Meanwhile in
Student life

Meanwhile in… Finland

Finnish people are the happiest humans on earth, according to the World Happiness Report 2018. Joonas Kauppinen couldn’t believe it at first. But then he realised that there is balance in Finnish society.
Julia Schafer

Joonas Kauppinen, is a Finnish MSc student of Food Science.

Spending time in nature cleans the mind

‘No way! That is what I and many other Finns thought when we heard this. That is the kind of reaction expressed in the most typical Finnish sentence “ei minua varten tarvii keittää”, which translates literally as “you don’t have to make me coffee”. This illustrates that Finns are humble and do not want to bother anybody. I am also a bit uncomfortable about speaking too well of my country as it feels like showing off.

The key to my happiness is maintaining good relationships with my family, friends and girlfriend. In addition, keeping a healthy balance between freedom and responsibility towards society and nature makes me happy. In Finland I feel free to be myself and to pursue the things I want in life. I greatly value being able to express my thoughts since I think criticism is essential for a society.

We pay high taxes, providing for free education and healthcare for Finland’s 5.5 million inhabitants. Paying taxes and doing meaningful work are important ways to support each other in society. Almost every Finnish family has a cottage in the woods with a sauna next to a lake. Spending time in the quiet of nature and the sauna cleans the body and mind. This makes the cottages very precious to me and the vast majority of Finns.

While living in the Netherlands I learned two customs I would like to integrate into my life, as they have contributed to my happiness. The first is the custom of regularly sharing food and other items. Secondly, I admire how openly the Dutch talk about seeming apparent taboos, as Finnish people tend to shy away from that. An example is the Dutch Brownies&downieS project, which gives people with a handicap the opportunity to play a vital part in society. At first I questioned whether this straightforward name was appropriate. Then I realized it is a way of humorously addressing an issue in public.’

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