I was born in a small town called Vaasa. When I was a child, we used to spend summers with my family at our cottage by the lake Lappajärvi 120 km from Vaasa. It was the place I learned to swim. I think I was spending most of my time in the lake. It was so much fun to play in the water. My mom has told that I was very interested in nature. I was always searching the ground. In school years I was a scout girl and enjoyed to spent time hiking in the forest.
My definition of Finnishness is Finnish nature. If I stay for a long time abroad nature is that thing what I miss from Finland. I have visited 48 countries around the world. For foreigners who like to experience the Finnish nature, I recommend a hike in Lapland or a cottage vacation by the lake.
I have been hiking in Lapland several times. There is something magical in nature, in the sound of silence and the freshwater what you can drink straight from the stream. Landscapes are amazing with mountains, streams, and reindeer. I recommend a hike in the middle of August when there are fewer mosquitos, but still quite warm. You can sleep in a tent or book a cottage. There is also an opportunity to sleep in cottages which are free for anyone to spend night example in Urho Kekkonen National Park.
Currently, we have a new cottage located in the countryside middle of the fields, by the lake Lappajärvi. It’s my place to relax and get new energy. It’s the place where I forget daily life’s stressful challenges. There I just am. There I used to meet my family, fish, paint, cook or read a book. Fields are long, the ground is quite flat, there are not many hills and no high buildings, you can see the whole sky above you. You can see nature speaks to you.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Finland is a small country with big opportunities. We have four beautiful seasons, outstanding pure nature and a society that takes care of its members. Like all countries, Finland has its issues, but I highly believe that they are been seeing smaller when putting in to perspective. This is one reason why people should explore the world and its differences; it makes you see your home country in a whole new light. In this case – very positively.
Finland has some things that no other country can offer to a Finn, such as sauna and the outstanding nature that gives us energy and pure oxygen to breathe. We have climate that provides us with four seasons: spring, summer, fall and winter. Every Finn waits for the Finnish summer through all of the other seasons and just wishes it is a warm one. I guess that’s the beauty of it – you never know how it’s going to be, but you know it’s coming.
Personally I love all the four seasons and each one has its own good sides. Spring is the time when everything comes back to life and the nature starts to really show its beauty. Finnish summer is amazing with all its pure lakes to swim in, grilled food and cottage life. It is a time when you can explore different cities in Finland and feel like a tourist. Fall is stunning with all its colors and fallen leaves. The weather is crispy and this is a time of the year when usually something new starts. Finnish winter is like no other – endless possibilities for activities, breathtaking views and a perfect season for the Finnish privilige – the sauna. Nothing beats the combination of cross-country skiing followed by sauna on a crispy winter day.
Finland is a great place to live in. When travelling, you will see that not many countries take care of their members the way Finland does. Our country offers same options for everyone, regardless of the background. We have a free education which is utopia for most of the people. So let’s appreciate our beautiful home country and all the things it offers to us.
As I feel that it is quite easy for us Finns to focus on the “not so good” aspects of Finland (don’t get me wrong – I’m one of this type of people too), this time I wanted to focus on some of the things I love about Finland and the reasons why I appreciate being a Finn.
The summer 2018 has been so amazing here in Finland that it has almost made me forget about the cold, ruthless winter behind. The summer has been exceptionally warm and beautiful, and I have been truly enjoying every second of it. This lead me to think about the things I appreciate in Finland.
So what is one of the best things about Finland to me? Summer cottage. I think that it can be difficult for foreigners to understand how magnificent the summer cottage culture is here in Finland and furthermore to know how it feels to experience the authentic, Finnish summer cottage life.
At least my summer wouldn’t be summer if it didn’t include going to our summer cottage. The place has been close to my heart all my life and I’ve been crawling in its nearby woods and swimming in its waters since I was a small girl. Nowadays the cottage is close to a holy place to me, and the only place that makes me feel 100% relaxed.
Sitting in the sauna, watching a breathtaking view over the lake is something you cannot describe with words. Swimming in the lake after sauna and watching the sunset with its fairy-tale-like colors makes one wonder if it’s heaven or earth where that moment is taking place.
As a place, I believe that summer cottage brings Finns together and makes them closer. Many of the summer cottages in Finland don’t include the luxury of, for example, electricity or water toilets. That’s why people light up candles, read, paint, go fishing or just talk about life. Living without some of the everyday conveniences gives space to so many other activities, which creates a powerful sense of freedom. Visiting a summer cottage is for sure a relaxing, therapeutic experience which would be in place for so many people.
You can probably tell by now that summer is my number 1 favorite time of the year in Finland. That is why I will be quite happy to leave for my exchange in the autumn, and thus escape the dark, cold winter in Finland. I made a promise to myself that one day when I move out of Finland for good, I will visit during the summer time and hopefully will have a summer cottage of my own – that is something I do not want to give up.
For Finns it’s normal that almost every family owns a cottage on a lake. The cabin can be ether modern with all the luxuries or extremely primitive with no electricity or running water. Or something between those. What combines all these cottages is that they are all places for relaxation and peace of mind.
The relaxation can mean many things. In summer it is things like swimming, playing games, walking in forest, rowing, barbecue or fishing but also yard working such as chopping wood, raking leaves, cleaning, doing maintenance work. In winter the favorites are skiing, skating, toboccan sliding, snowscootering, but also plowing snow. Everyone from children to old people spend time outside regardless of the temperature that can sometimes be as low as -25 °C and even lower in northern Finland.
Oh, and it’s not a cabin at all if there is no sauna. Period. Sauna is often used every evening while staying at the cottage. Finns usually go to sauna naked with close friends or family, although in most cases grown-ups take turns by gender. It is usually a sign of true friendship that you share a sauna together, where you can’t have anything to hide or any things with you that would make you somehow unequal with the other person that shares the space. Especially in summer if the löyly* is starting to feel too hot, we run and jump naked to the lake. Some people like to swim at winter too and a hole is drilled to the ice for it.
* Löyly does not only mean the water that is yet to be thrown to the sauna stove, but also the air temperature, moisture, intensity, spirit and even the whole character of the sauna experience. When a sauna is excellent, you can say something like “you get a good löyly there”.
Finland – the land of thousand lakes, lush green nature and shy people who are hard to get to know and go to sauna a lot. As a Finn, I’ve heard this a gazillion times and as all of those notions are true, there is more to us Finns than meets the eye.
As there are so many forests and lakes, it is natural (pun intended) that our culture has become so closely entwined with it – in the past as provider of food and shelter and today as a sanctuary where people can rest and forget the hectic outside world. The feeling you get from watching the sun set behind a lake, seeing the Northern Lights dance upon a frosty winter sky or just gazing at the stars in dark autumn night is just indescribable and it has had a profound effect in us.
There are even studies about how walking in a forest will lower your blood pressure in 20 minutes and I believe that we Finns have known this all along, nature gives us peace of mind and we just want to enjoy it. That background added with the traditional Finnish logic of if you don’t have anything meaningful to say, it is better to be quiet and say nothing at all. That can easily show differently on the outside and is at least partly the reason why Finns are so unfamiliar with small talk.
I remember reading an article about which European citizens travel the most and was really surprised to find Finns in the top 3. The article explained that Finns don’t travel abroad that much but the reason that put them in top places of list was, of course, summer cottages. And there was a staggering number of 502 900 of them in 2016. So that’s where we are, not talking and going to saunas most of the time.
My theory is that the nature has shaped us into who we are and how we see the world and personally, I couldn’t be happier.
There are many great foods in Finland. Most of the people are totally in love rye bread, which is not just healthy for you but is a Finnish super food too. Other delicious foods are for example smoked salmon with potatoes with a side of fresh salad from your own garden. One of the most famous treats are Fazer’s chocolates which are popular abroad as well.
Cottage life by the lake
Finland is know for its many lakes and about 10% of Finland’s surface area is covered with water. Therefore, lakes are a huge part of our nature. The other thing thta is really common in Finland are the summer cottages. Almost every Finn loves to go to the country side in the summer time and some cottages can be used in the winter time as well. Spending time at the cottages has become a tradition and a trend. The cottage boom began when people moved after their jobs to the cities, but they didn’t want to spend all of their freetime in the city. Finns are nature lovin’ people and what could be better way to explore the nature than enjoy the day in the lake house.
The country is know for other things too besides food and nature, it is known for modern yet classic design pieces. You may have heard of Artek, Iittala and Woodnotes. They have at least one thing in common, which is quality. Finns value quality and good desing, which in fact is combined in these brands. They are all unique and known for their designs, people recognize them easily and they are classic symbols to the Finnish design. The designed furnitures tend to be minimalistic and they remain classic throughout the years and for this reason they can be combined easily with other furnitures and different styles.
A lot of stereotypes are related to the Finnish culture and people living in it. Finns love sauna, salmiakki, getting drunk, lakes, personal space etc. We would have a lot to offer to foreigners and other countries as well but we are so modest in marketing ourselves. There are pure nature and music that are not as appreciated amongst us as it should be. When I’ve travelled abroad I’ve come to notice that people know a lot of Finnish bands, but they do not know they come from Finland. Tourism is a part that could be vastly improved, if skills existed, or the will. As we love our personal space, it could be we do not want to promote ourselves and want to stay on our own. Although the younger generation has been able to see the world as a smaller place, it has changed perception.
For me one of the most loved Finnish things is sauna, as to many others as well. Abroad it is one thing that I miss, to go to sauna whenever I want in my own home. This comes as a huge surprise to people coming from other countries, to tell them that there’s practically sauna in every house. Nudity related to this liked activity is a weird one too. Where we love our privacy, in sauna we can go naked and sit next to each other, whether with strangers, friends or family or whoever is with us.
Sauna is best when connected to a lake environment. A cottage by water and most preferably including sauna just next to the coast, creates a perfect atmosphere. Finns are obsessed with weather conditions in general, but for me in this kind of moment, it really does not matter what kind of weather is occurring.
A sad part of Finnish, if we can say culture, is the problems caused by alcohol and prejudices. For some alcohol takes the violent person out of you, for some no amount is enough, so it causes various difficulties. Prejudices are not only restricted to immigrants and refugees but also to people who are different or in a leading role (whether in politics or business). Envy is one of the sins that’s amongst us in a strong way.
Finland holds some special qualities and if only we could get rid off the downsides, I’d suggest everyone to join the country. Unfortunately this is not, nor will ever be the case. I’d love to show foreigners the magic of Finland, not the everyday life.
In this text I want to tell some things that mean “Finnishness” to me.
1) Summer and summer cottages
I absolutely love summer in Finland. Going to festivals, having picnic outside, jogging in forest, having breakfast on the terrace, coming home during the light night, eating strawberries at the market etc.
Summer is (too) short in Finland but people really enjoy it. During the summer it’s very light. The more north you go the lighter it is.
Many people have their own summer cottage. My family’s summer cottage is in Northern Finland. It takes many hours to drive there but it’s worth it. There is for example “smoke sauna”. And after going to sauna you can swim in the lake.
There are some delicious typical Finnish foods and goodies. I love chocolate called “Fazer’s blue chocolate”. Blueberry pie is also very Finnish thing. Many people go to the forest during summer and pick up blueberries and to make a blueberry pie. Then is also bread cheese, whipped lingonberry porridge, salmon soup, cabbage rolls, gingerbread cookies, rice pies, cinnamon buns, meat balls, rye bread…
Nature in Finland is really beautiful. I love to go to forest for a run or walk. And it’s said that Finland is the most forested country in Europe. 70 % of the land is covered with threes.
There are also many lakes in Finland. Some people say that Finland is “the land of thousand lakes”. Because there are lots of lakes there is also fish.
Nature is important for many Finnish people. We go there to relax and enjoy the silence.