Some things in Finnish culture and traditions can seem a bit strange for international students. However, if you want to learn to live like a local in Finland and dive deep into Finnish culture, here are a few steps to follow!
1. Learn to drink coffee
Finns love their coffee! In fact, they consume more coffee per capita than any other nation in the world, which is over 10 kg per person in a year. If you want to live like a true Finn, you must own a coffee maker. Finns prefer self-made coffee over takeaway!
2. Learn to like Finnish food
Karelian pies, mämmi and pea soup are all traditional Finnish foods and might look and taste weird to a foreigner at first. Learn to like at least one of these, if you want to live like a local in Finland. Not to forget the salty treat, salmiakki!
3. Go to sauna regularly
Saunas are substantial part of Finnish culture and almost every Finnish household has a sauna. In fact, there are over three million saunas in Finland for a population of 5.5 million people!
Going to sauna is often involved in Finnish holidays and there are also strong traditions regarding sauna culture. In winter, Finns might go outside to roll in snow or swim in ice-cold water after sauna! There is also a tradition of “beating” yourself with a bunch of birch branches.
All this might sound weird to you, but if you want to live like a local in Finland, you should get familiar with these sauna habits!
4. Go to a summer cottage and enjoy it
In summer, Finns love to go to their summer cottages. In Finland, many families have their own cottage, mökki, where they can spend weeks at a time, sometimes the whole summer. At a cottage, people go to sauna, barbecue, swim in a lake, play outside games, fish… The list goes on.
The whole point of going to a summer cottage is getting away from the hassle of big cities and being close to nature. This is how the Finns relax. If you want to live like a Finn, you must experience the “mökkilife”, and more importantly, you must love it!
5. Be on time
In Finnish culture, arriving late is considered rude and careless. If you agree to meet up at 12, a Finn will be there at 11.50. Never be late from a meeting with a Finnish person!
6. Don’t cross the street until the light is green
In Finland, you can be fined for crossing the road on a red light. So wait in line with the Finns for the light to turn green if you don’t want to get bad looks!
7. Learn to ski and ice skate
Almost every Finn knows how to ski and ice skate because they teach that for kids in elementary school. If you don’t want to stand out from the Finns by being clumsy when you ski or ice skate, you should learn those two winter sports!
8. Watch ice hockey
Ice hockey is a big part of Finnish culture and it is the most popular sport in Finland. Almost every Finn watches the Ice Hockey World Championship every spring, especially if Finland is doing well. So invite some friends over, turn on your TV, grab a beer and root for Finland!
9. Take your shoes off inside
Finns always take their shoes off at the door before they go any further in the house. In fact, it is considered extremely rude if you walk inside someone’s house with your shoes on. You will most definitely get bad looks by doing that, so always remember to leave those shoes of yours in the hallway!
10. Celebrate Finnish holidays
Go to a summer cottage at Midsummer, watch “the Castle Ball” (Linnanjuhlat) on Independence Day, celebrate Christmas on the 24th of December, shoot some fireworks on New Years Eve and have a picnic with your friends on the 1st of May.
If you want to read more about Finnish culture, you might also be interested in these blog posts: