Featured Photo: Hanna Nikkanen

1. You hate socializing.

Things like “networking,” “group hug,” and “get together” disgust you. Going to a party alone is like running a marathon, but without the pleasurable endorphin rush. You never understood how the Finnish word jaxuhali (“cheery hug”) could ever have become so popular in the first place.

2. Your home looks like an Ikea catalogue.

Cheap, nice looking, and easy to carry. Nice details but not too odd. Even if you have to put the pieces together by yourself, that’s a good deal. Finnish furniture trademarks exist and we hate the Swedes, but we all buy our stuff at Ikea.

3. You don’t see a problem in being silent.

Why should you speak when you don’t feel like it? Being silent only becomes awkward when a foreigner is around, trying to decipher the meaning of your lack of speech. My friend was having a lovely dinner with a bunch of Argentines until they started questioning her silence. Remember, we’re all just listening to you talking.

4. Your hangover cure is Burger King at Stockholm’s Central Station.

You take a ferry to Stockholm, get drunk, finish the night wanting something sinfully greasy, and remember there’s a third option available other than McDonald’s and Hesburger. Then back to ferry, get drunk again, and wake up in Helsinki. We’ve all done that, haven’t we?

5. You get excited in Starbucks.

Even if the first Starbucks came to Finland a few years ago, you’re still not quite used to being able to buy something called a “Mocha Cookie Crumble.” It’s so fancy, tasty, and exotic that you can almost feel the streets of New York below your feet. Hearing the word “Starbucks” is like listening to someone saying “Lapland” or “6-1” (the outcome when Finland beat Sweden in the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship 2011 final): music to our ears.

6. You’re obsessed with work.

When someone asks you “What’s up?” you hear “How’s work going?” A good answer is saying you’ve been busy, which, in the weird Finnish cultural context, is a way of saying “I’m important, so I’m fine.” If you haven’t been busy, you’ll answer “nothing.” It doesn’t even occur to a Finn to talk about their hobbies, their family, or a book they’ve been reading. Who wants to talk about the fun stuff when there’s a chance to bore someone for good?

7. You give Finland a bad rep.

When you hear someone saying “Don’t go to Finland, it’s dark and cold,” or when in Finland you hear a person saying “why didn’t you go somewhere south instead?” it’s probably a Finn talking to a non-Finn. We are not very good at promoting our own country.

8. You get very pissed off when someone’s late.

After spending two minutes waiting, you start wondering if you’re at the right place. Ten minutes in and you call the bastard. A 20-minute wait is unbearable, and there are only very few forgivable excuses for being 30 minutes late. The same applies to trains and buses.

9. You speak decent English, but pay too much attention to your accent.

You think your English accent sounds like an ignorant German speaking Italian and you’re painfully aware of your poor intonation when speaking. It does not matter to you that people in Nordic countries are famous for their good English and that you are likely to have a greater vocabulary than many other non-English speakers, you compare your English to those born in English-speaking countries.

10. You live in an (almost) colourless world.

When you go shopping, you automatically pick up black, grey, and white clothes. Your home looks like a black-and-white movie. Occasionally, you go wild with a red shirt or green shoes, but, mostly, we are like a herd of goblins with a strict colour code.

This article was originally published on December 29, 2014.