Finland is not as cold as I thought it was, and I don’t mean it only in centigrades.
First thing that I learned about this country is that feeling safe is one of the most important things Finns value, and it is noticed in the fact that contrary to what might be thought, seeing a lot of law enforcement officers does not make you feel safe but the opposite. In my time here I’ve seen very few police officers, which doesn’t mean in any way that if someone is doing something wrong they will not get him or her.
Also, Finns have a huge sense of community, which makes them maintain the general sense of “this is for everyone so everyone helps in keeping in it good”.
Another, rather surprising, thing was to learn that Finnish summer can be much warmer than almost anything I remember in tropical countries, even when Finland is located very close to the North Pole!
Something else that has made me think, is how early most shops close and how late they open, this compared to colombian standards where shops and supermarkets would open at 10 am and close near 11 pm.
In the very first days here I needed to buy something in a supermarket and I remember looking at the time, it was a bit past 9 pm, and looking outside to a very sunny view, so I decided to go out to the nearest supermarket only to find out that it was already closed despite the fact that the night was literally still young as there was plenty of sunlight.
At first this was bothering but after some days I understood how important it is in Finland to respect the working and free time of people.
A working day lasts 8 hours for most Finns, so it was not a surprise that if a store opens at 12 it closes at 8 pm. I then thought of how this must be very nice for working parents who can get home and still spend time with their children.
Or even if you don’t have kids, it must be very nice to be able to go home early and relax, maybe cook some dinner, get ‘pantsdrunk’ (very interesting concept of drinking and relaxing in you couch in comfty clothes) if they wish…
So, in general terms, in Finland having a good life quality is very important, it reflects on the safety, the working times, the education and health care system. That might explain why they have so many saunas, they are very important placed to relax and be happy (Finns were after all recognized as the happiest country this year).
In this past two weeks I have also learned that this country and its people is not as quiet and even boring as you might have heard. In fact, many love practicing jumping into ice cold water over and over again, or kayaking and canoeing, they like music and in events as the Flow Festival they can sing and jump their hearts out!
For the last part I would add that Finns are not necessarily as shy and apathetic as they are sometimes referred as. They are very nice persons, they don’t might helping you translate their very complicated language when you’re standing in front of maybe 12 different types of milk in the supermarket to help you find the lactose free one.
Even if they can’t speak English (which is uncommon, most of them speak even 3 languages or more) they find a way to help you. They smile and laugh as we Latinos do (well, maybe not so loud) but, in conclusion, this country has done nothing else than proved me wrong in the misconceptions I had and to show me ways, small and big, in which my life could be fairer, more balanced and happier.