10 Differences Between Finland And The UK

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Since I travel between Finland and the UK several times a year I cannot help but make small observations about differences in Finnish and Scottish everyday life that I find curious, interesting or just plain annoying – and now I thought I’d share them with you as well my dear friends. Remember that these are just my personal, not-so-objective observations and generalisations based on 1,5 years in London and 2,5 years in Edinburgh! So without further introductions, here they are:

1.Indoor temperature

Every time I travel to Finland I need a couple of days to acclimatise to the warmer indoor temperatures in houses there and vice versa. Which means I’m always quite hot when I arrive in Finland and quite cold when I get back to the Burgh (like right now!) The main reason behind the differences in indoor temperatures is the insulation and the cost to heat up houses I suppose. I still can’t get used to closing doors here to keep the heat in or to how cold it gets indoors during winter in the UK. Or how everyone keeps turning the heating on and off all the time to save money – I wouldn’t even know how to do that in Finland! Luckily our current flat is so small that it heats up pretty fast without us having to spend millions on heating!

2. Dressing babies

Can’t speak for the rest of the UK, but at least in Edinburgh I keep seeing small (and bigger) children – even babies – wearing very little clothes when it’s cold outside (pretty much every day of the year). They often don’t wear hats, gloves nor scarves even though it’s winter. In Finland again I’ve noticed that children are dressed very warmly even though it might not be quite that cold outside. One of the midwives at the hospital where Lana was born even told me to remember that it’s a Scottish baby who shouldn’t be dressed too warmly(!) I told her Lana’s half Finnish too…

3. Respect for pedestrians

Many might disagree with me on this one, but according to my personal experiences I find drivers in Edinburgh a lot less polite than in Finland – they don’t even stop for me when I have a pram and a baby! (It’s not something I lie awake thinking about at night though – and there are obviously many places where pedestrians aren’t respected at all!) I thought Finland would be even worse, but have been surprised by how often drivers stop for me there compared to Edinburgh. There seems to be a lot more zebra crossings in Finland though, so perhaps it can partly be explained by that…

4. Quiet voices

Matthew always tells me that he can’t hear what I say because I’m mumbling, and during my last visit it hit me how much quieter people seem to be in Finland. I guess it goes hand in hand with the Finns’ modest nature…Whether my soft-spokenness (or mumbling) is due to my Finnish heritage or not I don’t know though. Maybe.

5. Milk milk milk

Finns drink loads of milk, not only when young but also as adults. With meals and without meals. We’re brought up to think milk is good for you and that you should have lots of dairy every day. I’ve grown up drinking milk with meals and I still do it, especially with dinner. Which Matthew thought was weird in the beginning, but now he’s slowly starting to have milk with dinner too haha!

6. Dry vs humid

The air in Finland is definitely drier than in Edinburgh. I notice it from my skin getting drier, my hair not being frizzy (yay – although the soft water is probably part of the reason) and from how clothes actually dry once washed when in Finland! No wonder tumble dryers are so much more common here! In the UK my skin is definitely less dry (yay) but my hair looks and feels pretty shite to put it nicely. A true dilemma haha!

7. Supermarkets

I really miss supermarkets in Finland. Obviously a big part of it is that they stock precious foods I can’t get my hands on here, like proper cottage cheese, leipäjuusto, rye bread, xylitol chewing gum, the most amazing sweets, chocolates and yoghurts just to name a few. But, it’s also the vaster selection of e.g. different kinds of breads (not just toast!), dairy products like yoghurts and ice creams and sweets and salty liquorice of course. Here, on the other hand, people buy more of certain other things that obviously shows in the supermarkets as well, such as ready made meals, sandwiches and salads, more oriental and exotic foods and more crisps and soft drinks. Also seafood is more readily available in the UK – which makes sense as it’s an island!

8. Sweet vs salty

Continuing on the “food” subject there is also a clear difference in the sweet and crisp consumption – or at least the supply in supermarkets is different. In Finland it’s not uncommon to have a whole aisle of just sweets – everything from chocolate to salty liquorice to sweet liquorice to a proper pick n mix selection. In the UK again the sweets are nowhere near as evolved and varied as in Finland, but the crisp selection is a lot bigger. Unfortunately I’m a huge fan of sweets and never buy crisps. On a more positive note I eat less sweets here – although I probably make up for the deficiency by eating chocolate and cakes instead…

9. Eating out

On our last night in Finland we had dinner out with my folks and it hit me (once again) when looking around in the empty restaurant how rarely Finns eat out – especially during the week. The more expensive prices definitely scare people away, but I also think that the cold and dark autumn/winter makes people just want to stay in their (warm) homes. Also the take away culture is nowhere near as big as in the UK where many families have a take away at least once a week. Being able to eat out a lot more is definitely something I like about living here in Edinburgh.

10. Shoes off!

Something I’ve never understood is why on earth you would wear shoes inside? In Finland we take our shoes off the minute we get in the door, and I cannot see a single good reason for why you should wear shoes inside as you do in the UK. Not one. (If you think you have a valid reason let me know!) Therefore we have a no shoes policy in our home and all guests are asked to take their shoes off.

Is there anything you disagree with on this list? Or anything you’d like to add? Let me know!

x Nina x