Ink Tank - Make words not war Mahmudul Islam


When I was a teenager in my home country of Bangladesh the only thing I knew about Finland was that it’s the land of Nokia.

After completing my bachelor’s in electronics I worked as a journalist for 3 years, I then decided to come to Finland to pursue a master’s at the University of Oulu.

I observed a number of interesting characteristics about Finland in my first 12 months of living here and I present them below…




1. The virtue of being punctual

In Finland everything happens on time. Finns rigorously practice punctuality and expect others to do the same. Want to annoy a Finn? Then be late a full of excuses.

2. Girls are noticeably safe in public

The Bangladeshi society grapples with the perennial problem of street harassment of women. It’s typically not safe for women to go outside alone at night. On the contrary, Finland seems to be a safe haven for women. Women can dress as they please without the threat of verbal harassment.


3. The precious sun

Growing up in a tropical country has allowed me to grow accustomed to the predictability of the sun. The only seasonal exception is winter when the sun is slightly less intense. Finland forces you to become incredibly fond of the sun and its elusive tendencies.

4. Free Wi-Fi

The indispensability of mobile phones in everyday life is essential. The Internet has made communications easier and the convenience of using the internet is greatly amplified when you can connect to free Wi-Fi hotspots in public places throughout Finland.


5. Wherever you go, nature steals the show

Finland is Europe’s most forested country. Helsinki and its condensed population have easy access to the surrounding nature. The abundance of water is another key feature of Finland, which is why Finland is known as the land of a thousand lakes. It was a pleasant shock moving from the concrete jungle of Bangladesh to the gorgeous greenery of Finland.


Photo: Michele Lawrence


6. The infrastructure is organized

I realized soon after moving that everything works systematically in Finland. Public transport is astonishingly punctual and businesses operate according to their announced schedules, which makes daily life hassle-free.

7. The food is flavorless

Finnish food is pretty bland and severely lacking in the spice department. I have tried to get used to Finnish food but I’m endlessly disappointed. The missing flavors seem to be replaced with a love for sugar, as Finns definitely have a sweet tooth.

8. English is widely accepted

Finns are among the top speakers of English as a second language in the world. In the big cities of southern Finland speaking English is not a problem, however, it’s impossible to integrate into the society without knowing Finnish. Sure you can speak English, but you cannot become part of Finnish society if you don’t learn Finnish.

9. Coffee & milk love

The Finns love for coffee is no secret. Finns drink tons of coffee according to the International Coffee Organization, so congratulations Finland, you’re the biggest coffee drinkers in the world! Finns also seem to have an admiration for milk. I was surprised to see that many adults drink milk with lunch…it’s not just for kids here!



10. Cars don’t honk

It’s a fact that having a car gives you greater mobility and when it comes to moving around in a sparsely populated country like Finland, a car is pretty essential. In comparison to Bangladesh where car’s honk nonstop, the Finnish roads are relatively quiet.


11. Expat Finns are easier to interact with

The expat Finns I have encountered, especially those who have lived in other countries where small talk is acceptable, are more friendly and open than others. Moreover, they don’t identify with the stereotypical definition of “reticent Finn” once they’ve returned to Finland. Concepts like “extreme personal space” or “public quietness” become obsolete to the expat Finn.


12. Silent Finland

Finns tend to enjoy the quiet and perhaps their surroundings influence this fact. The silence may feel mysteriously morbid at first, but once you adapt to it your focus can significantly improve…thus, Finland is a great place for writers!


Mahmudul Islam is a graduate student of wireless communications engineering at the University of Oulu.   


Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more stories about super Suomi


Edited by Michele Lawrence.

The post Functional, punctual and awesome: my first 12 months in Finland appeared first on .

Ink Tank - Make words not war Michele Lawrence

Winter parkway, Ruka, Finland. Photo by Timo Newton-Syms


Is the impending Finnish winter already clenching tightly on what’s left of your November soul? If so then check out these 5 winter activities that won’t add more chaos to your already insane inner monologue.




1. Indoor gardening

We all occasionally feel old inside, especially in winter. Now’s the time to embrace stereotypical hobbies that normal envelope elderly people. But instead of cleaning up after 85 cats, get yourself a million plants. Discovering new species of plants that will survive artificial sunlight is a beloved pastime in the north. It’s fun, reduces stress and makes you feel important. It’s also much cleaner and safer than having so many cats. Remind yourself that loving plants also means that you have no life.

2. Baking

Everyone loves the smell of freshly baked bread and if they don’t then there’s something intrinsically wrong with them. Once you learn how to bang out your own dough you won’t want the store-bought kind anymore, and what better way to spend your pent-up winter frustration than baking fresh pastries to keep all your plants company. Win.

3. Sauna

The classic and often intense sauna experience will put your mind on the mend. Trekking through giant heaps of snow is much more tolerable when you know the sauna awaits you with its warm, welcoming embrace. Give in to it, don’t fight it and you will finally understand the sauna’s winter allure — if only to defrost yourself. Don’t forget to sauna alone to avoid embarrassment because even after living in Finland for 10 years you still constantly screw up sauna etiquette. This probably means you are still wildly uncomfortable around random naked people.

4. Escape Room

(Skip if you have anxiety. Why not just nail your coffin shut right now?)




5. Ice fishing

Only for the brave at heart and for when your inner monologue needs a mind-numbing shock to shut the F up. Sitting on a camping stool over a frozen lake in the dead of winter is sure to grow hair just about everywhere, and feel totally natural. If you do catch something your fingers (and brain) will be so frozen that you won’t care what kind of fish it is anyway. This will undoubtedly make the foreigner Finn in you feel stupid, thus registering the whole bone-chilling experience as an awkward memory. But hey, it’s all about passing the time, right?


If all else fails just go to the bar.



Drink until May. Then remember it’s Vappu and you can’t stop now. If you’re still feeling guilty, just remind yourself that Donald Trump is still the POTUS and being in a constant state of slight inebriation is a perfectly acceptable form of coping.



Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more stories about super Suomi


Title photo by Timo Newton-Syms

The post 5 winter activities that won’t make you cringe – Finnish edition appeared first on .

Ink Tank - Make words not war Kristin Fellows

Kotiharjun Sauna


I am sitting naked on a high wooden bench in a darkened bunker. The stranger sitting next to me, also naked, is beating my back with a handful of frozen birch branches. My face is on fire as an enormous blast of hot steam envelopes the two of us and others nearby.


A surreal sadist nightmare?



No — just a fairly typical scene during Christmas Eve in Finland.

Christmas Eve is the most popular day of the year at Kotiharjun Sauna, one of Helsinki’s few public saunas with a traditional wood-fired furnace.


Finnish Sauna vihta


I came to visit my son Leif who is studying abroad in Finland, and Christmas Eve is apparently the most popular day of the year at Kotiharjun Sauna


There’s something magical about this sauna. 


I don’t understand a word of Finnish but each time the door opens to this Dickensian inferno, another naked woman appears.  She shouts something indecipherable to the Nordic goddesses around me that sounds like, “Haluatko minun kääntyä löysä lohikäärmeen?” I think this must mean, “Do you want me to turn loose the dragon?”

To which comes a chorus of replies, “Kyllä kiitos, emme voi saada tarpeeksi, että kuuma lohikäärme hengitys,” which means something like, “Yes please, we can’t get enough of that hot dragon breath.”

Each naked newcomer reaches up towards the top of the furnace yanking down on a lever thus releasing a tsunami of water. The sudden, skin-scorching steam momentarily obliterates my ability to see the dozens of other naked bodies assembled in various states of quiet submission around me.


What I think of as dragon’s breath the Finns actually call “löyly.” Löyly originally means “spirit of life,” but is interpreted as “a cloud of sauna steam” released to purify the body and calm the mind.

Löyly — and more specifically sauna — is how many Finns begin their Christmas Eve celebrations which tells you a lot about the Finnish practice of physical and mental cleansing.

The relationship between Finns and their saunas goes back more than one thousand years.


In addition to purifying the mind, “taking sauna” has been credited with driving out diseases. Decades ago women gave birth in saunas and there are tales of tumultuous lovers reconciling differences in an enveloping blast of löyly.


The ratio of saunas to Finns these days is one sauna for every 2.75 people.


There are more saunas than cars in Finland which makes sauna kind of hard to avoid. But then again, why would you want to?

Most public saunas disappeared with the introduction of shared saunas in apartment buildings, but Kotiharjun Sauna still operates daily. Built in 1928 in the heart of Helsinki’s Kallio district (an old workers neighborhood) it doesn’t appear to have changed much since then.



Today there’s a free Christmas Eve drink offered and between visits to the sauna I help myself to a Finnish beer. I sip on the beer as I glance through the photos in a Finnish magazine about (what else?) – saunas.

Eager for another round of Finnish cleansing my son and I return a few days later for a pre-flight sauna before my departure home.


The woman behind the check-in counter smiles, “weren’t you here a few days ago?” she asks, seemingly pleased to see us again. Contrary to popular stereotypes she is eager to talk to us about Finnish culture.

“Were you surprised at how talkative the men are in the sauna?” she asks Leif about his Christmas Eve experience.

Leif nods. It was a surprise given the reputation Finns have for being reserved.

“The sauna is the only place Finnish men talk,” she says laughing, “and it’s because they don’t have their wives and girlfriends talking to them, telling them what to say or think!”

Legend says that the most important decisions are made in saunas. According to Visit Finland, taking sauna together offers the opportunity for special bonding experiences which have no sexual overtones. I can see firsthand how saunas deliver total mental relaxation, clearing the mind of unnecessary clutter.



As I come downstairs ready to say my goodbyes Leif comes out of the men’s locker room.

My send-off from Finland couldn’t have been more moving…as Leif heads outside for a beer break I notice a stray birch leaf on his shoulder, and as he emerges into the frigid winter air the dragon retreats back into the hot layers of weathered wood.


Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more stories about super Suomi


Edited by Michele Lawrence.

The post Getting Naked with a Dragon in Finland: my scorching sauna experience appeared first on .

Ink Tank - Make words not war Michele Lawrence

Donald Trump jr in November 2016

On days when he’s not killing endangered species in foreign countries for sport and making a mockery of the White House with his mere presence, Junior Jackass is posting absurdly dumb twitter posts about complex political issues he’s completely clueless about (he’s definitely his father’s son).


The internet’s response did not cease to amaze…



Celebrities and everyone in between decimated Donnie Jr. with the facts of reality about socialism. Not only did Donnie Jr. fail miserably to create a sensible analogy, he also did it with bad grammar.


Here’s more examples of what went down in case you missed it…


Original tweet








Title image by Max Goldberg

The post Poor Dumb Donnie: how the internet destroyed Donald Trump Junior’s twitter post about socialism appeared first on .

Ink Tank - Make words not war Julie Anderson

If there’s any silver lining to the titanic idiocy of Brexit, it is its comedy value. Nearly a year and a half into the collective face-planting there’s been a wealth of memes, videos and cartoons. One genre that’s also erupted in popularity is definitions. These take Brexit or a Brexit “hero” and define their attributes in a fun new way. The 5 below have all gone viral, for obvious reasons.








The post These 5 definitions of Brexit went viral. It’s easy to see why. appeared first on .

Ink Tank - Make words not war Kathleen Harris

Promo pic for Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 just premiered in movie theaters across the globe and caused quite a stir. Not only are longtime fans of the original Blade Runner saying it’s a remarkable rendition of an untouchable classic, but there’s also Finnish spoken in the movie! Alongside Finnish actress Krista Kosonen, 2 other actresses have claimed their moment of Finnish fame while discussing who Blade Runner is onscreen.


Consequently, this Blade Runner rouse has sparked my pre-existing interest in the many other times I’ve heard Finnish (and Finland) referenced in movies and TV shows. So here’s a collection of the coolest…



1. What your favorite TV characters think about Finland



“Buddy of mine says they swear by this stuff in Finland.”

“Well, they’re a bunch of sex-crazed alcoholics, so they should know, right?”




Gilmore Girls

Rory: “Grandma. We were just talking about you. How are you? How’s Helsinki?”
Emily: “Cold. Unaccommodating. A population of walking dead.”



Dan (on Helsinki): “I’m sorry that I ever set foot in that fucking fish-eating, indie-film fucking hellhole.”



Walter: “As they say in Finland, there’s more than one way to roast a reindeer.”


How I Met Your Mother

Ted (on his best man speech): “So now I seem like a total train wreck to all my old high school friends. And a bunch of people in Finland. The auto-tune thing got kind of big over there.”
Ted’s speech that became famous: 


2. Five times Hollywood hacked the Finnish language


Charlie’s Angels





The Big Bang Theory


The Hudsucker Proxy






3. Other magnificent mentions of Finland




Conan – hates my homeland


Conan – drinks Lapin Kulta




Confessions of a Shopaholic






Spongebob Squarepants


SNL – Finnish talk show Kalle





Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more stories about super Suomi


Edited by Michele Lawrence.

The post Finnish made famous: magnificent mentions of Finland throughout Tinseltown appeared first on .

Ink Tank - Make words not war Michele Lawrence

Bowling Balls. Photo by Joonas Tikkanen.

We all cling desperately to warmer weather and scattered sunshine, but once those notions are gone for good with the encroaching winter months, it’s beneficial to have sanctuary spots in Helsinki where you can grasp onto your remaining sanity.

Fun Bowling and Bar is one of those spots, and here’s why…



1. The lanes are awesomely fresh

Photo: Michele Lawrence


2. The music doesn’t suck — it’s Rock n’ Roll all the way


3. You might get a very unexpected hug from a confused, elderly man


4. The people / regulars are really phenomenal too


Photo: Fun Bowling and Bar

5. There’s a bar, the backdrop for any good bowling alley banter


6. On cold, sunless days there’s nothing better than throwing heavy balls and drinking fun liquids in a cave-like setting = almost a winter rage-room?


Photo: Michele Lawrence


7. Did I mention there’s a bar? It’s in the name after all


Photo: Fun Bowling and Bar


8. The staff make you feel at home by NOT reminiscing on the times you’ve had TOO much fun while drinking cave liquids


9. You just may get a turkey when it’s not even Thanksgiving, aka. 3 strikes in a row


Photo: Michele Lawrence


10. Leave your attitude at the door, this is not a place for pretentiousness


11. Kids rock this joint and will put your bowling confidence to shame



Photo: Fun Bowling and Bar


12. If you’re missing home no matter where you’re from, the bowling alley is the perfect sanctuary spot


Photo: Michele Lawrence


Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more stories about super Suomi


Title image by Joonas Tikkanen

The post 12 fantastic facts why Fun Bowling and Bar in Helsinki doesn’t suck appeared first on .

Ink Tank - Make words not war Thomas Nybergh

Caricature of Nigel Farage

British mainstream media like the BBC have given more than a fair share of visibility to characters like former UKIP leader Nigel Farage. Far-right populists, despite being given loads of screen time, must yammer to their base with tired old clishés about “Lugenpresse”, the “lying press”.

Mr. Farage is of course no exception, and yet again he so enthusiastically wanted to wage his war on the BBC, that he did that Internet-age equivalence of a public fart: holding up an easily photoshoppable sign. Like farting, an exploitable photo happens to all of us every now an then. But how bad it is, to quote George Carlin, depends “on who’s cooking”.



But just check this big and beautiful thing. As far as held-up signs go, this is top shelf material. It couldn’t be much wider if Mr. Farage wanted conveniently the hold it up by himself and fit it into a conventional photo.


Just compare it to the Dunkirk movie poster thing Farage did last summer. It may be a big sign, but it’s way less personal and enthusiastic.





So let’s investigate what the internet came up with this time. In case you want to get in on the fun, find below a clean slate.



1. Bonus points for self deprecation here



2. Pointing out the obvious again, but someone has to make those first awkward dance moves




3. Here’s a little something to make Farage less vile



4. Have to admit, I find Morrisey annoying, although I like his take on the meat industry


P.S. Fellow non-fans of Morrisey might still enjoy Speedway, a song Spotify recommended to me. I find the drums super catchy.



5. Let’s not impose good sense on a man who has none



6. This one’s very unlikely unless Nigel ran into some “Malkovich Malkovich” kind of bad trip





7. This one suits any guy with a shit-eating grin



To explore Mr. Farage’s history of bad judgement with signs, look no further than our previous post on the subject.

Title photo by Donkeyhotey

The post Seven Signs of the Times: Nigel Farage mocked after irresistible Photoshop bait appeared first on .

Ink Tank - Make words not war Stina Henriksson

Ice swimmer looking happy

Every nationality has their own identifiable characteristics no matter how stereotypical they may sound. As a Finn I hardly recognize these behavioral traits in myself until I’m outside my home country, Finland. With this list you’re sure to never mistake a Finn for anyone else again, especially while traveling or residing abroad…



1. At first you won’t even spot us because Finns know how to lay low on the communal radar — virtually undetectable. You won’t hear us voicing loud opinions on public transportation.


2. But Finns are surely there. We’re super punctual. If an event starts at 10:00 a Finn will be there at 9:40. Tip: If there’s coffee, make it 9:20.


A digital wristwatch


3. Finns are the grumpiest looking people in the group. Finns tend to have unreadable facial expressions all while avoiding excessive smiling. If we’re excessively smiling it’s most likely because you just told an inappropriate joke. We love questionable humor. Dark winters = dark humor?


4. Finns can be spotted awkwardly hovering around the coffeemaker drinking hideous amounts of coffee, no matter what time of day it is. It’s a way of staying awake during those dark winter months, and a habit we cannot switch off while abroad.


A cup of coffee


5. Apart from finishing our coffee before you, Finns will also finish their alcoholic beverages before you. A moderate drinker to Finns is a person with a problem to others. Be careful when you challenge a Finn to drink — you will lose and most likely be humiliated.



A glass of whiskey


6. Don’t expect an extended amount of emotional small talk. Finns often answer in short and honest bursts after a momentary ponder. Alternatively, we will tell you our whole life story when asked: “how are you?” This is more rare than the first scenario and likely involves booze.


7. Finns look unfazed by chilly weather. If it’s above -20C then you won’t see Finns commenting on the cold. You will learn to stop asking us if we’re cold because the answer is always going to be “no.


Finnish winter trees


8. But when it’s actually cold Finns are really good at dressing themselves. We’ve got all the right clothing for that. There’s no shame in wearing double layers of grandma’s wool mittens, scarves and/or sweaters…layering like a maniac is a must. It should take you over 20 annoying minutes to undress once you’ve come inside, or you’re not dressed warm enough.


Wool sweater


If you happen to mistake someone for a Finn abroad even with this helpful list, then you failed. But hey, it’s a good start and they’re probably an awesome person anyway.


Edited by Michele Lawrence

The post 8 surefire ways to spot a Finn abroad appeared first on .

Ink Tank - Make words not war Julie Anderson

There are countless reasons to love JK Rowling. One is her peerless ability to destroy the increasingly fantastical Brexit fantasies peddled on Twitter.

Previously she stepped into the debate to shut down a Brexiteer who blamed Remainers for the failing EU negotiations. Now, she’s displayed that skill in fine style against Leaver luvvie and Conservative MEP, Daniel Hannan, by showcasing the glaring flaw in his shockingly bad and utterly unverifiable Brexit analogy.

Clearly unimpressed by Hannan’s ability to predict the future JK Rowling’s responded.

Rowling 1 Union Jack pom-pom boy 0

The post JK Rowling destroys Brexit cheerleader’s breathtakingly bad Brexit analogy appeared first on .