Since Finnish independence day, on December 6th, I’ve been pondering over my Finnish-ness a bit more than usual. There are a few things that I used to do more of back home, while some have slowly gotten forgotten. It’s time for me to get back to them!
So – I thought I would share some of these habits with you:
#1 Speak when you have something to say
I may come across as extra silent sometimes. It is not customary for Finns to engage in a lot of small talk – we voice ourselves when we have an opinion or if something needs to be said. We feel comfortable just observing people around us, listening, pondering. Which leads me to my next point:
#2 Embrace silences
It is perfectly normal that there are a few minute long silences here and there during gatherings of Finns, at dinners, or during car rides. There is no need to fill this silence with small talk – just breathe, relax, and enjoy the atmosphere.
#3 Get out in nature
We walk in the woods, stroll along the beach, stand barefoot in the grass – because nature recharges us. In Finland we have this thing called “every man’s right”, which means we can go into forests, pick berries and mushrooms – as long as we don’t wander onto someone’s backyard.
Because nature is everyone’s right, it is also everyone’s responsibility – we don’t leave trash behind nor do we break anything.
It is a bit more challenging to get out in nature here in the Bay Area, as you have to go to dedicated state/county parks to get out. It is always worth the trouble, though!
#4 Take your shoes off at home
All that stuff that gets stuck to your shoes while your outside should not be transported into your carpet. Especially after we got a dog, I got very aware of the things that get tracked around with our shoes and paws.
#5 Stick to plans with friends religiously
When we say that we will meet up with someone or plan a trip together, we 170% expect it to happen. We are fully committed to anything that has been given a date. We only cancel on the “little things” like a coffee meetup if there is an emergency, we are sick, or our car broke down on the way.
#6 Gather around home-cooked meals
In Finland we ate out *maybe* once every 2-3 months – I kid you not. We went out for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries – but even then we often arranged for dinner at home with friends. Here in the Bay Area there is so much good food that we end up eating out quite a lot. But we are working on learning to make some of those delicious dishes ourselves.
Cooking at home is far healthier and cheaper than going out to eat. Well – depending on what you’re cooking of course. But it is also about making something with your hands, spending time in your own kitchen, and gathering around your own dinner table without distractions.
#7 Walk when you can
We’ve noticed that it is very hard to be a pedestrian here in the Bay Area. Not only are distances quite long, but the sidewalks aren’t lit up at night AND pedestrians aren’t taken into consideration well in traffic in general.
But – I still strive to walk whenever I can. The post office is about a mile away so I walk there to drop off photo books and print packages, and there’s a couple restaurants at walking distance by another apartment complex so we walk there instead of driving somewhere further. That way we get some movement as well as save on gas or Uber.