Tenth meeting (Robin and Heini) – Similarities and differences between French and Finnish culture

This is our final meeting with Heini and for this one, we wanted to look at the similarities and differences between our respective cultures.

  • In France we kiss each other’s cheeks when meeting someone. This has always been part of the culture and it’s just a common habit. As a man, we mainly do it with women but we can also do it with men (if we are close to them. For example, your family or your inner circle of friends). However, this seemed very odd to Heini because this is not part of their culture and it would make her feel uncomfortable.
  • In Finland, Saunas are part of the culture and it’s completely normal to go naked in a sauna with other people. In the same way, kissing each other’s cheeks  can be strange to foreigners, I think that being naked with other people in a room that’s smoking hot is a little weird as well. But, once again it’s because I’m not used to it and it would make me uncomfortable at first I think.
  • Christmas is equally important both in France and in Finland (we love gathering the family, cooking the dinner, eating, drinking and opening the presents under the Christmas tree and we also celebrate it on the 24th of December and eat the leftovers on the 25th). The only difference between the two cultures is the food.
  • In Finland, the weather is pretty much the same throughout the country (only the temperature varies) whereas in France, the weather changes a lot depending on where you are. For example, in the mountains (and we have quite a few), it will be snowing all winter. If you go to the west part of France (Brittany) or the north, it will be raining a lot and if you go to the south near the French Riviera, it will be sunny most of the year. Also, since we have a lot of coastlines, the weather changes a lot within one day because of the winds. But It will never be as cold as in Finland. Finally, in Finland, they have very short days in the winter and very long days in the summer. That’s something that we don’t have either because we are located more in the south.
  • In Finnish, they have more letters in the alphabet. For example, in French we don’t have the letter “ä“.
  • The people in Finland are somewhat different from the people in France. For instance, they are more patriotic than us I think and they don’t really talk to strangers. They can seem a little more reserved than French people.
  • Finland is the most sparsely populated country in the EU. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of forest and lakes. 
  • The finnish schooling system is one of the best in the world and children don’t have that many homework and they also have shorter days at school (which I am envious of). In France, we put pressure on children and students to get good grades so that they can get into a renowned school and get a decent job. But I think this is wrong because students are forced to do it (or because they want to please their parents when they come home with good grades). They don’t really do it for the sake of studying and learning things and I think this is a major difference between the two schooling systems.

We could go on and on but these are the main similarities and differences that I noticed between French and Finnish culture.

Unfortunately, this was our last meeting but I really enjoyed this course because I think it was a fun and entertaining way of learning things. We have covered subjects that we wouldn’t have covered in a regular course so I am thoroughly thankful for that.

Finally, I loved the fact that we could teach and learn whatever seemed relevant to us. It just gave us more room for creativity and therefore, we were more involved in the teaching and learning!

Thank you for the course and thank you Heini for your time and involvement.

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