LivingTravel10 things you should not do in Finland

10 things you should not do in Finland

In Finland, there are certain things it just doesn’t do – subtle differences that you as a traveler should be aware of to avoid those dreaded moments of discomfort. That said, many travelers who have never been to this part of the world can experience a severe culture shock. To keep you from innocently stepping on some Finnish toes, here are some social bans to keep in mind.

Don’t interrupt a conversation

This is difficult for most Westerners, as we all love to engage with our own story before the speaker has finished. It’s rude, but it doesn’t seem like we care too much since that’s how our normal conversations go. In Finland, this is unacceptable.

Serial conversation is the rule here. Think of it as a valuable learning skill: listening with the intention of understanding rather than responding. Foreigners may find tolerance for silence disconcerting, but Finns do not engage in small conversations just for the sake of talking. Here, every word is meant to deliver a message.

Don’t compare Finland with other countries

Especially Sweden. And please don’t try to start a conversation by asking if Finland was ever a communist country like its neighbor Russia. Remember that Finland is a proud entity on its own, so don’t group it with the rest of Eastern or Northern Europe. Don’t be an ignorant foreigner; Educate yourself on the basics. You wouldn’t want people to make inaccurate comments about your track record in their own territory.

Don’t overturn too much

This rule applies to most Scandinavian and Nordic quantities. Tipping is not required in Finland, and if you want to tip, simply round the bill to the nearest 5 or 10 euros or put something in the tip cup. Unless you are in a tourist area, you can choose to avoid tipping entirely; some locals won’t know how to react if you do so and may believe you’ve made a mistake. But if in doubt, just ask if tips are accepted.

Not brag

Nobody likes a big braggart, but Finns have an especially low tolerance. Finns are modest, downplaying their own achievements, and hardly worrying about anything. Here, humility and grace will take you far, as they see modesty as the greatest virtue.

Don’t wear clothes in the sauna

That’s right, no clothing or bathing suits are worn in public saunas. This is a concept that most of us might find strange, especially considering how highly Finns value their privacy, but it’s just how it’s done. Men and women do not sauna together, except as families. If you absolutely refuse to sit there in your natural glory, you can cover up, but this is not the social norm.

Don’t make public displays of affection

Hooked on public displays of affection? Don’t Do It Walking hand in hand with your loved one is acceptable and even romantic in most of the world, but this is Helsinki, not Italy. Finns are not usually sensitive, so avoid public displays of emotion. In fact, touching, especially a strong male bonding slap on the back, can be perceived as condescending. They generally like their personal space, so keep your hands to yourself, unless you’re greeting someone with a firm handshake.

Don’t show up without notice

When visiting a venue, only do so by invitation. If he shows up unannounced, he may be greeted by a closed door. If you made plans with the host, be on time. Making empty promises is also a prohibition. If you set up a date with a Finn, they will keep it. They are punctual and reliable. Be courteous and do the same.

Don’t leave your shoes on

Taking off your shoes when entering someone’s home is not something that is only practiced in the East. Most Finnish households remove their shoes at the front door and walk around in socks or slippers. However, this is not practiced in every home, so if you are unsure, ask. If you see shoes neatly stacked by the front door, that’s a good clue.

Do not comment on the Finnish ice hockey team

It is common to talk about sports in some countries, so to avoid culture shock, be sure to only say words of praise about your team. Don’t mention the Swedish team: the Finns and the Swedes have a long history together; He has not always been friendly. Hockey between these two teams represents a peaceful way to play rivalry. Add the Finns’ competitive streak to the equation, you may want to avoid this topic altogether. They follow all their traditional sports religiously and quite zealously.

Don’t look at the nordic walkers

When you see locals on the streets making exaggerated movements, armed with ski poles, don’t look and point or think the world has gone crazy. Marathons and Nordic walking are popular in Helsinki. The action essentially mimics cross-country skiing, but without the use of skis. It may look funny and clunky at first glance, but the price for looking silly is worth the training. Even seasoned skiers practice between winters, mimicking action on dry land. Grab a pair of Nordic walking poles from a nearby rental store and join in.

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