Tag Archives: Safety

Finland: A Place You Belong

Since I was a kid I’ve always been sort of a little forest fairy or nymph. I spent the first few years of my life in Finland, the second half of my childhood in Sweden, and now that I’ve gotten to do a bit of traveling, I couldn’t be happier to have got to grow up in the north.

Tampere in summer, picture taken from  cliffs in Pyynikki. Photo by Emilia Brändh.
Keskustori at night. Photo by Emilia Brändh.

So many moments lost and found in the woods, magic discovered in hidden ponds and adventures made in wet swamps, on steep cliffs and misty fields.

My nationality is something I’ve always kinda thought about a lot, and never really been able to pinpoint what I am. What I should answer when someone asks me where I’m from. Here and there? Is that good enough of an answer? Being a bilingual dual citizen and culturally confused kid, I’ve spent a lot of my life wondering who I really am, and what country I really belong to. Because even though technically it’s just a word on a passport or ID, it still matters and means a lot to us.

Lush green pine forest in Ylöjärvi. Photo by Emilia Brändh.

If you’re a bit of a “citizen of the world” instead of belonging one country in specific, nationality can be tricky.

But when I swim in Finnish lakes in the golden evenings, run through Finnish woods in the foggy mornings, light candles on Finnish cemeteries around the cold, harsh Christmas times… I feel like yeah, this is who I am.  I am really Finnish, and I feel like I am home.

It’s like a tangible magical dust floating in the air.

Keijärvi in summer. Finland is THE PLACE to have deep thoughts in nature. Full solitude. Photo by Emilia Brändh.

Finnishness is something I can feel on my skin.

It’s the light on summer nights when the sun doesn’t set. It’s the raindrops on your face when you leave your umbrella at home because there’s no way it will suddenly start raining when the sky looks so clear (but this is Finland we’re talking about, so you should know better and always be prepared!). It’s the chilly breeze in the autumn. It’s the frost biting your cheeks, and it’s the wet pine branches slapping against your body when you take a brisk morning walk in the forest.

Finnish people value honesty, silence, responsibility, cleanness, calm, loyalty, security and determination.

I love how our nature and the beautiful, peaceful landscapes around us are a constant reminder and expression of all those values.

That’s the kind of Finnishness I want to be a part of.

Frosty trees and frozen Iidesjärvi lake seen from Kalevankankaan hautausmaa. Photo by Emilia Brändh.
Golden strolls in the evening sun. Photo by Emilia Brändh.

6 things about Finland that first come up to my mind

Almost every time when I return back to Finland from a trip abroad, I realise how well things are in Finland. When I start thinking about what Finnishness means to me, these 6 things come up to my mind immediately.

  1. Equal & free education for everyone

I feel privileged and grateful that I have had the possibility to get educated for free because that is not the case in most parts of the world. Education makes the whole country function better overall as people know what they should aim at in order to get along. It helps people to try to achieve the lives they want to live.

  1. Free health care

Health care being free to every Finn is a big thing as well since insurances are quite expensive and every human needs to see a doctor once in a while. I believe free health care as well as education keep the country’s people all in all in better condition.

  1. Safety

Every time returning back to Finland from abroad, I feel so safe after seeing what it’s like in other countries with totally different cultures and behavioral patterns. Of course, there are places and countries which are even safer than Finland but many times after travelling I feel safer in Finland. Although I know this is also partially because I have lived here my whole life and I know how people behave in this country.

  1. Beautiful nature

Lapland is my favorite part of Finland because of the beautiful landscapes and peaceful nature. The clean outdoor air is something I am very grateful of as well. Go and explore it yourself! 🙂

  1. Rye bread & homemade food

During my upcoming exchange I believe I will miss ryebread and homemade food mostly. They have a place in my everyday life in Finland and which I enjoy eating at home especially. In this case I could say that they are some kind of symbol of safety and home for me, so this is why I believe I will miss them during my exchange.

  1. Own space

Finns love their own space, for example in public transport they usually prefer sitting all alone. I also enjoy having a few moments for myself during the day as it helps me to relax and calm down after a busy day at work or school.

 

Finnishness

Safety, nature and shy people are the first three things that come to my mind when I think about Finland and Finnishness. Finland has been listed several times to the top of the safest countries. The terrorism rate is low compared to many other European countries, and you can trust the police since it’s not corrupted. I have always felt really safe in Finland, even when I’m walking alone in the night-time.

Finnish nature is something I really appreciate. I love how we have four different seasons and they all can be really beautiful. Finnish summer is my favourite season even though it’s usually short. You can do a lot of different things during the warm summer, for example, we can enjoy the summer holidays at cottages, swim in pure lakes and can go berry-picking wherever we want to. Some people like to spend their time on terraces and drink beverages and some people like to drive around and explore our beautiful home country. Genuinely the people just seem happier in the summers.

                                  

The winter in usually also amazing. I love walking in snowy forests and ice skating on frozen lakes. I think it’s calming to wander in quiet forests and I love the sound when you are walking on the snow. Going to a hot sauna feels lovely after being outside in the cold for the whole day.

Stereotypical Finns can be described as very shy and calm people. We are usually work orientated and honest. Punctuality is also common along Finns and this is also appreciated abroad. Because we don’t like having small talk we can seem a bit anti-social. Finns want to have their own personal space and I personally dislike when people I don’t know come too close to me. For example when I was studying in France I never got used to the cheek kisses: I always felt awkward and didn’t know how to react. Finns are also known to be quiet and a bit shy.

I have never felt more Finnish than when I was living in Sweden a few years back. Even though the Swedish and Finnish cultures don’t differ that much from each other I was really aware of my Finnish background. Sometimes it can be hard to be the awkward and quiet Finn, but I’m always proud to say my home country is Finland.

What being a Finn means to me

Culture is, in many ways, subjective. People view and experience it differently and there are as many aspects to a culture as there are people in it. There is no right answers or definite truths, and even the most common traits in a culture don’t apply to everyone. The following things, however, are my thoughts and feelings about “Finnishness”.

Safety

This is one of the things that keeps surprising me over and over again. Most Finns take being able to walk around big cities at night for granted and they don’t think anything of it when the bag they left to their seat in a restaurant is still there when they come back from a bathroom break.

We trust that we can live our every-day lives without having to fear for our safety or the safety of our belongings. This, however, is not the case in many countries. The more I’ve travelled the more I’ve realised how good things are in Finland. I have witnessed street fights, heard countless stories of harassment and even know a person that has been robbed at gunpoint.

In Brazil, I couldn’t hold my wallet or phone in my hand while travelling by car, because that would’ve made us a likely target for robbery. This would’ve never crossed my mind in Finland because things like that rarely happen here.

So yes, safety is an important part of the Finnish culture and I am very thankful of it.

No empty words

When somebody makes you a promise in Finland, it usually means you can at least trust that they are going to try their best to fulfil that promise.

In many cultures, a negative answer in customer service is unacceptable. This means that even if they know they cannot help you, they will still tell you otherwise.

As a Finn, I find this silly. I’m used to getting a straight answer and I much prefer to be told so if something isn’t possible, instead of waiting around for something that is never going to happen anyway.

Small talk is also not popular in Finland. You speak when you have something to say, but there is no need to fill every silence with meaningless chitchat. Not to say that small talk isn’t a good skill to have in some situations, but sometimes it’s good to be able to enjoy the peace and quiet.

Equality

This is one of the biggest and most important things about our culture, people are equal. Sure, there are still many things we can and should improve in order to be truly equal, but compared to most countries, Finland is a truly great place to live – no matter your gender, age, race or sexuality. As a woman, I’m truly thankful to have been born in Finland.

Every culture has its pros and cons, and there are things in my culture that I’m not so fond of. However, I love my culture and I’m thankful for all the chances it has given me!

Krista Tolonen

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.

Finnishness for me

Finnish mentality

Finnish mentality has been molded by the harsh nature, scarce population and the wars where we have been in the middle. Finnish people are in general more silent and extreverted compared to our southern neighbors. We have strong sense of whats right and whats wrong, we are honest but very considerate, which can lead to some problems with foreign people.

Nature

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Nature has always been a major part in the Finnish lifestyle. Not many generations ago most people lived outside of cities. I feel as though the lives have changed in these few generations, we are still very close to the nature in general compared to larger countries.

Safety

One of the cornerstones of Finland is safety. The phenomenon where parents can’t let their kids play outside after dark because of fear is not a thing in Finland. Although we do have rather high homicide rates compared to other Nordic countries, the chances of random acts of violence are very low. This safety is rare in todays world, and we should cherish it.

3 things about finnishness

Safety

One of my favorite things about finland is safety. Sure, there can be danger anywhere but generally speaking Finland is a very safe place to live in. For example, children can walk or take the bus to school on their own without parents having to worry. You also don’t have to worry about getting pickpocketed. Most likely if you lose your wallet or phone, you’ll get it back. Finnish people are generally speaking very honest and I think that has a lot to do with the safety of this country.

 

Clean

Compared to a lot of countries, Finland is amazingly clean. Not only the streets or public facilities, but the air in general. Even in the city the air feels so much cleaner than in many other cities. Of course there is nothing like the air in the countryside, which luckily we have a lot of. Finnish people are very proud of all the nature we have here, and for good reason. Finland is also known to be very eco-friendly and sets a great example to the rest of the world.

 

Mökki (summer cottage)

I’m not sure how common this is elsewhere in the world but it sure is very finnish. In addition to their own home, lots of people in Finland have a summer cottage. If not, they most likely have been to a friend’s cottage or rented one. Typically at Juhannus, people want to go get away from the city and go spend some time at their cottage. This will include grilling, going to the sauna and lighting up the midsummer bonfire.

 

Things that make Finland special

Nature

Nature is rooted in every Finn. I love just how easy it is to go out to the nature and take a breath of fresh air. How you can escape the stress of everyday life to peace and quiet. How the forests and lakes shape the landscape and change with every season.  I do think, that many Finns take their surroundings for granted. Still, one of the first things a Finn brags about their home country for any foreigners is definitely the beautiful nature.

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Sauna

Finns truly love to take a steam, which explains why there are over 3 million saunas in Finland. In the summer, we tent to go to sauna in our summer cottages and take a plunge in cold water afterwards. In the winter we go to sauna to warm ourselves after being outside in the cold. Some do warm their saunas every single day, some not so often. Sauna is a place for relaxation.

Menesjärvi 8-12.8.08.

Language

Finnish is often described as one of the hardest languages to learn. The fact, that there is no other nation, that speak Finnish as their mother tongue makes Finland pretty special. Whenever abroad, hearing Finnish will make you feel instantly confused, amused and weirdly safe all at the same time. Teaching basic Finnish words to your foreign friends makes you feel very proud of this special language.

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Safety

Finland is one of the safest places in the world. Finns feel safe to walk alone outside or using public transport despite the hour. You can be pretty sure, that if you walk with your bag open, no one will try to steal your wallet or belongings and you can safely leave your laptop on the table in a cafe and leave to get a refill. Finns generally trust each other and know that the police is a municipality that can be trusted if something happens.

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