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Finland for Thought » 2010 » February | Politics, current events, culture - In Finland & the United States | Blog of an American living in Finland

Finland for Thought
             Politics, current events, culture - In Finland & United States

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28.2.2010

The United States according to the Finns

Tags: FI vs. Foreigners,Finns,USA! USA! — Author: @ 5:09 pm

Finns have the ultimate love-hate relationship with the US: Finns love Hollywood films & TV but hate its dominance over local productions. Finns love American brands but hate American consumerism. Finns love American foods but hate the slothful culture. Finns love the English language but hate its erosion of the Finnish language. Finns love the diverse American offering but aren’t fans of diversity themselves. Whenever you hear that something in Finland is becoming more American…it’s never a positive statement.

Finns often mistake real life America with what they see on their favorite American TV shows and movies. Couple that with the Finnish press’s sensationalism of American culture, it makes for some interesting stereotypes. And American tourists do little to expel these stereotypes. When abroad…

- Americans are loud (“HELLO, WE’RE FROM AMERICA!!”)
- Americans are ignorant (“America is the best, so this must be shit”)
- Americans are arrogant (“Speak English, asshole!”)
- Americans are demanding (“I need to speak to your supervisor!!”)
- Americans ask stupid questions (“Do you celebrate Thanksgiving in your country?”)
- Americans aren’t geography buffs (“Is Finland the capital of Sweden or Norway?”)
- Americans dress poorly (“How does a Hawaiian shirt, University of Michigan cap, shorts, and white tennis shoes go with my fanny pack?”)

Ever wondered what’s it like to be the first white person in an African village? Speak with an American accent in a Finnish town on a Friday night. The locals will flock to you like drunken zombies. But instead of touching your hair…they’ll ask your thoughts on Barack Obama. Or they’ll tell you of their uncle who spent a year in Canada during the 80′s. They’ll remind you that American “football”, makes no sense as a word. And Budweiser is NOT good beer.

In the workplace Americans are not to be trusted. They make promises they can’t keep. They brag about things they don’t have. They act as barnstormers wanting to change everything. They know everything. They don’t understand the word, “humility”. Their pushy tactics have the reverse affect on a Finn.

And when you befriend an American, you’ll surely be confused with questions such as “How are you?” (which translates to “Hi!”) and “I really like that!” (which translates to “I’m just being nice”) and “That’s interesting!” (translation: “I don’t understand that.”) and “Let’s get together sometime!” (translation: “Fuck off and die.”).

While Americans and Finns have their differences, the similarities are vast: Both love sports, both love Finlandia vodka, both love guns, both have problems with crazies shooting up public places, both hate the Russians, both love The Simpsons, and both think Conan O’Brien looks just like Finnish President Tarja Halonen.

(for more on this, check out “Finland is like a Mac, the U.S. is like Windows“)

27.2.2010

Russia according to the Finns

Tags: FI vs. Foreigners,Finns,Russia — Author: @ 3:59 pm

Finland despises Russia. You’ll be hard pressed to find a Finn who’ll say one nice thing about their eastern bully. Finland was under Russian rule for over 100 years. Finland finally gained independence, then fought off the Soviets two more times losing a substantial part of the country. Finland even teamed up with Hitler to fend off Soviet domination.

Like the crazies in the United States who stockpile their basements full of canned foods and semi-automatic weapons in preparation of the looming race wars, some Finns in 2010 still believe Russia invasion is imminent.

This rocky history has unfortunately perverted the Finns view on the Russian people. Russian women are all whores. Russian men are all lazy alcoholics. Russians are not to be trusted. Dirty Russians ruinlocal spas. Russian women flaunt their wealth and arrogance at Stockmann’s department store. Russians are buying up too much property in Finland.

…all your typical xenophobic stereotypes. And not good for Russians living in Finland, a group who make up Finland’s largest minority.

As I’m writing this, it’s tough to find any comedy in Finland’s relationship with the Russians. War tends to do that, sadly. Two nations of people who normally would live side-by-side in peace and harmony in the frigid north, are pitted against each other thanks to a handful of lunatics. The healing process will take decades if not centuries.

And let’s be honest, the Finns and Russians aren’t THAT much different: Both survive in extreme weather conditions, both have a poor background, both love to get blinded on a Friday night, both think Lada make a crap car, both share much of the same bodily features, both have some fine looking women.

What am I missing? Where’s the humor here? Any Russians out there who want to share what they think of Finland?

24.2.2010

Sweden according to the Finns

Tags: FI vs. Foreigners,Finns,Sweden — Author: @ 11:02 am

Finns are extremely jealous and often bitter towards their westerly neighbors, but with good reason: Swedes have more money. Swedes have more class. Swedes dress better. Swedes are better at ice hockey. Swedish women are better looking. Swedish men have self confidence. Sweden has royalty. Sweden has ABBA. Sweden is better known throughout the world. Sweden has Volvo and Saab. Sweden is part of Scandinavia.

Ask a Swede, “What’s the difference between you Swedes and the Finns?” They’ll reply something like, “Well…Sweden has a long history of class, wealth and royalty, that had transcended on the Swedish people many centuries ago, to conceive a strong society and rich culture, which therefore has created a more advanced and superior country.” Ask a Finn that very same question, they’ll ponder for a few seconds then simply reply, “Swedes are gay.”

Remember the opening scene in Casino Royale where James Bond uses a dead body as a human shield to fend of bullets? The limp corpse continues to get mangled by gunfire while Bond maneuvers his way through the embassy. Well for about 150 years in recent history, James Bond was Sweden, that gunfire was Russia, and that human shield was Finland! Sweden sat carefree at the summer cottage while that buffer zone known as Finland protected them from imperialistic Russia.

So you can understand why some of the wartime Finns might still hold a grudge or ten. Search through any old-timer’s bookshelf and you’re sure to find, “Swedish War Heroes”. Open it to find a book full of blank pages. (FUNNY!)

Like a jealous neighbor, Finland is constantly playing “keeping up with the Swedes”. Sweden goes out and buys a brand new BMW, so naturally, Finland goes out and, slashes its’ tires.

But would you really give up a classless society for royalty? Would you really give up Volvo for Nokia? Wealth for a sense of humor? ABBA for Lordi? Dressing well for being called “gay”? Self confidence for being a douchebag? Well maybe you’d take ABBA over Lordi, but you get the point.

Even after an unsettling past, today’s Finland and Sweden are more like rival football clubs than anything else. It’s competition which keeps then jockeying for the #1 spot in various world indexes. And at the end of the day, they’ll kick back at the sauna, crack open an imported beer (which they both agree tastes better than their local brews), and talk shit about their REAL rival: Russia.

Tomorrow: Russia according to the Finns

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