, basketball and floorball never reach the same hype as ice hockey in Finland. This could be linked to being committed to Finnish products and inventions.

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Ice hockey

My experience of Finnishness

Short Comparison of Turku and Tampere

Before describing my personal opinion about Finland, I would like to talk a bit about how it all for me. In the beginning, about 5 years ago, our whole family moved to Turku, from where we were given an opportunity to integrate into Finnish society by learning their language. To be honest, the learning was not easy, but luckily the process became possible for me time by time, by ending up with a fluent knowledge of such incredibly difficult language, and a lot of wonderful Finnish friends who are happy to talk with me in Finnish.

By spending plenty of time in Turku, as well I was sometimes visiting Tampere, which fascinated me equally each time I visited this place. First of all, my personal opinion is that the nature looks a lot more beautiful in Tampere, especially the place between two lakes “pispalanharju”. As well, for some reason I realised that there is more happenings in the centre, than in Turku, in addition the centre of the city looks quite bigger and more interesting!

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Nature

To emphasise a bit more about this topic, I gathered couple of pictures taken by me during my stay in Tampere. Here you can see some of the moments that made me stand for a while and enjoy the happenings. Forests were always really beautiful to me, and it was absolutely difficult to find any kind of garbage around, which made me think that its one of the most cleanest countries in the world.

Of course I did realise that summers here are not really sunny, but I did enjoy winter many times, and actually once I found near supermarket a Finnish man who had an interesting method of transportation by using a carriage and these beautiful four huskies pulling him during the winter time in Tampere. If you ask me, I did not try that, but certainly would want to!

Nevertheless, I am satisfied that my Finnish friends showed me their activities during the winter season, which are mainly snowboarding/skiing and ice-skating. And as well to mention, I learned to ice-skate properly exactly from Finland!

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Sauna

Of course, one of the most important things in Finland is sauna! To be honest, I was really surprised when I realised that you can find a personal sauna almost in every Finnish apartment. This made me love Finland even more; I was literally almost every second day in  sauna!

At the same time, I realised that sauna is one of the methods for Finnish people to socialise, which is mostly supported by a friendly consumption of beer. And actually this is the only way how you can really talk with them about everything, just wait till they get drunk! 😀

As well about the sauna, here you can see a floating sauna. This is obviously one of inventions which only Finnish people can come up to!

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