by Tessa Särkilahti, degree student in media
Our little Finland is now 100 years old, congratulations! Three generations of independence has passed and in this short time we have grown this strong and independent safe welfare country we are today. Naturally there have been ups and downs but instead of focusing on all the problems we have a good reason to take a little break and celebrate. Let’s forget about neo nazis marching on the streets of Tampere and education budget cuts, it is time to think what is good about Finland.
Suomi 100-celebration started almost right after 99th independence day a year ago. The official theme is yhdessä (together) and in my opinion it has been really successful campaign. All the smallest companies and events are working in a collaboration with Suomi 100 and you can not escape the ads. From cleaning tool manufacturers to coffee companies everyone has created their own Suomi 100 marketing campaign in honor of Finland.
Even though Suomi 100 celebration campaign has been pretty commercial it has also brought people actually together. Everybody has been able to join the celebration and people have been active in social media in different campaigns.
At least for me, Finland has always been very equal and democratic. It can be a little boring sometimes but Finnish people appreciate peace, safety and honesty. Our welfare system is taking care of the weakest members of society (like us students) and offers equal right to everyone for good education and healthcare. The system is not perfect and Finnish people like to whine but personally I am very thankful for all the financial support my home country has offered me during my childhood years to this day. Taxes are no joke.
One thing I also really love in our little Finland is that nature is always close to you. Our air is fresh and smells good and the environment is clean, people tend to pollute and litter their environment wherever they go so Finland is my safe place. No one wants to live in here so we have a lot of unhabitated areas filled with beautiful forests, lakes and mosquitos. These pictures are from last summer when we went hiking in this old forest, these remains me how short and delicate finnish summer is. I love all the seasons equally.
Finnish art and design is very close to my heart, we have a lot of talented photographers, illustrators, painters, industrial designers, textile designers, architects, the list goes on. We’ve also succeeded to create some international brands that have stand the test of time like Moomins and Marimekko. Finland is also doing pretty good on international catwalks. Still I feel that most of the talent goes wasted and domestic design is underrated, it is such a shame! Buy more from local sellers.
When asking my foreign fellow students what do they value in Finnish culture, most people answer with confusion and silence. It is indeed a hard question, even I had to think about it twice and do some research what it actually means to live in Finland. It is maybe that Finnish people are somewhat introverted and slowly warming human beings, maybe our culture is just reflecting that. Being proud and bragging about yourself is not cool in here so people keep their achievements safe and hidden in their pocket where no one could find them or share them. Therefore our culture is a very well kept secret.
I asked what kind of things intrernational students from Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, Russia and Britain value in Finnish culture. The first thing they all said was that they think Finns are very honest and trustworthy, that we are calm and follow all the rules. These are nice compliments and very true! Thank you. We got minus points on being a little too boring and untemperemental but hey, can’t win all categories. Also being private and keeping personal space is a respected feature, Finland is a safe place to live, we have beautiful peaceful nature and our environment and cities are clean and well functioning. It is always refreshing to hear what visitors and foreigners think about your home country.
To be honest these answers didn’t surprise me, this is pretty much the same what I’m thinking about Finland and it’s people. I wish Finnish people could open up more to foreigners and visitors and show that there is so much more Finland that just sauna and beer. Also I was actually quite surprised that how less foreign students knew about Finland, our history, language, design, arts and folklores. It doesn’t really hurt to keep yourself updated while traveling.
Suomi 100 celebration year has come to its end and these past hundred years have created a good base for a bright future if things goes well. And I hope there will be many hundred years more. So congratulations again, you are beautiful, you are strong, you are independent, you are Finland.