Finland is a curious country for many people all over the world.
It hasn´t been always like this, though. Before the mid 90´s boom nobody knew much or seemed to be interested in knowing this country. It was just a cold and far land, with polar bears, Viking descendants and Santa Claus. I remember traveling once to a foreign country and the customs officer asked me how could I have Finnish roots and be so blonde, without “those Chinese eyes”. Was he confusing it with Thailand because of the “land” ending? I don´t know, but anyways, for several times I had to show where the hell Finland was in the world map.
It´s very common to know many wrong things about countries. Some unforgivable mistakes for those who were born somewhere tend to become a “main truth” for those who have never been there. Fact.
To start with, there are no polar bears in Finland and neither Finns descend from the Vikings. They are not even Scandinavians as many people think. Scandianavian countries are part of a historical and cultural-linguistic group which comprises Norway, Denmark and Sweden, those descend from the Vikings, not the Finns. Finnish language is totally different from those and the genetic group where the Finns belong to is also different.
As a Finnish descendant born in Brazil (you can know more about me here), the eagerness to start searching for my roots started in 1996, year I decided to spend a few months in Finland to know better my family and a very important part of my history. Finland had joined the European Union the year before and the economy was starting to really improve, among other things, as a result of policies adopted in the 70´s – such as the reform of the basic education system – and the rise of NOKIA, which helped Finnish economy to get its boom with the success achieved in the telecommunications area. After this point Finland left the old standard of being a poor, distant and unknown country, and started to become an example of growth and success to the world.
When I left Brazil people thought I was crazy, I would freeze or die of depression for being in the cold and dark Northern land. But for my surprise, when I went back in 1997, opinions were very different. I was coming from one of the coolest places in Earth, where everybody could have a cell phone, people were beautiful and wealthy, and of course, there were great heavy metal bands (this part only for a niche of people in Brazil who like the music style).
It is true that people don´t ask me about polar bears anymore and neither Finland is an unknown place nobody wants to go to. However, people still don´t know much and still seeing this country quite differently from how it is.
Finland is a fascinating country as any other would be if you are interested in history and culture. There is no uninteresting place in the world for those who pay attention to these things. It is, as many others, a country full of particularities, beauty, curious things, but it´s not perfect. There are good and bad things, wonderful and bad people, beautiful and ugly places, just like everywhere else. And yes, it is special, it is loved and reason of pride for many of its inhabitants (including me waving flags).
In this blog I intend to write about Finland not only for foreigners and curious people but also for Finns and all those who love it here as much as I do. I want to talk about important things, demystify, show things I´ve seen, read, liked and disliked, agreed and disagreed.
Let´s look at Finland and really see it!