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Finnishness from the viewpoint of a German

I still remember how people looked at me when I told them that I am going to live in Finland. And even after three years I still hear myself explaining why I didn’t choose a warm country with sunny beaches. The questions are always the same: Isn’t it very cold and dark there? Is the language really so hard to learn? Are the Finns really so quiet and restrained?

To be honest, the long darkness is a serious struggle for me and the Finnish language often drives me close to insanity.

However, this does not define Finnishness for me.

For me, Finnishness means:

Nature: Wherever you go in Finland, the next lake or forest is always close by. In Germany, if you are living in a bigger city, you often need to drive somewhere to be in nature and the few lakes we have are usually overrun with people.



Sauna: When I was a child I sometimes went to public saunas in Germany, but I never really enjoyed them. First of all, people must be naked (also in mixed saunas) and secondly, others will look sharply at you if you make a single sound. In Finland going to the sauna is more like an event where people are not only relaxing, but also socializing. Since I am living in Finland, I became a true sauna fan – especially during the cold winters.





Hospitality: Finns often seem very quiet, but their hospitality overrides this restraint. Before my studies I worked as au pair in a Finnish host family and from the first moment I felt welcomed there. During this year I received several visits from friends and family and my host family was always very happy to meet my guests and usually invited them to their summer cabin.




Finnish people have their very unique way of showing their pride of being Finnish. Unlike other countries we don’t wear Finland flags colors in our clothes etc. We have a more settle way of showing our pride. Here are few things that we are proud of and are happy to show others when talking about Finland.

  1. Sauna 

Oh how much we love the sauna. It’s a place were one can relax on your own or with family and friends and place to catch up on things with them. It is also a place were you are completely naked and present yourself the way you are.

2. Fazer


Fazer is a brand Finnish people seem to be proud of even though we don’t talk about it. Frazer is not originally from Finland but it has made it’s way to our hearts. Salmiakki is also popular on top of chocolates and other sweets. We are brought up to like this candy and it’s always fun to see foreigners trying it.

3. Nature

We might not have sun all the time but our nature finds a way to keep our spirit up even though its dark most of the year.  Most of Finland is covered with forest and lakes. Population is also spread quite a bit so there is always quiet place when one can relax.

4. Others

-School system

-Healt care

-Lack of small talk (good in a way that when you meet Finnish people they show their politeness by giving you space and getting to know you in time.)



Auf Wiedersehen mein liebes Finnland!

Right now I am sitting in a train from Rovaniemi to Helsinki, with a heavy suitcase on the seat next to mine.  Having spent a wonderful winter break at my sweet home in Lapland, I head to Germany with a lot of mixed thoughts and feelings. I am surely more excited I’ve ever been in my life before. Living and studying in Germany has belonged to my dreams since my childhood, and I’ve somehow always felt at home when I have been there before. However, Leipzig is a new town to me, and five months is the longest time I’ve ever been out of Finland. And I am gonna miss things, A Lot of things! This morning I had to say farewell to my parents and grandma, who all are very dear people to me. And all the sweet people that I have  had a wonderful privilege to work and spend time with in Tampere, I so hated to say good bye to them! But life goes on, and I am going to carry the good memories with me. And after all, its only five months till I’ll be back to Finland.

All right, lets cut this melancholy that hits you sooo easy when you’re a Finn, and give a great big hand for the future!  In case you who are reading this (and thank you indeed for your time! 🙂 ) didn’t know, I am a cellist, and I’m heading to one of the greatest music cities in Europe! Leipzig has been home for names such as Johan Sebastian Bach, Felix Mendelssohn and Robert Schumann, from which the latter two have been teachers in the same school I’m going to study at! One of the prides of Leipzig is also the city’s orchestra, called Gewandhaus orchester. It is one of the top orchestras in the whole wide world, and I cant wait to get to listen to it! I am also very very grateful for having a chance to meet, play chamber music and make friends with new people that I am gonna meet there, it’ll be great for sure!

I understood that in this first blog I should share my views about Finland and being a Finn. Because Finns never talk more than what is necessary, I am going to cut straight to the point in focus. So here’s what follows, no more nonsense. Please fasten your seat belt. Are you ready? All right, here we go. I’m just kidding. And being a bad Finn. 😉  Last Christmas me and my sister gave to our grandparents as a gift a book called Finnish nightmaresIt’s a book about the situations Finnish people stereotypically consider  as awkward. You’ve probably heard about it already, such a hilarious book! I sure can identify some of the stereotypes in my own personality as well, but on the other hand, if you see only the awkward situations, you’re, in my mind, missing the main point of a real Finnish character. To find that, you need to focus on the main character of the book. He is called Matti.


When you investigate how Matti interacts in the situations, you will probably notice that he is in fact quite humble, kind and caring person. Those are all good characters right? Of course a Finn might want to have little more own privacy than a person from Brazil, for Example. Or take a step backwards when a person from Paris comes to have a chat with him or her. But if you think that five and a half million people are spread over the area roughly as large as Germany with almost 90 million citizens, you’ll realize that that is how its ment to be. We have a lot of room per person here, lets be proud of that!

Furthermore, what I didn’t find from the Finnish nightmares, was the proudness and pure solidarity that lies deep in side of a Finnish person. Although in Finland it is very honorable to succeed in life personally, we are still people who can cooperate with eachother very, very well indeed. When Finns get together, what is needed to be done will get done in the fast and well planned way. (That can also be related to the hubleness and being caring, as a Finn doesn’t wan’t to waste the coworkers´ time by being inefficient. 😉 ) The proudness of a Finn can be seen in the endeavor for always doing everything well and right. When a Finnish person fails or sees something wrong in his or her character, that person is going to work hard to make things right in that area, to meet the high standards one has set to him or her.










So, tomorrow when I leave Finland, I will step into the plane as a Finn, proud of myself and proud of my country. I will probably be the last one to step out of the plane, as I will be carrying my cello with me in the cabin. ( And because there might not be many other Finns who want to be polite and give a way for everyone else first. 😉 ) I will miss the nature, snow, midnight sun, and good tasting water from a tab. More than that I will miss all the lovely people here in Finland, and the rich language that we have the privilege to use with each other. But although missing things, I am so much looking forward to the coming spring. Leipzig, you better brace yourself cause here I come!