Episode 11: When you don’t like strong women

What’s different about femininity in Finland? Joel Willans, author and creator of Very Finnish Problems consults lifestyle and travel blogger Varpu Pöyry, of Her Finland. We learn about the perils of gender stereotypes and Varpu’s engineering approach to improving her memory. Co-host Thomas Nybergh is mostly concerned about the social lives of Finnish men.

A special guest, Yle News journalist Ronan Browne, also appears briefly while shooting a story about Very Finnish Problems.

Contact: [email protected]

Produced by Thomas Nybergh / Ink Tank Media



Yle News’ story on Very Finnish Problems

Joel’s book: 101 Very Finnish Problems

The circumstances surrounding Finland’s first female prime minister’s resignation

Yle News: Finland ranks sixth in English skills, early instruction crucial

Varpus’ book recommendation: “How to Learn Almost Anything in 48 Hours: Shortcuts and brain hacks for learning new skills fast” by Tansel Ali

Joel’s book recommendation: “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara

Thomas’ podcast recommendation: The Assasination – An investigation into the death of Pakistan’s first female prime minister, Benazir Bhutto

Check out Varpu’s Finnish words and memory tricks on Instagram


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About the show

What’s so weird and wonderful about Finland? British born Joel Willans, creator of Very Finnish Problems, discusses, with a variety of fascinating guests, what he’s learnt after 15 years living in his much-loved, adopted country.

Follow Very Finnish Problems to get all our stuff.

Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

Title photo by russelstreet

Red plastic buckets among growth in garden

Episode 10: When you queue for free buckets and they run out

Red plastic buckets among growth in garden

Why do Finns stand in line for free buckets? Joel Willans, creator of the Very Finnish Problems social media sensation, chats with Jyrki Kallinen, co-founder of crowdsourced market research service Crowst. We learn the tricks of the trade of getting reliable and comprehensive questionnaire answers from shy people. Co-host Thomas Nybergh wants to pair artificial intelligence with his Facebook rants and makes sure Jyrki recommends some metal music.

Contact: [email protected]

Produced by Thomas Nybergh / Ink Tank Media



Joel’s book: 101 Very Finnish Problems

Jyrki Kallinen on LinkedIn

Earn free goodies by answering surveys in Crowst’s app

Thomas’ book recommendation: On Writing by Stephen King

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation

How Nokia helps despots spy on and oppress people

Thomas’ podcast recommendation: Twenty Thousand Hertz – The stories behind the world’s most recognizable and interesting sounds.

Joel’s podcast recommendation: Remainiacs, a hilarious weekly take on the Brexit dumpster fire

Jyrki’s recommendation: The metal album Winter’s Gate by Insomnium (Listen on Spotify)

Jyrki Kallinen

Jyrki Kallinen, co-founder of Crowst


Download or subscribe

You can get the show as a direct download.

Get all new episodes automatically by subscribing in your favorite podcast app.

Apple Podcasts / Soundcloud / Stitcher / TuneIn / AcastGoogle Play / RSS





About the show

What’s so weird and wonderful about Finland? British born Joel Willans, creator of Very Finnish Problems, discusses, with a variety of fascinating guests, what he’s learnt after 15 years living in his much-loved, adopted country.

Follow Very Finnish Problems to get all our stuff.

Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

Title photo by russelstreet

the cure peforming at riot Fest, 2014. Photo by Sean Benham.

British Intervention: Soundtrack your winter with these 11 British albums

English rock band The Cure peforming at Riot Fest, 2014. Photo by Sean Benham.

If you want to survive a long northern winter then music is your best bet. Without music we would all be shells — pods — rotting in a vegetable state without a proper soundtrack. But instead of totally starving your sun-deprived brain monster, toss that jerk a little snack with these soul-piercing ensembles hailing from the land formerly known as ‘part of the EU.’


1. The Cure – The Head on the Door

Mr. Smith hit the nail on the head on the door with this record — a must-have for any collection.


2. Depeche Mode – Violator

A record that elevated DM to EPIC rockstar status.


3. Killing Joke – Brighter Than a Thousand Suns

Killing Joke are pros at making tunes that curtail sad tendencies…Jaz Coleman is a genius. 


4. T-Rex – The Slider

To put a bop in your brain.


5. David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

One of my personal favorites by the late and great.


6. New Order – Movement

A band that has countless good records and a recognizable sound.


7. Tears for Fears – Songs from the Big Chair

It’s just perfect…


8. Echo and the Bunnymen – Ocean Rain

Another great English band that has many memorable hits.

Honorable track mention not from Ocean Rain, are you still paying attention?


9. Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures

Ian Curtis is a legend and he is immortalized in this amazing record.


10. The Damned – Machine Gun Etiquette

DAMNIT! You can’t go wrong with a founding drummer named Rat Scabies.


11. Eurythmics – Revenge

ANNIE LENNOX! It’s enough said. She is a force stronger than failed relationships. 



I do not claim to know anything about music but I have graciously devoted a good chunk of my life attempting to absorb as much knowledge as I can pertaining to every aspect of music, and there’s always something more to learn — and retain. As long as you have the passion for discovery there’s infinite stuff available to make you feel good. 

Title photo by Sean Benham

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…

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Getting Naked with a Dragon in Finland: my scorching sauna experience

Kotiharjun Sauna


I am sitting naked on a high wooden bench in a darkened bunker. The stranger sitting next to me, also naked, is beating my back with a handful of frozen birch branches. My face is on fire as an enormous blast of hot steam envelopes the two of us and others nearby.


A surreal sadist nightmare?



No — just a fairly typical scene during Christmas Eve in Finland.

Christmas Eve is the most popular day of the year at Kotiharjun Sauna, one of Helsinki’s few public saunas with a traditional wood-fired furnace.


Finnish Sauna vihta


I came to visit my son Leif who is studying abroad in Finland, and we decided to celebrate Christmas Eve with a traditional Finnish custom.

There’s something magical about this sauna. 



I don’t understand a word of Finnish but each time the door opens to this Dickensian inferno, another naked woman appears.  She shouts something indecipherable to the Nordic goddesses around me that sounds like, “Haluatko minun kääntyä löysä lohikäärmeen?” I think this must mean, “Do you want me to turn loose the dragon?”

To which comes a chorus of replies, “Kyllä kiitos, emme voi saada tarpeeksi, että kuuma lohikäärme hengitys,” which means something like, “Yes please, we can’t get enough of that hot dragon breath.”

Each naked newcomer reaches up towards the top of the furnace yanking down on a lever thus releasing a tsunami of water. The sudden, skin-scorching steam momentarily obliterates my ability to see the dozens of other naked bodies assembled in various states of quiet submission around me.


What I think of as dragon’s breath the Finns actually call “löyly.” Löyly originally means “spirit of life,” but is interpreted as “a cloud of sauna steam” released to purify the body and calm the mind.

Löyly — and more specifically sauna — is how many Finns begin their Christmas Eve celebrations which tells you a lot about the Finnish practice of physical and mental cleansing.

The relationship between Finns and their saunas goes back more than one thousand years.


In addition to purifying the mind, “taking sauna” has been credited with driving out diseases. Decades ago women gave birth in saunas and there are tales of tumultuous lovers reconciling differences in an enveloping blast of löyly.


The ratio of saunas to Finns these days is one sauna for every 2.75 people.


There are more saunas than cars in Finland which makes sauna kind of hard to avoid. But then again, why would you want to?

Most public saunas disappeared with the introduction of shared saunas in apartment buildings, but Kotiharjun Sauna still operates daily. Built in 1928 in the heart of Helsinki’s Kallio district (an old workers neighborhood) it doesn’t appear to have changed much since then.



Today there’s a free Christmas Eve drink offered and between visits to the sauna I help myself to a Finnish beer. I sip on the beer as I glance through the photos in a Finnish magazine about (what else?) – saunas.

Eager for another round of Finnish cleansing my son and I return a few days later for a pre-flight sauna before my departure home.


The woman behind the check-in counter smiles, “weren’t you here a few days ago?” She asks, seemingly pleased to see us again. Contrary to popular stereotypes she is eager to talk to us about Finnish culture.

“Were you surprised at how talkative the men are in the sauna?” She asks Leif about his Christmas Eve experience.

Leif nods. It was a surprise given the reputation Finns have for being reserved.

“The sauna is the only place Finnish men talk,” she says laughing, “and it’s because they don’t have their wives and girlfriends talking to them, telling them what to say or think!”

Legend says that the most important decisions are made in saunas. According to Visit Finland, taking sauna together offers the opportunity for special bonding experiences which have no sexual overtones. I can see firsthand how saunas deliver total mental relaxation, clearing the mind of unnecessary clutter.



As I come downstairs ready to say my goodbyes Leif comes out of the men’s locker room.

My send-off from Finland couldn’t have been more moving…as Leif heads outside for a beer I notice a stray birch leaf on his shoulder, and as he emerges into the frigid winter air the dragon retreats back into the hot layers of weathered wood.


Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more stories about super Suomi


Edited by Michele Lawrence.

See why the internet is going crazy for this video of Black Friday chaos in Finland

Finns are well-known for their calm manner and stoic nature. So much so, it takes a lot to get Finnish people riled up. Losing to Sweden (again) at ice hockey, beating the world at ice hockey or beating Sweden at anything being notable exceptions. However, maybe this will all change with the advent of Black Friday, the American materialist frenzy created by the land of uber-capitalism to get people to buy crap they don’t need.

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A Next Generation Finn: Hannu Huhtamo’s hand at light painting photography

With so much eye-grabbing art out there it’s difficult to find a focal point. Hannu Huhtamo’s light painting photography is an art form that provides just that — focus.

Hannu is putting an interesting spin on photography by overlaying long exposure captures of light movement to beautiful still photography, and he’s using Finland as the backdrop.

Read more

Donald Trump jr in November 2016

Poor Dumb Donnie: how the internet destroyed Donald Trump Junior’s twitter post about socialism

Donald Trump jr in November 2016

On days when he’s not killing endangered species in foreign countries for sport and making a mockery of the White House with his mere presence, Junior Jackass is posting absurdly dumb twitter posts about complex political issues he’s completely clueless about (he’s definitely his father’s son).


The internet’s response did not cease to amaze…



Celebrities and everyone in between decimated Donnie Jr. with the facts of reality about socialism. Not only did Donnie Jr. fail miserably to create a sensible analogy, he also did it with bad grammar.


Here’s more examples of what went down in case you missed it…


Original tweet



The internet’s response









Title image by Max Goldberg