Tag Archives: honesty

Bus stops, personal space and Santa Claus

Every time someone talks about Finns, it’s always ice hockey, sauna, midsummer’s eve, long winters, Lapland…

But when you think about Finnishness – what makes a Finn – you might have to go out on the street and look at the “agreeable gaps” between people on the bus stops:

Kuvahaun tulos haulle finnish people on a bus stop

One thing that sets us apart and builds on what can be considered “Finnishness”, is our unannounced respect for other people. Of course there are always outliers, every society has its share of people who lack mutual respect, but there still lies an almost subconscious habit of keeping and giving personal space to one another. A feeling that makes us try and not to be a bother to others, even up to the point of sometimes being afraid of it. We don’t greet with cheek-kisses, we don’t sit next to people on the bus if there’s an empty row available and we most definitely don’t strike conversation with strangers – not that we don’t like them, but because we feel like they might be bothered or thinking about something really, really important.

Not every Finn likes ice hockey or sauna either. And being Finnish doesn’t mean you have to live up to the exaggerated reputation of being introverted and afraid of change. That’s why I think Finnishness stems more from what kind of people we are rather than what we do, our values, and our ability to take the best out of the worst situations.  On the contrary to what others commonly say, I do not think that Finns are slow to open up or skeptical towards other cultures. We just happen to have this stubborn, serene piece of home inside all of us that we won’t trade away so easily, a piece which keeps us level-headed and appreciative of the simple comforts of living. Nothing like sitting indoors on a dark, wet November afternoon and realizing you’re happy just because you’re at home.

Also, we have Santa Claus and a dark sense of humor. Maybe an unfair advantage?

Loving Finnishness

I’m just finishing my one month holiday in Bali before my 4 month exchange in Seoul, South Korea. So..technically not following the task given (“before the take-off”) but because I kind of feel bad about it and I’m being honest about it – I guess I’m giving a great example about what is like to be a Finn.

Here are some things about finnishness and stuff that I appriciate (and miss) about Finland.

 

Honesty and straight forwardness  

Dont ask a Finn if you want the truth sugarcovered. Small talk about shallow topics don’t usually intrest people in Finland. If you ask a Finn prepare yourself for a truthfull answer – whether its about how they are doing in life or how you did your work. But on the other side –  if they give you a compliment they usually mean it.

Also as a person who has lost her wallets and bags and all kinds of stuff countless of times I know that Finns are trustworthy and always returning lost items to lost and found. Thank god for that!

 

Language

Finnish is a beautiful language with a lot of intresting words to play with. You can see this in a song lyrics. Most of the finnish songs are actually lyrically really witty, beautiful, poetic and have a lots of meanings.

Even most of the songs that are consired as “juntti” or “bogan” are actually brilliant. For excample Marraskuu – Miljoonasade (everyone go and listen to that NOW)

Ohi syyskuun                                                                      Through September
Läpi repaleisen lokakuun                                             Through tattered October
Kaipuun kaljakori kilisee                                              The crate of beer of Longingness tinkles
Yli taivaan                                                                            Across the sky
Päivät niinkuin varisparvi                                            Days like a group of crows
Raahautuu                                                                          Are being dragged

The crate of beer of Longigness. Amazing.

 

Drinking from the tab

Fresh cold water from a tab. What a lovely priviledge.

 

Sarcasm

Using and understanding sarcasm is one of my favourite things in a person. Finnish people have a great sense of humor that is mostly based on a sarcasm and making fun of things that go wrong in life. 

Using humour as a defence – definately finnishness.

 

Silence

Learn to enjoy it! Finns know how to. The best friends are recognised on a ability to be with someone silent and not getting uncomfortable while doing that.

What to love about Finnishness

I’m just finishing my one month holiday in Bali before my 4 month exchange in Seoul, South Korea. So..technically not following the task given (“before take off”) but because I kind of feel bad about it and I’m being honest about it – I guess I’m giving a great example about what is like to be a Finn.

Here are some things about finnishness and stuff that I appriciate (and miss) about Finland.

 

Honesty and straight forwardness  

Dont ask a Finn if you want the truth sugarcovered. Small talk about shallow topics don’t usually intrest people in Finland. If you ask a Finn prepare yourself for a truthfull answer – whether its about how they are doing in life or how you did your work. But on the other side –  if they give you a compliment they usually mean it.

Also as a person who has lost her wallets and bags and all kinds of stuff countless of times I know that Finns are trustworthy and always returning lost items to lost and found. Thank god for that!

 

Language

Finnish is a beautiful language with a lot of intresting words to play with. You can see this in a song lyrics. Most of the finnish songs are actually lyrically really witty, beautiful, poetic and have a lots of meanings.

Even most of the songs that are consired as “juntti” or “bogan” are actually brilliant. For excample Marraskuu – Miljoonasade (everyone go and listen to that NOW)

Ohi syyskuun                                                                      Through September
Läpi repaleisen lokakuun                                             Through tattered October
Kaipuun kaljakori kilisee                                              The crate of beer of Longingness tinkles
Yli taivaan                                                                            Across the sky
Päivät niinkuin varisparvi                                            Days like a group of crows
Raahautuu                                                                          Are being dragged

The crate of beer of Longigness. Amazing.

 

Drinking from the tab

Fresh cold water from a tab. What a lovely priviledge.

 

Sarcasm

Using and understanding sarcasm is one of my favourite things in a person. Finnish people have a great sense of humor that is mostly based on a sarcasm and making fun of things that go wrong in life. 

Using humour as a defence – definately finnishness.

 

Silence

Learn to enjoy it! Finns know how to. The best friends are recognised on a ability to be with someone silent and not getting uncomfortable while doing that.

Things that make Finland a good place

When I think about Finland and Finnishness following words come to my mind; honesty, trustworthy and safe.

Finns are almost always described being honest. Honesty is greatly valued in Finland and it is expected from everyone. Finns are taught since childhood that lying is bad and being honest in any situation is the best way to go. Honesty is highly valued in any relationships, whether it is between friends or business partners. This makes Finns ideal to work with.

Being honest, makes Finns also trustworthy. If a Finn promises something, they will keep their promise. For example, if something needs to be delivered within two days, Finn will deliver it within two days. Finns expect that they can trust a person the same way the person can trust them. Trusting people is so common in Finland that we sometimes forget how lucky we are that we can trust other people’s promises.

Safety is a word that is associated a lot with Finland. Finland is known for being safe country to live in and Finns are proud of that. For example, in smaller towns people leave their front doors unlocked and trust that nobody tries to come inside. There are barely any situations where I did not feel safe in Finland. The importance of safety can also be seen in things like safety during plane or train rides, in amusement parks and during festivals or concerts. It might seem that Finland has strict regulations and rules but they are there to make sure that Finland stays safe.

People among the thousand lakes, fir forests and neverending supply of salmiakki

Yeah, judging by the title alone, this text is going include starker stereotyping and more heavy-handed symbolism than a Finnish joke book containing nothing other than jests about swedes.

See? Got there already.

For a good while of my younger, adolescent life I didn’t pay that much attention to how my mind came to be the restless, nihilistic beehive that doesn’t give me a moment’s peace, yet as I came to know people outside of my national consciousness of rye bread and wife carrying, they offered me insight on how peculiar and occasionally simplistically insightful our small little nation beneath the northern star can actually be, even if our tongue sounds a mix somewhere between Sindarin and R’lyehian.

And yes, that wonderfully nerdy comparison is an actual sentence from my foreign friend’s mouth.

Stuff like phone throwing competitions, air guitar championships, cultural significance of “kalsarikännit”, aforementioned wife carrying and downright abysmally confusing amount of flag days are minor local oddities that always catch an eye of  those who are not that accustomed to these latitudes, but they still often remain as ephemeral oddball attractions. Those are merely the results of the “Finnishness”. I try keep the actual quotations in appropriate minimum, but what I have come to gather from the feedback of my friends outside of Finland, our charm lies in emotional honesty. We are stoic, serious people in work or whenever it is required and are willing to express our utmost jubilancy on the moment of simple, individual elation or when our small country raises to the world stage for that beautiful 15 minutes of stardom as our team wearing the lion sigil on their chests have managed to put a rubber puck into a net in an ice rink. We drink, rejoice, regret going to work next morning, we start planning for our summer holiday, continue working, rinse and repeat. Yet low and behold: We are content.

We are a small nation. A freaking miniscule entity in a stage where United Nations cover 193 countries under its banner. By some miracle this little slice of the north has gained a reasonably respectable authority among other countries and much of it is thanks to that straightforward cultural identity and sauna diplomacy that has to be the one word that defines Finnish political program during the Cold War. God, you just got to love history. Others compare doomsday weapons and space programs, we Finns pool in our resources and have structured our diplomatic channels to go through a sweat box that forces even the toughest men to open up their souls.

If my that last sentence would be taken out of context, some might consider us Finns as sort of deranged. Well, yeah. We are actually proud of that. Midnight sun and dark, lightless abyss of winter months would drive anyone insane, we just have a couple thousand year head start and we have found a way to capitalize it. Slight insanities keep life fresh and straightens the perspective on what actually matter. We are a small, stubborn, to many seemingly hostile collective of mämmi-eaters, reindeer breeders and people from Rauma among others, but besides that we appreciate honesty, hard work, unity and that spark to jump right into that madness that makes life worth living.

Also hockey. Hockey and beer. And salmiakki.

Torilla tavataan.

More trees and more lakes. There is no escape.

 

My home country, Finland

I think Finland is a very good place to live. Maybe it is because I am used to live there, but I also think it is great how everything works here. For example we have a high quality of education.

Even though the world is getting crazier every day, I feel Finland is quite safety and peaceful place to live. We don’t have massive earthquakes or some other natural catastrophes here.

We have a beautiful nature there, which is one of the most important things for me here. Finland is a land of thousand lakes and forests. I live now almost in the middle of the city, but I can still see trees and plants on my window.

Climate here is a very  variable. In winter we usually have snow on the ground and almost minus twenty degrees. In spring, summer and autumn it might be hot weather, or rain or snowing or anything at all.

Last but not least, I would like to also say few things about people who live there. Finnish people are often called shy and quiet. We don’t talk with strangers on the bus stop or sit next to someone you don’t know in the bus, if there are any free places left.  I am Finnish so I do those things for myself too, because it is maybe part of our culture and behavior. Silence doesn’t mean that someone is rude, of course we speak if someone ask something. In my opinion, that is not a bad thing, because we have some other important features like honesty and punctilious.

-Maria

Finnishness

Finnishness and being a Finn is something that I don’t think a lot, it doesn’t mean that much to me. I dislike nationalism and the idea that you should be proud of your country. That doesn’t mean I don’t like Finland – vice versa actually, during my time abroad I have found out  I’m kind a fond of Finland.

helsinki

Honesty and comfortable silence

Finnish people tend to be quite honest, not to embellish things. When a finn says something very often she/he means it. If you agree to something usually it holds, this is a thing I like. I’ve spent time in southern european countries and it’s common here that people  make a lots of promises about various things, but those things never tend to happen. Being okay and comfortable in silence is also a thing I like. But rudeness is something I don’t like and it shouldn’t be just explained by “our nature”. If you accidentally push someone you’re ought to apologise. If you’re in a bus sitting next to window  and someone sits next to you and you want to leave, you say something, not just fiddle your gloves.

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Nature

I’m a city girl but during my time abroad I’ve started to appreciate Finnish nature much more. It’s clean, pure and always “out there”, easy to reach I mean. When I’m abroad I hike, visit cool nature spots etc. Now I’ve started to wonder why I never to this stuff in Finland, you can find awesome nature parks and hiking trails there also.

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My experience of Finnishness

As a Finn there are three things that always come to my mind when I think about Finnishness: honesty, equality and sauna.

Honesty

We Finns value honesty very much. We say what we think about something and we mean it. This is both a good and a bad thing. For example in business it’s very good that you can count on what has been agreed upon. Then again when having a conversation our honesty may be interpreted as being rude to someone.

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Equality

Equality is so deeply rooted to our society, that we don’t always even notice it ourselves. One of my personal favorites is the absent of gender specific pronoun. Equality is also tied with our education system, which provides free education to each and everyone. If that isn’t amazing, I don’t know what is!

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Sauna

Sauna is what symbolizes my finnishness the most. It combines the above-mentioned honesty and equality together. Nowhere can you find a more honest Finn, then being in sauna with them. Also in sauna there are no titles, all people are equal in sauna.

 

Lastly some humor 🙂

Kuvahaun tulos haulle finland ball

Finns Are Content in Silence

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One of the biggest cultural differences that I have noticed between Finns and rest of the world is that we can be perfectly at ease with silence even though we are in company. I noticed this especially when I lived for a week with a French family in Belfort, when the mother thought something was wrong if we Finns were quiet during the car ride. We had thought it a bit odd instead, that the mother had tried so hard to keep up small-talk — we were perfectly happy with just appreciating the passing scenery.  When we explained this to the French family, they told us that they felt really weird if things were silent, especially if you didn’t know the people very well.  Silence for them, was a mark that something was wrong.

In addition to Finns being a silent bunch, we normally are not that well versed in the art of small-talk. I had a course in the University of Eastern Finland, where our American professor tried to hammer us some basic dos and dont’s in especially the Anglo culture. First of all, the professor told us, Finns are too honest and straightforward. If someone asks us how we are, we genuinely answer how our day has been; usually the ‘how do you do’ is however, just a polite expression.

There is also something else that stayed in my mind from the course: in the Anglo culture there is a habit of saying the person’s name a lot when you are talking with them. I had never noticed before, but we Finns don’t generally do that. For that reason, our professor emphasized to us, that we should really pay attention to people’s names when they are introduced, as it is expected to use them later in the conversation as a sign of respect.

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Apart from being quiet and having to work on our conversation skills, we Finns sure do love our summer cottages. Maybe it’s because we want to escape to spend our sparse summer months somewhere with even less people, maybe it’s because usually the sauna in the cottage is superior to the one at home. When I was younger, most of our summers were spend in the cottage, and though I go there myself much rarely now, my parents still flee there right when the first a bit warmer weekend comes in the spring.

Being a Finn

When I think of the word ”Finnishness”, I think of forests, lakes, sauna, shyness, being honest and being persistent. Being a Finn is something you don’t really think about when living in Finland, because you are surrounded by other Finns. Now that I’m about to go abroad, it’s a good time to stop for a minute and think what being a Finn means to me.

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Finns are known to be quiet and shy. Even the comic ‘Finnish Nightmares’, which has almost 150 000 likes in Facebook, is based on this thought. The hero of the comic is a typical Finnish man named Matti, who does daily things from standing all quiet in an elevator with their neighbors to talking to foreigners and feeling shy throughout the conversation. Many Finns have commented in this Facebook page how they identify themselves in these comic, and many foreigners have commented how these comics remind them of their Finnish friends. If you ever want to know what being a Finn means to us Finns, please go checkout ‘Finnish Nightmares’ comic: https://www.facebook.com/finnishnightmares/?fref=ts

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To me, the most important thing in Finland is the atmosphere we have here. Although things aren’t always as good as they seem to be, in my opinion you can be who you want to be here without being judged too hard or someone telling you to stop doing your thing. Finns can be prejudiced and brutally honest, but in the end everyone gets an opportunity here. I also think that most of the Finns appreciate the nature here. Going for a walk in a quiet forest or for a swim in a lake is a normal thing to do here. Maybe that’s why most of the Finns are so used to being quiet and minding their own business. It is not that we don’t care about others, we just appreciate our own space and thoughts a lot.

Finnish Nightmare comic from: https://www.facebook.com/finnishnightmares/photos/br.AbrftEmYFekLbQQfbm3KQ72hjBCp0uQekx1Ty3AajsGb4jTWgu-uGW0waiXUC_v8YCEnlgUrCCf_Q3vvmSbl8tiHWxjcQHSd847G3xjXk2U0xHcHWijhyYYoCmTJkoMaiWv2BJGkrKiLoI5g2r7qinbCiIjG8J55mExKNKgUGGnbcwYVKL5RIH4NMFls-l9mMZ0/1440317632773511/?type=3&theater