Photo: Aleksandra Suzi/Shutterstock

9 Things Finns Have to Explain to Out-of-Towners

by Tiina Kokki Jan 24, 2017

1. There is no word for “please” in our language.

Instead, we can sneak the please into every verb we use by conjugating them correctly. And you call us rude?

2. There are no polar bears in Finland.

But there are many brown bears here annoyed that their white cousins are stealing their thunder.

3. We do hang out naked, even with strangers.

Sauna is a big part of our culture. It is a place to unwind, to heal, to socialize. And sweating in +100 Celsius degrees’ room would make anyone want to get rid of their clothes, right? Do not worry, though. It is completely fine if you want to wear your swimming suit or a towel. We do not consider it rude, it just shows that you’re not from around here.

4. We don’t do small talk.

If you ask a Finn how they are, expect to hear their life story.

5. Some of our driver’s licenses are valid for 50 years.

Try to rent a car abroad or get into a club with a Finnish driver’s license as an ID, and you are bound to get into trouble. If you have been granted the license prior to 2013, this pink piece of plastic really validates you to spend the next 50 years on the road. After 2013 we were only handed out 15 years’ licenses. It is indeed our government, not the forger, who came up with a number like that.

6. Most of us speak multiple languages.

By the time we finish our basic education at the age of 16, we have had an opportunity to study at least four foreign languages, Swedish and English being mandatory. I personally have studied 8 languages throughout my studies. You rarely come across a Finn who cannot muster a word of any other language. We are just very shy to use our skills.

7. Being modest is part of our cultural heritage.

We are the worst at self-promoting or taking compliments. This is not us being rude. This is just us wondering why on earth would anyone compliment us on anything, as we are nothing special.

8. We do have a summer.

And it can indeed get up to +35 Celsius degrees here. Best time to witness this miracle is in July, but don’t be offended if Mother Earth decides to throw in some hail and heavy rains while you are sunbathing. On the bright side, sunbathing is possible around the clock thanks to the white nights.

9. Our language is flat.

There are no intonations worth mentioning in Finnish pronunciation. It is a very flat and melancholic language. Our own language often affects the other languages we speak, making them flat as well. So, don’t expect to detect from our voice when we have asked you a question. Instead, if we keep staring at you, it means we are waiting for an answer to a question you have missed.

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