Finland is quite an extraordinary place. Today, it celebrates its Independence Day, so here are ten things that I particularly love about my home country.
The education system
Not only does Finland have one of the world’s best education systems, but everything – from preschool to university – is free at the point of use. You get into the best high schools and universities based on your knowledge and performance, not on how much money your parents have.
When I visit Finland, having lived abroad for many years, it always surprises me that people leave their laptops, phones and bags unattended in coffee shops, libraries and other public places. Some people don’t even bother locking their front doors, and kids play outside by themselves since early age (although this almost ended quite badly for me when I was four years old, when a couple of teenage racists took me to an abandoned yard and threatened to kill me because of my ethnic background – but that’s a story for another day).
My former hometown and the best place in Finland.
The welfare system
Finland has an amazing welfare system. It’s not perfect – for instance, young people’s welfare payments can be cut by 25% if they don’t follow all the rules, whereas those over 25 will get the minimum amount regardless of what they do, which I find quite unfair – but overall it works really well compared to most of the world. As a consequence, there is very little poverty in Finland. Moreover, the at-risk-of-poverty rate is virtually the same for men and women, when in most other countries women face a higher risk of poverty.
⠀Which brings me to my next point…
The equality between men and women
⠀Again, it obviously isn’t perfect – it’s important to underline that NO COUNTRY has reached gender equality yet – but Finland consistently ranks in the top 10 of the best places in the world for women.
Many people will be rolling their eyes at this, but I actually love Finish food. The rye bread, the blueberries that you can pick from your backyard forest, the cinnamon buns (someone please get me a cinnamon bun right now!) and last but definitely not least, the candy… I think we make the best candies in the world and I usually eat at least one bag a day when I’m visiting Finland. :D⠀
Finnish council houses and student apartments often come with amenities that even some “luxury” flats in London and Amsterdam lack – like properly insulated windows and mold-free bathrooms. Moreover, the price of housing is pretty reasonable.
The tap water
It’s absolutely delicious, #nofiltersneeded!
It’s not just that it’s beautiful – though it really, really is – but that nature is such a natural part of the Finnish way of life. I already mentioned picking blueberries from your backyard forest, and I wasn’t joking – we had a proper forest just a short walk away from my childhood home, a 20-minute drive away from central Helsinki. We went skiing and skating in the winter, swam in the lakes and the sea on those rare summer days it was warm enough to do so, picked flowers from the nearby field in the spring and went for long family walks all year round. Even in the heart of Helsinki, you’re never far away from a small forest, or a nature trail, or a lovely island that you can take a ferry to.
Of course, while the Finnish nature is great, the weather means that you often just want to stay home reading a book. Luckily, we have probably the best library service in the world, so you’ll never run out of things to read.
I could go on, and on, and on – but I’d rather hear from you! What do you like the most about Finland? And what do you think of the things I have listed?