Tag Archives: finnish nightmares

Shy, afraid or is it just a part of our culture?

When I think about Finnishness the first thing that comes to my mind is

why are we so shy?

Shy to touch, to talk, to be near.

The “Finnish nightmares” cartoon series created by Karoliina Korhonen are the best example of what we are really thinking during real life situations. Sharing an elevator with a stranger can be a bit awkward to us. When a stranger looks you in the eye and smiles…. that’s even more awkward! “Is this person invading my personal space?”

Is it because we are too shy to have direct contact? Are we afraid? Or is it a part of our culture ?

It might have roots in our history. We have been living in isolation for quite some time. It might be because we are attached to our personal place, because we have so much space here!

There was a brilliant article from Yle Turku, written by Michael berry who says:

“Finnish silence is a method of preserving harmony with nature, oneself and others. It’s natural for Finns to move between fluent active listening and speaking while respecting others. A Finn thinks profoundly before expressing himself on a subject of importance,” (M. Berry 2013)

Maybe being silent is not that bad at all. Maybe we should learn to accept it, and just be proud of it. What others see as shy, is just our way of being polite. Our way of respecting others. We are not better, or worse, just a different kind of people.

 

General opinion of Finnish people?

I’m trying to wrap my head around the general opinion of Finnish people. If I think about it from an “outsiders” point of view, I see a nation that is doing quite well, people who might be a little bit reserved but who are still very helpful, kind and are open minded.

When talking to people who are not from Finland and asking, “What is your opinion of a Finnish person?” sometimes the answer is that we are shy and quiet and sometimes that we are loud and talkative (this one usually happens if you drink alcohol).

Some have a language barrier with foreign people, maybe their English is not so good, so they seem shy and quiet, even though maybe they would like to get to know the person.

Something that I’ve been wondering a lot is why do the Finns need so much space, where does it come from? Even when we talk to each other we keep our distance. For me, it’s funny, it’s just how we are. A funny example of the need for personal space you can see in this picture where Finnish people are waiting for the bus.

 

I also recommend visiting a blog called Finnish Nightmares. It is one of the funniest pages ever! There is so much truth in the posts, but it really is just funny!

Kuvahaun tulos haulle finnish nightmares

I will end my post with telling you my favorite thing about Finland.

So for me it really is the summer, going to the cottage with my family, going to sauna and going for a swim in the lake. I can’t experience this often since I usually have been away the summers, so when I get to go, it makes me so happy. The forrest surrounds me and it really feels like you can just forget about all your problems, they seem so far when you are so relaxed.

/Katariina

Truth about the Finns

When I thought about Finland and what finnishness meant to me, these stereotypes about Finns came to my mind. I’m going to present a few of them in the pictures below. What makes the pics more fun is because they are actually so true!

Coffee consumption

”It’s time for a cup of a coffee.” The Finns are known for the largest coffee consumption in the world with about 2,6 cups per day. Finns usually drink very light roasted coffee, which is lighter than anywhere else in the world. Coffee has always been a part of my daily life and Finnish culture. For example, coffee is served at workplaces (free of charge), at birthdays and at home. Finns must also get their morning coffee and it’s a huge disaster if there’s none of it. TIP: It’s a great way to get to know a Finn by asking him to go for a coffee.

Small talk

Small talk – there is not even a word for that in finnish. Maybe word “jutustelu”, but it does not exactly mean the same. Most of the Finns are introverts and chatting with a stranger feels uncomfortable, so the silence is a better option. For example, if you’re waiting for a bus on the bus stop, you don’t want that anyone talks to you. Not even asking you about the weather (which is always bad). In my case, I just want to listen to music and survive through the day (especially through a morning without a cup of coffee).

Usually, when some foreigner asks you “How are you?”, we usually start to tell about our bad day at work instead of answering “Fine, thanks!” and asking “How about you?”. Why do Finns behave like this? I have heard an explanation that says because Finns are interested in what other people are saying, they are expecting that the other side is also listening. Finns are also better in listening than talking, and in the Finnish culture it’s inappropriate to interrupt the one who is speaking.

Personal space

Finns respect each other and a personal space. It’s said that a comfortable space between strangers is approximately 1,5 meters. TIP: When you are having a conversation with a Finn, and you notice that the other one is trying to get further from you, then you’re too close and you should give more space.

Finns prefer to take free seats on the bus, instead of sitting next to someone strange, like in this picture below. Usually, when I get on a bus, first thing is that I’m looking for free seats and if there are none, I might rather stand. In my opinion, Finns do not like to be loud and in a public place that would be uncomfortable. Once, when I was getting off the bus, I pushed the stop button but the doors didn’t open. There were me and a few others, standing and waiting quietly for the doors to open until someone finally had to say something to the bus driver (and that wasn’t me) for him to open the doors.

 

Finnishness

Things that pop into my head when thinking about Finnishness and being Finnish are nature, Finnish food and personal space. Of course, there are a lot of more things that I could mention but these are the few that I want to focus on.

The country of thousands of lakes

First of all, the Finnish nature. I don’t know a better way to describe it than saying it´s really beautiful. One of the reasons why a love Finland is because of its forests and lakes. I have heard foreigners speaking about Finland that how fascinating it is when you go to Finland and there are lakes everywhere and that is true. There are around 187 888 lakes in Finland and that’s a lot! It´s nice that in the summer you don’t usually have to go far to find a lake. Of course, it depends where in Finland you live but I would say mostly you can find lakes close to your home.

Then there is also forests which I love. From where I’m from there has been forest less then 1km away from my house and for me it has always been a place where I can go for a walk just to relax. I also like the fact that you can go pick up berries and mushrooms from there and its completely free! Every summer and fall I go to my hometown just so I can fill up my freezer back in Tampere with blueberries and mushrooms. I think that we should appreciate the nature more. 🙂

Blueberries
Blueberries

Salmiakki and Finnish rye bread

When I think about Finnish food nothing special dishes comes to my mind but we do have some extremely good candy, salmiakki. It´s a salty liquorice which most of the Finnish people love and foreigners hate 😀 It´s one of my favorite candies and every time I get an opportunity to offer it to someone who has not tasted it I do it. People’s reactions when they taste the candy are funny to watch. Usually they can’t eat it.

Another thing which I love about Finland is rye bread. It´s not only good tasting but it’s also healthy. I think that is one of the things I´m the proudest as a Finnish person. Sounds a bit silly but in abroad it can be hard to find good healthy bread and not just toast. But it´s just something that I´m used to. If I would have been born somewhere else, I might not like it.

Salmiakki
Salmiakki

Personal space

As a Finnish person, I can say that we want to have our personal space. For example, in a bus, we don’t sit next to someone if there is a chance to sit alone. Also, what we don’t do is that when we are in queue we don’t get close to the person in front of us. Someone has said that the personal space between strangers is around 1,5 meters in Finland. I don’t know if that’s true but if someone would get close to me in a queue I would feel uncomfortable and think that they want to cut in front of me.  Even though we have our weird habits I love being Finn 😀

bussi

What are Finns like?

Most of the people, even Finns, think that we are a introvert population. But really we are kind, hospitable, we enjoy other peoples company and laugh together.  http://www.visitfinland.com/article/what-are-the-finns-like/

But also, every now and then, we Finns need our own space and some alone-time. We might be shy people who don’t like or know how to “small talk”, at least some of us. I think the Finnish Nightmares -comic sums up the finnish mentality pretty accurately.  http://finnishnightmares.blogspot.fi/

finns

finns_bus

One thing is for sure that Finns love our home country and we are very proud of it. For example, the main thing we are proud of is nature. We have four seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter (at least we used to have (thanks to global warming)).. http://www.visitfinland.com/article/greatest-things-about-finland/

And then there is the finnish traditional food, many different options, so good! http://www.visitfinland.com/article/iconic-finnish-foods-of-all-time/ Looks delicious, doesn’t it?!

One more thing I believe everyone links to Finland is the sauna. Ask any Finn, one best thing’s we know in Finland is a warm and bright summernight, calm lake, a cold beer or a soda and a warm sauna. And talking about shyness, for Finns being naked side by side each other in the sauna is a very normal thing, meanwhile for foreigners that might be the weirdest thing ever.

kesäyö