Culture shock the Finnish way

Culture shock, the unavoidable fact of life for all who move abroad. Some seasoned travellers will say they never experienced one. I say they’re lying.

We all have our own way of dealing with it but the Finns have their own particularities even in this case.

I would claim there are five stages to culture shock:

  1. The stressing bit
    • Moving to a new country, dealing with the local bureaucracy, trying to grasp your head around the whole small talk concept… All these will puzzle a little Finn.Not to mention the whole notion of arriving to a new country without a place to live – the ultimate test for the organised Finn.
    • When you make those new friends, you find the cheapest watering holes in town and discover that the people are a lot more friendly and smiley and the alcohol is a gazillion times cheaper than in Finland.
  3. The Routine
    • When you finally figured out that in order to do anything, you need to carry around your last gas bill. Or you should say sorry or please or “ummfffff” (that I made up) all the time.Essentially when you don’t feel obliged to go to every party just to meet new people and have finally settled on a possé of your own.The little things that you get to know after a while that make you feel like you’ve properly settled in now.
  4. The Fuck-my-life-I-just-want-to-go-home period
    • It may come only after a few months, it might take years but eventually all you want to do is to complain about whatever stupid country you’re living in and compare it to Finland. Preferably you do this with other Finns.Most of your complaints will start by “But in Finland this always works out like this..” Because in Finland everything always works out. Usually follows a major disaster with local authorities or companies.
  5. It is what it is
    • The Acceptance. The country you live in might suck in some way. But you’ve also come into terms with the fact that Finland isn’t perfect either. You’re now permanently stuck between these two countries, mentally and physically.

With a show of hands, who’s experienced a culture shock?


4 thoughts on “Culture shock the Finnish way

  1. Oh yes, sounds very familiar. My culture shock came after like 4 years, and 2 years later I’m still not completely moved on to the acceptance part. I mean finland also sucks sometimes, but i still think its much better in many ways.

  2. I’ve experienced many of them, being from Ireland. Having moved to Prague to work three years ago, but spent half of every year in a different country (because of work) meant I could’ve been stuck between three or even four mindsets at any one time. Examples include work (Prague) sending me to Manchester for six months from June 2010 to Dec 2010, Helsinki straight after that for four months, then back to Prague for 10 months, and then finally Helsinki again for another six months. I was so confused!

    Anyhow, I’ve moved back to Ireland a couple of weeks ago (for the foreseeable future), and the reverse-culture-shock has been immensely frustrating.

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