The mystery Nordic country
Before I moved to Finland, I kept having conversations like these:
Me: “I am going to study in Finland”
Them: "Wow, Holland is a nice place.”
Me: “No, it is Finland.”
Them: Yes, I know, the country that invented IKEA.”
Finland is less well-known than most other western countries. But in my opinion it’s a unique place, and whether you are a tourist or a future student, there are many things you should know before visiting. The first is that IKEA is from Sweden, not Finland!
Basic information about Finland
Finland is a Northern European nation bordering Sweden, Norway and Russia. It is a thoroughly modern welfare state with well-planned and comfortable small towns and cities, but it still offers vast areas of unspoiled nature.
Finland has approximately 188,000 lakes (about 10% of the area of the country), and a similar number of islands along the coast. In the northernmost part of the country, the Northern Lights can be seen in the winter and the Midnight Sun in the summer.
Finns also claim the mythical mountain of Korvatunturi as the home of Santa Claus, and a burgeoning tourist industry in Lapland caters to Santa fans.
Finland’s citizens speak Finnish, although Swedish is also an official language. The indigenous Sami language group is recognized in the Finnish constitution too.
Finnish is also considered the most difficult language in the world, because it differs from almost all European languages. According to studies though, Finnish is a very logical language, as many students who have methodologically studied it will admit. Based on personal experience, if you want to learn Finnish, you need to put in a lot of effort. But it is very beneficial if you can speak some Finnish, as all the things in supermarkets are written in Finnish. But most Finns know how to speak English too, so not to worry!
The famous book “Finnish Nightmares” tells a lot about Finnish people and their behaviour. Described as shy people, I did experience some cultural shock when I waited and got on the bus in Finland. People were sitting like this:
They always keep a safe distance with each other and usually there is no small talk on the bus. But once you get to know a Finn, you will soon find that they are friendly and reliable.
Finnish experience: Sauna
As a tourist or a student, the top of the to-do list in Finland should be visiting a sauna. Just imagine being in the place where the sauna comes from and how wonderful it will be!
As international students, we are offered a sauna in each housing area. After booking online, we can relax there and enjoy our own private time. For those people who are brave enough, after having a sauna in the cold winter you can jump into an ice-cold lake to experience this most unforgettable moment!
Other Finnish things (Iittala, Angry birds, Nokia)
There are famous Finnish brands, for instance Iittala and Angry Birds. Marimekko and our favourite cartoon characters, Moomins, also come from Finland. Nokia was once considered one of the most successful cell phone brands in the world.
In addition, Finnish chocolate and coffee are the best among I’ve tasted so far. I strongly recommend my favourite type:
And my favourite coffee which is also the most popular one in Finland.
Before going to Finland, there might be also some other things you should know. If you have any further questions, there are some good sources where you can find information online: the official travel guide of Finland, This is Finland, Lonely planet-Finland.
Learn more about studying in Finland
Finland University serves as a gateway to some of the finest Finnish multidisciplinary universities in the country. If you are interested in studying in Finland and would like to find out more, the downloadable Finland University guide tells you everything you need to know about applying for the international Master’s degree programmes and scholarships at our member universities.
Interested? Download the guide to learn more!