Friday, February 25, 2011

The Sauna

During my first few years in London, one of the questions frequently posed by my Finnish relatives was "Do you miss the sauna?" At the time I always truthfully replied no. However, my appreciation for the sauna grew as I grew older. Today, I can't imagine anything better than a sauna after a long day at work. Always when on holiday in Finland, I enjoy going back to traditions, things that remind me of my childhood and obviously sauna is a part of virtually every Finn's live from an early age.

I think the statistic goes 'Two million saunas for five million people'. That just shows how that little hot room, which is considered luxury in many countries, is a standard thing for Finns to have.

I tried to explain the purpose of the sauna to a London friend of mine who is half Colombian. I discovered that to be an impossible task as by the end of it she still would not comprehend why a room should be used up like that.

I have a feeling that unless you have grown up with a sauna or at least been using one for several years, it is difficult to grasp the feel of total relaxation and to enjoy the sweet warmth of the sauna. Especially during the cold, Nordic winters it feels amazing to be sitting in a sauna watching the fire in the kiuas and occasionally glancing out of the little window at the layer of snow which appears blue in the darkening evening.

On the other hand, we have even managed to make a contest out of sitting in the sauna. Watch a video on the Sauna Championships here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Finnish personality trait cont.

Just a short continuation to earlier post as I found a video which, in a hilarious way, sums up the stereotypical Finn at the start (up to 2:45). The rest, about the tango, is funny to watch but, before watching this video, I had never heard that tango would be anything especially associated with Finland.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Finnish personality trait and Observation #1

I have tried to grasp why other nationalities consider Finns cold and fairly unapproachable. The main reason that it seems to come down to is that Finns don't talk much. Because they don't, one never knows what they are thinking. That's scary. When you feel them looking at you with those piercing blue eyes (but avoiding eye-contact at all costs), you feel that they know too much. You start over-thinking the reason for why there is no eye-contact. There is an unspoken air of intelligence about Finns and one may feel that they look down on you.

Finns only speak when they have something to say. Small-talk eventually becomes a second nature when you live in the UK for instance but it only takes one look at the Finnish translation for 'small-talk' to realise that it is not something common. An online dictionary gives: 'rupattelu', 'jutustelu', 'small talk'. How often does one hear the two first mentioned words in everyday life? Somehow they remind me of old ladies who start narrating their life story to you on the bus. No offense to old ladies, but I am sure I'm not the only one who considers situations like that uncomfortable. I wonder whether the Finns who end up staying in the same space with me for a while get the same feeling. I have probably learnt to talk 'too much' in the opinion of a Finn (I cannot be sure, because they would never express their opinion out loud unless possibly if they know you well).

The Finn observation of the day: When standing and waiting for the lights to change at a pedestrian crossing, Finns tend not to stand one next to another even if the crossing is wide. Instead, they will stand diagonally one behind the other so each of them still has a clear view of the crossing.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The essential introduction

I was planning on blogging in Finnish to begin with but I think I have settled for English now. It's easier for me anyway. And if I feel like it, I could always change. Finnish is my native language so feel free to comment in that as well. I also speak fluent Swedish and decent French, if you prefer. :)

Briefly about me: I moved to Espoo, Finland at the beginning of January after spending 4,5 years in London, the capital of the United Kingdom. By ethnicity I am as Finnish as one can get: my entire family are citizens of this particular Nordic country (apart from a few cousins several times removed whose grandparents moved to the USA almost a century ago) which most people know nothing about. Despite being back in my native country, I have come face to face with a culture shock which will feature in my blog.

For more info about me, please have a look at the second tab at the top of the page :)