So, I renewed my passport. The ball is rolling, people! My friend and I are going to see a travel agent as soon as we can, but we have to go all the way to Helsinki to do that and we’re struggling to make our schedules meet. Soon!
In other news, I read an interesting article today.
Helsinki: 10 tips for visiting the capital of Finland
Okay, I won’t dwell on it too much but let me just point out that our summers are warmer than +17C (62F) and it’s extremely rare for it to go down to -50C (-58F) in Lapland. The thing about the saunas is true, the pub thing is accurate (tho we call them bars) but honestly, we don’t all eat reindeer meat and lingonberries all the time. In fact, I’ve only tried reindeer meat once, and I hate lingonberries with a passion.
The architecture though? If you can call grey concrete boxes architecture then be my guest, but in my opinion there are only like two or three buildings worth seeing in Helsinki.
I wanted to mention the article though, because it makes excellent points about how us Finns act.
Finns do not like to interrupt: a typical chat includes healthy stretches of silence, ensuring no one’s cut off prematurely.At the same time, the Finnish language lacks the words for “please” or “excuse me.” The result is that what may seem to outsiders an awkward, borderline rude exchange is simply everyday conversing for Finnish folks.
This!! This right here!!! All of this!!! I always forget to add “please” to the end of my sentences and I always come across as rude because of it, but I’m not doing it on purpose, I swear! We do not have a direct translation for the word “please”, I think the closest thing would be “be kind” or “be nice” but to me those sound very childish and almost patronizing.
This other article has very interesting points as well. It describes Finland in the 1990’s like this:
Correspondent Morley Safer and his team revealed Finland to be a place where “melancholy, sorrow and shyness abound.” They also revealed “no one looks anyone in the eye” because “to be noticed is an embarrassment, to take notice an affront.”
That is still true to this day. Here’s us 20 years later:
“For Finns, it is extremely rude to interrupt someone. This leads to us making pauses or taking our time to talk.”Thus foreigners may interpret this basic display of Finnish silence/politeness as being “shy or rude or even depressed.” To summarize: for many nationalities a conversation where no one says “please” and there are long pauses is troubling; in Finland it’s par for the course.Some Finns still “will never say ‘hi’ or look you in the eye,” though many others are “overtly chatty, friendly and open.”
I wish I could show these articles to everyone who’s ever called rude.
I’ll always remember these three English guys I met in New Zealand, we were sharing a room in a hostel and they were always trying to do small talk with me, asking how my day was and what my plans were, and of course… “How are you”.
I always answered their questions and went back to minding my own business but I never inquired about their daily lives, mostly because I didn’t think it was any of my business. One day the guys confronted me about why I was so rude to them and if they had done something to piss me off, and I was just like… What? Nothing? What’s going on? I had no idea these people thought I hated them, I actually thought I had been very outgoing and social with them. I tried to explain how my culture works, but of course, they didn’t believe me.
Another funny thing happened in Australia. I was sharing a room with an Uruguayan guy and I told him about how Finnish people work, and instead of dismissing me as rude, he made it his mission to teach me how to do small talk. Every day he’d ask me how I was doing, if I had slept well, what I was going to do that day, how my day had been so far etc etc, and I tried to engage in the conversation but it felt really alien to me. I don’t know this person, why would I ask them about their day?
Long story short; one day the guy got back from work and as soon as he got through the door, I stared him dead in the eye and asked how his day was. It made me uncomfortable, it made him uncomfortable, it made everyone else in the room uncomfortable, and we agreed it would be best if I never tried to do that again.
I’d like to point out that while I don’t want to come across as rude, I don’t particularly care about being polite either. I’ll only be civil to people as long as they’re civil to me, and I don’t put on an act just to please someone. If I like you, I like you, and if I don’t, then I don’t. You’ll know if I don’t.
Finally, I’d like to add this picture here because I think it shows perfectly what being Finnish is like.