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,



1 thought on “My bubble is bigger than yours!

  1. This is a charming essay, Joanna. The rye bread is delicious, too. I’m from the USA, but I have eaten Finnish rye bread here; it was prepared in a good Scandinavian bakery in Michigan, where I grew up. I’ve made a dark rye bread that used strong coffee as an ingredient.

    The personal space issue is written in nearly all the essays I’ve read so far. I understand it, but I feel much is lost when communication is too restricted. You are lucky to travel and break out of that tight space sometimes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *