Most people usually only know Finland by the name “Land of a Thousand Lakes” or “Homeland of Santa Claus.” However, after about half a year of living, I realized that there were fascinating truths that I had to experience. I will tell you now from the perspective of an international student from Vietnam.
If Vietnam is seen on the map as an S-shaped country, then Finland is a country whose beauty comes from the 3S. I don’t know if there is a relationship between them; I just naturally found the letter S special :))
The spirit of Sisu, a concept that has existed for at least 500 years in the Finnish language, is the proud, invisible beauty of the Finnish country and people.
I had to write it down because no English word means “sisu.” Even in Finnish, sisu represents a combination of different characteristics: determination, energy, and courage… The sisu spirit of the Finns will awaken when you want to give up. Interestingly, the website used to register for credits at my school is also called sisu.
Do you want to know about history? With the spirit of sisu, from 1939 to 1940, the army of 350,000 Finnish soldiers defeated 1 million men of the Soviet Red Army, twice. Sisu is also how Finns cope with long, dark winters when temperatures can drop below minus 35°C.
An fun fact is that the word “Sauna” you see is the original Finnish. Sauna culture is very influential here. When taking a sauna, the natives usually don’t wear anything. That might sound strange to a foreigner like me at first. But it is alright now. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
Not only that, on snowy winter days, they also jump into the glacial lake after sauna. If there was no glacial lake, the small snow mountain by the road would be where they would jump in. To be honest, I still haven’t been able to fit in yet because it’s too cold. My Finns friends often call it “Snow bath” for a pile of snow or “Ice bath” for a glacial lake. There’s another thing called a “Snow shower” where you’re standing under a few frozen pine branches, shaking the tree vigorously to let the snow fall on your head. Sounds very cold right? But it’s fun.
The Finns’ favorite Salmiakki is a savory licorice candied with Ammonium Chloride. Locals love this kind of candy, but I’m not sure if you’re a foreigner like me. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I couldn’t get to the third piece. My advice is to be careful with the black candies when you get here! It looks nice, but it doesn’t look like chocolate at all. Sadly, they even put Salmiakki in the filling of Chocolate. That was the last time I felt cheated at a house party.
Other special cultures
Besides the 3 prominent Ss, there are also a few cultures worth mentioning. The first is definitely that Finns drink a lot!
Besides being known as the world’s largest coffee consumer, Finland is also a country that drinks heavily. I had a bit of a “culture shock” problem at parties when I first came here.
However, you need to prove you are 18 years old to buy light alcoholic beverages. As for the drink with high alcohol content over 20 degrees, so-called “liquor”, you need to be over 22 years old or something. I’m not old enough so I don’t know xd. My father used to say that because they were too cold, they had to drink wine to warm their stomachs.
The second must be mentioned is the habit of going to the forest to pick fruits.
Just listening to it makes me happy. Finnish forests cover about 3/4 of the country. And the special thing is that you are free to pick super nutritious Northern European fruits such as blueberries, sea buckthorn berries, wild berries like lingon berries or cloudberry.
I have a Vietnamese friend who even signed up for a class on mushrooms so she could go to the national forests to pick them. It shows up a lot in the summer. But if you can’t find it, that’s okay too. The Finnish forest is very beautiful and you will come across a lake of some kind.
Lastly, I’m sitting here blogging for you guys, but in my head I want summer to come quickly. From my window now there is only a white color of snow. But that’s okay, winter still has its fun. I will share it with you in the next post. Follow Edunation on our website and other media, such as our Facebook Page or Youtube.