Tag Archives: rye bread

My bubble is bigger than yours!

Hi everyone!

This will be my fourth exchange, if you count them all. New cultures and people are kind of my thing. To be honest, through my times of travelling and being on exchanges, I have learned to see so many good things about Finland and Finnishness, but I’ve absorbed even more from other countries. When I left Finland the first time I had blue glasses on, now I’ve put so many colorful glasses on top, I don’t even recognize the color now. There are many things that I love about Finland: lakes, cottages, seasons, snow!, nature. But my tags for this task are bread, bubble and people!

I’ve learned to love food in a very traditional way, eating everything I see! I love the spices, smells, colors and tastes. One dish can bring so much pleasure and teach you a ton about cooking. I’m still not a good cook but practice makes perfect, right? However, there is something magical about this Finnish bread that seems to boggle everyone outside of Scandinavia. It’s the black bread we call rye bread, the love of my life ruisleipä.  If you talk with a nutritionist, too much bread is never good for you. Nevertheless, with rye bread I think it’s as close as you can get to healthy over-eating.

Rye bread is almost like a national food to Finns. If they don’t eat it, they know the bread for sure! If you move outside of Scandinavia, rye bread is a new acquaintance. “Bread can’t be that dark!”, they say. “How can you digest that?!”, they say. Especially here in the south  Europe where I’m on my exchange, white bread is more than common. Multi grain or whole wheat is the closest you can get to rye bread here, and I tell you, it still has not given me any consolation. I miss rye bread so much that I can almost taste it in my mouth…two more months to go…

“My personal bubble is bigger than yours”

Another Finnish thing is this unspoken rule in public places. Everyone knows it! Finns are big on personal space, at least 1 meter in every direction. It has become an international joke how much space we need around us to feel comfortable. A few  examples:

  1. A public bus, people sit on the widow seat usually and if the window seats are taken    –> you stand. You want to avoid sitting next to a stranger, and God forbid if they talk to you!
  2. Bus stop. If there is no room for you and your personal bubble under the roof of the stop, you would rather get wet in the rain than squeeze next to strangers.
  3. Standing in line at a super market. Someone right in front of us and right behind.
  4. Going to a new place. We will not ask for directions to avoid contact with strangers.

The personal bubble is something that I don’t quite understand. I believe that all my travelling has made my bubble smaller. However, after leaving Finland it surprised me a little bit once again, how different cultures are. Here in Malta, there is no personal bubble, and mine isn’t totally gone.

“The grumps vs. bubbly people”

Finns are most very shy and don’t like to make a fuss about themselves. We don’t like to cause hassle, and if we are unhappy about our food or service, we keep it to ourselves.  One of the jokes about Finns is, that we get upset about everything but never say anything! Compared to people abroad, they are loud and express their feelings loud and clear. Everyone is ready help you but everyone is up to everyone’s business as well 😀

 

I’m sorry I don’t have any pictures for you!

 

With the kindest regards,

Joanna

 

Finnishness in a nutshell

When talking about Finland and Finnishness people always bring up the beautiful nature or the dark and cold winter. Another topic of discussion is the nature of Finnish people; unsocial, stubborn and modest. To me, however, Finnishness is a lot more. Finnishness is cottage life, sauna and most importantly, good food.

You can’t talk about Finnish culture without mentioning cuisine. For me the most important things in Finnish cuisine are salty liquorice, coffee and rye bread. Salty liquorice, or salmiakki, is a Finnish treat which is hard to find anywhere else in the world. Many Finnish people say salmiakki is the first thing they miss about Finland when they travel abroad. Finns are the people with the highest consumption of coffee in the world. It is not unusual to start your life as a coffee drinker in your youth. Here in Finland rye bread is the most common type of bread. Traditional rye bread is a dark, sour bread which can also be found dried.
Finnish culture has a lot of traditional foods which can’t stay mentioned; Karelian pie, Karelian hot pot, and traditional Finnish Easter dessert made from rye flour, called mämmi. For me, these traditional foods bring back memories of my childhood. 
Finns don’t always go to the nearest supermarket to get their food, because our beautiful nature provides us with berries and mushrooms, for example. Some Finns even have their own small fields in their backyard, where they grow their own potatoes, carrots, beetroots and other veggies.

 

There is no Finnishness without sauna culture. The first thing us Finns mention to foreigners is how great the Finnish sauna is. Sauna is the place where even the most unsocial Finn may open up, but even then, it’s not certain. Sauna is also the place where you can show your guts, so called “Sisu”, when you compete who can withstand the most heat the longest. When you have burned your skin off in the scorching sauna, it is typical to take a cooling dip in the cold lake or even roll in the snow, when there’s no water nearby.

Finnishness

Things that pop into my head when thinking about Finnishness and being Finnish are nature, Finnish food and personal space. Of course, there are a lot of more things that I could mention but these are the few that I want to focus on.

The country of thousands of lakes

First of all, the Finnish nature. I don’t know a better way to describe it than saying it´s really beautiful. One of the reasons why a love Finland is because of its forests and lakes. I have heard foreigners speaking about Finland that how fascinating it is when you go to Finland and there are lakes everywhere and that is true. There are around 187 888 lakes in Finland and that’s a lot! It´s nice that in the summer you don’t usually have to go far to find a lake. Of course, it depends where in Finland you live but I would say mostly you can find lakes close to your home.

Then there is also forests which I love. From where I’m from there has been forest less then 1km away from my house and for me it has always been a place where I can go for a walk just to relax. I also like the fact that you can go pick up berries and mushrooms from there and its completely free! Every summer and fall I go to my hometown just so I can fill up my freezer back in Tampere with blueberries and mushrooms. I think that we should appreciate the nature more. 🙂

Blueberries
Blueberries

Salmiakki and Finnish rye bread

When I think about Finnish food nothing special dishes comes to my mind but we do have some extremely good candy, salmiakki. It´s a salty liquorice which most of the Finnish people love and foreigners hate 😀 It´s one of my favorite candies and every time I get an opportunity to offer it to someone who has not tasted it I do it. People’s reactions when they taste the candy are funny to watch. Usually they can’t eat it.

Another thing which I love about Finland is rye bread. It´s not only good tasting but it’s also healthy. I think that is one of the things I´m the proudest as a Finnish person. Sounds a bit silly but in abroad it can be hard to find good healthy bread and not just toast. But it´s just something that I´m used to. If I would have been born somewhere else, I might not like it.

Salmiakki
Salmiakki

Personal space

As a Finnish person, I can say that we want to have our personal space. For example, in a bus, we don’t sit next to someone if there is a chance to sit alone. Also, what we don’t do is that when we are in queue we don’t get close to the person in front of us. Someone has said that the personal space between strangers is around 1,5 meters in Finland. I don’t know if that’s true but if someone would get close to me in a queue I would feel uncomfortable and think that they want to cut in front of me.  Even though we have our weird habits I love being Finn 😀

bussi