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Finland is one of the most exotic experiences to discover: a land of contrasts, where the untouched and mystical nature meets modern thinking and technological innovation.
As one of the cleanest and safest living environments in the world, Finland’s highly regarded universities offer an ideal place of learning for international students. Here you can find out more interesting facts about life in Finland – its education system, culture, food, and religion.
Let’s start with something to help you understand the Finnish lifestyle before your journey is under way.
Outdoor lifestyle, technological innovation and online connectivity are big in Finland. This rare mix of nature and innovation makes Finnish lifestyle so intriguing. Combined with a safe, democratic environment and honest people, it’s easy to understand why Finland is consistently ranked as one of the best places to live in the world.
A Finnish friend is a friend for life. It may take a while in this generally introverted society, but once you have gained the trust and confidence of a Finn, you’ll soon find their warm and friendly side. So take your time and you’ll find it’s well worth the effort. Finns actually don’t take themselves too seriously, but they do appreciate things like a firm handshake before a kiss on the cheek or just a direct conversation instead of small talk.
Finland is a land of contrasts. The long, luminous summer nights and short, snowy winter days are split by a colourful autumn and a rejuvenating spring. Finns are proud of the variety of their weather and they embrace it. Cross-country skiing, the northern lights, picking berries or mushrooms and a dip into one of the thousand lakes will be on the menu. And yes – a sauna will be involved, no matter the weather or season.
Finland is one of the most well connected countries to Asia and the East, with many direct flights to all the major capitals daily. It’s also easy to travel around inside Finland to experience the Finnish lakes, archipelago, countryside and Lapland – with the one and only Santa Claus. Whether you wish to experience the Wife Carrying World Championships in Sonkajärvi, or the Suonenjoki Strawberry Carnival, there are trains, buses and planes to take you whenever you’d like to go! A train to Russia, boat trip to Estonia or Sweden is also another easy adventure to make. Alongside physical connections, Finland is one of the most connected countries in terms of the Internet and Wi-Fi: online connectivity is a default feature at just about every Finnish household, facility, or institution.
Finland is a unique mixture of East and West. Whether you enjoy urban culture and design, or wish to spot a bear in the wild, both are possible in Finland. The society features safety and equality with a democratic and transparent political system. As a student, you will find its clean air and safety to provide one of the best study environments you may never have thought of.
Being consistently ranked no. 1 in world education is a Finnish success story and no mere coincidence. Top among the Erasmus students, as well as ranked no. 1 and no. 2 among international students in the world in 2015 and 2014, Finland’s education system provides proven results and global career opportunities. In Finland, you have the chance to learn from some of the best educators there is. In fact, education remains a top priority in Finland and is widely available for everyone.
Peace and quiet is a default feature of the modern and progressive society of Finland. According to annual research reports, Finland always features among the safest countries to live in. A small population, combined with a high level of mutual trust and equality creates a positive environment for everyone. You are free to be yourself and make your ambitions a reality. There’s a saying that the “most reliable handshake is a Finnish one”. There’s a good reason for that.
Finland is a global frontrunner in digitalization. In a recent Digibarometer 2016 survey regarding the degree of digitalization, Finland was ranked #1 out of 22 countries. The measurement was executed on three different levels: preconditions, current utilization and its effects, with in three different sectors: companies, citizens and the public sector. The results stand as further proof of how advanced living and innovation is making a difference in everyday Finnish life.
It’s not hyperbole to state that Finland is the most functional country in the world. Things just work and get done here. That’s Finnish practicality and simplicity for you. As one of the most corruption free countries in the world, freedom of press and speech are priorities in public discussion. In addition, Finland provides free education, free healthcare and things like free libraries for its citizens. Everything in Finland is based on high quality and equality. This includes a high level of basic wellbeing, access to the technological advances and general tolerance towards others. All these factors – coupled with the world-class education system – add up to Finland being ranked as the no. 1 country with the highest quality of life in the world.
“Land of the midnight sun” and “the land of a thousand lakes” are some of the commonly heard descriptions of Finland’s unique landscapes and seasons. Breezy summer nights with 24 hours of sunlight, the spellbinding kaleidoscope of the autumn hues, mixed with a white winter wonderland offer visitors genuine ‘once in a lifetime’ experiences. The spectacular Northern lights await you, as does the diverse Finnish wildlife.
On top of the dazzling visual variety of its nature, Finland is also proud of its exceptionally clean air. In fact, WHO (the World Health Organisation) recently reported that Finland is among the top three countries with the cleanest air in the world.
Finnish food and its culture is a combination of classic European, Scandinavian and Russian elements. Relying on fresh ingredients, Finnish food is often quite mild, and prepared in a simple manner. And as always, nature plays an important role in the kitchen – just as it does in everyday Finnish life.
Traditional Finnish dishes feature ingredients from the country’s dense forests, with everything from mushrooms, berries and fish to game – including moose, reindeer and even bear! Finnish people also love to make and eat Karelian pies, the unique mämmi and – of course – rye bread.
Visitors of Finland might be surprised by the large variety of international cuisine and restaurants, ranging from kebab, sushi, and steak houses to Nepalese, Indian, Thai, Lebanese, Russian and Chinese cuisine. So in short: food in Finland is not limited just to Finnish culture. There are a wide variety of all kinds of exotic restaurants around the country. After all, the worldwide food carnival Restaurant Day, was originally invented in Finland – an event where anyone can put up a pop-up restaurant. So if you want, you can offer your cultural dishes to Finnish people. Go ahead. They are curious to try!
Every university in Finland has student cafeterias that offer quality food that is cheap and tasty. There’s something for everyone – including vegan food. Every student in Finnish university is well catered to, enabling them to study hard and enjoy the great outdoors.
Finnish tap water is amongst the purest in the world. So you can scratch bottled water from that shopping list! It’s worth knowing, however, that Finns are among the world’s biggest coffee drinkers. You’ll always find a coffee brewing at most restaurants and canteens (it’s usually served black, so don’t forget to ask for milk). Hot water is always available for those who enjoy the popular fruit and Ceylon tea blends.
Dairy products are popular with Finns, including milk and its sour, thicker cousin, Piimä. Be sure to always check the label, as many a foreigner has mistakenly added Piimä to their coffee! There are also many flavours of yoghurt available too.
Enjoying a social occasion with a summer grill, boat ride or sauna evening is never far away. So Finns have made a decent selection of their own beer to go with that. Microbreweries are also thriving in Finland, with more than 50 private breweries to date. Another drink to try is Napue Gin: A Finnish gin, that was selected as best in the world in 2015.
In general, drinking habits in Finland mainly follow common Scandinavian and European practices. Consumption of wine and beer has increased in the recent years. You can buy beer and cider from normal grocery stores between 9AM and 9PM. Wine and spirits are only available from the state-run ALKO stores, which are usually located near grocery stores.
There is a freedom of religion in Finland – this means that everyone can freely select and practice their religion. Most of the Finnish population is Evangelical Lutheran (approx. 75%), while 22% of Finns do not belong to any religious community. Other major religious groups in Finland are Orthodox (1%), Pentecostal (1%), and Muslim (1%).
Finns are quite private of their religious views, and their religious beliefs or habits are generally not visible in everyday life.
In addition to the Evangelic-Lutheran and Orthodox churches, there are Catholic, Jewish and Islamic congregations, as well as numerous smaller religious communities. Since the number of immigrants in Finland is growing, so does the contact with other religions.
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