Tag Archives: honesty

How I see Finland

In my opinion, Finland is one of the best places to stay, when it comes to conditions, the standard and the quality of life. Especially elderly people and children are treated really well in this country. In general people are extremely honest and encourage other people to have the same courtesy. The stereotype about Finnish honesty is purposeful and truthful, and Finns like to highlight it. For example if you lose your wallet here, you have way better chances at getting it back, than in many other countries. I personally have had an experience of forgetting my bank card in the ATM machine and then getting a call from a stranger that found it to come and collect it. You can’t not respect that. As it was said in another blog post, I agree that ”honesty is the foundation of a safe and functional society.” (Sahamies, J. 2019 blogi)

(https://adage.com/creativity/work//38028)

In addition to all the good benefits and support you can get from the government, Finland also provides exceptional educational opportunities. Here you can basically educate yourself to become whatever you want as long as you have the motivation and the dedication to do it, the doors are open. People from all over the world come here for the education opportunities and in some cases may even get a job and stay here. Most of the exchange students I have spoken to, have said that they love it here. The only negative aspects were the weather conditions and sometimes the food.

(https://www.tuni.fi)

Why the food? Well, Finland isn’t really known as the most food oriented country even though there are some amazing Finnish dishes, which will make your mouth water. Still, because Finnish people tend to settle for less, they don’t make a big deal out of a meal. Salt & pepper is all you need for seasoning.

Mostly the food is considered to be healthy and versatile. To people like myself who are picky with the food, it may seem a bit boring at times. People from countries where food is held in a high standard, would probably also want to spice it up a bit, since they are more used to the strong rich flavors.

(https://finnishcrashcourse.wordpress.com/2016/02/03/food-culture-in-finland-tradition-habits-and-particular-dishes-part-1/) Meatballs with mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam.

Finnishness Through My Lens

The People

I’m always impressed by the honesty and kindness of Finnish people. I still remembered the first day I came to Finland, which was three years ago. When I reached my place, I met my flatmate, who was also a Fin. She was friendly and always tried to create a warm atmosphere to welcome me as a newcomer. We were talking a lot about our own cultures and why we decided to stay in this city. To be honest, on my first day in Finland, I felt homesick a little bit in the first place, but then I felt warm after meeting the local people who were always hospitable towards the visitors.

Karjamäentie, Joensuu – where I first arrived in Finland. Source: Google

What is more, I attended a course which was called “Intercultural Communication.” My Finnish teacher said that a Fin was very honest and straight. If they complimented someone on something, they really meant it. On the other hand, if they were not satisfied with anything, they might show their expression on their face or tried not to talk about it. And I love this character of the Finnish as I thought, although sometimes it might be frank, I still preferred what would be real, coming from the bottom of the heart.

Moreover, when I moved to Tampere from Joensuu, I got help from an old Finnish lady on my first day to TAMK. At that time, I did not acknowledge the bus schedule system in Tampere, so I was lost. Luckily, the old lady was enthusiastic about helping me, although she only spoke Finnish. She was supposed to get off to her place, but she still stayed with me until the end of the trip. When we got off the bus number 3 to catch another bus to TAMK, she held my hand and said in Finnish. I knew some Finnish and said “Kiitos paljon” to her. I just felt like I was her niece and taken care by a grandmother. I felt grateful to receive help from the local people in Finland.

On the road on my first day to TAMK. Source: Google.

The Winter

There is a joke on Facebook, “When months in Finland are different to months elsewhere.” It means that the winter in Finland lasts for months, more than six months. Everything will be covered by the white snow, and the darkness will dominate the whole thing for such a long time when it comes to winter.

Source: Very Finnish Problem – Facebook

To be honest, I get depressed from time to time because of the coldness and silence. However, I still know how to enjoy the winter here. If it’s cold, I’ll go to the sauna to warm myself up. Sauna is part of Finnish culture, and Finland is the homeland of the sauna. I love the heat, sitting by the heated stone in one corner and pouring the water down the rock. I don’t know if anyone has tried this before. It’s kind of going to the winter lake, dimming oneself into it and then go for a sauna and just take a turn like that. If you stay in Finland, you should definitely try that once. 

Joensuu Polar Bear – Source: Joensuun Jääkarhut

Besides, another winter activity I love most is sledding. At first, I was terrified, but after that, I got used to it and tried doing it many times. I also take an interest in walking on the frozen lake, although I am afraid that this activity might be dangerous. I feel like I have a superpower to step on the water. I find it interesting to walk on the lake because it will save time to go from place to another.

Sledding in winter – Source: Google

The Landscape

Finland is considered to be the land of thousand lakes. Everywhere I go, I always see lakes. I never row a boat on the lake, but only stand on the bridge and look at the surroundings, especially in summer. The atmosphere is fresh, I can smell the lake and the trees. The view is bright with the sunlight and blue sky, but in winter, the lake will be covered with white snow.

Pyhäselkä in winter – Source: Taken by me
Pyhäselkä in summer – Source: Taken by me

In autumn, I love the yellow leaves falling down from the trees. It looks romantic. Yes, it is indeed. I also want to take a rest at the lake again to enjoy watching the breathtaking view again. I can see that the lake view is quite typical in Finland. It is different from other places that I have ever been to. I find it peaceful and colorful with blue and green. It gives a relaxing atmosphere whenever I feel depressed.

Autumn trees – Source: Taken by me

A few observations of Finnishness

Honesty is the best policy

Finnish people are very honest. Finland may not be the promised land of small talk, actually the majority of Finns are quite taciturn. We enjoy quietness here and even when hanging out with friends it’s not uncommon to have some silent moments. I believe that here it’s actually more appreciated that you speak when you have something even borderline meaningful to say rather than being babbling about virtually nothing for hours.

When Finnish people open their mouths, you will get the truth. If a Finn compliments your outfit, they must really like it. Otherwise they wouldn’t dare to say anything. In general, Finns don’t give compliments for free. So pat yourself on the back – you must have done something really great when you get praised here.

On the other hand, you will definitely know when a Finn is pissed off. You will either read it from their face or hear it from their mouth – and this applies to a number of customer service workers as well. Somehow It feels more acceptable over here than anywhere else in the world…

 

Kalsarikännit” and other peculiar expressions

I wouldn’t say that the Finnish language is very beautiful. However, I quite like it despite the angry sounding R’s and strong double consonants. Finnish also has many funny and weird expressions, such as “kalsarikännit” that some of you might already be familiar with – it basically means getting drunk at home in your underwear with no intention to go out. Even everyday expressions like “myötähäpeä” or “vahingonilo” are interesting and sometimes so difficult to explain to non-Finnish speaking people.

Another great thing about Finnish language is that it you may speak quite freely and carelessly when outside of Finland since the chances that someone understand you are quite slim. Maybe don’t tell all your secrets in public, however..

Check the video below for some more funny Finnish words and expressions!

 

Independence is a norm

Finnish children are brought up to be very independent from a young age. It’s not unusual to see even elementary schoolers walking a long way home from school or taking the bus by themselves. In Finland, children know how to make at least some kind of snack for themselves, women carry heavy items without the need for anyone and young men have at least some basic knowledge on sewing after their middle school studies.

Finns are often reluctant to ask for help, which makes it even more crucial to know how to manage on your own. I think it would be greatly beneficial for children in other countries to also be taught cooking and sewing skills like in Finland. I am still unable to sew myself!

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.

header_helsinki_kallio-400x300

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.

3786-helsinkinature9-jpg