I have lived my whole life inFinland, in the bigger cities and also on the countryside, almost half and half. While I’m in Tampere I feel like a proper city girl, all urban and fancy. And then I go to the countryside or to the nearest forest and find my inner eräjorma (there is no translation for this word, but I feel ranger would be the closest alternative, someone who can survive in the “wild”). And I love it! I love that I can feel fancy or down to earth whenever I want. I live relatively close to the city center and yet the closest forest is less than 2 kilometers away.
To me this is the strength of Finland and in particular the strength of Tampere. The nature is everywhere. I was devastated when some of the trees on the main street, Hämeenkatu, were cut down because of the building of the tram, that damn tram. Those trees had been there for decades, and where a big part of why I loved Tampere. I get why they had to go but still *insert crying emoji*. Thankfully there are still parks near the center and it hasn’t yet become a total concrete jungle.
And now quick before you think I’m a crazy treehugger I’ll jump into one of my favorite topics, fashion and design. Finland is the Mecca of simplistic design, among the other Nordic countries. Especially the current theme in all designing is simplicity, eco-friendliness and nature. For example, the clothing and fabric company Marimekko is well known for their nature inspired and/or simplistic patterns.And the glass and tableware company Iittala is most known for their modern design. To me this speaks very loudly of us finns. We like simple things, we love the nature and we let it show.
In conclusion to me Finnishness is taking care of the nature, enjoying the simple things in life, like being able to go to the forest and listen to the silence and breathe in the clean air.(Funny story; I was at a concert a while ago and the singer said that the first thing they noticed in Finland was how clean the air is! Haha so funny..) Finnishness is also not liking the God damn tram worksite, which is making me crazier by the hour. Finnishness is being crazy, too! Most of us are more or less crazy.
Finnishness – what it is? Each of us is different, but generally we love our own peace and space. Many Finns dream of their own cottage in a quiet place without the city noises, and possibly with no neighbors at all. Finnish National Landscape could be a summery calm lake, cottage’s sauna, and a loon that breaks the otherwise perfect silence. We enjoyed the quiet of the nature and we respect the personal space of others. We don’t bother even there is silence with other people. Many foreigners may keep us as boring and calm and become anxious of a quiet moment. While the Finns get anxious when someone comes too close to us or an unknown person starts chatting with us.
Small talk is an abomination to many Finns – we do not have it in Finland, so we do not know how to act in these situations. Often Finnish respond very briefly and unnaturally conversation to partner or talking too much. In both cases, the Finnish feels uncomfortable and of the conversation. We aren’t intentionally rude we just do not know what should we do.
Finns do what they have promised. Being Finnish also includes to be at the agreed place at the agreed time – not late, but not too early at all. This is why it is sometimes hard for us to understand the concept of time in different cultures or even if the bus is late.
Although the Finns can sometimes seem like toneless and serious we can also lark around. It tells many special competitions such as Air Guitar World Championships, Wife Carrying and swamp soccer. Air Guitar World Championships is known internationally and the event attracts participants from around the world. Today, many countries have even qualifying for the finals.
Wife Carrying is also well-known competition in the world. In this competition a man carries a woman through an obstacle course as quickly as possible. The Wife Carrying World Championship is held every summer.
Finnish Sisu (a word that can’t be translated directly, but which could be described with the words: tenacity, perseverance and willpower) partly based on The Swamp Soccer World Championship also attracts competitors from around the world in Finland. Those competitions reveal that Finnish humor is very personal and the Finns are adept users of sarcasm.
I believe that Finnishness and getting to know Finns requires perseverance and patience from a foreigner. However, after winning the trust of Finns people get a reliable and long-time friend.