As the hours before my departure to the big wide world are dwindling away, I will quickly highlight some of the things I will miss and probably learn to appreciate even more about Finland.
We are a small, sparsely populated homogeneous country, isolated away from most troubles in our own little northern corner of the world. We keep to ourselves and we downplay our achievements, yet we collectively feel national pride when someone takes an interest in us.
On the surface Finnish people might appear as not the happiest people in the world. We like our personal space, we’re mindful of other people around us and we rarely say anything more than is necessary. We don’t force smiles on our faces when we step out the door and we don’t engage in menial small talk with anyone we don’t know. Some might consider this rude and antisocial, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. For when people finally stop their day to engage with others you can be sure everything about the exchange is going to be genuine. You don’t bother me and I don’t bother you.
Then alcohol is added to the mix and you’d be hard pressed to avoid a friendly face wanting to talk to you.
Having been born to the country of a thousand lakes and endless forests, I believe in the heart of every Finn beats a love for all things green and a yearning to return to nature. Even in the most densely populated cities you are never that far away from a forest and I don’t mean a perfectly landscaped park but real wild forests. We don’t sacrifice our beautiful lands for the sake of industrial development and when summer comes around we flee our urban lives to our summer cottages, carry in water from the well, heat up the sauna with wood and take a dip in the lake.