Tag Archives: personality

My home in Finland – where my story began

For me being a Finn is a weird concept. I can’t seem to relate to most of the stereotypes of Finnish people on a personal level. I am social and outgoing, I don’t mind people entering my personal space (if I know them), I am very affectionate and I am loud and giggly and I actually don’t like sauna that much. The stereotype of grumpy Finns who prefer to grunt in response and avoid interaction with other people whenever possible doesn’t seem to suit me. But I am still a Finn and it means other things to me as it is different for everyone. I guess belonging somewhere comes from yourself and what you believe it means and requires. In a way I am a Finn because I was born in Finland and lived here most of my life. But my times abroad and meeting international people have changed me as well as a person. So it’s not just about where you come from, it’s about who you are and want to be.

But enough of that philosophical blabbering, let’s get down to the things that I think make me a Finn.

Nature

Whether it is camping outside and gazing at the stars while roasting marshmallows or sausages on a campfire or skinny dipping in a lake and running back into a sauna on a clear summer night, nature has always been close to me. I grew up in the country side so I got to experience it on a whole new level. There’s nothing more calming to going into the forest on a clear snow day and just listening to the sound of nature while admiring the view that unfolds before you. Snowy landscape is one of my favorite sights to see and it holds the candle to the other wonders of the world. This part of Finnishness also holds the sports we get to do during winter time. Ice skating, skiing, sliding down the hill on a sleigh, all of these and many more would not be possible in many other places.

Food and drinks

There are quite many foods that you wouldn’t come across elsewhere or there might be something similar. I know these names won’t mean much to you but for example karjalanpiirakka, piparkakku, karjalanpaisti, mämmi (which is disgusting by the way) or salted liquorices. We Finns do love our salted liquorice, we put it into almost anything; ice cream, chocolate, alcohol etc. Salmari, the alcoholic drink, is good by the way. Which brings us to the drinking culture in Finland. In a lot of countries drinking is a social thing where as in Finland we can also just do “kalsarikännit” which basically means getting drunk in our underwear alone at home. That’s another thing we do, we get drunk. Sometimes might enjoy a glass or two when having food or going to sauna but if we go out we go all out. During the weekend around 4 am you can find Finns queuing up to a pizzeria or some snack kiosk with greasy food to get something to fill their alcohol infused bellies. And that’s when we actually talk to strangers even if they wouldn’t want you to.

 

Language

I can’t even count how many times I’ve enjoyed listening to foreigners trying to speak Finnish. I really appreciate the effort though and I congratulate you for trying since it’s definitely not the easiest language. Even Finns have trouble understanding each other depending which part of the country they come from. To many Finnish just sounds like a really long word since we do not tend to breathe in between while talking. We take a deep breath and let it all out in one go. No wonder we don’t talk much. If we don’t have anything to say why say anything at all. Words hold quite a lot of power and verbal agreements can be almost as binding as written ones. If you make a promise you are excepted to hold true to your words. But Finnish language can be quite funny once you learn it (if you learn it).

So I would proudly say, yes I am a Finn. But I am also me and that is so much more.

Finns and their characteristics

For me something that departures us Finnish people from other in the world is our personality and culture that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. Even compered to our close neighbours Sweden and Russia, we have our own thing going on. I thought that I would write more about a couple of things that I like and can relate to about us Finnish people and our characteristics.

The respect for silence

I love the fact that Finnish people don’t have to talk all the time when being in interaction with people. We don’t do small talk that good, which can be a problem when we are with other people from abroad that like to keep the conversation going. That’s why we Finnish people can be considered rude sometimes although we don’t mean to be. I like the fact that you can sometimes be silent with a friend and it’s not awkward. It’s nice to

The Finnish resilience

I think Finnish people are strong and persistent.  We don’t give up easily. Our Finnish resilience, also called “sisu”, means a certain kind of courage that can be seen at moments and situations where success has come against odds. In the history of Finland, we have shown our “sisu” in different sporting events and in the winter war. I think “sisu” is seen in every Finn in a daily basis in our lives. Just the mentality that we have for things that we are passionate about.

Punctuality

This is also something I really like about Finnish people. We are almost always on time and if are late we are very sorry about it. I’m the kind of person that is rather early that late and that’s why I appreciate that Finnish people respect the schedules and plans that have been made. I think this is something at foreigners appreciate about us Finnish people. We are reliable in business and in personal life.

 

Finnish lake scene at night
Finnish lake scene at night

We are all humans

What is Finnishness?

In my opinion there is not one correct answer to that question.  Basically, you can’t just say that someone is Finnish because she/he acts in a certain way. It is quite random in which culture you were born and nationality is just a tiny part of your personality, it doesn’t specify what kind of person you are. But people seem to love categorizing and that is the reason why we have all these stereotypes.

yö2

Now it is time to figure out how Finnish you are. The test is based on common stereotypes of what Finnishness is. You get one point for every claim that fits in you.

 

  1. Your best and only coping mechanism is drinking. No matter how small or big your problem is, the best solution is to drink yourself into oblivion. Next day you may have a major headache but the problem is forgotten!

 

  1. You hate Swedes and Russians. You don’t really know why, but does it even matter?

 

  1. You don’t want to meet new people (unless you are drunk). It is awful. Especially you don’t want to get to know people from different cultures. People are dreadful anyway, so why even bother…

 

  1. You are shy, socially awkward and you hate being centre of attention (unless you are drunk). So it is better just to sit still and quiet somewhere in shady corner and try not to breathe so loud.

 

  1. You have sisu (sisu can be translated as gut or persistence). At least you think you have. Sometimes the line between stubbornness/foolishness and sisu can be a little flickering. Some may say that doing same thing in same way over and over again without succeeding in it, is ludicrous, but you say it is sisu.

 

  1. You love sauna. There is nothing as awesome in entire world as sitting naked in the small, hot room and drinking ice cold beer (or Koskenkorva, or Jaloviina). The best thing ever!

 

  1. All the Finns are rude, unpolite and cranky. Someone you don’t know asks if you know where is the library, you rapidly turn around and walk away. Old lady asks you to help her cross the road, you won’t. There is a fight in the street, someone should call 112, you don’t have time for that. People really should just mind their own businesses!

 

  1. You don’t laugh much. Why should you? There is no valid reason to laugh (unless you are drunk) and furthermore it gives you wrinkles.

 

  1. You have quite special sense of humor. You think you are funny while others think that you are just weird.

 

  1. You can’t talk about feelings. You don’t want to talk about your own feelings and you definitely don’t want to hear someone else’s feelings. It is better to never ever open up (unless you are really, really, really drunk).

 

yö

Well, I got one point (claim nro 9) although I was born in Finland and I have lived here my whole life. In my experience Finnishness can be whatever you want it to be. It can be openness, solitude, happiness, melancholy, shyness, bravery etc. There is no certain personality or specific behavior that determines Finnishness.  After all, we are all humans, so should we rather ask what is humanity?

 

Ps. How many points did you get? 😉

 


 

Finnishness

I wasn’t born in Finland and my family’s culture and customs are a bit different from Finns. However, I have lived most of my life here in Finland and I think some of that “Finnishness” has rubbed on me, because quite often you can hear my relatives say “That’s so Finnish.” Here’s just a few of mentions.

Personality

Now, people often describe Finns as very shy and quite rude, but my experience isn’t quite like that. There are outgoing and loud people among Finns, just like in any other country. Finnish people just usually tend to avoid unnecessary small talk and complimentaries that they do not mean. I guess I would describe them as very straight forward kind of people, who value their privacy.

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Sauna

People often think that Finns like the sauna because of the cold winters, but they also use them during summer time. Of course a hot sauna feels good after spending time clearing your driveway from snow, but I would say that the sauna has more of a social meaning. Families and friends gather around for “sauna nights”, which often would include food and drinks such as beer. Sauna is also probably the only place where Finns are fine with sitting next to each other in close proximity. Completely nude, might I add.

tmp_13674-100th-anniversary-finnish-sauna-experience-8531-1352199695

Summer cottages

Finns appreciate and are very proud of their forests and lakes, which is probably why they build/buy/rent summer cottages near lakes and spend their summers there. Typically Finns prefer more rustic cottages that don’t include the luxuries they have at home, because the whole point of summer cottages is to enjoy the nature and do outdoor activities, such as barbecuing, fishing and swimming.

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tmp_13674-Summer_cottage_dock.JPG1738450822

Finnishness

Finland is the land of thousand lakes, but who are the habitants known as Finns and what is the typical Finnishness ? I’m giving you the answer from my point of view:)

Four seasons

No, I’m not talking about the luxury hotels when I say four seasons. I’m talking about Finlands’ one of the special things; spring, summer, autumn and winter, which together compose “four seasons”. Special about this phenomena is that every season has its own character and positive side.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle suomen ruska

Finlands winter is the longest, coldest and darkest of the seasons, but it also has positive sides. Myself, as maybe many of other finns think that if there is not snow in the winter and especially at Christmas, then it’s no real winter and Christmas time. In winter the white, sparkling snow and the January sun is great experience. Spring is knocking on the door already!

Spring is the time, when finns are “waking up” and smiling behind their sunglasses. In winter you don’t see so many people hanging on the streets because its so cold, but spring is encouraging people outside. You know it’s spring, when you smell fresh grass, see the first coltsfoot and can take of your jacket.

Timo
            Veijalainen

Finns appreciate the summer a lot, because they have waited it almost nine months to come again. Finns like their summer hot, but not too hot because then the weather is too stifling for the people who has cool weather most time of the year.  Finns enjoy the summer with full hearted, because they don’t experience it too often.

After short and hopefully warm summer it comes autumn, which makes the trees to bath in colours. Leaves paint themselves from green to yellow and finally to bright red. I think this is with summer the most beautiful season. In autumn the finns starts to welcome the winter by wearing woolsocks and lighting up candles.

 

Sauna

Sauna belongs to finnish culture and finns belong to sauna. In Finland the winter is long so we need something to warm us up and sauna does the trick. Sauna is still needed also in summer and quite many finns have own sauna at their summer cottage, next to the lake of course. The best feeling is to run to the refreshing lake from hot sauna.

Finns think that the sauna is a place to relaxation, silence or a long, deep chat. For finns the nudity in sauna is very natural and even a group of unknown finns together in sauna is not suprising anyone.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle suomalainen sauna

Finnish sauna speciality is a “saunavihta”, that is made of birch branches. We use saunavihta to hit each others backs to improve the blood circulation. Birch leaves also give a good smell to sauna.

 

Finnish personality

I think finns are a bit quiet and introverted especially when they meet new people but they still enjoy exploring new cultures and meeting new people. Finns just don’t want to make a “scene” of themselves and they rather observe first and they warm up a bit by bit.  Even though finns are quiet, they are very helpful and friendly also for the unknown if they ask for help or wnat to chat. Usually finns don’t start the conversation with unknown people, but they answer when asked. Some finns are flattered the given attention but some try to stay concise.

Finns are usually hard working people, very consicientious and quite self-critical. They always want to do their best. Finns are also cultural people now a days; they know what happens in the world outside of Finland, are interested of other cultures and english skills are mainly fluent. Finns hear english from tv all the time and at school english is taught well from third grade.

Kuvahaun tulos haulle avuliaisuus

I think finns have good skills at serving a client and maybe this is because education highlights the interaction between customer and servant. Good customer service is shown at shops, health care and between people when they interact with each other. We finns don’t show our real nature at first  or not even the second, but when we do, we are worth of getting to know for!

To understand a Finn

A couple of years ago I spent a lot of my time travelling alone. I love meeting people from different cultures, since all cultures have their own way of thinking. Of course, Finns understand each other the best through the history, language and culture. Especially culture, like the Finnish sense of humour, can easily go over foreigner’s head. During my travels in Iceland I met another Finn. Our Icelandic friend invited us to her house, and together with some Spanish and Japanese travellers we one night sat down to watch a classic Icelandic movie (can’t remember the name). It was exactly like the Uuno Turhapuro movies we have here in Finland and the absurdity of the movie was funny. The Spanish and Japanese travellers didn’t quite understand it, so I think it tells something about the mentality us Northern Europeans have.

nobody in their right mind

The Finnish sense of humour is dark, dry, subtle and often sarcastic. Even though we won’tmaybe admit it, we enjoy the horrible weather our country has. It gives us something worth complaining every day! It even gives us a reason to talk to each other. Oh, the numerous times I’ve stood in a bus stop and an elderly people has started a small talk about how beautiful/horrible the weather is. Same goes with public saunas. I’ve never sat in a public sauna where everyone has been quiet. I wonder if that’s a situation only a Finn can experience and properly appreciate, since the Sauna Chat ™ is usually in Finnish.

The Finns are often described to be serious and cold, but when you live in a country where most of the year it’s raining either water, snow or wet snow, it should be understandable. I wonder why Mediterranean people are usually described to be lively and friendly? 😉

Finnish language is notoriously difficult for foreigners since it’s in a small Finno-Ugric language family, which also includes Estonian. Many Finnish jokes are wordplay or puns. Many Finnish words have multiple meanings, depending on the context. One of the best examples is the word “kuusi”, which can mean either a pine tree, a number or “your moon”. It can be a cause of headache for foreigners who want to learn Finnish. However, learning Finnish lets you in on a wonderfully weird sense of humour.

So, in conclusion, to me Finnishness is a way of thinking. Our country is beautiful and people seem to be born with an appreciation of the nature, but in the end it’s more what’s inside our heads that make us Finnish.

My two cents in on Finnishness

If I were forced to best describe “Finnishness” with three words, it would be the following: humble, honest, and proud. I have lived abroad for nearly half of my young life, therefore although I am Finnish myself, I have gained valuable perspective in comparison to various other cultures.

The way humility comes out in Finns is often interpreted in different ways. For instance, to a foreigner, the fact that strangers do not engage in conversation on public transport may seem somewhat antisocial. Simultaneously, the thought process of a Finn may be that they simply respect the privacy of his/her fellow citizens, and therefore abstain from engaging in small-talk.

Finnish “personal space” at a bus stop

The second characteristic of your typical Finn is honesty. Finnish honesty can often also come in many different forms. It can be evident in the form of a blunt, yet honest response; something that foreigners may consider to be downright rude. Then again, a Finn will also give his/her peers heartfelt praise when necessary. Honesty is a value that is taught by one’s parents from an early age as something that is (merely) above all else in the hierarchy of values.

Last but not least, Finns are extremely proud of where they come from. I noticed this in myself especially, whilst living overseas as an adolescent. Any chance I got, I would speak proudly of my homeland and its beauty. This is something that gradually faded away (once we moved back), this unconditional pride in being a Finn. I think it is certainly something us Finns take for granted, all the wonderful little aspects about being a Finn. You know what they say, “you don’t realize what you had until it’s gone”. There is an exception to every rule, and the one time that Finns can collectively boast about their homeland is following sporting success (more that likely to come from ice hockey). At these times, national pride is through the roof and unruly amounts of alcohol are consumed, one aspect that is deeply engraved in Finnish party traditions.

Finnish man on an overdose of national pride (and that stuff in the red tin can)

Wild Wild Finland

 

To me, the meaning of being a Finn and also the term “Finnishness” are both all about being a part of the nature of Finland. I am still young but I have already travelled quite a lot and I have also been working as an international tutor. Interactions with foreigners have taught me that the image of a finnish person variates quite much. You can compare the personality of a Finn to the climate of Finland; There is a great contrast – cold winters VS. fairly warm summers, calm and rational VS. straightforward and hot blooded.  Naturally it depends on the fact have you personally met a Finn or not. A stereotypical Finn is someone who enjoys one’s own personal space and doesn’t care to talk that much. And is a drinker and very passionate when it comes to ice hockey. People are often rather shocked when they see that a Finn can actually form long sentences. The finnish language is difficult, now that is a fact. It is sad but true that finnish folk as tourists can be real thorns in the flesh; they’re loud, arrogant and very much drunk. However, usually harmless, just annoying. So no wonder why some think that the whole nation is the same (thanks guys, geez). Actually we are melancholic and just trying to hide our insecurities. Maybe. I do not honestly know.

However, Finland is an easy country to visit since we don’t have any special customs or manners that visitor could screw up. In other words, we don’t care as long as you don’t violate the public order and break the law. Finns have a strong sense of national identity because of the country’s history but they do not expect foreigners to know a lot about the country. We are still quite isolated, aren’t we?..

huipulla

(look me, hey there peeps)

 

Let’s get down to business~ (did you get the reference huh huh).

My favourite thing about Finland.

Seasons.

I want to think that those are part of this “Finnishness” since all the countries do not have so much diversity during one year. The summer might not be endless in Finland, but there are almost endless summer days and white summer nights. On a fine summer day, you can enjoy the wild nature and ((almost)) clear waters. After all, Finland is a country of vast green forests, Baltic Sea islands, windswept arctic fells and thousands of blue lakes (this sentence was provided by Travel Guide of Finland, please don’t sue me). Just don’t run into a bear. Please. That might get.. nasty. As the Land of a Thousand Lakes, a lakeside cottage is a huge part of Finnish summer. And when there is a lake, there is a sauna. Sauna is indeed a great part of our country’s heritage and culture. It is said to purify both body and mind.

Oh right, Midsummer rules!! Go barbeque!!

lakeynotski

Summer ends with an explosion of color in the forests. This is the season known as ‘ruska’. It’s the time of autumnal reds, browns and yellows, rain, ponds, worms and colourful wellies. My absolute favourite. “When the endless sunshine of summer gives way to dark winter, the Northern Lights appear like magic and lighten up the sky.” The Winter. The cold. And snow. No, rain. No sorry, snow. No wait, what..  Well at least it’s cold, okay!  Do you wanna build a.. Moving on. Spring is even shorter than summer. It’s okay. It’s green. And muddy. And maybe even sunny.

winter lakespring

Just a quick thing before fin(n)ishing this text (oh how rich I would be ..). Finland has a rather high standard of education, social security and healthcare that are all more or less financed by the state. Of course it’s not perfect but it could be worse. So that’s also part of

“Finnishness” I guess.