Functional, punctual and awesome: my first 12 months in Finland

When I was a teenager in my home country of Bangladesh the only thing I knew about Finland was that it’s the land of Nokia.

After completing my bachelor’s in electronics I worked as a journalist for 3 years, I then decided to come to Finland to pursue a master’s at the University of Oulu.

I observed a number of interesting characteristics about Finland in my first 12 months of living here and I present them below…

 

 

1. The virtue of being punctual

In Finland everything happens on time. Finns rigorously practice punctuality and expect others to do the same. Want to annoy a Finn? Then be late and full of excuses.

2. Girls are noticeably safe in public

The Bangladeshi society grapples with the perennial problem of street harassment of women. It’s typically not safe for women to go outside alone at night. On the contrary, Finland seems to be a safe haven for women. Women can dress as they please without the threat of verbal harassment.

 

3. The precious sun

Growing up in a tropical country has allowed me to grow accustomed to the predictability of the sun. The only seasonal exception is winter when the sun is slightly less intense. Finland forces you to become incredibly fond of the sun and its elusive tendencies.

4. Free Wi-Fi

The indispensability of mobile phones in everyday life is essential. The Internet has made communications easier and the convenience of using the internet is greatly amplified when you can connect to free Wi-Fi hotspots in public places throughout Finland.

 

5. Wherever you go, nature steals the show

Finland is Europe’s most forested country. Helsinki and its condensed population have easy access to the surrounding nature. The abundance of water is another key feature of Finland, which is why Finland is known as the land of a thousand lakes. It was a pleasant shock moving from the concrete jungle of Bangladesh to the gorgeous greenery of Finland.

 

 

Photo: Michele Lawrence

 

6. The infrastructure is organized

I realized soon after moving that everything works systematically in Finland. Public transport is astonishingly punctual and businesses operate according to their announced schedules, which makes daily life hassle-free.

7. The food is flavorless

Finnish food is pretty bland and severely lacking in the spice department. I have tried to get used to Finnish food but I’m endlessly disappointed. The missing flavors seem to be replaced with a love for sugar, as Finns definitely have a sweet tooth.

8. English is widely accepted

Finns are among the top speakers of English as a second language in the world. In the big cities of southern Finland speaking English is not a problem, however, it’s impossible to integrate into the society without knowing Finnish. Sure you can speak English, but you cannot become part of Finnish society if you don’t learn Finnish.

9. Coffee & milk love

The Finns love for coffee is no secret. Finns drink tons of coffee according to the International Coffee Organization, so congratulations Finland, you’re the biggest coffee drinkers in the world! Finns also seem to have an admiration for milk. I was surprised to see that many adults drink milk with lunch…it’s not just for kids here!

 

 

10. Cars don’t honk

It’s a fact that having a car gives you greater mobility and when it comes to moving around in a sparsely populated country like Finland, a car is pretty essential. In comparison to Bangladesh where car’s honk nonstop, the Finnish roads are relatively quiet.

11. Expat Finns are easier to interact with

The expat Finns I have encountered, especially those who have lived in other countries where small talk is acceptable, are more friendly and open than others. Moreover, they don’t identify with the stereotypical definition of “reticent Finn” once they’ve returned to Finland. Concepts like “extreme personal space” or “public quietness” become obsolete to the expat Finn.

 

12. Silent Finland

Finns tend to enjoy the quiet and perhaps their surroundings influence this fact. The silence may feel mysteriously morbid at first, but once you adapt to it your focus can significantly improve…thus, Finland is a great place for writers!

 

Mahmudul Islam is a graduate student of wireless communications engineering at the University of Oulu.   

 

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Edited by Michele Lawrence.

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