Although I am not officially a Finn (yet), meaning that I don’t hold a Finnish passport, I think of myself as one. This is the place I’ve been calling home for the past 4,5 years, where I finished high school, and where I first found love. My Finnishness comes from inside of me, built by experience and consciously developed through actions throughout my time here. And while most people might mention the sauna, nature, or traditions; for me, it is a lot more than that.
So what is Finnishness to me?
Loyalty and friendship: One may say that Finns aren’t friendly or that it is hard to start a conversation and talk to them, however, it isn’t true. While they will avoid small talk, when it comes to real friendships and deep and meaningful relationships, you cannot find more loyal people. They will be there for you, no matter what, let you shine, and lift you up if necessary. I think this is just a cultural thing.
Freedom: Finland to me equals liberty and responsibility that comes with freedom. It is the freedom of being whoever you want to be and not being questioned for your decisions. It is the freedom of opportunity and chances, meaning that not everyone is equal but all have the equal chance and freedom to be someone. And it is the freedom to live safely, happily, and in comfort.
Proakatemia: A huge part of my Finnishness is connected to Proakatemia, the place where I became an adult and the place that gives me the above-mentioned things, loyalty, friendships, and freedom. It is more than a school, even more than a community. Really, it is a difficult thing to explain what exactly it is, but just a feeling.
So, while I love the sauna and all other things that are Finland on a surface level, it is sometimes nice to reflect on other dimensions of this place that although not perfect, has given so much to me.