Having been living in Finland for more than 2 years, it is still complex to convey “Finnishness” in the most succinct or dictionary-like way. Since the word itself consists of the whole nature as well as the culture of the country. Therefore, I would like to describe it with my little experiences as an adapting alien here.
I was born and raised in a Southeast Asian country where all the skyscrapers are being built parallel with the growth of the massive population, where all people are hustling in the never-sleep city. Hence, coming to Finland is like a breath of fresh air to me at that time. Instead of being overwhelmed by concrete jungles in the city, I was amazed by how well nature blends among the modern city and the ancient European architecture; instead of being hustling, people here slowly enjoy their day under the sunlight. Everything is too pure and peaceful, but that peacefulness will turn into tons of laughing and talking in the sauna, where all the shyness was taken place by the more joyful version of Finns.
However, the honeymoon phase passed pretty quickly, since the summer here is much shorter than winter. Growing up in a tropical country whose temperature is never below 25 degrees Celcius, the first time I saw snow and exposed up to -20 degrees was crazily unforgettable. But, the cold made people closer to each other. Because we will spend more time at home to share the cozy atmosphere with a hot cup of tea, scented candles and some movie nights can bring happiness to the Finns. If you think of happy as how safe you feel when walking alone at midnight, how such a simple thing like a hot tea in a cold day or just unexpected sunlight on a winter day brings joy to you, how peaceful your mind is when you are embraced by the mesmerizing nature instead of how big your house is, how rich you are; Finnishness could cover the meaning of that simply happy.
Almost all Finns honestly admit of their being introverted and shy. They are normally reluctant to start a conversation with their friends let alone strangers. Shy as they are, they never overlook your achievement. Every Finns I know is very supportive like encouraging others with compliments or always ready to help you. I could say Finnishness is the quiet but reliable and supportive friend that everyone needs.
Adapting to a new culture is not easy especially from Asian to Finnish one. I am still on the journey of learning and exposing myself to the Finnishness and I am sure that it is one of the milestones in my adulthood adventure