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Finnish Culture: What to Expect as an International Student

Studying in Finland can be a life-changing experience, but it's important to understand the culture and environment before making the move.

Finland is a beautiful and unique country located in northern Europe. With its stunning natural landscapes, innovative technology, and highly-respected education system, it’s no wonder that many international students choose to study in Finland. However, as with any international move, it’s essential to understand the local culture and what to expect as an international student. In this blog post, we’ll explore Finnish culture and what you can expect as an international student studying in Finland.

Personal Space and Silence

Finnish people are known for their reserved and quiet nature. Personal space and silence are highly respected, so as an international student, it’s essential to be aware of this and respect it. Finns are not necessarily unfriendly, but they may seem less outgoing than what you might be used to in other countries. It’s important to not take this personally and to understand that it’s a part of Finnish culture.

Finnish people value their personal space, so don’t be surprised if someone stands further away from you then you might expect. If you’re on public transportation, don’t sit next to someone if there are empty seats available. It’s also important to avoid making loud noises or talking too loudly in public places, as this can be seen as rude or intrusive.

Sauna Culture

A sauna is an essential part of Finnish culture, and it’s not uncommon to find a sauna in every home, apartment building, or even office building. The Finnish sauna tradition dates back centuries and is a significant part of Finnish life. If you’re studying in Finland, you’ll likely have access to a sauna, so it’s important to be aware of sauna etiquette.

When visiting a Finnish sauna, it’s customary to be naked or wear a towel. It’s not appropriate to wear swimwear or other clothing in the sauna. Also, it’s important to understand that the sauna is not just a place to relax and unwind but is also a place to socialize. Don’t be surprised if you’re invited to have a sauna with locals, as it’s a great way to socialize and get to know Finnish people.

Education System

Finland is known for having one of the best education systems in the world. The education system is based on independent learning, which means that students are responsible for their own learning. This can be a big change for students used to a more structured approach to education.

In Finland, group work and collaboration are highly valued, and students are encouraged to work together to solve problems. This approach fosters teamwork and communication skills that are essential in today’s globalized economy. If you’re an international student studying in Finland, be prepared to work collaboratively and to take responsibility for your own learning.

Grading System

The grading system in Finland is different from what you might be used to. Instead of letter grades, students receive a numerical grade on a scale of 4-10. A grade of 4 is a fail, while 10 is excellent. However, don’t be too focused on grades as they are not the only measure of success in Finnish education. The emphasis is on learning and personal growth, rather than just getting good grades.

Nature and Environment

Finland is known for its stunning natural landscapes, and outdoor activities are a big part of Finnish culture. As an international student studying in Finland, it’s essential to take advantage of this and explore the country’s national parks and lakes. Hiking, camping, and fishing are popular activities in Finland, and they’re great ways to experience the country’s natural beauty.

Finnish people are also very environmentally-conscious, and sustainability is a significant part of Finnish culture. Recycling is a big part of Finnish culture, and you’ll likely have access to recycling facilities in your dorm or apartment.

Food and Cuisine

Finnish cuisine is unique and can be quite different from what you’re used to. Traditional Finnish dishes include meat and fish, such as reindeer and salmon, as well as berries and mushrooms. Finnish cuisine is also influenced by neighboring countries, such as Russia and Sweden.

If you’re a foodie, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try Finnish cuisine, both at restaurants and at home. Finnish people are proud of their food culture and love to share it with others. Don’t be afraid to try new dishes and ask locals for their recommendations.


The official language of Finland is Finnish, and it’s a notoriously difficult language to learn. However, don’t worry if you don’t speak Finnish before you arrive. Most universities in Finland offer courses in English, and many Finnish people speak English fluently.

While it’s not necessary to learn Finnish, it’s a good idea to learn some basic phrases. Learning a few words in Finnish can go a long way in making a good impression on locals and showing that you’re interested in their culture.


Finland has a harsh climate, with long, dark winters and short summers. If you’re studying in Finland during the winter, be prepared for cold temperatures and lots of snow. Invest in warm clothing and shoes, and make sure to take advantage of winter sports.

During the summer, Finland experiences the Midnight Sun, which means that the sun doesn’t set for several weeks. This can be a unique and exciting experience, but it can also disrupt your sleep patterns. Make sure to invest in blackout curtains if you’re sensitive to light.

Conclusion: Embracing Finnish Culture

Studying in Finland can be an amazing opportunity to experience a unique culture and education system. By understanding and embracing Finnish culture, you can make the most of your time in Finland and have a life-changing experience. Here are some tips to help you embrace Finnish culture:

  • Try traditional Finnish food and drink.
  • Learn some basic Finnish phrases.
  • Invest in warm clothing and shoes for the winter.
  • Take advantage of winter sports.
  • Embrace sauna culture.
  • Respect personal space and silence.
  • Explore Finland’s beautiful nature.
  • Value teamwork and collaboration.
  • Live a sustainable lifestyle.

In conclusion, studying in Finland as an international student can be an incredible experience. Finnish culture is unique and can be challenging to adjust to, but it’s also very rewarding. By embracing Finnish culture, you can make the most of your time in Finland and have an unforgettable experience. So why not consider Finland for your next study-abroad destination?

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Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin

Hi, I'm Aretha Franklin, an experienced writer with a passion for creating authentic content for international students. I've written extensively on topics such as studying abroad, cultural immersion, and navigating new educational systems. Through my writing, I aim to provide valuable insights and advice to help students succeed in their academic pursuits.

About US

Mayfair education consultancy and training services is an Estonia-based consultancy firm serving globally for a long time with a good reputation. We as an education consultancy provide hand-to-hand services, training to many different areas in education, branding, and development of education, and global cooperation between and among universities for more than a decade.

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