Before I came to Finland, what I’d known about this northern European country is its high rankings in many international comparisons of national performance such as the Global Peace Index or Technological Achievement. However, after numerous meetings with politicians and professionals, visits to business enterprises and institutions, trips to different parts of Finland, I realized that the country’s even more amazing than I’d expected.
“Finland is more fantastic than any other fantasy” (Photo: Hang Do)
Effective Political System
It’s not easy to describe my experiences in only a piece of writing. However, if somebody asked me what’s the most memorable thing about Finland, I’d definitely say that it’s the Finnish political system which proves to be highly effective. I was lucky enough to have the chance to meet with President Tarja Halonen, Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen, Minister Alexander Stubb and Minister Erkki Tuomioja.
The Finnish political leaders showed me the meaning of the quote: “Leadership is action, not position”. Thanks to their policies, Finland’s famous for being the second least corrupt country in the world, the best place to be a mother as well as a great country for business.
Of all the political leaders I had the chance to meet, I was most impressed by President Tarja Halonen. She’s not only the first female Head of State in Finland but also a symbol of gender equality. It cannot be denied that females all over the world deserve to be fairly treated, but the real situation in many places is not always favourable. As I pay much attention to social equality, I’m very happy to see that the Finnish Government has many policies to protect women’s rights and promote gender equality.
19 FCP participants with President Tarja Halonen. (Photo: MFA Finland)
Admirable Educational Success
Another thing that Finns can be proud of their country is the school system. Finnish educational success has received widespread acclaim as the country’s consitently ranked at or near the top in PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) over the past decade. Finnish students’ high scores in reading, mathematics and science draw much attention from people all over the world and I’m no exception.
During my time in Finland, I visited the Viikki Teacher Training School of the University of Helsinki and attended a lecture given by the Administrative Principal about the Finnish school system. That gave me a deeper understanding of the secrets behind the Finnish educational success. The effectiveness of Finland’s steady education reform with a focus on cooperation and equity instead of competition and choice is the main reason why Finland has the best-performing school system in the world.
Besides education policies, books and libraries are of vital importance in the development of a knowledge-based society. I was thrilled by the National Library of Finland, which is also the nation’s oldest and largest scholarly library. I do like reading and I’ve had my book published in Vietnam so this wonderful library’ll be one of the places I need to visit when I come back to Finland.
The Land of Green Gold
My first impression upon arrival in Finland is that the country’s dominated by green coulour as I could see trees and forests everywhere, even in the capital Helsinki. With about 80% of the land area covered with forests, Finland’s the most densely forested country in Europe. Forests’re truly Finnish green gold because of their environmental impacts as well as economic value.
Hang wearing a traditional Vietnamese dress in the green space of Finland. (Photo: Hang Do)
It comes as no surprise that the forest industry’s an indispensable part of Finnish economy. However, the plesantly surprising thing to know is that although Finland’s the largest wood producer in Europe and among the largest in the world, the annual growth rate of Finnish forests still exceeds the total timber harvest.
As a matter of fact, a clean country is a green country. The abundance of forests is a key factor contributing to Finland’s high ranking in the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) as one of top five cleanest countries in the world.
Owing to the vigorous forest policies developed by The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Finland’s achieved its reputation as the leading expert in the field of sustainable forest management. I believe that with adequate protection of the environment in general and forests in particular, Finland will always be a clean country as well as the land of green gold.
Finns live very close to nature, which I consider a healthy lifestyle. I enjoy walking through the woods because the quiet place gives me room to think deep and inspires me to have good ideas. I also find Finland a great source of inspiration after my unforgettable time there. That’s why I still follow it and I’m glad that most news is positive. A fine example is the news from FinnFacts that Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) public transport has been ranked as the best in Europe for the fourth time. Finland has never let me down.
While I was staying in Finland, I feel that it’s a real-life fantasy as I enjoyed the scenery with my own eyes. Now I view Finland as more fantastic than any kind of fantasy because the beautiful country is already in my heart.