A Saudi Guy’s Finland Experience
We’ve just returned to Riyadh after a relaxing summer vacation in Finland. My husband and I spent most of our time at my families summerhouse by the sea in Southern Finland. It’s a wonderful and peaceful place to unwind surrounded by my family and my dear little nieces! So how does a Saudi guy find life in Finland? Here are some of my husband’s experiences from Finnish summer.
I´ve been a bit surprised at how much my husband genuinely enjoys my home country. KSA and Finland are so different weather wise, when it comes to the food, the nature and of course culture and traditions. Despite all the differences my Saudi guy really loves Finland and that just makes me love him more.
What surprised me mostly is how well my husband has adapted to the Finnish custom of spending the summer at our summer places. Most people will move to their summer houses, villas, or cottages for the time of their summer vacation. Life at the summer place differs quite alot from city life but that is exactly why people go there.
Like most Finns, we don’t actually have running water at the summer house. This itself naturally creates some “problems” and inconviniences. We haven’t connected the electricity to our sauna which is from the 19th century in order to keep it as original as possible. The idea is to leave the luxuries of the city behind and to . In short Finns like to keep it nice and simple and feel close to nature. Kind of like bedouins actually!
I asked my husband what are his favorite things about Finland. He replied the presence of water, the vast amount of it surrounding you wherever you go; in the rivers, the lakes (Finland has over 100,00 of them!)and the sea. One activity we enjoy is going out to the sea, either sailing or boating to surrounding islands. He also likes the lush green nature, that is so versatile and very easily accessible.
He loves being able to get so many things to eat by just stepping outside like blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, peas, salad, potatoes, mushrooms, spring onions, rhubarb, black and red currants, apples, tomatoes..the list is endless and the majority can be found a few steps from the house.
Despite hating the summer heat in Saudi, my husband loves going to sauna. He knows how to chop the trees so they are just right and how to heat the perfect old-fashioned wood sauna. He will actually stay in longer than me sometimes and be the one adding more ‘löyly” (steam)! The only thing he won’t likely do (without peer pressure) is go for a long swim in the +22C seawater, which for us is very warm but for him it’s freezing!
Naturally my husband prefers the summer climate when the weather is not too hot or cold (if we are having a good summer!)This sumer was really hot and the record highest temperature ever of 37.6 celcius was set in eastern Finland.
He also likes that everything is so well organised and easily available, that technology is very advanced and at hand everywhere.
One of the only things my husband doesn’t like about Finland (except the cold water) is when we go out people stare at him like he’s an alien. Especially when accompanied by Finnish women Arab and dark skinned men will get some long glares. Outside the capital Helsinki it’s not common to see many foreigners around and some Finns are unfortunately quite wary when it comes to darker skinned people. I’ve noted that the worst gawkers seem to be the Finnish men. I wouldn’t say they’re necessarily all racist, but at least very suspicious and possibly a bit jealous that the Finnish woman has chosen a foreign spouse..
Speaking of which, we were going through some old stuff and stumbled upon this ABC from the 50’s. On the first page there is a picture of an indian and a black woman washing herself. The text in the pictures says “A Red Indian sneaks searching for tracks” and “A Nigger washes her face but does not get white”. Quite harsh to put in a children’s book. Perhaps this attitude partially explains deeply rooted prejudices toward dark skinned people? For Finns it’s unfortunately quite common to make fun of colored people. Only a few years back we used to have chocolate sweets named “Nigger’s Kisses”!! OMG! On the wrapper there was a black skinned huge lippedcouple dressed in hula skirts kissing.Thank God they recently changed the name to Kisses but the picture remains ther same.
Actually racial caricatures of African black children were quite common topic in Finnish children’s literature. A common joke almost a theme, in these stories was that these little kids were dirty because of the colour of their skin. In Helga Sjödtedt’s story book “Afrikan veitikoita” (Little African Rascals) the author writes: “…and Grandma Jumbina was very pleased to see that little niggers’ skin was turning to a more beautiful (lighter)color every day.”
Check out more on the subject:
In any case we had a fantastic time and can’t wait to go back next year inshallah!
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