Tag Archives: nature

Finnishness

Finnishness means many things to me. The first thing that comes to my mind is the Finnish Independence Day on the 6th of December. All Finns gather to celebrate and honor the independence our grandparents fought for. I believe this day is the heart of all Finnishness.

The nature in Finland is clean and beautiful with its four seasons. I have been living in Northern Finland for my whole childhood before moving to Tampere.  In winter it can get extremely cold and in summer the sun is shining around the clock. Finland is also known for its northern lights, which people around the world come to see.

Finns are described as quiet, calm and humble people, which is often true. At first, Finns are not very open people but when you get to know them better, they can be very friendly and easy going. It can take a little longer to get to know them but the friendships are strong and will most likely last for a lifetime. The easiest way to understand and make friends with Finns is to go to the sauna with them. Most people in Finland have their own sauna and this is a very important tradition for us.

Finland is one of the safest and most equal countries in the whole world. Also, the education and healthcare systems are top-notch. It is great to live in a free country where everyone has the same opportunities. I’m proud to be Finnish.

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 on Finnishness

Typical Finnish people are quiet, humble and very reserved. Most of us don’t want to be in the center of attention or getting any public credit. We just want to do our own thing without drawing any attention towards ourselves. Finns are usually very quiet and don’t bother to do any small talk and the worst thing one could do is to be too loud in the morning bus. It is the respectful thing towards others that everyone just sits  there looking grumpy and tired. However, once you get to know to them better you’ll see that Finns are actually very fun and warm people. We are also really proud of our culture and history, especially the “guts” (sisu) we showed in the war against soviets, sauna, our pure nature and our success in winter sports. In Finland we have all four seasons and we always try to get best out of them. In summertime many Finns like to spend much time in their summerhouses and in winter to do winter sports like skiing or snowmobiling.

Brown Wooden Dock on Body of Water          Green Pine Tree Covered With Snow

In Finland everything is too good nowadays. Things are so good that people don’t appreciate anything anymore, especially younger generation, and everything good is taken for granted. In Finland everyone can become a doctor, for example, no matter what their socioeconomic background is. We get paid for studying here, and still many students are angry when some of their financial aid is cut by couple of euros! Sometimes too much negativity is very tiring and we should focus more on good things and value our great country and opportunities it offers for everyone equally. I am proud to be a Finn.

 

The most authentic part in Finnishness

One of the most authentic experiences I love about Finland and Finnishness is a proper cottage experience. The best Finnish cottage is kind a rough and simple cottage in the middle of nowhere on the shore of lake or sea. You should not be able to see your neighbors to be fully relaxed.

The best moments about being on the cottage are the evenings and nights on the warm summer nights when the sun does not set at all. You can sit on the porch with your friends and family all night and complain about mosquitos and how those creatures are the most useless things in the whole world. You can also just sit there quietly and sip your drinks and just listen the sounds of the nature. It is almost enchanting to do that, the longer you do are quiet the more sounds of nature you will hear.

 

To have a full Finnish cottage experience, sauna and grilling must be included in equation. After sweating in wood cottage sauna, a freshening dip into lake is on point. And again, the porch is playing major role also in sauna experience. You will come out, sit on some bench, and have a conversation like this; “Phew, the wood sauna is something else”. After that you put fire in the grill and grill sausages or something else easy to eat.

For me, these cottage experiences are must haves at least couple times in summer. It brings me to origin Finnishness, own peace, the most important people around you, surrounded by nature and calmness in your heart and soul.

Experience “Finnishness” as a Russian

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.

 

 

Proud of my Finnishness

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.

 

Finns are special. Or are they?

“Finnish culture is so unique!” Why is it always the Finn who brings this fact up and not the foreigner? Also, why Finns do not like to talk about themselves and are generally quite reserved, but when the conversations’ focus shifts from individual people to one’s culture, the quiet Finn rises from the corner table and talks hours on end about our sisu, sauna and Koskenkorva? This picture sums up my thoughts quite well. Our culture is not in the minds of foreigners even though we believe so.

 

In regular conversations about Finland, the most common topic Finns bring up is how Finnish language is among the hardest for foreigners to learn, as if it would be some kind of trophy to be proud of. The funny thing is that this notion among Finns is not even true. Recent study has shown that Finnish is not considerably harder to learn than other languages. The misconception of “Finnish being hard” in itself causes the language to become hard to learn for some because it discourages them to even begin. While it is true that a new language completely different to your own might be difficult to learn, it is far from impossible like some Finns boast.

This is not to say that our nation wouldn’t be unique from the rest. The sheer fact that our country is over one thousand kilometres long guarantees that there’s bound to be many distinct sub-cultures which makes our culture as a whole very diverse. There are many things in the Finnish culture none other culture has, but in all honesty, which culture is not like that? All cultures are unique in some way, Finns just seem to make a big deal about it.

Also, Finns laugh at foreigners for believing that there would be polar bears here. In fact, there are at least two, in Ranua zoo. Who’s laughing now, Finland?

-Arttu

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/

 

 

 

What Finnishness is

When people hear about Finland, they think about snowy winters,  vast forests, endless amount of lakes, the Finnish sauna, the almighty Nokia and probably even polar bears (yikes). These things are mostly nature-related but I think the true Finnishness is in our personality. We have great national pride and that really shows when we achieve anything significant.

Everybody unites at the point of victory and even though we might be regarded as a tad shy and quiet, nobody is quiet when we qualify for European championship in football or win the ice hockey world championship. That’s the moment when everybody unites and celebrates as a one big group, which is the purest form of Finnishness if you ask me.

Even though the Finnish bureaucracy might be annoying at some points, travelling around the world has shown how well everything works in Finland (except VR), and that’s something we should be proud of. As some wise guy has once said “It’s a lottery win to be born in Finland”!

Difference between finnishness

I was borned in Eastern Finland near the National Park Koli. I have been living  there my first nineteen years of my life and enjoyed it a lot.  After high school it was time to move forward to study some interesting for me, so I moved to West Finland Southern Ostrobothnia.

People are different in different parts of Finland. In East Finland we used to talk lot about our personal life and happenings, but in West Finland it takes time to make friends and get the trust to invite you in someone others homes. People in Eastern Finland are more open and take people as friends really quickly. We like to be open minded and show our personality straight.

I´m posing naked at Koli and it’s okay for me. So I understood very quickly, that no need to go further out to sea to fish, as us Finnish people like to say, to understand difference between our little country and how people feel and think about your talking and acting about your personal life.