maanantai 9. tammikuuta 2017

Home sweet Finland

This year we are honored to celebrate Finland for its 100 years as an independent country. In my opinion, Finland is a great country. I´m not saying that only because I was born in Finland (lucky me!) - I´m saying that based on visits to several other countries as well. Of course there are days when I curse Finnish bureaucracy and harsh taxation, but even so I think Finland has more pros than cons. So, let me share some opinions about what makes Finland such a great country for me.

Fresh air. When traveling in tropical and subtropical countries, I always miss breathing the fresh air in Finland. In many developing countries pollution is a huge problem. Air pollution together with damp air is not ideal to breathe. This is why I have learnt to appreciate even the darkest season in Finland - even though you need a flashlight almost round the clock, you will feel refreshed after a long walk.

Nature. Finland is full of forest, lakes, fields and fells. Several studies indicate that even a short 20-minute walk in the woods reduces blood pressure and lifts up your mind. My favorite place for meditating walks is by the shore. I´m fortunate to live near one of the most beautiful beaches in Finland.

Four seasons. It is so nice to experience winter wonderland, nature´s green awakening, light summer days and colorful autumn leaves in 12 months! Even though I love summer, I probably wouldn´t appreciate it as much as if it was a permanent season.

Beautiful sunset in January.

Social security. Regardless many citizen´s opinions nowadays, Finland is a welfare society. This is something many Finnish people take for granted and yet still complain about poor subsistence. I could go on about this topic for ages, but I will just say that it is up to each and everyone to make life the best they can. Society is not responsible for financing fancy lifestyle for everyone, but it can help to get back on your feet if you are going through temporary rough times. I wish every Finn could be able to put things into perspective. We are lucky to have our kind of social security. If someone doesn´t agree, I strongly recommend living in Zambian countryside for a week or two (a day would most likely be enough to understand my point).

Zambian household.

Education. I sincerely appreciate the school system in Finland. There are no tuition fees for Finns and even lunch is free of charge in comprehensive school. I have studied both bachelor´s and master´s degree in Finland, the latter in English. Quality of education is excellent. You don´t need scholarships or rich parents to get education - you just need to decide what you want to study and go for it! This is not the case in many other countries.

Safety. Last year World Economic Forum (WEF) nominated Finland as the safest country in the world. I agree with that. I don´t have to think about whether it is safe to go for a run alone at 9 p.m. My friend can let her baby sleep in prams outdoors while she prepares dinner in their kitchen. Medical care is excellent in Finland. Traffic is safer than in most countries. Terrorism is not as big of a threat as it is in many other European countries at the moment.

Equality. As a woman, I am grateful that in Finland it is possible to break the stereotypes. For example, women can choose to vote, get higher education, become a president, dress without limitations, be gay, build a career, be a housewife; sky´s the limit. For a man it is acceptable to be a homemaker when his wife concentrates on educating herself or creating a career. In fact, social security system supports fathers to stay home for few weeks with mom and new-born baby.

People. Well, to be honest, I have mixed feelings about this nation. What I don´t love about us Finns is ungratefulness about what we have, sick jealousy of neighbor´s new car, lack of communicating skills and intolerance. On the other hand I appraise Finnish honesty, authenticity, pride, persistence and sense of humor.

There are definitely much more to be grateful for, but these are the most important facts for me. These are the reasons why I´m always happy to be back home.

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