This is the question I have been asked probably about 100 times ever since I moved to Finland in October 2007. Finland is known as cold and dark, people drink a lot and they have a rather high suicide rate as well. Oh and people are shy.
Well, there’s of course a lot of stereotyping in it and it’s all the negative things which stand out but most of it the fact mentioned above are not as bad as they are usually said.
- Yes, it is rather cold here, but it’s not too much difference from the place where I come from in Germany. I used to live in the Ore Mountains and usually there was/is rather lot of snow as well and temperatures can easily drop below -15. After all, some winters are really cold (like in 2010) or milder, no matter where you live. But I have to say that generally the winter and snow lasts a little longer and at some point you actually get offended when it snows again, while other countries can sit outside already and actually have spring.
- The winters might be longer and colder here, but most people tend to forget that we have long summer nights when it’s basically not getting dark at all, and if it’s more like dawn. While some people have serious problems to deal with it, I really love it. You can go for a run at 1am because the sun is shining already. Not so bad after all! And while Germany was drowning in the flood last summer, I spent my days at the beach. Again – some summers are warmer and some summers aren’t (like 2012 – mostly rain and cold).
- “People drink a lot.” – that’s true to a certain point. I remember when I moved here and I saw many young kids being drunk, but I have the feeling it got a bit better during the last years. And once reason for that may also be that I am coming from a very small town; I guess the issue is different in bigger cities, though. Still there are studies that actually show that Germans consume more alcohol than Finns,
which might be because of the high taxation on alcohol.One fact that is true that Finland has the highest coffee consumption per head.
- I’m not sure about the suicide rate. Maybe it’s true, maybe not. I, personally, don’t know anyone who has committed suicide and I’m rather happy about it.
- It’s true that people are usually more “shy” although I’m not sure if that’s even the right word. They are just more introverted and it takes them longer to open up and very long time to call someone a friend. “Kaveri” is commonly used for someone you know, even for long time already. So it means more like “acquaintance” than friend. A friend means “ystävä” and is usually really someone you like a lot/love. But still, once Finns open up to you they are really nice and ready to help you.
However, I will tell you more about my love for Finland in part 2, so stay tuned!