Wondering how to make friends with a Finn? For some people, making friends is effortless. This type of people have a large group of friends from a young age, and no matter what social circumstances they find themselves in, they will always manage to meet people and befriend them.
For others, making friends is difficult. This type of people tend to be introverted and find themselves isolated from the rest of the world. For them, the process of getting to know someone new is arduous and tedious.
But no matter which of the two groups you belong to; as an immigrant to Helsinki, making friends with a Finn is not going to be easy.
You may wonder isn’t Helsinki the most multicultural city in Finland and where the most sociable Finns live?
Well, here is the thing, a foreigner making friends with a Finn is going to have a hard time because foreigners have a harder time making new friends no matter where they are, and not because a Finn is involved. We all know that making new friends is not a walk in the park.
The Finnish people have a reputation for being reserved, serious and introverted. Many foreigners living in Helsinki believe the Finns are “difficult” to befriend – by “befriend” I am referring to “friendship” not boyfriend/girlfriend relationship (which on the contrary is much easier).
While it is true that Finns are relatively reserved and introverted, especially when compared to other Europeans like the French or Italians, it is not entirely true that it is harder to befriend them on account of their nature.
Having said that, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when it comes to Finnish culture:
- Most Finns will prefer to have a couple of quality friends over many superficial relationships.
- Most Finns will be hesitant to approach strangers.
- Most Finns are not small talkers.
- Most Finns are suspicious of foreigners.
- Most adult Finns rarely make new friends due to Finnish cultural expectations. Hence, the vast number of lonely people.
I am not trying to say all Finns act a certain way, that will be “stereotyping” a whole nation. There are some Finnish people that are sociable and will take the first step to talk to you when necessary. Millennials Finns, for example, are receptive to small talks and need not get drunk before they open up. The same applies to some of the Finns who live in Helsinki.
How to Make Friends with a Finn
So how can you befriend a Finn? The following are the recommended ways to find and make friends with Finnish people.
Work and school
Easy, the same way you would befriend anyone else in the world. The most common method of making new friends with a Finn is through work and school.
For example, at work, you will be in constant contact with people who are your relative peers, work colleagues etc and with whom you have a common thread.
Schools are social entities and, as such, can provide you with plentiful opportunities to interact and get to know your schoolmates.
If you are not in school and you live in Helsinki, you can sign up for a course on the adult education center työvoimaopisto website and start building rapport with the people in your class once you are enrolled.
Hobbies, programs, and events
Outside of work and school, you may try making friends with a Finn through shared hobbies or through public service, meetup events, or volunteering programs.
It takes effort, but it is entirely doable. What better way to make friends than with people with whom you already share common interests. Whether your hobby is hitting the gym, playing chess, photographing nature, dancing, just to mention a few, you can make instant connections with Finn who share the same hobbies as you.
Social media, internet forums
Nowadays, it so easy to meet people online. With the advent of social media and the Internet, it is now possible to make friends with anyone anywhere in the world. Join a Finnish group on Facebook or Finnish internet forums. Be active by taking part in the conversation. Be consistent at it, over time you may click with a member in the group or forum.
Personally, i don’t have a flair for languages. Hence why my Finnish skill is bad. However, making friends with a Finn may prove difficult if you don’t speak Finnish. This is not exclusive to Finnish culture. If you move to Hong Kong and don’t speak Mandarin, you might find the Chinese people challenging to befriend.
That doesn’t mean it is impossible to befriend a native Finn or Chinese if you don’t speak Finnish or Mandarin. It is much easier if you can speak Finnish. Sign up for a Finnish course and start learning Finnish.
Learn about the Finnish culture
There are resources online that will assist you to learn about Finnish culture. Your chances of making friends with a Finn will increase if you know about their values and beliefs. For example, Finnish people love to drink coffee and having silence moments during a conversation is an acceptable practice in Finnish culture. More so, going to the sauna is an important ritual among Finns.
You can start by asking your Finnish colleague or classmate questions about coffee and sauna and see where that takes you.
How to know when a Finn is starting to like you
So, how do you know you are making progress with your “Finn-befriending” quest? When your Finnish colleague, classmate, or acquaintance invites you to their summer cottage, home or sauna, then you making a progress and on your way to having a Finnish friend.
To conclude this article on how to make friends with a Finn, i will leave you with the following joke which you will find typical of Finnish people once you become friends with them.
“Two Finnish men, Jukka and Pekka, go ice fishing. They fish in silence for a long while and eventually, Jukka asks “So How are things?” Pekka doesn’t answer and they continue fishing in silence for more hours. Then Jukka asks, “So How is the family?” At this Pekka gets angry, stands up and shouts, “Did We come here to talk or to fish?!”