Living in Finland – as a Swede

Photo: Mihis Alex (

If I had asked myself ten years ago where I was today, I would have laughed in disbelief if I knew the answer. Yet, here I am living and studying in Finland now.

So, how is it to actually live in Finland?

When I first came here, I had a stereotypical picture of the Finnish people because I had never visited the country before. First of all, I believed that all Finns could speak fluent Swedish but oh boy was I wrong!

It was a surprise to me that only less than 6% (Statistics of Finland, 2018) of the Finnish population is Swedish-speaking and the Finnish-speaking population has quite poor Swedish skills in general. I have tried to speak Swedish here in several occasions – also in government owned places. For example, once I tried to buy train tickets from VR service point in Helsinki train station. The lady at the desk did not speak any Swedish or even English actually. It is hardly noticeable (except for the road signs and official papers) to me that Finland has two official languages.

But an even bigger surprise to me was how kind and nice Finnish people are. In Sweden the stereotypical Finn is normally something completely different. We Swedes think that Finns are angry knife-carrying loners that drink a lot of alcohol and go to sauna frequently.

A few of these stereotypes were true of course but I have not yet seen a Finnish person carrying a knife.

Finns are actually more open than I expected. They have been welcoming towards me despite the rivalty between Finland and Sweden. Even though I have heard many jokes about Swedish people, I have always felt that the Finns telling them have had a glint in their eye whilst telling the joke.

Enjoying my life in Finland

Photo: Artem Vasev (

Life is actually quite similar here and in Sweden. The society works similarly in both countries and life is equally smooth in Finland and Sweden. For example, it was very easy for me to go to the doctor when I fell ill. I received service exactly in the same way as Finns.

I have made many new friends here and settling in to live in Finland has been easy for me. I found an apartment easily, and I have not had any problems with the Finnish authorities or Finnish people.

Now the first semester has come to an end and I will fly back to Sweden soon. Unfortunately I will return to +9 degrees and rain but I will take with me all the fun experiences I have had in Finland during the semester and my stay here. It has been so nice to see some snow because in the south of Sweden where I come from we have snow hardly ever.

I already look forward to the new experiences and challenges when I come back to Finland in January.

Written by Daniel Svensson

Editor: Trang Dang