Diving into Finnish culture and customs

The second day of our programme was partly dedicated to Finnish culture and Finnish national character.

It’s really easy for me to work with the Finns but considering my experience of communicating with Finnish people I can say that they’re a little bit strange even for Russians.

In my opinion the main difference between the Finns and Russians is in their punctuality and compliance with the laws. I’ve never met a Finn who is late, even if the meeting is informal. We Russians are usually not very careful with hours and the time of other people like the Finns.

The second point I’ve mentioned, following all the laws, always causes misunderstandings in Russia. If a neighbour does something illegal, for example, it appears that he uses drugs or abuses his dog, a Finn would call the police and it’s normal because the law is the law. Apparently Russians would ask for police help only if something really bad is happening and it bothers them a lot. In other situations Russian people just stay out of trouble or try to tell the person in question that he shouldn’t do that, because everything that is going on in a neighbour’s house is their private business.

It’s also interesting to know that there is no real ‘small talk culture’ in Finland like, for example, in Great Britain. Finns do not engage in small talk for the sake of just talking. If there’s nothing to say they just keep quiet. And this isn’t considered to be strange or uncomfortable. So if it happens when you are talking to a Finn, do not feel confused.

Finnish national customs are more common in the country and rarer in the big cities. During my first trip to Finland, to a little town Karjaa between Helsinki and Turku, I had my first encounter with a Finnish person. He was gloomy, taciturn and very withdrawn. There were such people in the streets, in the train and even in the shops. Maybe it was just because of winter when it’s dark and cold, who knows. But now I can say that all Finns who I communicate with are very friendly and nice people. I think that they’re included in intercultural communications and naturally very active.

My first visit to a Finnish home was a big surprise for me. The family of my Finnish friend welcomed me very warmly. Before that I’d never heard how welcoming Finnish people are.

So I hope that you will really feel and understand Finns and Finnish culture during our #FCP2015, especially during the family weekend.

A Finnish language lesson, a walking tour in the city centre and a visit to the University of Helsinki rounded out Day 2.
A Finnish language lesson, a walking tour in the city centre and a visit to the University of Helsinki rounded out Day 2.

Photos: Oriol Salvador Vilella, Sabina Serikova, Rana Khaled Abo El Fotoh, Yohannie Linggasari

Author: Yana - Russia

Yana Prussakova is an online journalist for Fontanka.fi living in St. Petersburg, Russia. She has studied in Finland, and speaks some Finnish, too. “Now, when there is a concept of hybrid war, I think it’s especially important to provide readers with accurate, objective information.”

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