10 Things about Finland

When I was in Brazil I wrote “10 things about Brazil”:https://saliamariama.wordpress.com/2015/05/21/160/

Now I’ll share some differences between France and Finland which I keep noticing everyday since one month…

1. Trains: Firstly, there are no TGV-trains here. Only the “normal-ones” , and whit those you travel during 8 hours the same distance that in France you would do in 3 hours! And the price-difference is not so remarkable.

And another thing are the “pet-compartments” in trains! In France, people traveling with their cats, dogs or other animals, stay in the same  space than other passengers. In Finland those who travel with their pets need to book a seat in the special car, only for people with pets.

2. Recycling: I hear my mother complaining all the time, that the recycling possibilities are not made easy enough that people could sort all their garbage easily. And that drives me crazy! Compared to France, or other southern countries, the Finnish recycling system is AMAZING. All buildings have at least 3 or 4 different bins: for paper, compost, glass, other waste… And in different neighborhoods with houses, are always places people can bring their recycling wastes.  Usually in those places you find a possibility to recycle everything: aluminum, cardboard, paper, clear AND dark glass and so on. AND everybody ALWAYS brings all the bottles and cans to the market, because they always get a pledge from each bottle they give back.

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In this same category goes also the great Flea Markets, which are many and work super-well!

When I arrived to Finland I noticed very quickly that I need to buy a pair of shoes, because I actually had only ballerinas, sandals or baskets, but not normal tennis to go out with the dog…. And it was cold, and wet all the time. Anyway, I decided to go to the biggest Flea Market in the city where, in few minutes I found a proper pair of ‘Converses’ for 6 euros. And there was a lot of choice!  This was something I really missed in France, even there are other possibilities to recycle your clothes on internet for example, this system is the best for me.

3. Restaurants: Each time when  I come to Finland, the first times I always forget that in bars and coffe places we need to order in the desk, and not sit on table and wait that someone comes to take the order. If I do that I’ll probably wait for a very long time…

Another thing which makes me a little surprised as I’m not used to this anymore, is the serving/closing time in restaurants. The kitchens usually closes early and Finnish waiters really respect the closing time. I’ve heard very many times “sorry, we can’t serve anymore because we’re closing soon…” or “Excuse-me, I need to close, could you leave?” In France they usually serve until last clients are happy and close when there are no clients anymore. The customer service works differently depending on countries and culture ;).

4. Distances: In a town like Tampere, but even in Helsinki, the distances are so small that you can get very fast everywhere! After living in a city like Paris, it’s amazing that I don’t need to count 30 min to 1 hour to get to meet a friend. Usually by bike I’m everywhere in 10-15 minutes. And for crossing the country, one day by car is enough!

5. Riding: It’s such a pleasure to ride a car when there’s no-one anywhere! They are saying that there’s a lot of traffic in Finland on some hours of day, but really…. The don’t know what means “a lot of traffic” here! 😀 What ever if t’s in the city, or on long distances, I’m always feeling that there’s no-one anywhere.

6. Sauna: Very basic and so good. Almost all houses, buildings and apartments have a sauna. And that’s one of the best things in Finland. And it’s very normal to go naked to sauna with your workmates or your boss (same sex of course) or with friends on opposite sex.

7. Finnish conversation: This is less positive. I’ve been talking about this with friends who’ve been living abroad or who’ve moved to Finland from another country, and everybody says the same: “It’s impossible to have a conversation with Finnish people who are not very good friends, especially men”. It’s just not part of Finnish culture to have any “small-talk” and usually when ‘foreigners’ are trying to start a conversation by asking some questions all they get is a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. If the person asking the question was waiting to have something more, he can wait for a long time… Except, with drunk Finns! They are so much more friendly and talkative after a few beers or shots ;).

They are usually also very correct and quit polite, but when they got drunk they are completely other people. Of course this is very general, but most of foreigners have noticed that!

8. Nature: It’s everywhere! Even when you’re living just next to the city center you have some forest and lakes around. There are so much good places for running and biking, and you always have a feeling of being in the nature.

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9. Coffee: Finnish people drink A LOT of coffee. Actually a friend just told me that it’s said that Finland is one of the first coffee consumer – country in the world! And I’m not surprised… They have some coffee on morning with the breakfast, then they have at least one cup during the morning at work, another one on lunch-time, then another one on afternoon, and sometimes more when they get home from work… I have a feeling they are drinking coffee during the whole day!

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10. Always on time: Finnish people are always on time or even a little in advance. If they are 2 minutes late they send a message to inform about that. And once they’ve been waiting for someone during 5 minutes they call to know where is the person. And they don’t like if you’re late!

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And there are much more stories, for example how independent Finnish young are by moving out from home much earlier than people in southern countries and usually getting married earlier too, or how extreme Finns can be, without a  middle point existing, or how they keep a lot of feelings inside and let things happen without saying a word, or how in july-august everybody are picking a lot of berries and all the other fruits and vegetables for the winter………

But I’ll tell more another time ;).


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