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9 things I learned from Finland

Estimated reading time: 13 minutes

Being from Finland is a gift. We have the world’s happiest nation that genuinely takes care of us. When people come to Finland to study, their learning expands beyond classroom borders. In addition to academic knowledge gained in institutions, students learn a new culture, customs, unspoken rules, and communication methods.

I collected the benefits we enjoy in Finland and asked our current students to share what they learned. Read on to understand why we have the merriest country in the world!

Work-Life Balance

“the most important thing that I learned from Finland is to maintain a well-balanced life”

Tam, one of our students

Indeed, Finland is known for valuing a healthy work-life balance. Employees can have ample vacation time and flexible working arrangements. Finnish people put a strong emphasis on their leisure, personal, and family time.

Occupational well-being is a big part of the Finnish work-life balance trend. Companies strive to have healthy, safe, and engaging work environments. Most job advertisements contain descriptions of job benefits and bonuses, including free occupational healthcare. Employers care about their personnel and encourage them to have enough leisure and quality free time. Companies often have unique wellness apps for their employees, like EPassi, Eazybreak, and Smartum.

Usually, a bonus money balance can be used to sponsor/ partly reimburse leisure and well-being activities, like cinema and museum tickets, bus cards, lunch breaks, sports events, lunch bonuses, welfare, and health services.

“I have bought a yearly bus card, and I could cover half the price with my part-time job benefit. I quit the job to pursue the internship, but I still use this same bus card. It saved me a lot of money, and I am thankful to my previous employer for such an opportunity”

Vasa, intern in Edunation

Overworking is rare in Finland and is not seen as a good thing. Make sure to distinguish it from being hardworking – which is always appreciated here. In Finland, work hours are very regulated – if an employee has to work overtime, she/he is paid extra.

Following the trend of Finnish work culture, Study-Life balance is also significant in universities and vocational schools. Educational institutions and student unions together pay special attention to student’s well-being. Various events and support services are organized. The timetable and workload are designed to be manageable. Teachers understand and consider each student’s situation. It is acknowledged that quality rest and leisure are essential parts of a student’s personal development. In Finland, you study hard, but you also take time to enjoy the social, sporting, and cultural aspects of being a student.

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Independence

“‘Independence’ was the major learning I’ve learned here in Finland… I learned to survive independently with all the challenges for every immigrant here.”

Trixy, intern in Edunation

Learning to be independent was mentioned the most among our students.

Independence as a personal trait is highly valued in Finland, which is a country known for its self-reliant and individualistic culture. Finnish people often pride themselves on caring for themselves and their families without relying too heavily on others or the government.

This independent mindset is reflected in many aspects of Finnish society. For example, the Finnish education system emphasizes self-directed learning and encourages students to take responsibility for their progress. Students have a convenient opportunity to learn and practice self-sufficiency during their student years, primarily because Finnish education greatly emphasizes independent learning. Do not be afraid – it does not mean you will do everything alone. Indeed, students are responsible for their studies and assignments, but there are extensive support networks in universities, and teachers are ready to guide you and assist you during your studies.

As mentioned above, students are responsible for their study progress. Teachers are not going to tell off the student for a missing task – but it will affect the grade or even completing the course. If students struggle with workload or have difficulty submitting assignments on time – they need to approach the teacher themselves and agree on a course of action. Most teachers are very loyal and understanding in the end.

Independence is the most sought quality by employers as well! Finnish employees are often given a high degree of autonomy in the workplace and are expected to manage their tasks and projects.

Punctuality

“In Finland, there is a fast paced work system. People here are honest and time-strict”

Maria, one of our students

Finnish people are very punctual. Being on time is generally expected and appreciated. It applies to social and business situations. People are expected to arrive early to appointments and meetings, which is perceived as good manners. In Finland – people are trusted to be on time.

Being late without a valid reason is considered rude or disrespectful in Finland. It can be a sign of poor time management skills or a lack of consideration for others. If you are late and need to warn about it – it may be assumed that you do not respect your counterpart’s time. Even in informal meetings, your friends might be offended if you come late without notice. However, if you know that you will be late and explain it beforehand with an apology – you will be seen as a polite and mindful person.

Punctuality applies both to study and work environments. If your lessons start at 8:30 – they will begin precisely at 8:30 sharp, and you are expected to be in the classroom then. It is wise to find the right classroom and prepare for the lesson. If you are late – inform the teacher and apologize; usually, you will be understood and allowed to come to the class. Regarding being on time at work – there are stringent guidelines, and being late is perceived as unprofessional, and you could even lose your job after a couple of late arrivals. Sometimes, your job hours could be flexible, and you could have a floating start – but it is good to come to work according to the recommended schedule.

“I think Finns are punctual. So they don’t even need finger punching/signing for duty hours. In our country, we must do fingerprints/signatures when we arrive at work.”

Win, group education student

Finland’s strong emphasis on punctuality is because of the country’s strong work ethic and respect for efficiency. Finnish people are generally known for being hardworking and productive, and punctuality is seen as a display of professionalism and respect for others’ time.

Students eventually learn to be punctual “the Finnish way” – it is handy and beneficial in their daily life. International students’ routines can involve a lot of appointments and meetings – so it is easy to get used to being on time. The result is better time management skills, which lead to better productivity and higher quality of free time!

Read more:

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Caring about nature

“Finland has beautiful nature…Changing of seasons is something that I look forward to.”

Maria

Finnish people are proud of their nature – an irreplaceable part of their national identity. They take good care of nature – keeping it almost untouched and unpolluted. There are exceptional companies that keep forests and lakes clean. According to a study conducted at Yale University and published in Nature magazine, Finland has the densest Forest with around 22 billion trees: there are nearly 4500 trees for each Finn compared to 420 trees for each person on the planet. 

Nature takes good care of Finnish residents in return:

  • Finland has clean air, ranked 9 out of 106th countries according to IQAir World Air Quality Report 2020.
  • Water is of higher purity – everyone drinks tap water in Finland: it is safe and tastes good.

In Finland, nature is in balance with modern living. You do not have to go far into the country to enjoy nature. Almost every town has significant and diverse parks and lakes where people can fish and swim. You can often see squirrels, rabbits, and ducks in the city’s center. You can spot deer, foxes, or even pheasants further to the suburbs!

Finnish people love spending time outdoors. In summer – they swim, bike, go hiking, fishing, and camping in the forests. We go skiing, skating, ice fishing, and snowboarding in winter. Every season in Finland has its beauty, even though the winter is slightly longer. Most of our international students see snow for the first time in Finland.

Read more:

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Recycling

“Finland has an amazing recycling system!”

Maria

Almost everyone in Finland recycles waste. Each apartment block has its garbage room with several bins for different kinds of waste: in most cases, people only have to go so far as to recycle their waste fully. There are recycling centers for more considerable waste, like furniture or electronics, and the items from there only sometimes go to the trash: if the condition is still good, other people can take the needed items for free or for a minimal fee. The streets are clean: throwing litter anywhere except trash bins is rude. Most rubbish can be found after weekend nights and removed the same day.

The most famous recycling system in Finland is can & bottle recycling. When you buy a drink, the price of the can/bottle is included in the price. If you return the bottle to a particular machine that can be found in every grocery store, you get the money back. Nowadays, we in Finland cannot imagine just throwing cans and bottles away – they are always returned for extra cash!

Technology

“Finland is an Organized and Advanced Technology country”

Maria

Digital technologies are widespread in Finnish society – they are a big part of people’s everyday lives. Services are highly digitized and are easily accessible online. In fact, – “the digital way” of handling matters is usually easier and faster than traditional office visits with paper documents. The country’s digitalization and technology developments bear various benefits.

  • Internet. Thanks to Nokia’s legacy and competitive telecommunications market – there is good internet connection almost everywhere in Finland – the speed is very high, and the price is low. There are affordable phone plans including unlimited data – you can have a good internet connection even with a mobile hotspot. Student apartments often come together with free internet. Almost every cafe, shopping center, library, and school has free Wi-Fi for customers’ use. No wonder the internet is a necessity here because most services are online!
  • Education. Digital technologies have been highly integrated into the Finnish education system. Schools and universities use many digital tools, platforms, and data systems. Exams and lessons can be online. Everyone who comes to study in Finland has to have a laptop! Pen and paper are used only in daycares or elementary grades. Students benefit from digital literacy acquired from Finnish education, especially in their careers.
  • High-quality online services. The Finnish government has invested significantly in digital technologies to improve services delivered to citizens. Government services, including tax office and healthcare services, can be accessed online or via phone. The same applies to private services – appointments and arrangements are done online, which is very convenient. And don’t forget about digital banking services! Every Finnish bank has its app where you can handle most financial matters. Bills also can be checked and paid online in a couple of minutes.

Read more:

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Education System

You heard about the famous Finnish education system, one of the best in the world.

“Finns have in general, a very positive attitude towards education, and many people seek opportunities to upgrade their professional competencies or widen their professional skills and knowledge. The shared understanding in Finland is that it is never too late to study and learn new things!”

Phamela, caregiving student

Life-long learning is a prevalent tendency in Finland. Adult education in Finland is designed to be flexible and accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds. Learning never ends – even after graduation, people participate in additional programs offered by universities and vocational schools or short courses, workshops, and online learning opportunities. In Edunation, we also have programs designed especially for students with complete education.

Employers encourage their workers to upgrade their qualifications constantly. Often companies offer internal training or sponsored educational programs. Learning has no age in Finland. Industry changes in the middle of the career are also widespread and seen as good.

Many of our students come to study and further work in Finland because they know their children will get the best education here. Finland’s primary education is free for everyone, and the quality is at the same high level in every region.

Read more:

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Education for children and teenagers

“I think their education system for kids is the best!”

Win

Fun fact! Win’s family plans to come to Finland, and she is excited to enroll her children in a local primary school!

In the Finnish education system, Every child is given equal opportunities regardless of background or socioeconomic status. Education is focused on students’ needs rather than the curriculum’s demands. Students are encouraged to learn at their own pace and take on exciting subjects. For example, high school students can select courses and electives based on their hobbies and career goals.

Moreover, Finnish education highlights the importance of play, creativity, and hands-on learning. This approach helps to develop students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills. “Learning by doing” is very common.

Teachers are highly qualified – they are required to hold a Master’s degree in education and the subject they teach to provide the best quality of education for young students. Teachers are respected in Finland – their impact in bringing up a new generation is recognized.

Comprehensive schools in Finland are modern buildings with various facilities for pupils and staff. Did you know that children get free hot meals in schools every day? Offering includes main dishes, drinks, bread, salads, and unique options like vegan and gluten-free food. It is a part of the country’s comprehensive welfare state system. This aims to ensure that all students, regardless of socioeconomic status, can access healthy and nutritious meals during the school day.

There are also special preparatory classes for immigrant children who still need to become proficient in the Finnish language. Pupils are taught Finnish as a second language by special S2 teachers. They also get the necessary cultural skills and are prepared to integrate into Finnish society. Trained teachers help immigrant children to develop the language and academic skills required to succeed in Finnish primary and secondary schools. After completing the preparatory education program, a pupil can proceed to a Finnish-speaking primary school. Usually, teachers can advise certain schools based on students’ interests and academic abilities.

Read more:

FINNISH EDUCATION SYSTEM: WHY ARE SCHOOLS AND UNIVERSITIES IN FINLAND SUCCESSFUL?

Extra: Finns are not all cold and shy!

“Finnish people are very nice and easy to work with”

Maria

“I had read on the web that Finns are quiet. When I first moved to Finland to study, I found out that people were very friendly, frank, and helpful instead. It’s worth asking for help. Even if Finns should first say they are busy, they will help you nevertheless.”

Phamela

“Finnish people are very helpful to us. Now I have friendship with very kind hearted Finnish lady “

Win

You have probably heard that Finnish people are shy, reserved, and quiet. That is one surprise waiting for students – Finnish people are friendly and warm-hearted. Yes, they warm up slowly, and becoming friends takes some time. They might not smile at you on the streets, either! But Finns are always ready to help if they can.

Summing it up

Experience this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity andstudy in Finland– the happiest country in the world!

Edunation offers the bestPathway to Finlandto prepare students for their study goals.Book a free counseling today, and we will help you in your journey!

To learn more about life in Finland, the personal experiences of international students, studying and living in the world’s happiest country, and more, visit ourblog section!

About the writer

Vaasa is a former intern at Edunation. She is a native of Finland and is genuinely passionate about helping our pathway students worldwide adjust and enjoy the country.

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