Tag Archives: coffee

Finnishness

Finland is the happiest country in the world for four years in a row by the United Nations World Happiness Report. We often hear foreigners as well as Finns being surprised by that. However happiness is not measured by how much people smile at stangers or make small talk with them. Happiness in Finland means having close friends and family and spending time with them. Happiness for us is having fresh water, free education and good healthcare system.

 

Finns are often described as shy and grave but we actually are nothing but. Sure, we usually aren´t that talkative with people we don’t know but when hanging out with close friends it´s a whole other situation. When travelling abroad it´s easy to get to know people but they rarely become your true friends. Whereas in Finland you really have to make an effort to make friends but when you do, the friendship is for life and they would even take a bullet for you. 

Many people mention the nature when speaking of Finland and it was the first thing that came to my mind also. Finns love to spend time at their cottage in the lap of nature but they often also love to go to festivals and spend time among other people. In my hometown Helsinki and in my study town Tampere the restaurants and terraces are always full of people. Helsinki and Tampere are lively cities that have a lot to offer.

The most Finnish sentence by a survey made by Menaiset.fi is ”Ei minua varten tarvii keittää” which means ”No need to make (coffee) just for me” and that summarizes Finnishness perfectly. In that sentence come up Finns´ love for coffee and their modesty. Finns don’t know how to receive compliments or certainly not how to compliment theirselves. Finns´ greatest trait is definitely their honesty. Finns often take honesty for granted and are surprised when people abroad don’t always mean what they say. Finns´ honesty reflects also on the trust and respect in the authority. Especially during corona it´s became clear that Finns follow the rules even tho its not mandatory. 

Finns are proud of their origin and get very excited when Finland is mentioned abroad. We are proud of our little Northern country with language like no other. We enjoy the little things like good weather and company of friends. We love to travel around the world but are always happy to return home. All in all Finns should acknowledge that the Happiest country in the world -title is right and be really proud of it.

Sources:

https://www.is.fi/hyvaolo/art-2000006220523.html

https://www.visitfinland.com/fcb/news/finland-named-the-happiest-country/

https://www.facebook.com/finnishnightmares/

My experiences of Finnishness

I am originally from Germany and moved to Finland almost four years ago. For two and half years l lived with a Finnish host family. This time, as well as my Finnish friends whom I met while studying majorly, account for my experiences of Finnishness.

I had never really been aware of my own culture. It was only when I moved to Finland that I noticed differences in peoples’ behaviours and thought patterns. In the following I will go through few elements of Finnishness that were particularly remarkable to me when I first came:

Finns find joy in calmness, appreciate their personal space, take time for themself, are pretty straightforward about most things while being humble or modest people. This shows in many everyday situations. Let’s take travelling by bus as an example – the picture below tell more than words (and as communicating with as few words as possible is part of Finnishness, I will adapt 😉)

Finnishness in free-time activities is basically divided into three different yet somehow connected major themes:

  • Drinking: longdrinks or the famous karhu beer in combination with a visit to a karaoke bar or drinking lots of black coffee eventually in combination with ice cream or a munkki)
  • Nature: Finns are very sportive and active people and also I have learned to enjoy spending my free time taking a walk in the forest or spending the weekend at the cottage (as far away from others as possible😉)

  • Sauna: warning: the above-mentioned need for personal space and privacy does not apply here! Sitting naked and sweating in a tiny hot room packed with people is an important part of Finnishness. Going afterwards for the mandatory swim in a close-by lake (regardless of the outside temperature) defiantly requires (at least for me) Finnish perseverance or so-called sisu.

 

When moving abroad and starting to recognize differences in culture, behaviour, attitudes, etc. it is easy to stick to one’s own culture yet it is especially then important to remember to stay open to and observe the culture while then picking the best parts of the culture and adapting pits and pieces to make it your own.

My thoughts about Finnishness

I have lived in Finland my whole life. Finnishness to me means a lot of different things. Mostly it reminds me of a safe, peaceful and beautiful home. To get the best picture of what it means to me, I’ll list a couple of things below.

  1. Beautiful and fresh nature

I have lived my childhood in a place where the forest with its lakes has been right in the backyard. Now when I live in a city, nature is still not far away. In Finland you can go to enjoy the nature without going far away. You can escape the real life hassle at any time which I love about Finland. It is also true Finnishness if you are able to be prepared for any weather here in Finland. In the same day it can be cold, windy, rainy and sunny…

I would say most Finnish are nature loving and we enjoy going to the cottage at summer and going to sauna and the lake during winter. We also enjoy our own peace with the most important people around. The calmness that the nature brings is good for our soul.

  1. People

Finns are quite modest. We appreciate what we have, the beautiful nature, a country where we can live in peace and where we do not have to fear things as we may need in some countries. Finnish people usually speaks about things that are essential in the specific matter and that’s why we don’t consider silent moments awkward. When you are in a public small place as Finn, we consider that we don’t have to say anything to others. I would say Finns are thoughtful, trustworthy  and straight forward, however we are still quite private people. We usually don’t have the need to be sharing everything about ourselves and we rather listen to others. We like our personal space.

Fun facts:

  • We don’t like to talk money related things.
  • We eat everything on our plate.
  • Being naked is not always sexual (sauna time).
  • We drink way too much coffee.

 

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 small country with a big heart

As a finn myself, I see Finland as a country of trust. That is the core and heart of our country and our whole society is based on that. We are really reliable, that makes us a little vulnerable and naive in some situations. I feel that finnish people often wanna believe in the good in other people. We are very optimistic about life and I think that is one of the reasons why Finland is often ranked as a happiest country in the world. 

Finland has an amazing nature! I can’t imagine anything better than spending hot summer nights on cottage, watching sunshine on the lake. Going to the sauna and jumping into the warm water to swim. Fully enjoying the moment with your whole body and mind. Finnish nature is something like any other.

Finnish people take care of each others. You can rely on people and promises are a very serious thing here – they must been kept.

Finland is safe – that’s the thing what can’t miss. You can basically walk outside any time of the day with minimum risk to get into danger. You can also let your kids walk to school on their own which is very unique thing on this world. You don’t have to be worried all the time.

Finnish people are often claimed to be shy, maybe even cold but I think that is really far from the truth. We sure appreciate our own personal space and silence is not feeling unnatural to us but that’s because we put a lot of value in every word we say to another person. Often we don’t say anything more, than it’s needed. We are really ”on the point” type of people. And I actually think that it’s one strength about us.

When you come to Finland, it is hard to miss the coffee culture in here. In fact, finnish people are the biggest coffee consumers on the world and you can notice it everywhere. We have coffee breaks at work, you drink coffee while visiting your friends or family, you have to get your morning coffee to stand up. Coffee is what keeps us finns up and going!

Last but not least – the sauna. There are saunas almost in every house or apartment building in the country – and we sure use them! It is our way to relax on the weekend – or just run away from cold weather. Finland is not Finland without our unique sauna culture. 

Finnishness is about trust, reliable people, coffee, soul-relaxing silence, amazing nature in the summer nights and of course hot saunas. Finland as a country is a home, place, where to feel safe and comfortable. Atleast for me.

Photos:

https://www.pexels.com/fi-fi/kuva/aamu-maisema-luonto-taivas-4081119/

https://pixabay.com/photos/bath-firewood-design-sauna-blow-1317997/

https://pixabay.com/photos/helsinki-cathedral-cathedral-church-4189824/

 

 

 

Finnishness

For me, Finnishness means lots of different things. The first thing that came to my mind is nature. I feel like most Finnish people have a close connection with it. There’s always nature nearby and you don’t have to walk far to find a forest. I love how easy it is to find a place where there’s no one else and you can just be alone and enjoy the silence and calmness. It’s the perfect place to collect your thoughts together if you feel stressed about something. Us Finns really appreciate the quietness and our own personal space.

I also love the contrasts in Finland such as the cold, long, dark winters and the warm, short, light-filled summers. Also, the change of seasons looks so beautiful in nature, especially in the autumn.

Even though the Finnish summer is short, there’s even more to do for example visiting the local markets, music festivals and amusement parks. The local markets in Finland offer lots of traditional Finnish foods and you should definitely go to one if you are visiting Finland. Finns love fish and I would recommend trying the traditional Finnish salmon soup or fried vendace. Afterwards, you should have a cinnamon bun with a cup of coffee. Did you know that Finnish people consume the most coffee in the world? Well, now you know!

My absolute favourite thing during the summer is to have a swim in the lake and go to a sauna after that. Sauna, swim, repeat! There’s nothing more Finnish than a sauna. In winter cross-country skiing is a must and would recommend that to anyone who’s visiting Finland during the winter. Nothing beats a cup of hot chocolate after your skiing session.

And you can’t forget mushroom hunting and berry picking. There are so many great things that nature offers us here!

 

Pakistani way of enjoying Finnishness

When talking about Finland often you will see people talking about how they are introverts and how boring it can get in Finland, if you do not know how to have fun that might be true.

Being a person who was born and raised in the hot region of Saudi Arabia while being from Pakistan, I already had a pretty high tolerance for weather and different kinds of people. Coming to Finland was more of an adventurous experience for me, with a mindset of achieving what I had in mind and making loads of connections which was a must given the studies at TAMK.

There are a lot habits I may have picked up on to better understand Finland and enjoy its all year round winter and most importantly keeping yourself warm and motivated in such weather. Although, coming from a hot place such as Saudi, my cold tolerance should have been little to none but even my Finnish friends are surprised as to how much I can take tolerate. On the other hand, I just believe Finnish people have low tolerance for cold at least the Finns in my circle.

MUNKKI

Image result for munkki"

This treat that is much more than just a sugar coated doughnut is the perfect combination with your morning coffee. Although I have not seen a lot of Finns do that but I guess I can get a bit creative when it comes to mixing up cultures and creating new combinations in general. Of course one is not enough and if you eat too much then you would be ruining your summer body, luckily for you there is a lot of time until summer, here in Finland. A fun challenge could be, as the famous saying goes you are a legend if you can eat munkki without licking your lips (as in cleaning the sugar that gets stuck to your lips and mouth), Try it the next time you have one or the first time you have one!

 

AVANTO

What I am about to tell you is going to blow your mind and you might think that is crazy talk but here in Finland we actually can prove that nothing is crazy talk we do crazy on daily basis. One of the best activities and a great way to bond with your friends or friends you just made is to go to Avanto. Although I am not quite sure what the activity is called but my friends and I have been calling it Avanto and that’s what we would like to call it for forever more. This is also a very interesting activity as you may learn a lot about your new friend circle or just a great way to better understand your friends and their personalities.

So imagine having -15 degrees which is not a lot in Finnish scale and image there is a hole in the lake within the ice/snow and you have a sauna that is almost always 95 degrees hot, now imagine combining these into a crazy adventurous activity cycle that lasts for usually an hour. Apart from the health benefits you can gain from such an exercise, you need to have certain amounts of guts and daredevil attitude to do something crazy like this. You start off by taking a shower and then relaxing in the sauna when you feel your body is  getting to hot or you feel as in you have enjoyed enough then you go to the hole or body of water in ice which is actually warmer than the temperature outside (usually 1-3 degrees) and you take a dip. I have not dip my head in the water all these years but I have been told you feel like you might pass out so remember, other than your head you can go crazy and dip in for as long as you want and then you come out (not to forget all of this happens outside so the -15 is not a foreign factor playing a part but your best pal in a way). After the dipping and if everything including your hair hasn’t already frozen and is about to fall you go back into the sauna and basically “melt off” and relax.

Although you can repeat the cycle as much as you want but do remember to take some sausages with you to fully enjoy the experience and needless to say all this hot and cold mess is going to make you very hungry. Image result for avanto"

SOLU

I still remember having a group with my friends called SoluBois, but this if you know TAMK you would know where to get your free coffee from and if you did not know, well now you know. Not only is it a place to just get free coffee but the Student Lounge is so relaxing and calming that it does give you a bit of extra motivation during your lecture breaks. I have been in various parts of the world in very interesting situations but Solu is by far the best place to meet new and interesting people, where you do have the sign of “No discrimination” but you still do discuss heavy politics and in general heavy topics with a person you JUST met. Of course all of that while respecting the other person and keeping it a healthy debate, however, time spent in Solu has definitely made it worth the while and almost certainly guarantees a smile on your face even if you have 10 minutes to spare.

My advice would be, before listening to people’s opinion about how boring it can get and how there is almost nothing to do in Finland try the activities locals do, the culture is filled with different sorts of vibrant and colourful stuff even if the weather is not so colorful. Definitely, trying avanto will grant you a lifetime experience and will certainly introduce something about your personality that you were not aware of.

Also don’t forget to eat a lot of munkkis and drink a lot of coffee so that you are hydrated and warm within your winter jacket.

Finnish Indulgence – Coffee and Korvapuusti

Apart from the obviously common Sauna, I want to introduce two favorite indulgences by the Finns – the bitter, slightly acidic, lightly roasted black coffee and the sweet, buttery, cinnamon-flavoured korvapuusti. The combination of sweet pie and bitter drink for an afternoon enjoyment reflects the Finnishness cherish for life.

 

(Picture by Paulig Barista Institute)

 

Coffee

Finns love coffee. According to the International Coffee Association, each Finn consumes 12 kilograms of coffee per year, or 2 – 3 cups per day. And the beverage is enjoyed by everyone: a college student who needs to meet his assignment deadline, a worker who needs a boost to kick-start his day, an elder who wants something to savor with her cake in the evening. In Finland, all people in working life are blessed with two legal 10-minute coffee breaks. And with a lunch break, it is understandable that 3 cups of coffee every day is normal for the Finns. The reasons for Finnish affinity for coffee remain inexplicable. Some people attribute their love to sentimental connections, as coffee appears in all sorts of celebrations or ceremonies: when a baby is born, Finns drink coffee; when a student enter College or graduate , Finns drink coffee; when people marry; Finns drink coffee; when one gets a promotion, Finns drink coffee. Coffee is attached to Finnish daily routine and significant memories.

 

Korvapuusti

To accompany their love for the dark caffeine drink, the Finns accompany a cup of coffee with a sweet buns. They have special term for this: pullakahvit. Usually, the bun is a korvapuusti – a pastry of flour, sugar and butter, cinnamon, and a dash of cardamom, sprinkled with large crystal of nib sugar on top. Co-founder and baker of artisan bakery Helsinki Homemade, Klaus Ittonen added “The special ingredients of the korvaapuusti is love…. The korvapuusti needs to be made with love in order to get it right. It sounds a bit silly but that’s the way it is”. Pullakahvit, coffee and bun, every afternoon is the Finnish highlight of the day. “An enjoyment that brings back memories from people’s childhoods… Good coffee paired with a homemade korvapuusti makes the world a better place” Ittonen shares his passion for this Finnishness.

 

Reference articles

https://www.baristainstitute.com/blog/jori-korhonen/september-2018/finnish-coffee-culture-one-kind

http://www.fallintofinland.com/about-finland/finnish-coffee-culture-lifecycle-of-coffee-addicted-finns/

https://finland.fi/arts-culture/exploring-the-finnish-affinity-for-coffee/

 

The makings of a Finn

What is Finnishness to a Finn? If you ask me, or pretty much any Finn around, there are certain things that will always show up: sauna, sisu, salmiakki. The “Three S’ of Finnish Survival”, if you will. But those three words are already quite well known and connected to Finnishness, so why wouldn’t I look into some other concepts that define a Finn?

Space

Finns are all about that space, whether it’s personal space or space for living. Personal space is well defined and wide-ranged, and entering it without permission is a cardinal mistake. It isn’t to say that Finns are rude – that is, most of the time – but we just simply enjoy our solitude when we are not actively engaging in a conversation with someone. Naturally, this wide personal space of Finns is also a source of many jokes as the one below (which, by the way, is painfully accurate):

Finnish Nightmares: Sharing a bus stop

Aside from valuing our personal space we also value the space around us. Finland is the eighth largest country by area in Europe yet our population is way smaller than any of the countries of the same scale – and even out of that the majority is concentrated in the southern coastline, leaving the northern half mostly natural and sparsely populated. Even in cities you can usually reach a forest quite easily, without the need to travel for hours on end. It isn’t unusual for us Finns to spend our holidays in the nature, away from the constant rush and stress, possibly relaxing at a desolate mökki cottage where the nearest neighbour can be kilometers away. After all, being constantly near other people can be very draining for a Finn!

Pride

Finnish pride is a concept that manifests in several ways. First of all, Finns are awfully proud to keep their face and will not ask others for help. In any situation. Ever.

If you see a Finn fall during winter they won’t wait for you to help – no, they glance around to see if anyone noticed, then scramble on their feet and pretend it didn’t hurt a single bit.

Finnish Nightmares: Being offered help

Finns are also very proud as a nation, which shows especially well whenever our weird little nation gets recognized in the world news, referenced in a work of art, or – and this is the real deal – whenever Finland beats Sweden in any sport ever, but especially in ice hockey. A common phrase for these occurrences is “Torilla tavataan” – “We will meet at the market square”, which means a great celebration is in order.

Coffee

Let’s face it, we just love our coffee. And not just any coffee, but the kind that doesn’t taste quite as rich as southern European dark roast, that makes your hands shake after a couple of cups, and that can be consumed without milk or sugar but only by those who have a stomach of steel. Perhaps it comes as a surprise, but Finland is on the top of the list of biggest coffee consumers in the world! Nowadays several different blends and special espresso-based coffees have taken their place in the café blackboards, but when it boils down to it, it’s the good old, slightly bitter cup with milk and/or sugar that really defines the Finnish coffee scene.

Finnish Nightmares: No coffee

 

(All images are from “Finnish Nightmares” by Karoliina Korhonen!)

A Love Confession for Finland

In this post I’d like to raise some topics about Finland from the immigrant’s point of view. I moved to Finland about four years ago and I think that was absolutely right decision. It’s a long story, but when I decided to move, I had no idea about the Finnish culture, local language and so on. So, here are a few aspects about Finland, some things that are close to me:

The language
As I mentioned above, I did not know a thing about the Finnish language and when I first came here and heard the speech around – the first thougths were that Finnish sounds just like some Asian language – Japanese or something. All these Ä and Ö on the signboards were amusing and unusual to me. It actually felt like a language of the aliens from outer space.
Indeed, Finnish is like no other! It has almost nothing in common with the most languages. But I gotta say – it was surprisignly easy to learn. Most people claim that Finnish is extremely difficult, but my opinion is – yes, the words are unusual, but it the grammar is very logical and it doesn’t have genders, yay! All in all, the Finnish language is unique and beautiful, it’s soft and pleasant to the ear.

Of course it has its challenges, but I’m used to it and I like Finnish very much. I use it everyday at school and work and I’m happy to know such a rare language. In the picture on the left you can see one of my everyday struggles.

 

 

 

 


Quality of life and the opportunities

The locals may not always notice this, but Finland is one of the best places to live in the world. It also gives incredible opportunities for people living here of any age and occupation. I was surprised, and I still am, how this country is able to use and allocate the resources making it possible to help students, unemployed people, people with disabilities and so on, just as an example. It is felt that the environment for life is made for people considering their needs.
A culture of caring is felt in different spheres of life, in big things and the details.

This topic can be discussed endlessly, so let’s move on.

The people
They say Finns are shy and prefer not to talk –
I don’t agree at all! I believe that this is just a stereotype that the most people just keep repeating.
99% of Finns are friendly and talkative enough. I really like Finns – mostly they are positive, responsible, rational and punctual. I like their love of hockey and coffee. Since I moved, I started to watch the games and drinking coffee everyday – true story! The culture had a sighnificant influence on me and I don’t mind.

Conclusion
Everything is relative and gets to know by comparison. All these things I took from my experience, but I’m sure you’re going to agree with some of the points.

P.S.: Thank you for everything, Finland.

Picture sources:
https://fi.pinterest.com/pin/463941199090502106/?lp=true
https://www.meme-arsenal.com/create/meme/326086
http://finnishnightmares.blogspot.com