I was born in a small town called Vaasa. When I was a child, we used to spend summers with my family at our cottage by the lake Lappajärvi 120 km from Vaasa. It was the place I learned to swim. I think I was spending most of my time in the lake. It was so much fun to play in the water. My mom has told that I was very interested in nature. I was always searching the ground. In school years I was a scout girl and enjoyed to spent time hiking in the forest.
My definition of Finnishness is Finnish nature. If I stay for a long time abroad nature is that thing what I miss from Finland. I have visited 48 countries around the world. For foreigners who like to experience the Finnish nature, I recommend a hike in Lapland or a cottage vacation by the lake.
I have been hiking in Lapland several times. There is something magical in nature, in the sound of silence and the freshwater what you can drink straight from the stream. Landscapes are amazing with mountains, streams, and reindeer. I recommend a hike in the middle of August when there are fewer mosquitos, but still quite warm. You can sleep in a tent or book a cottage. There is also an opportunity to sleep in cottages which are free for anyone to spend night example in Urho Kekkonen National Park.
Currently, we have a new cottage located in the countryside middle of the fields, by the lake Lappajärvi. It’s my place to relax and get new energy. It’s the place where I forget daily life’s stressful challenges. There I just am. There I used to meet my family, fish, paint, cook or read a book. Fields are long, the ground is quite flat, there are not many hills and no high buildings, you can see the whole sky above you. You can see nature speaks to you.
For me Finnishness has not always been clear. When on elementary school we were studying English, we went through what does the people often do when they are in the UK or other English-speaking countries. That has made the stereotypes of Finland clearer, and when growing up there are somethings that I have recognized as “Finnishness”.
Talking (or not speaking out loud)
Finns often tend to be comfortable with silence. When we eat, we don’t speak. It is a common rule and it is often quite amusing when you start to think about it in the middle of a dinner with your friends or family. Being comfortable with the silence is a good thing, since then the matter we speak of can be found more valuable than only speaking to make some noise. Also, often silence says more than words.
Wood is everywhere and it represents the Finnishness for me. It is used in floors, ceilings, chairs, tables, saunas etc. Home decoration is quite important for me, and in Finland there are two types of people: the ones whose home is a “wooden home” or the stereotypical Scandinavian home. Now the wood itself has become a huge trend, which can be seen even in several clothing brands like Wulf&Supply and Woobs & Fellows.
Globally, hiking is a topic which separates people in two; the ones who love it and the ones who hate it. But in Finland, hiking is highly in common and people tend to do it even on their summer cottages. The nature of Finns is to love summer cottages, where are the bugs and mud, so how could we not love hiking and the forests.
All Finns stereotypically love winter sports; one does skiing, other skating, someone loves to cross country ski. The matter is to go outside and enjoy the cold.
Appreciation for school
Finns are taught to do their homework since primary school. The appreciation for school and the school system has been taught when we go to the first grade. Appreciation can also be seen on how the system appreciates the teachers: it is highly valuable profession. It is hard to get in to the universities, where one can study to become a teacher.