I came across with the article describing how Europe starts from the other side of Baltic Sea. And how Finland is rather weird, boring and ugly place to live. According to the article, Finns typically do not talk to anyone and are quiet and different places do not look very inviting.
Part of me of course wants to say this isn’t true, and part of me says it is true. Of course you naturally think that this kind of writing is wrong and people who say something like this do not know the truth. But at the same time it is partially true.
Finnish people are rather quiet people and big cities have become less and less Finnish. You see international brands everywhere and cities aren’t any longer what they used to be. They have also become a bit more unsafe, at least feeling like that.
But it isn’t a complete truth. This is now second time I am living in Hämeenkyrö and it is feeling different than during the first time. I just walked out today from the grocery shop and I was thinking that I should write something about this and then I came across with this article describing how Finland isn’t exactly European. When we moved to Hämeenkyrö, I was more like a city person. At least I consider myself like that. I didn’t want to have unnecessary discussions with people and I was feeling hurry all the time. Certainly the office life is now even more busy than it was back then but I have noticed that when I come to Hämeenkyrö, I can tolerate slower life much easier than before. I have noticed that I have time to have long discussions with people in the grocery shop and I have time to wait.
There are lots of small things around me what has made me thinking that certain kind of slow motion living and old fashion living is returning to Finland. The traditional countryside peace of mind where you don’t worry too much about the busy life and you appreciate small things.
Some time ago I needed to renew my passport. I tried to do it in Tampere but the queue was impossible and would have taken over half a day, reserving the time would have pushed me to wait for two weeks. At that moment I remembered that we have a police station in the nearby city. I drove there in the morning and without any kind of queue I submitted my passport application and I was ready. Most of the time actually was spent when I was just chitchatting. And another topic drew my attention, there were some teenagers bicycling across the street and all the cars stopped - this doesn’t happen in big cities but surprisingly in this small city (which doesn’t have any traffic lights), car drivers actually gave way for bicyclers. Nobody seemed to be in hurry. I have been trying to do the same in Tampere and usually it just creates the situation where other car drivers around me try to create dangerous situations where they don’t stop while I have and pedestrians cannot know if they can trust car drivers.
And lately, I have noticed that I am waiting patiently when people are chitchatting in the grocery shop line and when it is my turn, I do the same. A person who moved from big city and never talked, is now chitchatting! I have found myself looking something to buy in the grocery shop and one of the members of the staff has told me that I shouldn’t buy this particular fish because Fangfang already bought that earlier the same day. First of all, they know me, and second, they know Fangfang. And they remember what she bought. I consider it amazing and something I never would experience in the big busy city.
What happened today what made me think to write this article? I picked up some basic groceries and one of the members of the staff in the grocery shop once again asked how is Fangfang and if we have already news about the baby. Apparently the whole shop is waiting for our news about the baby. And they are excited about it.
Some people might say, well, it is a small countryside town and people are bored and of course everyone knows everyone. But that is the point, this kind of friendliness and social life is important and I feel it is coming back to Finland. Maybe only to countryside towns, which are badly suffering from lack of services and people moving away. But maybe some of us are moving back because we want to go back to simpler life and where we don’t have to worry about unsafe big cities or maybe we are tired that the local hypermarket doesn’t have anyone working there who would even remember us.
Friendly Finland exists, it is just hidden.