For me, Finnishness is the unique experience of not bothering and also of not being bothered by people in public places. There is a special day when Finns talk to each other, especially to strangers. It is called a “Friday”. On Fridays it is customary to enter the warm embrace of the closest Sauna that you can find and enjoy a beer – “Saunakalja” – with friends, or in more public places, with strangers. On Fridays you may also see intoxicated Finns wandering the streets, looking to impart great knowledge upon anyone they bump into.
Jokes aside, I have no idea what it actually means to be Finnish. What is it that actually defines our culture? Is it our laws, our holidays or maybe our education? I don’t know. I’m not qualified at all to tackle this question. I’m not a very group-oriented person.
What I do know, is that every country has its own stereotypes, and they do exist for a reason. There will always be people that embody those stereotypes, but in my experience everyone is an individual in the end. Even if someone seems to fit into a stereotype, once you get to know them, you might see them in a somewhat different light. Everyone has their own history, dreams, fears and regrets. Other than the language we speak as our mother tongue, I can’t think of a thing that separates a Finn from the rest of the human race.
I was born in Finland, grew up here and went to school here. As a child I regularly traveled to Russia (5-10 times a year, for 15 years) with my family and I can confidently say that generally speaking, people in both of these countries are in many ways similar. We are all just human. Individuals suffering or enjoying their current circumstances.