Finnish Culture

The Finnish language

There are a lot of things we learned about the Finnish culture during our stay in Finland. But what we are absolutely sure of, is that the Finnish language doesn’t sound like any other language we ever heard before. It doesn’t sound like Swedish. It doesn’t sound like Russian. We don’t know what it sounds like. Sometimes it sounds like a language of a fantasy story. For example the difference between some words in Finland, compared to that from other countries:

Falsi Fout Falsk Falsoequateursystem

The words ’false’, ‘system’ and ‘equator’ in different languages.

Do you see the difference compared to Finland?

Not only is it a very rare language, it is also a hard language to learn. While our stay in Finland we talked about the language a lot. For example, some Finnish girls learned us about the two word sentence ‘Kuusi palaa’. But what is so special about these words? Well, a lot. This two word sentence has nine different meanings. NINE! It means the following things:

  1. the spruce is on fire
  2. the spruce is returning
  3. the number six is on fire
  4. the number six is returning
  5. six of them are on fire
  6. six of them are returning
  7. your moon is on fire
  8. your moon is returning
  9. six pieces

Crazy right?

Not only are there a lot of Finnish words who have more meanings. There are also a lot of really long Finnish words. For example the word: Lentokonesuihkuturbiinimoottoriapumekaanikkoaliupseerioppilas, what means: “airplane jet turbine engine auxiliary mechanic non-commissioned officer student”. Good luck remembering that!

Another remarkable thing about the Finnish language is the tongue twister “ Kokoo kokoon koko kokko! Koko kokkoko? Koko kokko”. You would think it is never possible that these two sentences are having a real meaning. But it really has: “Gather up a full bonfire! A full bonfire? A full bonfire”. Welcome to the finnish language

Good luck trying to differentiate everything….

But enough about the remarkable things the Finnish language has. Time for a short English lesson! We will learn you some words we used and heard the most while our stay.

Hello Moi
Thank you Kiitos
You’re welcome Ole hyvä
Good morning Hyvää huomenta
Good day Hyvää päivää
Good evening Hyvää iltaa
Good night Hyvää yötä
Beer Olut

These are probably the most important words to learn when you want to visit in Finland. Of course you can learn more, but we can tell you, it is really hard to remember everything.

Conclusion of the Finnish language from us: we have gotten a lot of respect for the Finnish speaking population while our stay here, that’s for sure.

The Finnish food

The pea soup!

I was doing my dishes in the communal kitchen when a Finnish girl was coming in.

She took a cant and emptied the content in a saucepan. When we saw the colour of the soup, we both agreed…. “It looks like no good”! It’s one of the reasons why children don’t like it! But the girl loves this traditional Finnish food. She put mustard on the top and it was ready to eat! In fact, in Finland it’s not common to make this soup. The reason why the Finnish people buy this soup directly, and not make it themselves, is not because of a lot of ingredients… It’s only water and peas! But some people add jam on the top!

During the Finnish wars, the army ate this soup. The military could make and eat it easier than another food!

Enjoy your soup!




What is this food?! Each supermarket sells it… I have seen a Finnish student girl get it out of the oven… It looked like a base with cheese inside. But we couldn’t smell the cheese. It was very interesting but I was too shy to ask if I could try some. So I have asked questions about this mysterious food that Finnish people don’t propose to share! :p

It’s a traditional pastry from Eastern Finland. It’s composed by raze and not cheese!… It’s amazing because inside this Finnish speciality there is rice, but in Finland we can’t grow this cereal… “What is the fuck!?”

This food is for all moments of the day! If you are hungry before going to a party .. Eat Karjalanpiirakka! If you come back at three o’clock in the morning and you are hungry…. Eat Karjalanpiirakka!

There is some variance to replace the rice. For instance you can make a Karjalanpiirakka with potatoes or carrots. You can also transform it in a real treat. In fact, if you agree with yourself to prepare your summer body later, you can add butter or eggs on the top!

Ingredients Nutrition

Servings 16 Units US


  1. For the Filling:.
  2. In a saucepan combine the water and rice. Bring to a boil.
  3. Stir, cover, and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the milk, cover, and continue cooking until the milk is completely absorbed and the rice is soft and creamy.
  5. Preheat oven to 450°F
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. For the Pastry:
  8. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the water, salt, and rye and white flours to make a stiff dough.
  9. Shape the dough into a log and cut into 16 portions and shape each into a round.
  10. On a lightly floured board, roll out each round into a 6-inch circle.
  11. Spread about 3 tablespoons of filling evenly on each round.
  12. Fold two opposite edges of the pastry over the filling and crimp the edges of the dough toward the center to make an oval-shaped pastry, allowing about 1/2-inch of the crust to overlay the filling and leaving the center of the filling exposed.
  13. Place on the prepared baking sheet.
  14. In a small bowl, stir together the melted butter and hot milk and brush on the pastries.
  15. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, brushing once during baking, until the pastries are golden on the edges.
  16. Remove from the oven and brush again.
  17. For the Egg Butter:.
  18. In a small bowl, cream the butter. Stir in the eggs.
  19. Season with the white pepper and ground ginger, if desired.
  20. Yield: 1 cup.
  21. Cool the pastries and serve with the egg butter at room temperature.


Be careful when you choice your pizza!!

I was on my computer when my French friend, Arnaud, said to me: “Alex, with the Finnish and Belgium girls, we will eat pizza! If you want, you can choose your pizza with the girls in the living room!” It was interesting…. No need to do the dishes afterwards.. Only wait on your sofa for the delivery man. So, I went to the living room where the girls were choosing their pizza. I took the document to read the options.

All the ingredients were written in Finnish… Good luck! So…. I asked Finnish girl if there is pizza with kebab meat. It’s one of my favourites. She said to me yes! So, I trusted her and I ordered this one…


But I didn’t get all the right information! The pizza was full of hot peppers…. Enjoy your pizza! So, I had to separate the hot peppers from the pizza because after I ate half, my mouth was on fire!

A few weeks after, we went eating in a Pizzeria in Helsinki. I wanted to find a nice Pizza Kebab! So, I asked the guy of the restaurant whether he knows if the pizza with kebab meat is hot. His answer was “no”. Perfect! I ordered this one! Finally, it was also with hot pepper!!!

menu pizza

So last time, before ordering, I took my best friend “Google translation” to find my perfect pizza. And surprise! I found the hot pizza!

And the hot thing on the pizza turned out to be ‘Jalapeno’s’. My advice to you is: if you don’t like spicy food, never order something with jalapeno’s!


menu pizza with jalapeno


Going out

When I think of Erasmus I think of drinking, partying and meeting everyday new people. The thing is going out while living in Kiljava campus is difficult! We live in the middle of nowhere…


However, every Wednesday they organise a karaoke evening. This already ends at 00.30! Still, this can be nice. Maybe someone has a hidden singing talent 😉 the not so nice part of karaoke is that a lot of old people come over. They drink a lot and only sing old Finnish songs…


Another thing that makes going out difficult is the price of alcohol. This is really expensive. For a good beer you pay around 10€. You can’t just buy alcohol in a normal store. Here you’ll only find beer with low percentage and non-alcoholic wine. For the real alcohol you have to go to an Alko and again this is not so close to our campus.


This all sound pretty depressing so why are we still happy?

We went to Tallinn! We stayed in an amazing party hostel. Going out in Estonia is really cheap especially after living in Finland 😉 even the Finnish people go to Tallinn to buy their alcohol and that’s what we did. Now we can just make our own party’s at the campus. And if you’re in good company live is always a party 😉


If you want to go out in Helsinki I would recommend an Irish pub. You can party here all night long (or until 2.15 because the last bus to the campus is at 2.30). They have live bands and in the pub itself they play different music styles so it’s a place for everyone.


Last but not least you can always ask the Finnish students for some good places. If you’re lucky they even have extra space in their car. Then they love to bring you to some clubs 🙂



Are the stereotypes real ? Let’s make an investigation about the clichés !


Every country have a really long list of stereotypes, and Finland is not an exception. Going in an other country can be a possibility to verify the stereotypes that you believe in which can be wrong or true.

First, to be fair and realized how we can be judged by the other countries, let’s see the clichés of each country where we, the Erasmus students, come from :


cliché hollandais Dutch people are constantly stoned, they don’t hesitate to dare to say to people what they have in their mind, they are rude and they become really attentive when it’s about their money.



The French people are really nationalist and the cheese is their God. Their jobs are always related with arts and cooking, and they are food and wine lovers “Oh là là!”, maybe for this reason they are life enjoyers.




spain cliché

If I say to you these following words : hot blood, fury, passionated lovers, laziness, procrastination. Can you tell me about who we are talking about ? That’s the Spanish people who take everything easy and enjoy their life with sangria and paella.



cliché germa


What to say about German people? Beer, wurst, beer, wurst, beer, wurst, … But even though they drink so much they are really serious and they don’t laugh a lot. Be strict and well-organized is running in their veins.


cliché belge

In Belgium the people are kind, naive and they are considered stupid at the same time by their neighborhood countries. They seem younger in appearance but not in mind … Drink a lot of beers and make a good chocolate are the best abilities that they have.



Now let’s talk about our adopted country for our Erasmus experience : FINLAND.


Before coming to Finland, we didn’t know a lot about the social culture of the country and its people. We didn’t know how the people from Finland are communicating with each other, how they express their feelings or how their friendships and family relations are. Nonetheless we were expecting to find a person according to these next stereotypes.


  • All the Finnish people are introvert, don’t show their emotions and never smile.

This is one of the bigger stereotypes about the Finnish people, but when you spend every day with them, you realize that they are no like robots. Of course they can not be compared with the people form south Europe, but you can perceive something from them..

  • All the Finnish people don’t talk to strangers.

It’s not so easy to accost Finnish people because they look serious. And one thing to consider is : they don’t like to be near people, you have to keep a distance between you and them. But..but when you learn more about them, then this distance can be destroyed and you can talk to them easily. 

  • All the Finnish people are calm. 

F-A-L-S-E, completely false. If you live with them you can hear shouts all the day at all hours. Something that surprised and impressed us. 

  • Finnish guys and girls are good-looking.

Before coming to Finland, we can imagine that people are handsome and attractive. In fact, it’s not completely true but it can be consider by many different point of view. It depends if you like tall blond-haired and blue-eyed persons! Oh…wait.. that’s a new stereotype!

  • All the Finnish people are tall, blond-haired and blue-eyed.

Most of them are like that. If you get bored in the transport, you can play a game and try to count how are they. It can happen that some of them don’t want to belong to this figure and try to hide these scandinavian attributes by different manners.

  • All the Finnish people are depressed. 

Cold and darkness. What could be more depressing ? It’s less depressing for them when they are drunk.

  • All the Finnish people are alcoholic.

We can corroborate that this stereotype it’s more true than false, Finnish people drink a loooooooot, and where can they find so much alcohol? In Tallinn of course, you can’t find cheap alcohol in Finland, so let’s go to Estonia! But there is a good new, there are studies where is said that the consumption of alcohol is decreasing in Finland.

  •   Sauna, Sauna and Sauna. 

It’s quite strange if you describe to someone who doesn’t know what is a sauna. “Well, in Finland, I am sitting naked in big hot box and I throw water on stones…” Sounds weird. But it’s the temple of the Finns and it become ours as well because there is nothing better than relaxing and sweating in a sauna after a long day.

  • All Finnish people are honest. 

In every country there is honest people and dishonest people, and in Finland as well.

  • All the Finnish people respect the rules

They are not so different to the other european people, they also cross the road when the traffic light is red!But one of the things that impressed me, and in a really good way, is that they respect a lot of the nature, and they have a lot of rules to conserve it. Hopefully all country had the same consideration to the nature.

  • All the Finnish people speak good english.

Another false stereotype. Not everybody speaks good english, it’s more, not everybody speaks english, and you can find it out, for example, using public transport or going to the supermarket. If you take the right bus: congratulations!!


Can you approve these stereotypes ?

As we can see, all these stereotypes are not completely true but sometimes you can discover a little part of the truth. We encourage you to verify these stereotypes by yourself and see if they are right. BON VOYAGE !!!!!!  

Demonstration in Finland – Voices in the streets of Helsinki

Demonstrations in Finland? Sounds untypical for Finnish people right? That’s why we decided to find out just how Finnish people demonstrate. On the 12th of March we took part in our first Finnish demonstration in Helsinki. On that sunny Saturday around 8.000 Finns from all sides of the political landscape were on the streets to fight together against the “dark government cloud” and government’s austerity plans.

But aren’t Finnish people known for not being very talkative and shy towards strangers? Well…we decided to ignore that stereotype and confronted them directly. With the microphone on and a couple of questions in our pockets we tried to get an authentic picture of the demonstration while interviewing Finnish people, both demonstrators as well as rubberneckers who just watched the event. We asked about why they are going on the streets, how they feel and what they think – what their voices in the streets mean to the Finnish society.

And what a surprise! Finnish people do talk to strangers and they can be talkative! We had a couple of very interesting answers and we met a lot of very nice people!

Interviewer Arnaud ready to talk to the voices of the streets about the demonstration in Helsinki

The reactions of the interviewees in the streets of Helsinki differ, but are mostly positive. The demonstrators were workers, students, parents, kids, elderly people and many more, demonstrating against austerity measures and funding cuts, for ecological reasons, like saving and protecting the planet and especially the Finnish nature, lakes and water as well as financial reasons like capitalism, student money and education.

The demonstration started at around 14:00 on the Senaatintori (Senate Square) with a speaker and music, people were sitting on the staircase of the Helsingin tuomiokirkko – the Helsinki Cathedral, warming up their voices to get ready for the march in streets, signs in their hands with statements to show what they are demonstration for.

Demonstrators on the Senate Square holding up signs

_DSC7642 sign demo2

A lot of people also just watched the demonstration and weren’t quite sure what the voices of the streets are demonstrating for but seemed interested and wanted to know more about the demonstration. Compared to our countries, Germany and France, we noticed on arrival that the demonstration was much quieter. So why? Don’t they want to change something?

After approximately an hour the demonstration continued as a parade marched towards the Hakaniemi Market Square. Suddenly there was more movement, more noise, more people and we felt the voices of the streets, their concerns and fears. Still peaceful and calm but with more ambition.

Do you want to know why people went on the streets and how they felt about the protests? Here you can listen to the voices of the streets, their emotions, statements and fears: Voices in the streets of Helsinki

But what were our fellow exchange students saying about the demonstrations? We received the following answers from Alex and Aline, both from France (of course):

Alex: “It’s a sunny day with positive atmosphere and a lot of people from all origins, every age, it’s a very, very nice. We can also find dogs in demonstration, but dogs don’t speak very much, because they don’t speak Finnish or English very well. But I’m also a bit disappointed with the demonstration, because there is no violence, it’s too calm and with music.”

Aline: “For the beginning it’s a calm demonstration, but hopefully it will become more violent at the end because I saw people with alcohol and they might become violent because they are maybe disappointed.”

Interviewer: “And will you get violent?” Both: “No never.” Others: “Of course, for sure – French people!” 😉 Luckily we managed to keep the three French away from any violent acts, which was not easy! 😉

Exchange students marching with Finns through Helsinki – trying not to become violent

All in all we can say that it was an interesting experience to join a demonstration in another country than our own, we had lots of fun while interviewing the Finns and also marched with them for a couple of hundred meters during the demonstration.

Wake up in the snow !


We are 9 exchange students who started studying in Finland. We study at the University of Applied Science of HUMAK in Nurmijärvi. We are from all over Europe: France, Netherlands, Spain, Germany and Belgium. But why choose Finland? The beautiful nature, the interesting program, the desire for snow?  Let’s find out!


Being a sport-a-holic is definitely possible in Nurmijärvi. In the past weeks, we already enjoyed a lot of different activities. First of all, Finland is well known for their cross-country skiing. Here they just call it skiing. In this area you can also do it. And… It is fun! The accommodation doesn’t have skies for us. So one of our teachers brought 2 pair of ski’s that we could borrow. THANK YOU!

Kuva2          Kuva3

Once the Finnish students organized winter funny games. We played football in 20cm snow! Fun guaranteed! You slip, the ball doesn’t go the way you want and everyone is laughing. We also made ice sculptures that day. What do you think of our results?


Catepillar       Unicorn

                     Catepillar dragon                                                           unicorn

Further there is a gym you can always use, a swimming pool and a large sports hall. Two days a week we can use the sports hall with the students. Then we play games like volleyball and badminton.


In our first week we had a lot of introduction about the Finish school system, Humak, the area… But also a lot of fun things were in the program. One of them was an outdoor sauna and a swim in ice water. The sauna is located near a lake and completely frozen. Except one part, here we could go in the water. They recommended us to first go in the water and then to the sauna. So we did, starting scared, but full of adrenalin! It was so refreshing and we felt alive. Then to the sauna. Also great! Some of us went a couple of times to the sauna and back to the lake. Already addicted after one time.

After the sauna, we stayed in the cabin and ate some cookies, fruits,… We talked and practiced our Finnish. Not a typical party, but one we will never forget!



First impressions Helsinki

Helsinki is a beautiful city. It has huge buildings and is quit clean. When you take the bus from our place to Helsinki, you’ll arrive in Kamppi. This is an area where are a couple of shopping centers, a bus station, a railway station… There is also a lot of beautiful culture. The modern art museum is definitely recommendable. I haven’t been there yet. But other Erasmus students have. They were enthusiastic and when I saw the pictures, I understood why.

Kuva5         Kuva6

          Modern arts museum                                                       Modern arts museum

Nice to know

We also had some struggles and questions the first weeks. Sometimes it’s nice to know already things before you go to that country. So here a couple of ‘nice to know’:

First, bring a picture (like the one on your passport!) You will need a student card and then this is necessary.

Another nice thing to know, don’t bring to many hot clothes. The building is quite warm! So bring 1 or 2 thick sweaters, but 5 is too much and not necessary.

Third, shops and parties are not close! The closest shop is 5 km from our staying. Some students have a car, then you can ride with them. Otherwise you can walk (1h) or take the bus. Hitchhiking is also very useful. When the winter is over, we can also use the bikes. For a party you have to be in Helsinki. That is 50km from Kiljava Opisto (1h with the bus). There is one night bus at 2u10.

You want to drink alcoholic drinks? That’s possible, but not as easy then in most countries. If you go to a normal shop, you won’t find alcohol above 4.7%. If you want stronger drinks, go to an Alko. They have a large offer of different drinks. Alko’s are easy to find, but look at their closing hours. On Saturday they close up at 18 hours.



And last but not least, there is a lake here! When we arrive, you could just walk on the ice. In a couple of weeks the lake will melt. We can take a boat and enjoy the lake in a whole different way. Nature is beautiful and by the changing of seasons, we can replace the winter activities as skiing  to frisbeeing!



When I hear Erasmus, I automatically thing of traveling. These just go together. Above you could already read about Helsinki. But we still want to visit much more.

Some of us have visited Turku, we loved it. It is a very nice and cosy city. We went to a Castle, Biological museum, Cathedral,… Now that biological museum, not quit recommendable. But the castle is! A lot of interesting information and a beautiful building.

Further we went to a couple of bars in the weekends. We enjoyed our time with a beer (or a coke) and played games. When the Easter holidays are coming, we all have the opportunity to travel again. Everyone has their plans; Tallinn, Riga or Lapland.

We are still looking for more opportunities to travel and time by time we find those. Goal for at the end: see as much as possible of Finland and the neighbouring countries.

In turku    Turku Castle

                               In Turku                                                         Turku Castle