Blogs about Finland

I get a lot of comments from people who want to read about Finland and what it’s really like. And in the true Finnish public service spirit, I now provide you a list of good blogs about Finland I’ve come across.

Life in Finland

The blog describes itself as “Originally started as observations about various curiosities about living in Finland in comparison to my native Canada (northern Ontario), Life in Finland touches on the humourous, the political, the maddening, the strange and so on. I hope to bring you interesting tidbits on life in Finland. It’s always a learning process and it’s been fun let me tell you.”

She must have had a few choice words for me for having already taken her blog’s url. But it’s a vicious cycle, somebody had reserved Way Up North before I got around to starting this blog…

A French girl in Finland

The blog is rather aptly named and aims to share the author’s personal experience as a foreigner living in Finland. It’s written in both English and French.

Finnish from Afar

The author doesn’t live in Finland but has some weird fascination with the language and the country…

So happy reading!


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?

The Finnish mafia

The Finns are very organised, even when we’re abroad. We’ve even made sure we meet other Finns in a very organised manner. Most countries will have their own Finnish expat association or at least a community of Finns that meet on special occasions.

And we’re always excited to see other Finns. Others try to play it cool and ask me why would they want to meet other Finns when they’re abroad but I know secretly they relish the fact we can complain about whatever bugs us in that country and do it in our own little hermit language.

If you pair up two Finns in a party, they’re excited to see each other and will start going through a list of mutual friends. Americans on the other hand will try to hide the fact they’re American and dread the possibility of running into fellow countrymen. The Italians meet another Italian and just think “Oh yey, yet another…”

the Finnish mafia, organised like no other

Here in Brussels I’ve happened to run into a lot of Finns. Now I even work in an almost all-Finnish environment. I take part in events organised by the Finnish Association in Belgium and am a member of my party’s local Brussels branch.

I live with a Finn and whenever I go to a party, it’s likely I’ll bring a long a few of my friends – who might just happen to be Finnish.

This tendency to hang around with Finns prompted my Italian colleague to comment on it and claim that we’re like a Finnish mafia. I thought it had something to do with being a criminal organisation, but he assured me it all starts by knowing each other.

Who knows what we’ll evolve into.

Now where is Finland?

Being a Finnish expat is, most of the time, wonderful.

There’s never any trouble crossing borders – just a flash my Finnish passport and a look of boredom will appear on the Customs official’s face as they see it’s only another boring Finn. Once on a train from Belgium to the Netherlands border patrol was about to give me a hard time for not having my passport with me but then they saw my Finnish driver’s license and literally said: “Oh, Finland, it’s ok!”

Sometimes, however, my country’s modest existence exhibits itself in people having no clue as to where it is.

The British are particularly bad at this. I put on my best British accent during my first year of university in Newcastle to avoid the dreaded inevitable question: “Where are you from?”

Because that, my friends, is a conversation killer if I’ve ever seen one.

Answer Finland and you’ll get one of the two responses: “Oh. That’s nice” and the person walks away.

Or: “So, how’s that like?” To which I answer one these: “Nice/Cold/Why do you think I’m here now?” which also ends up in the person walking away.

I’m sure some of my more sarcastic responses have resulted in people walking away thinking it’s a freezing tundra where polar bears roam free.

A Danish friend of mine, however, started singing this song