WHY YOU JUST NEED TO LOVE AND HATE THE FINNISH PEOPLE

This article is illustrated with the artwork of the brilliant David Shrigley, which I much enjoy browsing during sleepless nights.

When still living in Finland, I always felt a bit like a black sheep amongst my people. I’m very bubbly and social, probably gabbling whenever there’s an opening. Already at a young age I was told by my mom that I must be a latino soul mixed with a northern body. But then, when I moved abroad, it hit me; I really am a dyed-in-the-wool Finn and there’s no denying it. For me, foreign social customs often seem unnecessary and excessive. In Finland, if someone asks how you’re doing, it’s totally acceptable to give the ”Well, my life is being sucked to the black inferno of depression and my mom is drinking again, but otherwise things are cool” answer, because they probably really want to know (Why else would they ask? thinks the Finn). However, in the States for example, the only appropriate answer is ”I’m well thank you, how’re you?” and everything else will give you weird and long looks.

This is a post of my love-hate relationship towards my people. Some of what I thought to be their worst qualities have in fact shown to be purely golden!

Untitled (Circus), David Shrigley 2015

We’re crazy about waiting in lines.

There’s this one store in Finland that gives out free buckets whenever a new store opens. Yes, Buckets. Usually red ones. This day, roughly an hour before the store opens, the queue has already grown to be hundreds of meters long. The buckets always run out in the blink of an eye, and the events make front page news nearly every time without a doubt. Not to mention occasional occurrences of cheap gas or discounted flights. We put on our weatherproof clothes, get on the spot at least an hour before the opening time, and queue as only the Finns can.

 

The survival of the fittest; the free bucket mania. Image source: ess.fi (Not by David Shrigley, surprisingly)

We’re quiet, sometimes grumpy and can seem sort of anti-social. 

Well, perhaps not the millennials of the Helsinki metropolitan area, but in general. It’s not something we intend to do as an insult. The Finnish mentality is simple; why talk if there’s nothing important to talk about. Language is used as an unavoidable means of communication, not to create a chit-chatty atmosphere.  Silence is rarely seen as awkward, and it’s actually quite nice just to be with someone and get all silent together. Even though we might seem grumpy, we’re honest and hospitable people. If a Finn promises something, it’s a matter of honor to live up to his word. Less talk, more action!

 

Untitled, David Shrigley 2014

Finns do not bring out their problems. 

This concerns especially middle-aged men; my step grandpa for example avoided going to the doctors’ for so long that he eventually had a wide-spread Stomach cancer and was given just a few weeks to live. I suppose the mentality behind this is to not bother others with ones issues, and especially to avoid being felt sorry for. This can be seen to lead to a bunch of issues. Isolation, substance abuse, aggressive behavior and depression occur in situations where there’s no outlet for the negative emotions. For our nation, the past has not been easy; we’ve been under the rule of both Sweden and Russia, and as the underdog we have a history of having to fight for even our basic rights. Back in the 1950’s, after several decades of fighting in wars, the country was nearly in ruins. It hasn’t been an easy road to where we are today, and the development has been due to a lot of cold hard work. But Finns do not whine. Our working mentality is well known and valued across the world. We simply do what is needed, on time, no unnecessary questions asked.

We have a unique need of personal space.

Have you ever rode a Finnish bus? The story begins at the bus stop. Even if it’s rush hour, you’ll never see two people standing closer than a meter away from each other. The odds are, the crowd is quiet too. If there’s a bench and a thin seating space left, one shall absolutely not sit on it and risk touching someone else’s thigh or shoulder. Then you board the bus. If there is room, one shall only over their dead bodies sit next to someone. If the nightmare scenario of the bus being so packed that the only seats available are next to someone happens, god forbid if you get all friendly and initiate a chatty little conversation. Please just don’t.


There is Nothing, Then There is Something, Then There is Nothing Again. David Shrigley 2015.

Finnish people don’t take credit over their achievements.

If your Finnish co-worker finishes a huge project astonishingly and you congratulate him, he’ll most likely go all ”Oh no stop it it was nothing”. I see this as a real shame. It’s important to give and get credit from hard work, not least from yourself. To have some healthy pride over ones achievements is sometimes essential: to be able to tell the world with a child-like enthusiasm ”Look, I made this happen!”. Not giving oneself credit when credit is due is a slippery slope to underestimating ones skills and capabilities, and thus underachieving. But there’s a very valuable aspect to be derived from this. The Finns are not ones to indulge in bragging. Even if someone has done really well for themselves, has a huge villa to live in and a garage full of all toys imaginable, you seldom hear or see them showing off. This is a matter of honor, discretion and manners. It’s highly appreciated that money is not a topic of discussion, but rather something hovering in the background, a private matter.

And last but not least, let’s talk about the infamous Finnish accents in foreign languages

As you all probably know, Finland has a tradition of successful Formula 1 drivers. However, when the drivers later attend the interview after scoring a metal, the tables get turned. Whenever Kimi Räikkönen opens his mouth, the rustic rally English comes out to play. Finnish people in general tend to have a relatively large vocabulary and good grammar. Yet the flowing, melodious pronunciation just isn’t compatible with our way of speaking. Not to mention the ”finlandssvenska” people gladly point out when us Finns try our luck in speaking Swedish. 95% of the times I gather my courage and try to hold up a conversation in Swedish, I get called a mumintroll. I doubt it’s ever intended as offensive, but more likely to imply that I’m cute and funny. Nonetheless, I’ve grown pretty tired of it, but will not yield: practice is what makes perfect! What I’m proud of is that every citizen in Finland is required to undergo at least three years of studying swedish, aside of the 7 or at minimum 6 years of mandatory English studies. On top of this, many choose to study a third or even fourth foreign language, usually german or french. How about that, huh?!

A proud Finn over and out. Happy weekend everyone!

Hertta

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TIPS TO A POSITIVE EVERY DAY LIFE

Knit/Zara Woman,  Pants/Alice+Olivia,  Bag/Céline  Shoes/Adidas Originals

 

I’m a person whose life  has elements from both ends of the scale. I’m a maximalist, but enjoy minimalism. I’m an extroverted introvert. I clean my apartment with the enthusiasm of a person with an OCD but I also find absolute chaos fascinating. This can be tricky at times, and getting stuck to one end for too long breaks the balance and leads to negative paths of thought.

HERE ARE MY TIPS FOR A POSITIVE EVERY DAY LIFE. Goldilocks style, so that everything is just right.

Do a little cleaning every single day. Upkeep versus cleaning the house from bottom to top at once – needless to say which takes less effort. My environment affects me greatly as a Hyper Sensitive Person. If my apartment is cluttered, so is my mind. So a good rule of thumb has been to keep things neat, and do a little something every day. Change the sheets, dust the surfaces, arrange the closet… I know myself, If I let the dishes to stand in the sink for a whole week, I might as well let them be for a couple extra days, right?

Get moving. Whether a walk around the block before going to bed or a long bike ride in the nature, doing something physical daily will boost the positive mindset and the feeling of achieving something. I’m a little ”all or nothing” and often feel like the choice is only between killing myself on the track or lying in bed eating pasta. For me discovering the middle ground has been a huge ”eureka” moment. The steps forward don’t always have to be huge leaps.

Bounce back quickly. If it happens that I’ve been out dancing ’till the morning, I always allow myself one recovery day. This includes lying in bed, watching movies and ordering take out – without quilt. But the day after that, no mercy. Back to the long power walks and making myself look human in the morning, back to home-cooking and planning meals and doing domestic chores. This doesn’t prolong the negativity of being tired and not feeling well.

(Realistic and detailed) To-Do lists. Realistic and detailed ones, since I for example hoard a bunch of these ”Read a new book, learn a new language and learn how to do a full split in both ways – before the fall” lists on the notes in my iPhone. Yeah right not gonna happen. Tracking where you’re going and writing down how you get there is an easy way to keep actually going towards your personal goals. Set a goal, find out how to achieve it, and make a concrete list of the actions needed.

Don’t go to bed angry. A classic, but still very important. The people around us have a major impact in our own well-being, and we have in theirs. Sometimes major events in life set us apart for good, but whatever the situations are they often can be dealt with. Talk things out before they grow too large. Don’t let pride get in the way of friendships. Apologize and forgive. Take the effort to nourish your relationships, it’s a false belief that they would stay intact without maintaining.

Educate yourself. We tend to get tense and fear the unknown, as can often be seen in discussions about religion, other cultures, immigration, or politics. I’m not saying these opinions aren’t valid; difficult conversations around stigmatized areas HAVE to be undergone in order to make progress and better decisions. But deeply understanding the opposite side takes off the emotional load of arguments and makes them more often based on actual facts than visions or deep fears. We tend to dehumanize and ”other” our counterparts in difficult situations. It’s ”us” versus ”them” or ”it”. Educating oneself about both historical and cultural background that lies behind events makes things seem less black and white.

Locate the negative thoughts. Sometimes understanding why we feel a certain way goes above our capabilities. But our body and mind were designed long ago, and rather often their primitive responses are the cause of negativity. Hunger, feelings of sickness, stress, fear and even extreme temperatures easily cause a negative response. Recognizing that ”Ok, I’m feeling like screaming at everyone’s face right now – that’s probably just because I’m hungry”  immediately reduces the feelings of unidentified negativity.

Eat well. A really major one saved for the last. My own diet is nowhere near perfect, but I’ve realized I feel the best when eating around 80% fresh fruits, vegetables, berries, eggs, fish, tofu & rye bread. And a LOT of water. The other 20% is saved for treats, eating out, having an occasional glass of wine / beer, candy, ice cream or whatever I’m feeling for at the moment. A well balanced basic routine combined with flexibility has proven to feed both my body & soul the best!

Anything missing from the list?

Hertta

HOW I’VE GROWN IN THE PAST YEAR

Coat/J. Lindeberg,  Shirt/Anine Bing,  Trousers/Filippa K,  Flats/Tod’s,  Bag/Saint Laurent,  Sunnies / Dior

Moving abroad for the first time can be a life changing experience for anyone. As I was rather young and inexperienced when moving, nearly everything I was used to changed at once. Not only facing the challenges of living alone for the first time, but also being in a completely new country without a safety net felt terrifying at times. But I’ve made it through.

And here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. The things that seem huge and worth of stressing yourself sick about? Actually not that huge. I used to be terrified of university. I didn’t know anyone; missed the orientation week and just dropped into my first lecture (which was in swedish). I remember looking around in panic thinking ”is everyone else here as confused as I am” – but after a while the number of familiar faces grew and the language started sinking in. Had I just sat back and relaxed I would’ve saved myself from a lot of anxiety.
  2. Making large life decisions? You don’t have to make them all at once. Choosing a line of studies feels like determining what your whole future and career will be like. Well, it won’t. Because life happens. People quit their studies, get an opening in the working life and stick to that, change their majors, fall in love and move across the globe, the list is long. And it doesn’t make you any less respectable not to have stuck with what you thought was right when you were just out of high school. I still don’t have a clue what exactly I will be working with, but I’m confident that if I keep doing the things I enjoy it’ll figure itself out. And this is normal; just because a girl at your class knew she wanted to be a doctor at the age of 10, doesn’t mean that most people in their twenties (or even thirties) even have a hint. Liberating when you think about it.
  3. Choose your battles. This is a personal one. I’m a stubborn woman. Out of my own stubbornness I’ve spent a short lifetime fighting my family, my friends, teachers and even the occasional phone sales guy whenever I’ve been confident of being right. I still have a lot of work to do on this one, but I’ve began internalizing that having the last say isn’t always worth it.
  4. The every day life always hits you wherever you live. There are naturally exceptions to this. But as silly as it sounds I always pictured living abroad somehow glorious. Hah. As I’ve discovered, it’s still a lot of dirty dishes, pasta & pesto days when no-one (guess who) hasn’t done groceries in a while, and taking out the trash in sweats. Bad hair days, skin break outs, bloats, anxiety, sleeping terribly, procrastinating. But that’s life and behind the scenes we all have these things that make us normal human beings. It’s easy to be fooled by social media on this one.
  5. ROUTINES. Living alone with a flexible studying schedule, creating routines has become such a cornerstone of a functioning every day life. They consist of both responsibilities and nice, ”extra” activities. Maintaining a sleeping pattern, an eating pattern, a cleaning pattern. Going on long walks daily, or nearly daily. I’m easily distressed and tend to procrastinate. When I force myself through same regular activities on daily basis I don’t get a chance to ignore things that simply have to be done and feel bad about it. Touché.
  6. Appreciation. Yes I’m still an unreasonable cry baby at times when things don’t go the way I’ve pictured. But being responsible for my finances, apartment, studies, bills, and so on has taught perspective and the value of things, not to mention how well my family actually has provided for me in the past. Thanks mom & dad for always remembering to buy TP before it ran out. And also, slowly, I’ve learned appreciation for myself. Growing up I’ve been terrible at giving myself credit when credit has been due. A sense of self pride has been unfamiliar to me even though I’ve always done well in for example my studies. Nothing ever felt ”earned”; I always felt like I could’ve worked harder. These days I’m getting to the point where I can actually say ”yeah, I made it happen and worked for it”.  Sometimes.

So here I am now. Hopefully next year’s list will look as full.

Hertta

 

PS. Happy to answer any questions about the process of moving abroad!

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MONDAY

Sunnies & Bag / Céline, Coat / La La Berlin, Shoes / Adidas Originals 

 

Here we go, my first official post. A little nervous, but let’s do this!

I’m Hertta, a 20-year old young woman from Stockholm. I moved here in last September from Espoo, Finland, and during the past year Stockholm has become a new home to me. The transition hasn’t always been easy, as I suppose it rarely is when moving abroad, but I’m feeling like I’ve gained a huge deal. The wonderful people around me have multiplied, and I’ve even come closer with some old acquaintances. I can’t help but to love this city, and I think I’ll be writing about my experiences here up to a fair amount.

I adore fashion and playing dress up. Materials, patterns, colors, cuts, doing things a little out of line and making dressing art. Or practical, or useful, the limits are few. The valuable, precious things in life are many, but here I’ll be concentrating on beauty. Apart from style I guess I’ll be serving you pieces about living abroad, tips for both Helsinki & Stockholm, traveling experiences & advice, and perhaps even something personal every now and then.

This was my two cents this time, hope you guys have had a great start to the new week!

Hertta

 

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