Tag Archives: finnish culture

“F I N N I S H – N E S S”

Hi there, my name is Pedro Luna and I’m an International Student coursing his second year of studies in Finland. And although  I’m not Finnish, in the next lines of this –hopefully–  short blog post I’m going to try to define what Finnishness means to me.

To give some context, when I was asked to explain the definition of Finnishness I  first went to see what the literature on this subject says. However, none of the online dictionaries I looked up on had an answer for me. So, I figured that in order to understand the meaning of this word at its full extent we should first break it down into the words that compose it: Finnish and ness.

Finnish /ˈfɪnɪʃ/

adjective

1.relating to the Finns or their language.

noun

2.the language of the Finns, spoken by about 4.6 million people in Finland, and also in parts of Russia and Sweden. It is a Finno-Ugric language related to Estonian, and more distantly to Hungarian, and is noted for its morphological complexity.

-ness.

WORD ORIGIN. a native English suffix attached to adjectives and participles, forming abstract nouns denoting quality and state (and often, by extension, something exemplifying a quality or state)

As a result of this quick research, I could then define Finnishness with certainty as “The quality, state or characteristic of being Finnish”. Brilliant, innit!

Given this situation, I decided to use my relatively short experience living in Finland to describe what Finnishness mean to me. So here it goes:

It is waking up early in the morning, grab a huge ass cup of coffee for breakfast, and go out to school or work even when there’s no daylight yet,  and a not-too-friendly  -20C outside. It’s also drinking at least a couple cups of coffee more during the morning to get through the day. Black coffee preferably.

Finnishness is slushy streets in October, but an incredible white Christmas in December (with the most delicious pastries you could ever imagine !). On top of that, Finnishness is frozen lakes , dipping in those lakes and ice skating with friends while the cold wind hits you hard in the face.

But Finnishness is also enormous green areas everywhere. There are beautiful parks surrounded by trees, plants, and animals where you can just breathe nature!. When the summer arrives, everything gets even better, endless days where you got more than 15 hours of daylight, food fairs in parks and loads of festival. It is people biking everywhere, picnicking in the central park, enjoying the sun in a terrace. It is their summer cottages by the lake, having some beers, a couple of mosquitoes’ bites and then straight to the lake to get refreshed. All of these moments add to the safety and all efficient public system that make Finland a great place to live, study, work, and of course, party. I couldn’t forget to mention, Finnishness is ice hockey and going crazy when winning the world cup, but it is also tidily celebrating the independence day.

To sum it up, Finnishness is not just a word, it is a complete enriching experience in every single aspect of your lives that personally, I would not have been able to experience anywhere else.

23:13, Sunset during Midsummer.

Being a Finn

Sauna

Kuvahaun tulos haulle finnish sauna meme

When thinking of Finnishness, the first thing that pops into my mind is sauna. It is the place where one can fully relax and shake off stress. I find the most common time to sauna is during the weekend, usually on Friday, to conclude work week.

Silence

Finns are quite silent, and we embrace it. We minimize all excess communication. No chit-chatting with your neighbours, a simple greeting is fine. No talking to strangers in the bus, we are invading their personal space (and you also want to have your own space).

 

Punctuality

Finns are work oriented and everything – your work day, family gatherings, free time – is usually planned systematically. Funny enough, in other hand we are also quite inconsistent. Public transport is expected to be either late or early, whichever works against your schedule.

 

Four seasons

Kuvahaun tulos haulle four seasons

In Finland you can experience the full season experience. The whole package.  I personally enjoy all of them. Having four different seasons makes me appreciate each a lot more.

In winter you enjoy having a lot of snow and warming up once you have spent your time outside. The cold makes you long for the warmth of summer.

In spring nature raises once more, bringing life and colours. The summer is almost here.

In summer it’s sunny and warm. On the hottest days you could almost wait for the temperature to drop.

In autumn nature starts its glorious wither before summer. It gets darker and rainy. You prepare for winter.

 

Finns are a lot of other things too, of course, but I feel these points cover up a good part of it.

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.