Do’s and Don’ts in Finland: What You Need to Know

Read our survival tips to fluent communication in Finnish culture: the do’s and don’ts! Make the most out of your stay and get to know the Finns.

Do…

1. Mean what you say

There is no small talk or meaningless chit chat – just facts, truth, and a bit awkward but totally socially acceptable silences. The Finns don’t do small talk, as this is often seen as useless and unnecessary. Finns can be a bit blunt sometimes, but they are trying their best to be honest with you, even if the topic is not the nicest one. So, don’t beat around the bush but mean what you say!

2. Be polite

Being honest does not mean that you shouldn’t be polite. Finns respect each other, and although being honest is an essential part of this, so is being polite. Shouting, or even loud talking, as well being rude or waving your hands a lot is in most situations not appropriate.

3.  Be punctual

Being late is taken as a sign of uninterest and lack of respect. If you’re running late, let the other person know by calling or shooting a text message.

4. Learn a few words of Finnish

The Finns will be more than delighted if you can say “Kiitos” (Thank you) or literally anything in Finnish! They know that their language is not easy, so they appreciate it a lot if a foreigner gives it a shot.

5. Try reindeer

A bit like deer or beef, reindeer is definitely one of the things you should try while in Finland! The meat is tasty, and many delicious dishes are made using reindeer.

 

6. Go to sauna

A national pride, Finns are very keen of their saunas. The country of a population of 5.4 million has over 3 million saunas! Don’t be afraid of being naked – in Finland, the saunas are separated by gender, and people go naked to sauna. Nakedness is seen natural, and no one will stare at you. You can enjoy the sauna in comfortable silence, but sometimes you can have the best heart-to-heart talks in the dim lighting and surrounded by the heat.

 

Don’t…

1. Call Finland Scandinavia. Or Soviet.

Geographically, Finland is not part of Scandinavia. Finns are neither Vikings nor Slavs, they are Finns! However, Finland is part of the Nordic countries.

2. Be afraid to talk to people

There is a stereotype of Finns being solemn and grumpy – not true! While the Finns are not into small talk, they are not introverted or shut in their own circles only. Many people, especially the younger generation, enjoy a good banter. If this is done over a pint of beer, even better! Most Finns speak excellent English, and alcohol, or as the Finns have nicknamed it, “Happiness Potion”, is a fool proof way to get a Finn to talk.

3. Get too close to people you don’t know

Finns do value their personal space and are not touchy-feely with people they meet for the first time, so don’t give kisses on the cheeks when you meet new people. If a bus is full of people, of course you can sit next to someone, but if there are plenty of extra seats, don’t randomly take a seat next to someone! Respect their personal space.

4. Disrespect nature

Nature is very important for the Finns. Jokamiehenoikeudet, or Every man’s rights, entitle you to hike any forests or swim in any lakes you wish, and pick as many berries and mushrooms as you want to, but don’t litter, don’t make too much noise, or in any way disturb the nature.

5. Keep your shoes on

When visiting someone’s home, leave your shoes at the door. You don’t want to bring any dirt inside!

6. Brag

In fact, be very humble. Highlighting yourself is seen as rude, and people are very humble about their own achievements. However, it is nice to compliment others: they might be a bit flustered, but very happy and thankful! Don’t say anything you don’t mean, though. No chit chat is necessary. Likewise, if you get a compliment, you can be sure that the Finn 100% means it!

The wonderful illustrations are from Finnish Nightmares, check it out for more funny posts about Matti, your stereotypical Finn, who tries his best to treat others like he wishes to be treated: give space, be polite, and avoid unnecessary small talk. However, not everything goes according to his plans!

Want more information about the do’s and don’ts in Finnish culture? Check out:

Latest from our blog

May 15, 2019

How to Prepare for an Entrance Exam

Have you been invited to an entrance exam? Or are you wondering what the interviews are like at Finnish universities? This blog post provides you […]

→ Read more

April 30, 2019

Kazakhstan Student in Finland: HAMK Changed My Life

Yedil is a Kazakhstani student in Finland who studied at  Häme University of Applied Sciences in the degree program of Electrical and Automation Engineering. He grew up […]

→ Read more

April 23, 2019

Guaranteed Job Program by Edunation

To make it easier for international students to find jobs and internships in Finland, Edunation is launching Guaranteed Job Program. The idea is simple: students who […]

→ Read more

April 16, 2019

What is IELTS?

When you apply for bachelor’s or master’s programs in Finland, many universities require IELTS. As it is very important to be familiar with the admission […]

→ Read more

April 9, 2019

Student Success Story of Adeyinka from Nigeria

“I feel happier when I’m with my class and teaching at HAMK. It was a great experience!” – Adeyinka, Häme University of Applied Sciences Adeyinka […]

→ Read more

April 2, 2019

Get to know Turku University of Applied Sciences

Become a next generation cybersecurity expert and apply to study Information and Communications Technology (ICT) at  Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUAS). Studies at TUAS are working life […]

→ Read more

March 26, 2019

Top 4 Soft Skills Recruiters Seek in 2019

Guest post by The Study Abroad Portal         Many recruiters nowadays place a high value on communication skills of applicants. Hard skills are those […]

→ Read more

March 19, 2019

Zero Waste Lifestyle – Small Steps in Helping Nature While Studying Overseas

“The environment is where we all meet; where all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share.” – Lady Bird Johnson […]

→ Read more

Hear the latest from Edunation

Subscribe to our newsletter

Edunation, Mustanlahdenkatu 3-7 E, 33210 Tampere, Finland +358 50 354 8603
Mon-Fri, 9am-4pm (GMT +2)
© 2019 Edunation

Privacy Policy

Site by Atomi