10 things I like about Finland, from an anxious young adult

Alexis Yi, print editor-in-chief

Living in the United States for the last year has made me wishful for the better things this world has to offer. I’m a great admirer of Finland and have been for a while. Below are my reasons, in no particular order. 

  1. Universal Healthcare

The decentralized Finnish system is by no means perfect, and in recent years Finland has struggled to come up with a solution to the healthcare consequences of an aging population. However, Finland is still far, far ahead of the U.S., which has arguably the worst healthcare system of all developed countries. 10.9% of Americans were uninsured in 2019, and while data is not yet available for 2020, it’s almost certain that that number has gotten worse. The Finnish effort is an admirable one in the name of basic human rights. 

  1. No College Tuition

In my college application research, I’ve realized that U.S. college tuition can be insane. Colleges are really out here asking for all our internal organs. Finland (like many other Scandinavian countries) doesn’t have such a problem. Finnish college students pay no tuition. A crazy concept here in the U.S., apparently. 

  1. Great Education in General

The Finnish education system is ranked highly by many international reports, including the Programme for International Student Assessment, a study by the OECD. Overall, the system is pretty amazing: private schools don’t exist, all schools are publicly funded, and teaching is a widely respected profession that requires significant background and education. Finnish students also have fewer standardized tests and homework hours, largely due to the trust placed in teachers as well as the teachers’ overall efficacy. 

  1. Great Violin Music 

I learned to play the violin with Finnish folk tunes, so I can attest to this personally. Finnish folk songs are vibrant, varied, and evoke a rich cultural history. The country’s most notable composer is Jean Sibelius, a violinist himself, who composed seven symphonies in his lifetime, along with other notable works. Coincidentally (or not . . .), we share a birthday. 

Jean Sibelius, photo courtesy of NPR

  1. Angel Demon Babies in the Capital

Sadly, the internet is not able to tell me who made this sculpture (or other related sculptures), or what it’s name is, but this artwork is in Helsinki, the nation’s capital. I saw this sculpture on a trip to Finland, and it made a lasting impression. 

Photo courtesy of theindependenttourist.net

  1. Action on Climate Change

In 2019, Finland committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2035. Now, whether or not they actually reach that goal is another story . . . but this is still a great step. Further, an overwhelming majority of Finns —80%—actually believe that urgent action is needed to fight climate change. 

  1. Literally the Happiest Country In The World

For three years in a row, the World Happiness Report has put Finland at the top of its ranking. The report, a publication of the United Nations, incorporates both citizen surveys and quality of life indicators.

  1. “The Land of A Thousand Lakes”

Finland has over 187,000 lakes. That’s pretty cool, as a person who has enjoyed the lakes that Minnesota has to offer. Finland’s lakes are also a big part of the country’s sauna culture and heritage. 

  1. Wife-Carrying Race

I’m just a big fan of unconventional races in general, like the Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake in England, where people risk bodily harm to chase an airborne cheese wheel down a hill. The wife-carrying race, which originated in Sonkajärvi, Finland, is an event where men race each other while carrying full-grown adult women. It has since spread globally and now even has a World Championship in the event’s birthplace. The world champion receives the female partner’s weight in beer. 

  1. National ‘Day For Failure’

On Oct. 13, people all across Finland celebrate their biggest mistakes and flops—finally, a holiday I can relate to. The holiday was started in 2010 by college students (no surprise there) and has become massively popular since, garnering attention from public figures and celebrities. 

Of course, like any country, Finland has its own problems and issues. But Finland does have a lot to offer, and maybe it wouldn’t hurt to emulate some of the greater aspects of this nation.