From March until November, Finns are like characters from Game of Thrones. All they can say is, “Winter is coming” over and over again. And when winter comes, it is cold, dark, and unbearably long. Its darkness makes us tired and the cold ensures we stay indoors. As a result, during the winter months, our level of social interaction matches the temperature outside: -10. There is nothing else to do other than freeze at a bus stop, sweat inside a bus because of heavy winter clothes, work, freeze at a bus stop, sweat inside a bus, stay home, and go to sleep. And this goes on for 6 months out of 12.
2. The Swedes
The Swedes are top of the list of things we can’t stand. We hate everything about them. Their tender politics, their hair styles, their fancy clothes, good manners, and social abilities. We hate their ice hockey teams, Zlatan Ibrahimović, and Ikea (although we buy everything from there — it’s so cool, cheap, and handy!) We hate their accent and the fact that the richest Finns have Swedish as their mother tongue.
When I go to family gatherings, my relatives always ask what I do for a living. They shamelessly ask the same questions each year, because they never pay attention to my response — they just want to make sure that I am doing something which is not lacking ambition or / and paid by the government (studying is okay, but only for a short period of time).
Finns can’t stand laziness — if one person does nothing, we all feel affected by it since we all pay high taxes to ensure the unemployed are supported by the state. Despite the fact that only a smaller than negligible amount of taxes is given to people who are voluntarily unemployed, we are persistently worried about them screwing us over.
Usually, the conversations I have with my extended family go like this:
Aunt: “So what do you do exactly at the moment? (Slightly worried tone.) You studied languages, right?”
Me: “Ehm, sociology. I’m still studying, and working part-time. I’m about to graduate. It’s just that I have been working quite a lot lately.” (What I am trying to say here is that the late graduation has nothing to do with the student parties.)
Aunt: “Very good! Will you continue to work there after your graduation? So, what did you study? Psychology?”
Me: “Yeah, maybe. I’m studying sociology.”
Aunt: “What was that?”
After this conversation I can guarantee that she’ll be happy to report to everyone that I am doing fine, working (not lazing around) and studying biology.
4. Rich people
In Finland, it’s difficult to find a shockingly expensive car or house the size of a castle, and there’s a reason for that: Finns don’t like rich people. To be more precise, we don’t like people who show off their riches. I can’t explain this phenomenon in any other way than jealousy. Finns don’t like that their neighbours earn more than they do or drive a cooler car than them, and we aren’t ashamed to admit it. A famous research about the life of Finnish Lotto millionaires was done in the 1990s and, when the journalist responsible for the piece finally met the winners, he found out that many of them had hardly told anyone about their winnings and lived in exactly in the same way as before they hit the jackpot.
What is wrong with them? The best social events in Finland include drinking. Everyone’s relaxed and is enjoying getting tipsy, and there stands one of those freaks drinking lemonade. There should be an alcohol guard on every door keeping sodas and other suspicious substances out…especially at this time of the year when all the companies offer free booze for their employees to celebrate Christmas. Oh well, more for me!
6. Our prime minister
The prime minister is one of the most hated people in Finland (just behind the entire population of Sweden). In the past eleven years there has not been one prime minister who made it until the end of their mandate. Those who are not ousted by the media / an angry public, resign claiming that they “need to face new challenges.”
After the majority of powers switched from the president to the prime minister, the Finns have never really forgiven the latter for not being former. One of the great differences between the two is that the president is elected directly by the people, but the chairman of the leading party becomes the prime minister. The unpleasant surprise is learnt after every election in which we voted for a nice neighbour (not the rich one), but ended up electing the party’s chairman. We’re always happy to blame the prime minister for everything that’s wrong in the country: unemployment, the distress of poor families, the helplessness of some elderly people, and the rising number of non-drinkers.