5 Things I wish I knew before moving to Finland (Part 2)
This is a continuation of the first blog I wrote about 10 things to know before moving to Finland. In the first blog, I talked about recycling, personal space, silence, nakedness and so on. But in this blog, I will talk more about other aspects of the Finnish life.
- Finnish language: The Finnish language is not easy language to learn. As a matter of fact, Finnish is among the top 5 most difficult languages in the world. It is totally different from other Nordic languages and google translate doesn’t help you learn Finnish instead, might complicate things for you a little further. The Finnish language has many forms and might be difficult to acquire if you were not born in Finland or came to Finland at a very young age. However, some people are able to pick up the language after a few years of living in Finland and are able to speak, read and write Finnish language fluently. This is mostly seen among the Arabs, as Arabic is also a very difficult language. In my opinion, Finnish language might be more difficult for English speakers to acquire since a large percentage of the Finnish population can already speak English language.
- Greeting styles: Greeting styles in Finland are usually very formal. There is usually no hug or kiss. As a matter of fact, it is ok to greet another Finn without making any body movement. In a formal situation, a handshake is considered appropriate. Greetings are only usually with people that you are familiar with. Finns do not necessarily greet people whom they do not know even they use the same services with them. For example, it is quite common in Nigeria to greet elders on the street, people passing by, or even cashiers in the shops where you shop. In Finland, it is considered strange. First time I greeted a guard in front of a mall and he looked at me very creepily and strangely. It is also ok not to greet your neighbour if you are not familiar with them.
- Alcohol: Alcohol is a thing in Finland. Finns love to drink and celebrate with alcohol but surprisingly, it is heavily restricted and monopolised by the Finnish government. Alcohol sold in grocery stores which are only not higher than 5,5%, are only available to buy before 9pm every day and after 9pm is it impossible to get alcohol from a store or shop. The rest of the alcohol available is only sold by a government franchise store in Finland known as Alko. The Finns usually travel to Estonia or neighbouring countries to buy cheaper alcohol as alcohol in Finland is heavily taxed. It is also interesting to know that some Finns also buy Finnish alcohol or Alcohol beverages produced in Finland from abroad.
Another point to know about alcohol in Finland is that it is normal for Finns to bring along their own alcohol to parties. For example, you could be invited for a birthday party or graduation etc, and the invitation could also state that you should bring along your own booze. Sometimes, it doesn’t necessarily have to be stated in an invite, but the Finns will usually bring along their own alcohol for consumption.
- Driving and abiding by the rules: Driving in Finland is very enjoyable because of the good roads and there’s never almost traffic jam except in the big cities like Helsinki. Even Helsinki has a very efficient transport system that eases traffic jam when it is rush hour. There are strict driving rules in major roads in Finland, and usually drivers should drive according to speed limit. There are also speed cameras that could capture the license plate of your vehicle if you over speed, and you would be sent a speeding ticket. The speeding ticket also has a limit and a number before your license would be withdrawn from you. You should not drink and drive, as this also could be eligible as a crime in Finland. For most crimes like breaking speed rules, drunk driving and wrong parking, there is usually a fine that is billed to you depending on the amount of your annual income. To get a license for driving, you have to do a theory and practical exam. Or you would have a valid license from your country of origin which can usually be converted if you decide to live in Finland.
- Work culture: In Finland, work hours are usually from 8am or 9am to 4pm or 5pm. Standard working hours in a week is 37,5 hours. Workers and staff are allowed to take about two coffee breaks during work, and one lunch break. The lunch break is usually 30 minutes long. Week end and evening work hours are usually compensated. For example, working on Sunday will make you eligible to earn double the amount you usually earn on an ordinary week day. There are also extra bonuses and compensation for working on evening after 6pm, midnight and weekends.