Monthly Archives: February 2021

No need to make coffee just for me!

Why do Finns sometimes feel that they are the odd ones out in Europe? Well, our neighbors in Scandinavia seem to have their own thing going on and Russia’s culture is also very different from ours. Finland is geographically separated from the rest and the language is kind of weird too. Not to mention the metalhead coffee vampire stereotype. Still, besides pop culture always arriving here late, it’s been pretty nice living in this “special” Finland bubble.

people on a picnic in Helsinki

When meeting a foreigner, Finns often ask “Why would you choose to come here?” as if it was the strangest thing that someone would want to visit this country. Admittedly I’ve also asked this before. But secretly Finns actually love Finland and Finnishness. We just don’t think anyone else would for some reason.

This excessive modesty seems to be deeply rooted in our culture. Finns only say they speak a language when they are almost fluent in it, and sometimes they need an outsider’s perspective to realize what they have. I’ve been so lucky to have met many exchange students during my studies at TAMK. They have opened my eyes more to what was always there. This is something I would love to do for my future friends during my own exchange!

White boat in Finnish archipelago at sunset If I ever get the chance, I will take my foreigner friends to the heart of Finnishness for me: mökki (summer cottage). There is something so authentic and calming about mökki. I think of last midsummer. Light pink shades reflecting everywhere at midnight as we drive to the place that feels like home. The surface of the sea is still and the warm air hits my face. This is it – the dream that I’m living, and would love to share.


Finland is a country of beautiful nature with many lakes and forests. I think it is also reflected in the Finnish lifestyle. Many Finns enjoy doing outdoors activities no matter the season. Sometimes just a simple walk in the forest can lift your spirits.




Many holidays take Finnish people outside to celebrate, if the weather allows of course. For example in the spring there is May Day, which is a classical picnic day outside, and in the summer Finns celebrate Midsummer. A classic Midsummer is spent at a cottage with friends. Usually including swimming and sauna. Oh the sauna! Sauna is a very big part of the Finnish culture, and one of my personal favourites too. Especially after a cold winter day there is nothing better than a hot sauna where to relax.


Finns are special. Or are they?

“Finnish culture is so unique!” Why is it always the Finn who brings this fact up and not the foreigner? Also, why Finns do not like to talk about themselves and are generally quite reserved, but when the conversations’ focus shifts from individual people to one’s culture, the quiet Finn rises from the corner table and talks hours on end about our sisu, sauna and Koskenkorva? This picture sums up my thoughts quite well. Our culture is not in the minds of foreigners even though we believe so.


In regular conversations about Finland, the most common topic Finns bring up is how Finnish language is among the hardest for foreigners to learn, as if it would be some kind of trophy to be proud of. The funny thing is that this notion among Finns is not even true. Recent study has shown that Finnish is not considerably harder to learn than other languages. The misconception of “Finnish being hard” in itself causes the language to become hard to learn for some because it discourages them to even begin. While it is true that a new language completely different to your own might be difficult to learn, it is far from impossible like some Finns boast.

This is not to say that our nation wouldn’t be unique from the rest. The sheer fact that our country is over one thousand kilometres long guarantees that there’s bound to be many distinct sub-cultures which makes our culture as a whole very diverse. There are many things in the Finnish culture none other culture has, but in all honesty, which culture is not like that? All cultures are unique in some way, Finns just seem to make a big deal about it.

Also, Finns laugh at foreigners for believing that there would be polar bears here. In fact, there are at least two, in Ranua zoo. Who’s laughing now, Finland?


My Experiences of Finnishness

As I have been here in Finland since 2018, I can understand now the basics of the Finnish language. Finnish is quite interesting & joyful to me. Finnish had generally fine presentation in other foreign countries. People in Finland had precise punctuality in any events or working life. You can trust Finnish people as a nice friend and a good co-worker. While the Finnish neighborhood meets each other, they start first talking about the weather always. Long talk culture when they met each other, it’s a bit different than elsewhere but deep interpersonal relationships are treasured.

Already been in Finland for many years, I noticed that many of the people like have their own privacy here. Wherever you travel in Finland, you will find out the silence (for e.g. In the bus, train, etc). They are really reserved with strangers when greetings or when talking. Although, Finnish people have honesty, discipline & well-organized.

Personally, I love nature, swimming in the lakes & playing ski was a most attractive place not for me but whoever comes here will going to love these things. I also like doing sauna & having swum in the iced lake which helps in the circulation of the blood. Basically, I enjoy the summertime most even though it short and sweet.

Finland in my soul and heart

Finland in my soul and heart

Finnishness is so deep in my own identity that it is surprisingly difficult to think about what to bring out of the Finnish culture.

In fact I think that foreigners have generally positive picture of Finns. Finnish people are assumed to be on time. It is also nice that in Finland you can trust friends and co-workers. Finns are considered honest and straight-forward. Small talk culture may be different than elsewhere but deep interpersonal relationships are cherished and adhered to.

Finns are often reserved when greeting or talking to strangers.  This may be due to the fact that in Finland being too loud is considered rude. Finns are rule-oriented and respect  each other’s space and limits. For example when queueing people stand obediently in the line.

Personally, I love nature, lakes, saunas and rye bread when talking about Finnish things. Jean Sibelius’ music is close to my heart and his music is a matter of pride for Finns. I also think that it is a privilege to have four seasons in a year.

My Finnish experience

So I was born in Finland, but pretty soon after ( like 6 months after my birth ) that my family and I moved abroad , only for me to return to Finland 20 years later to start my studies at TAMK. My mom is from small town Karkkila in Finland while my dad was from Sarajevo , Jugoslavia and those two things from the very begining have made my perspective and shaped my understanding of Finnish and other cultures. 

While living abroad my mom refused to speak to me in other languages, even though for the most part we lived in Serbia and she learned Serbian language fairly well… So my dad spoke to me what is kind of a mixture of very similar languages: Serbian and Bosnian, while my mom spoke to me exclusively in Finnish, and expected me to reply in Finnish as well.  One day she thought it would be of use and knowing a language is powerful knowledge that nobody can take away from us. 

Also every chance we got, for holidays for example or even when there were none, we traveled to Finland to visit our Family here, and this Is something that has also ingrained the Finnish spirit in to my life. Since it was early on and consistent, deep in to my psyche some patterns and feelings got attached to Finnishness. 

Often I have thought, even from early on what is this Finnish part of myself and my life compared to a Serbian that I developed during the 15 years I lived there. 


clear, deep, wide 

these are some the associations I have when I have thought about Finland.

clear like the sky, air and sea.

And this I think Is very well represented by the Finnish flag, that has the colors white and blue on it, since these are the colors I have often seen when looking at the finish landscape. 


Then Deep, this probably comes From and most notably a house that my mothers grandpa built in small town Karkkila and still lives in up to this day…It is a place that grounds me, a feeling that my roots go very deep here and It has brought  this feeling of lives lived before mine and significance of that History, and  all the finish customs and manners that have although not shape me fully still touched a part of my personality and spirit. 

Wide , This again for me comes back in a way to the landscape of Finnish nature… not surprising since the nature here is very beautiful with lots of forests and lakes, and great views of distance can be seen, giving the sense of spaciousness. 
And as well Finnish landscape can come to life in wide variety of ways, given the season. and these views can be quite a contrast to one another. 

Over all I feel like there is a lot here for me to Dive in to an it is a topic that will be relevant to me through my life and something I will be returning to again and again… 

 What does Finnishness mean to me…. well that is like a onion with many many layers one on top of another, and peeling off one layer only reveals another one.