Multicultural marriages have become something of a normality in Finland.In 2015 they amounted to almost 15% of all the marriages in the country.I’ve never seen or heard of anything like this in the United States. It’s no surprise then that Finns consume nearly twice as much coffee as Americans.
A lull in any conversation is to be avoided at all costs—even if it means talking about the latest viral cat video or celebrity breakup.
The Finns I’ve met, on the other hand, embrace the awkward silence.
Walking back to our classroom, I knew I’d need to make a slight change to my lesson plan. And when I poured the coffee in, the bottom of the mug started to hiss and form tiny bubbles. In the land of 3.3 million saunas, it is inevitable that you will eventually find yourself naked with people you don’t know—and not care in the slightest.
I shouted gruffly to my wife, “Why don’t we have one decent thermos in this house? I didn’t realize that I had reached this level of Finnishness until this fall.
On a recent school day, as I dug into a lunch of fish sticks and steamed potatoes at the teachers’ table in the cafeteria, I was joined by a Finnish colleague.
We exchanged hellos (since, you know, we hadn’t yet greeted each other that day), and then ate our meals in complete silence.Clutching his towel around his waist, he growled, “No way.” Unfazed, I hung up my own towel and strolled into the sauna Finnish-style.I found a spot on the top platform along with another naked man.The activity of taking a sauna is not, in any way, sexual.When we were in the changing room, I smiled and remarked to my friend, “This is where we leave the towels, man.” He was not amused.The Americans I know are in the habit of saying things like “Come on over anytime! ” when we know it will be difficult to follow through on such sentiments.