As you can see by the title, I’m going to write about 10 differences that I’ve noticed between Finland and France. You can find even more of them but I tried to gather those that surprised me the most. Let’s start !
1. The language
Of course, it’s obvious. But, there’s still many differences that can surprise us. In Finland, we speak finnish (but also swedish, about 6% of the population). First of all, there are 3 more letters in its alphabet : “Å”, that’s similar to “O” in french, “Ä” that has no comparison with french and “Ö” that’s pronounced “E” in France.
Secondly, finnish has no articles like “le,la” or “un, une”. I find also that in Finland, people barely uses the “vous” form (the polite form) whereas in France it’s used very often.
“Do I -kiss- him or do we shake hands ?” is a question that we can ask ourselves in France. Yet, in Finland we do never -kiss- each other, it doesn’t exist. While a first meeting we’ll tend to shake hands or do a hug if it’s someone more closer to us.
This difference did surprise me a lot during my first days in France. I didn’t understand why people came so close to me, I didn’t even know how to -kiss-, ahah.
3. Among guests
Indeed, when you’re invited to someone, since you’ve crossed the door, you take off your shoes. Yes, you’re quite often in socks at parties, dinners,…For example, in primary school (when I still went to the finnish School) we took off our shoes before entering the classroom.
4. The notion of time
In time, early or late ?
In my opinion, in France we tend to cross people that are often late. By the way, it often happened to me to wait some time for my friends or even for an appointment to the doctor for example.
Yet, in Finland, people are rarely late. Most of the time they arrive earlier (it happened to me quite often in France and a few of my friends couldn’t stand it, ahah).
We hear frequently things about the Finnish education system. So I won’t explain to you everything in details. The thing that surprised me the most when I arrived in France, was the length of the school days.
In Finland, we start usually at 8am and we finish about 1, 2 or 3pm maximum. The classes last for 45 minutes and the recesses are about 15 minutes. The lunch breaks are not as long as in France, indeed, in France we tend to have a 1h-1h30 long break to eat whereas in Finland it’s only 30 minutes.
The holidays in-between the study periods, are also shorter in Finland ( about 1 week) than in France (about 2 weeks).
6. The winter
Most of the people that haven’t lived in Finland, imagine that winter is like a magical white world. Definitely, there’s snow everywhere but…the sun goes down early…very early. At the moment it’s the 11th of december and the sun goes down at 3:12pm.
My sister leaves for school when it’s dark and comes home when it’s dark. Personally, it’s the thing that I like the least in winter here. But, with the Christmas lights, the snow, and all the winter pleasures, you can easily get over it.
7. The fireworks
In France, we see most of the time fireworks during the 14th of July on the independence day. However, in Finland we do fireworks over the new year. New year is a huge party here, with the fireworks, the music and the melted tin.
What is that ? It’s a tradition in Finland during which you pore melted tin in a bucket with ice cold water ; depending on the form the metal takes it serves to predict your future !
In France, you can cross Tobacco stores almost at every street corner. In Finland it’s very very rare to find those. There’s no advertising on it and the places you can find tobacco are the gas stations or the supermarkets. But, they’re very well hidden behind the checkout in a distributor showing only numbers.
In Finland, you can see fewer smokers than in France.
Finnish people are party people and it’s well known. There’s one thing that can surprise strangers during their purchase of alcohol. They can only find some at “Alko”, it’s the only “brand” that can sell alcohol. “Alko” is often lying next to grocery stores, because in supermarket you can only get beers or ciders. Wines and the stronger alcohols are sold in “Alko ».
The age limit is 18 for wines and 21 for stronger alcohols.
10. The national sport
In France, the national sport is football. Young people tend to play football, and bars are usually transmitting football matches.
In Finland, it’s not football. Do you have an idea of what it could be ? …It’s ice hockey.
I hope that you enjoyed this post. I would like to finish this with a book that made me laugh a lot and that mentions a few of these differences. The books is by Philippe Guicheteau, “Courrier de Finlande”. In this book, there’s always one page written in finnish and an other in french. I advise you to go and read it !