Introducing the new Finnish: traveling mode

The stereotypical Finnish is not something very dear to me. I really am not fond of the term "suomalainen sisu" or other generic things like sausage, beer and sauna related culture. Don't get me wrong, I love sauna (especially the wood-burning ones) and ice hockey too.

But something about “romanticising” the awkwardness and sulkiness doesn’t sit well with me. And in my opinion, sometimes people are just using the Finnishness and “sisu” as an excuse to bad behavior. Not that it is always even done on purpose but I think the Finnish have a lot of trauma and that is why they (or we) behave like that. Of course this has a lot to do with history of Finland but let’s not study that now. It’s getting too dark otherwise.

Last weekend I was in Krakow and I had a interesting and honestly positive experience with being Finnish, which made me realise something. The Finnish are not the problem, the stress, work, darkness and long winter are. This is only a guess but listen. As I was walking with my friends to the main square, I slightly heard a small part of conversation from one of the outdoor tables of this one restaurant. I have no idea what had gotten into me at that moment but suddenly I stopped and tried to make sure I was not going crazy. I had heard Finnish. I turned around and took couple of steps towards them. There were maybe four Finnish men talking and I had to ask: “Did I just hear Finnish?”. The response was “Oh wow yes!” and then I awkwardly explained how I had to ask when I heard them. And response to that was “Of course, you can always say hi to a Finn when you meet one!”

Somehow that brief interaction made me happy. That’s when I realised that maybe, when the Finns are traveling abroad they forget about stressful things and that’s why we are so happy to meet each other outside of Finland. I don’t know, it’s just my own theory but I feel like I am free of the shackles of Finnish culture when I’m abroad. It seems that the environment has an certain kind of effect on us.

After that interaction, my foreign friends were laughing at me and they couldn’t understand why I just went to talk to random people. And in a way that was ironic because we, the Finnish are supposed to be those who don’t understand talking to strangers. On the other hand, I don’t know if other Finnish people would have done the same. Like I said, I don’t know what had gotten into me. But I told my friends that it’s not everyday when you meet a Finn. Come on, there are only about 5,5 million of us!


Leave a Reply

Processing comments...

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *