My experience with “Finnishness” began somewhere in my childhood. Often, in the winter my family would go to Finland for downhill skiing when I was a kid. Other times we would visit our family friends, live in a wooden cottage far away from the closest town and I would build tree houses from branches in the deep forests somewhere in the north with my friend. I remember the smell of woods, coziness of the fireplace in the winter, the feeling of freedom when looking at the snowy hills and my skis and some sense of unity with nature – these were my first memories of Finland.
I was born in Petrozavodsk (Petroskoi), Karelia, in the north-west of Russia. Karelian culture is very similar to Finnish and both of the languages share lots of similarities. However Karelian is not an actively used language anymore. Starting from food (Karelian pies with potatoes or millet), folklore, musical instruments, nature and landscapes – Karelia and Finland have a lot in common. As a person who lived in such mix of Karelian-Russian culture for most of my life, Finland was and is still close to my heart. Many of my friends from Petrozavodsk have started studying Finnish at schools or even earlier – kindergartens, then moved to Helsinki or Joensuu to get a degree or simply were grocery shopping in Finland from time to time. “Finnishness” was and is considered something dear for many of us.
Finland as a destination choice to get a degree was something comforting for me, that place where I could feel like at home but at the same time challenge myself with studies, to make friends with people from around the world and experience “Finnishness” in a slightly different and more authentic way. And I think I did get a lot of new ideas and thoughts about the term since then.
I love that “Finnishness” means caring about each other and society in general, providing lots of opportunities for studying and growing personally and professionally for everyone, even to the ones from abroad like me. I appreciate that “Finnishness” means taking care of nature and its inhabitants by recycling, reusing and simply taking responsibility for actions. “Finnishness” also means being with nature, spending time outdoors and showing the right way to treat things around us in general.
My experience with “Finnishness” and Finland was very educating, inspiring, breathtaking and I know that this is not the end and I am happy to be able to explore and understand “Finnishness” in my own way now and share it with you.
Having grown up in a Finnish family in the United States and having spent most summers in Finland, I would say that I have inherited traits from both cultures. I’m rather shy around new people and it takes me a while to get comfortable with people, but once I get comfortable I have no problem with physical affection and I’m anything but shy. I tend to keep my emotions hidden except with my closest friends, which I would say is definitely my Finnish side.
I have always loved Finland for the peace and calm that it brings me when at the lake or walking in the woods, and I love spending time outdoors, surrounded by nature. However, I do notice that I miss the hecticness of large cities as well.
I have loved living in Finland and all the experiences it has brought with it, a big one being the 4 seasons. I spent most of my life in California where there are basically 2 seasons, summer and fall/spring. I have really enjoyed having a proper winter and all of the activities that come with it!
I am a quite stereotypical Finn. I´m a little shy and not very comfortable around new people at first. I really like to keep my physical distance with people. I don´t brag or make noise about myself, but I´m a loud fan of ice hockey when Leijonat gets a chance to show its skills at world championship. I´m also a proud supporter and amateur player of Finnish national sport pesäpallo. I love traditional Finnish foods like rye bread and salty licorice and our family’s Mämmi-season has always last from the end of January to early July.
Santa Claus and Christmas brings light and warm into long, cold, and dark winter. As I´ve lived most of my life in Northern Finland I have a had a chance to enjoy all the best winter activities every year, such as skiing, ice skating and snowmobile driving. A great way to spend a freezing cold winter day with friends or family is going to a lake ice fishing and roasting a sausage around campfire. I really enjoy all the four seasons. At summer you can go to your cottage to relax, swim in the pure nature water, and just listen the silence far from the city. Autumn is the best season to wander in the forests. Forests also offer a lot of delicacies you can pick and pickle for the winter, such as mushrooms and berries. Hunting is also a popular hobby, mostly among Finnish men but it has managed to grow its popularity among women also.
At spring everything wakes up and starts to bloom. It is an amazing feeling when the first sunbeams heat up your face after a long winter. I think it´s impossible to choose your favorite season since every of them can offer so much different activities.
As much as I love Finnish Karelian pastries and outdoor activities, I also appreciate other things in Finnish society, such as education and healthcare. In my opinion Finland is a great and safe place to live. I´m happy to be a Finn.
When talking about Finland and Finnish things probably the first thing that comes to mind is the gorgeous nature with thousands of lakes and forests. You can enjoy those things no matter what time of the year it is or wherever you live. I’ve had the privilege to be able to visit our family’s cottage. The property was bought when I was six so I have a lot of incredible memories from there. Picture a quiet summer evening, warm sauna and refreshing water in the lake. That is perfection if you ask from me.
I’m extremely proud of saying that I’m from Finland. There is no shame behind that word. Finland is mostly a safe place to live and some researches say that we are the happiest people on Earth. It’s a huge privilege to be born and raised in Finland. I think I got a childhood and a life in general that many people from all around the world doesn’t get and only dream about. I’m so grateful of my Finnishness and I feel that sometimes we Finns take things for granted but we should appreciate everything Finland has given us as our homeland.