Dear Americans, please stop confusing Finns

Now that I have spent three months at home, I have noticed countless things that are different from life in the United States. These differences include everyday things in life that I sometimes find quite odd. It is easy for me to find similarities between the Finnish and American cultures, but I wish I could fully understand Americans. Even though I am going to talk about some very serious stuff in this article, please do not cancel me.

To start off, it is completely normal to wear shoes inside the house in the U.S. I am aware that there are people out there who do not do this, but come on guys.

I just have this one image in my head, and I cannot help it. You drive home from work in your Ford F150, walk through the dirt and wet grass to get to your house, and then you lay on the couch with those same shoes on.

Even at the age of 22, I would get grounded for two weeks if I ever did this at home in Finland.

One of my favorite things to do in the U.S. is going to Walmart. I could literally take a deck chair with me and sit there all day. In addition to seeing the most interesting people in there, I can buy anything I could possibly need. However, I would have no clue how much the products actually cost. If I have $20 with me, I cannot even buy a $20 t-shirt. Just put the sales tax on the price tag, please.

Now, let’s say that by some miracle I happen to have enough money for this t-shirt that costs $20, but does not actually cost $20, and I go to the register. I give the cashier the t-shirt I am about to buy, and they put it in a bag for me.

I can only imagine how long it takes when the cashier has to pack the groceries of a family of five.

On top of that, the bags are so small that each one can fit like two cans of tuna in it. You should try packing your own groceries and use bigger bags. You will be surprised how much easier it makes your life.

The legal drinking age in most countries, including Finland, is 18. In some countries, for example Austria, Belgium, and Germany, the legal drinking age is 16. Since the U.S. has to be different than almost everyone else, your drinking age is 21. This has never made any sense to me, and it never will. You can literally get married, adopt a child, be tried as an adult for a crime you commit, enlist in the military, and run for state office before you can legally drink alcohol.

You can also get your driver’s license at the age of 16 in the U.S. Honestly, for the people living in Michigan, that seems like a punishment. From my point of view, the roads you guys have are absolutely terrible and I think many of you can agree on that. On top of that, the U.S. highways, ramps, and suburbs barely have any streetlights, which is quite odd.

Regardless of these not-so-perfect driving conditions, I still ended up buying a car in the States. I mean, why wouldn’t I want to pay the for car insurance. It is only five times more expensive than what I pay in Finland. Especially when you get to drive a beautiful 2008 Chevrolet Impala.

I would maybe consider selling the car if there was something us Finns love, public transport. Big cities obviously have public transport, but it is mind blowing how far behind U.S. is compared to Finland when it comes to public transport in small towns.

Using checks and fax machines are some random differences between Finland and the U.S. also come to mind. I thought that I was just way too young to understand this, but even my parents said that they do not remember using cheques or fax machines since their childhood.

I have also noticed that many households still have a landline phone. Apparently, they are a dying breed, but there are still quite a lot of them out there in the States.

Another interesting thing is the number of drive-through lanes. In Finland, drive-throughs are only used in fast food places like McDonalds. In the U.S, there are drive-throughs at banks, coffee shops, and pharmacies. There are even liquor stores with drive-throughs.

Well, that’s about it, I guess. It has been an absolute pleasure to write these little stories for you this summer. I appreciate all the feedback that I’ve received through social media.

America is a great country to live in, but Houghton might just be the real crown jewel. I hope you learned something new about Finland and our culture.

I’ll be back in Houghton this winter, so feel free to come say hi if you feel like it. I can’t wait to explore your country even more. Thank you for reading and have a wonderful rest of the summer.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Roni Salmenkangas is a student athlete at Ferris State University, majoring in sports communication. For the most part, Roni’s stories focus on Finnish culture and people. He is completing his internship from Tampere, Finland.


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