This post will be in English.

 

We all know people do things differently around the world but it can still be quite a shock when one lands on a new country for the first time. The British and The Finnish people are quite similar in many ways but there are certainly some differences. In this article, I'm going to share some so that you know what to expect.

1) Lack of small talk

This one is quite obvious, and almost a cliche about the Finnish people. It is true that small talk plays a much smaller role in Finland than in many other countries. However, there are places and times where it is very possible and even expected. The obvious example is in the workplace. Meeting new co-workers and people around the work site often begins with some small talk. Still, the topics are quickly changed to something a bit more personal most of the time. Asking questions about the person you are talking with is often a great option to move the conversation towards to.

2) Large personal spaces

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Picture taken by Santeri Viinamäki 2015

Finland is still a low population density country and because of that people really appreciate their personal spaces. You can quickly see that when people are speaking to each other they are standing a bit further away from each other than in most countries. This also is in effect at public places and queues, where one should keep their distance from the persons around them. Just by observing how the local folk keep their distance lets you quickly gauge the right one in each situation.

3) Sauna

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The sauna is a Finnish passion. If you are going to spend any time at all in Finland, most likely you will be invited to a sauna of some sorts. It can be a bit daunting for the first time but many people fall in love with the experience.

You should know that people are naked in saunas if they are among the same sex. In co-ed saunas, it depends on the situation and the relationships of the people attending. In these situations, you should politely ask. But if there is only one gender in the sauna, you should assume everyone is going to be naked.

The saunas can be quite a bit hotter than ones in Great Britain. Still there is no shame in leaving the heat earlier than others. It is not a competition of who can stay the longest. Once you leave the heat, you are in what is called a "jäähy". You will take a seat either outside or inside, and enjoy a beverage of your choosing. After that you will go back to the sauna once you have cooled down and repeat the process as long as you want. Make sure to drink enough water if you are a long time in the sauna to avoid dehydration.

 

All in all, there isn't much of a culture shock in Finland and most people you will meet are very similar to the ones near your home town. Just be polite and be prepared to answer some questions about your previous home. If you can let the person know that you know something about Finland, they will certainly appreciate the fact.