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Why I hate Finland (on occasion)

February 6, 2013

German writer and Icelandic resident  Katharina Hauptmann recently wrote a piece for Iceland Review Online entitled “Ten Things I Hate About You, Iceland.” So that led me to think, what do I hate about Finland?

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I love living here. I often tell people how much I love living here because it is a great place to raise kids and there is always something new to learn. But, I’ll admit, I do have my “I hate Finland” days and here’s why (in no particular order):

Drunk driving – Even though the rate of reported drunk driving is not high (according to statistics and the police), the number of repeat offenders and the amount of alcohol they have in their system is staggering. Some offenders have so much alcohol in their blood that it would cause other people to pass out. The punishments meted out for drunk driving (and drunk driving causing injury or death) are a joke and do not reflect the severity of the crime. The offenders walk after a short time in jail and the victims have to live with the horror for the rest of their lives.

High prices – Especially for cars, gas, eye glasses, books and food. I often wonder how some people are able to afford having a car. A second car in my household would break the bank.

Idiot drivers – I’m not sure what I hate more, tailgaters or aggressive drivers who act like assholes when someone is driving safely / the speed limit. The “MINÄ” (ME, ME, ME!) culture definitely exists among a lot of Finnish men in the driving set. Running red lights is a sport apparently.

Soft on crime – Especially when it comes to people convicted of abusing children, the elderly and the vulnerable. The punishments meted out for crimes against children are pathetic and often do not reflect the seriousness of the crime. A few months in jail for sexual abuse of children is the norm – again, the victims suffer a life time.

Unsustainable rate of building – I cannot for the life of me understand why there is so much building going on in the capital area. Are we really that short of residential housing and office buildings? According to a report in Helsingin Sanomat nearly two years ago, there were more than one million square metres of unoccupied office space. WHY are they building more? Bye, bye to green spaces alround…

Cheap prices for all the bad things – This mostly relates to food stuffs like candy and pop. I have lamented in this blog in the past that a junk food tax should be levied against candy, pop and other forms of junk food known to contribute to lifestyle diseases like diabetes and obesity. (Yes – acknowledged that this is a very general blanket statement.) Start rewarding people who practice good food consumption habits!

Shopping for clothes – In Finland I am considered a plus size. In Canada, I am “normal” and finding pants that fit is a cinch. Finding bras and pants that are the right size in a store in Finland (at a reasonable price I might add) are an incredible headache. A nightmare, in fact… Otherwise I have discovered I am better off to just follow those instincts and moments when they hit me: Power shop and be done with it. Fortunately in those instances shopping trips are usually successful and I don’t feel pissed off or hopeless about not finding the right clothes.

The language – Yes, some days it is virtually impossible, nuff said! (see previous entries on the language here and here)

Littering, spitting and smoking – I feel a boiling rage when I see someone throw garbage on the ground in the vicinity of a garbage can – I mean, come on! I know that littering is a problem the world over, but the world is not our garbage can and we shouldn’t be treating it like one. Teen-aged girls who smoke (and think they are so cool) are sooo stupid looking, and disgusting when they proceed to spit on the ground in front of other people… Ugh – GROSS!

Crappy TV shows – I speak more with regards to the commercial TV stations that show all sorts of shitty US TV shows. I cannot stand reality TV, and yet we’re still subjected to it here in Finland. UGH! <vomit> Fortunately I can change the channel or better yet, turn it off.

Care to share your opinions here?

No worries, I’ll be sure to tell you what I like about in Finland in another entry. It’s not all bad!

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25 Comments leave one →
  1. Sonia permalink
    February 6, 2013 4:59 pm

    Oh yeah, hard to believe, but there are also not so good things about Finland. 😀

    I completely agree with your top 10 (although the language does not bother me so much anymore). I add a follow-up top 10:

    1. not braking for pedestrians on pedestrian crossings – a huge behavior problem: including injuries and deaths. Traffic behavior without eye-contact and respect to others. Also, mingling with mobile phones while driving (90% on Ring I…).

    2. self-service culture and poor customer service (getting a good service can be quite a nice surprise though) – e-mails to contact addresses end up somewhere in nirvana with no response. Impression that nobody wants sell you anything, expensive hotlines, poorly trained staff unable to professionally advise. Reclamation of poor quality stuff drags on in time or is not leading anywhere. Overpriced services such as tailor, shoe-maker, cleaning (with lengthy waiting time).

    3. “outsourcing your brains” – the state will take care of how much alcohol you consume, where and when you buy it and supervise it closely, and soon perhaps how to fine you for commuting by car (while not offering any other options). Patronizing is something I cannot stand.

    4. No free-market competition. Oligopolies: choose K or S-markets and their overpriced stuff. The same as for products (Valio or Ingman?).

    5. Bad-mouthing foreign products in order to overprice domestic products. I’m astonished how people survive outside Finland eating all that crap 😉

    6. Currently – racism and xenophobia on the rise – even (certain group of) politicians making comments below the beltline don’t get any consequences for doing so.

    7. Public healthcare – (private) occupational healthcare is a rescue! Long queues e.g. for municipal dentist, poor prevention of serious illnesses (compared to other countries), bureaucratic emergency case service (to refrain from first aid if you are closer than 50 km to your residence place), long waiting times for ambulance. Also bureaucracy elsewhere in public sector (every tiny village has to have different rules, different paper forms for everything)…

    8. Lack of basic courtesy: smashing the door in front of your face, not greeting (e.g. when entering a room filled with other people, such as a waiting room etc.), pushing through without a word when going out of a bus, etc. Feels like “living in a bubble”.

    9. Old-fashioned hotels and rarely good (mid-class) restaurants with both good food AND good service thanks to uniting them to S, K, or other chains.

    10. People are extremely sensitive towards bad feedback about Finland from the mouth of a foreigner (even when sharing the same opinion). Basically, what we did here 😉 And the example case: Abu-Hanna’s article followed by digging facts that “elsewhere it’s not better either”: Still, Finns ask very often (more than any other nation, in my opinion) what is good and bad in their country, but actually wanting to hear only superlatives 🙂 Superlatives: next time!

  2. Jaimie permalink
    February 10, 2013 5:39 pm

    To be honest, this is more an article about “Why I hate things” rather than “Why I hate Finland”. Being critical about USTV shows is really just criticizing the US, it’s not specifically a Finnish thing to broadcast them. “Cheap” prices for unhealthy goods is again not a serious issue concerning Finland but rather more of an issue in the west, where lower class diabetes and obesity related illnesses are a serious problem. Teenagers smoke and spit everywhere around the world (unless it’s illegal) and Finland is one of the cleanest countries in the world. Surely littering would rather make you hate a place like Naples, where it’s a serious, local issue.

    I’m not trying to say that some of these aren’t real issues like the driving mentality, I’m just saying most of these things aren’t exactly reasons to hate Finland but rather just things to be upset about in general. If you ever decide to revisit this topic or the likes maybe you could address some more local, specific issues.

    • February 13, 2013 12:13 pm

      Thanks for your comments Jaimie. I would have to say that some of things that I am “upset about in general” are Finland-specific, at least for me. Some of these things do not happen a great deal where I come from. I have travelled a little, but with regards to living my only comparison to Finland is where I come from.

      As a (almost full-time) pedestrian, I have serious issues with the driving culture and safety in Espoo. Northern Ontario drivers are a little more courteous…

    • Sonia permalink
      February 20, 2013 11:07 am

      Regarding “cleanest country in the world” (yeah, there are some statistics), my Finnish husband would strongly disagree (me too, but not so strongly, because similar way exists elsewhere too). Finland is nearly as big as Germany and has 5 million inhabitants (vs. 82 mio. in Germany). For that, it is not clean. When there would be as many people who behave this way (vandalism by pure anger and “nothing better to do” is really high in here). Also, when something is broken (traffic signs, roads, appliances, etc.) Finns leave it as it is for months if not years, while e.g. in Germany it’s fixed right away (also my husband’s observation more than mine). I can name many, many examples which are even a safety issue – nothing happens unless someone gets badly injured. This is really typical, sorry to say that.

      I agree with Carmen, some are certainly Finland-specific and even if not, it’s our daily life so we get confronted with it (more than elsewhere?).

  3. February 10, 2013 6:55 pm

    im waiting for ur another entry which is abt what u love in Finland. 🙂

  4. steverp permalink
    February 11, 2013 5:41 pm

    Great post!

  5. anonymous permalink
    February 12, 2013 1:20 am

    I wouldn’t know about the reality TV, because I hate it too, but the reason why the other crappy US TV shows are shown is because the US networks bundle them with the good ones.

  6. February 14, 2013 3:33 pm

    Unless you’re a vegetarian, you forgot to mention makkara. I don’t know why these things they call sausages are so popular. I’m from Germany, so I know about good sausages 🙂
    My theory is that the sausages are made of the leftovers of the Finnish wood-processing industry

    • Sonia permalink
      February 20, 2013 10:59 am

      I am from Germany too and Finnish makkara (won’t use the word sausage, it’s an insult) is done from koneliha (all left overs you can get from the skeleton by high-pressure water stream, ears, you don’t wanna know, flour, cheap industrial fat). I am not into sausages, but now I miss them after all…

    • Umesh Singh permalink
      December 19, 2016 12:46 pm

      Yes, very much so, but I wouldn’t look at it in terms of countries.

  7. October 8, 2015 11:52 pm

    I lived in Finland or Funland for about 5 years and I regret now that why I lived there. People are so mean, crazy and mentally sick, they called themselves ”shy” but infact with their own finnish people they are friendly but with foreigner they behave to be shy. Not much food options, even not much vegetable options. Very hard labor level jobs for foreigners. I worked there as news paper delivery person and in McDonalds. Paper delivery job was the worst, where in McDonalds there is lots of racism for foreigner workers. Finnish society doesnt like international people rather they hate them to see in their country. Finnish culture is sick. I left Finland and I am happy about my decision.

    • October 9, 2015 5:21 am

      I am sorry to hear that you had a bad experience in Finland. I hope you have found a better place where you are now.

    • Umesh Singh permalink
      December 19, 2016 12:50 pm

      The best things in life are never easy. Travel is meant to teach you in ways you can’t imagine before. You got sick, but now you know to take better care of yourself. You got cheated several times for money, but you probably know how to deal with vendors on the street-side better. And you missed home, something you probably took for granted before the trip. It seems like you grew as a person, and although fear seems to be a natural consequence of bad experience, it should not stop you from doing what you want to do – travel and learn.

    • Ben permalink
      June 6, 2017 6:59 am

      I am living in finland, going on 4 years now.
      I agree with everything you have said!

      I am an English man who has lived in other countries (Portugal, Australia, England) and travelled to many.

      I have never experienced so many arse holes, sick people, drunks and racists in my life before now.

      Cost of living is nuts and almost impossible to get work as a non finn.

      Took me three years before i got a basic cleaning job just because of : sorry but you dont speak finnish!

      And after a year of working my arse off to just about survive the financial nightmare, i feel broken and dead.

      Making friends with finns? Forget it! Doesnt happen.

      Spent 1.5 years in a school everyday learning finnish, still cant speak a word as its so hard and unlike ANY language that exists.
      Yet finns love saying, : learn bloody finnish!

      Hate this country and everything about it.

      Oh and 8 months of snow this winter ffs!

  8. Umesh Singh permalink
    December 19, 2016 12:23 pm

    I have never been to Finland, but I have meet peoples who have been there for vacation.
    I love Finland and I want to know what it is like out there for a holiday or What’s it like to live in Finland? I have heard to it expensive. It seems a nice place to live. I have heard the winter in Finland is around half a year, and it turns to a snow and boring world. The most common entertainment is getting drunk in the bar…It is too chilly to hang out with your friends in that degree (down to minus 32 degree sometime…), but anyone can enjoy skiing or ice skating practically in every city. Besides, Finns are supper nice. They are quiet, polite folks. They extremely respect your privacy and keep your comment right. I have always had a positive attitude towards Finland, so things I didn’t want to believe are all negative things

  9. Umesh Singh permalink
    December 19, 2016 12:40 pm

    I think that people in warmer countries are nicer. Warm weather makes you feel happy. No offense to anyone, but people I have met from colder countries seem more stuck up and rude. The people I have met from warmer countries have always been nice. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to stereotype.It’s interesting actually why Indian,Malaysian and Philippines are generally friendlier and happier in same level as Mexican or Jamaican. In India case, this friendlier is reflected in our mindset culture.it’s more important in India to meet with fellow family and friends even if you are hungry. Which means, generally Indian put friendliness and family as first priority and business as second or third priority.

  10. Umesh Singh permalink
    December 19, 2016 12:43 pm

    I think that people in warmer countries are nicer. Warm weather makes you feel happy. No offense to anyone, but people I have met from colder countries seem more stuck up and rude. The people I have met from warmer countries have always been nice. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to stereotype.

  11. Sam Carlile permalink
    January 26, 2017 3:41 pm

    Im Australian and i been living in finland for almost 2 years. The only good things are the laws i.e i can marry my partner after march 1 2017. Everything else is fucking shit. Shit envitonment. Shit climate, shit weather. Shit food culture. Too many fucking churches and not enough childrens hospitals. People here are fucking aweful to each other i havent met one decent person who is a finn in finland and i speak finnish and i have worked here and i study here in a finnish school in finnish. Everyone treats me like a freak cause im non finn and a lesbian. I really dislike here. The only reason i stay is cause there are better human rights (in terms of laws ) here for me and my partner.

    • February 21, 2017 12:54 pm

      Hi Sam, sorry for the delay in publishing your comment here. I am sorry to hear that you find Finland a bad place to live. I’ve always thought that society is quite progressive and that once you get to know a few Finnish people, you’ll find out they’re not that bad – it’s just the way they are. I don’t find people too mean – as people will always help if you ask… Unfortunately the weather is something you’ll have to get used to.

      I hope things get better.

    • Ben permalink
      June 6, 2017 9:53 am

      I am a Brit living in finland since 2013 and i totally agree with you 100%.
      I haven’t had a very positibe experience here either.
      And it seems to just be getting worse every year.
      I even have to pay 180e to the police to be allowed to live here with my finnish wife (temp visa card) despite being an eu citizen.

      And 8 months of snow this year! (Oulu)

      • June 6, 2017 10:21 am

        Ben, took me 10 years before I could even apply for Finnish citizenship – didn’t matter that I was married to Finn and had a child. They told me not to even bother because my application would be rejected!… The rules for spouses are crazy – you shouldn’t even need a permit – I’d take that up with the Parliamentary Ombudsman: http://www.oikeusasiamies.fi/Resource.phx/eoa/english/index.htx

  12. Mathias permalink
    April 4, 2017 9:52 pm

    Finland is a big shit.

    1 – Shit food.
    2 – People treat you like a shit.
    3 – There is no life after 8 P.M. Everything is closed.
    4 – People don’t speak basic English. Only in the city center.
    5 – There is no jobs.
    6 – People are very racist and stupid, they don’t know the difference between Arabic country and others. If you don’t have blue eyes and blond hair they think you are Arabic.
    7 – People are very rude, don’t expect someone to hold the door for you, don’t expect any kind of help here.
    8 – No one help each other here. Another day I saw a grandmamma slip and fall, no one help her, I had to go and help her.
    9 – Poor customer service
    10 – Finnish people don’t know how to answer an email. I never got any answer from any email I have sent.
    11 – To much drunk on the street.
    12 – To much tax.
    13 – Everything is super expensive.
    14 – Monopoly in the main sectors. Supermarket and public transportation.
    15 – People are not friendly. I know people who live here more that 10 years ans done have any friends.
    16 – Healthcare: Long queues, receptionist and doctors don’t speak English. Shameful for a country where the education is free.
    17 – Finnish people are very lazy, even with all the free education here still have a bunch of no educated people here, all they want is just be drunk.
    18 – Education is not good. Teachers use outdated methods.
    19 – Finland is super super bureaucratic country.
    20 – The language was created for no one to learn, not even the Finns themselves can speak their language right.
    21 – Lack of basic courtesy: smashing the door in front of your face, not greeting (e.g. when entering a room filled with other people, such as a waiting room etc.), pushing through without a word when going out of a bus, etc. Feels like “living in a bubble”.
    22 – Crappy TV shows all the time.
    23 – Soft on crime – Especially when it comes to people convicted of abusing children, the elderly and the vulnerable. The punishments meted out for crimes against children are pathetic and often do not reflect the seriousness of the crime. A few months in jail for sexual abuse of children is the norm – again, the victims suffer a life time.
    24 – People are extremely sensitive towards bad feedback about Finland from the mouth of a foreigner (even when sharing the same opinion).
    25 – Bad-mouthing foreign products in order to overprice domestic products.
    26 – People are so mean, crazy and mentally sick, they called themselves ”shy” but in fact with their own finnish people they are friendly but with foreigner they behave to be shy.
    27 – Finnish society doesnt like international people rather they hate them to see in their country. Finnish culture is sick.
    28 – Too many fucking churches.
    29 – Too much paper for everything.
    30 – The bus driver is mute. They do not know how to say good morning.

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