Finns are, quiet, reserved and efficient in every part of their lives. Including, especially, their speech. Why answer an inquiry with a story or explanation when a simple “Yes” or “No” will suffice?

But then, sometimes they can be too literal and tell you the full answer to your casual question.

They like their personal space and will willingly stand in the nasty winter weather rather than share a bus stop covering with another person (seen it!).

These quirks, and many others, are documented by Karoliina Korhonen, a digital media artist as “Matti” on “his” Finish Nightmares blog and accompanying Facebook and Instagram pages (and Twitter if you are into that).  Her simple and ever so Finnish illustrations became an instant success that have proliferated into printed books, keychains and postcards available in many Helsinki tourist shops.

These “Finnish Nightmares” seem to have no end and offer constant fodder for Karoliina and Finnish Matti. Well, Matti, I have one for ya!

I am afraid I made a Finn’s own personal nightmare last week, as well as my own Ex-pat Nightmare. But first, some back story:

Despite the fact that Finns are very reserved and unaccustomed to small talk, they also have a tendency to lose all their inhibitions with the addition of alcohol. Like…all of them. And then they become your absolute best friend. Ever.

Additionally, Finns never say something they do not mean. If they say “Let’s do this again sometime” you had better make a date to do it again, sometime soon. It is not a polite statement. It is an invitation.

So you can imagine my dilemma when I met a particularly friendly (ahem, drunk) Finnish gal about my own age while frequenting a favorite Helsinki bar. We chatted for quite a while and she was super enthusiastic about Jimmy and I attending her “crab party” this weekend.

No idea what a “crab party” is, but crawfish are in season here, so I assume it is similar to a crawfish boil.

So enthusiastic, in fact,  that she added me on Facebook and sent me a message inviting us at 2AM.

The next morning, I had no idea how to respond. I was actually panicking with not knowing how to respond.
Ignore? Accept?
She was drunk and friendly, so maybe her natural Finnish barriers were down. But, then again, a Finnish invitation is not to be ignored- that would be rude.
There was no winning. I had created my own Expat Finnish Nightmare-with no way out.

I opted for a non-committal message of :
I mean, sure. ……..What is a ‘crab party’?”

And in so doing, I created her ultimate Finnish Nightmare. I called attention to the whole thing. I responded.

I can only imagine that she woke the next morning to see this message she sent to a random person and thought “DEAR LORD, WHAT HAVE I DONE?!”

…Needless to say, I have heard no response.

It was awkward.
(Insert awkward little Finnish Matti here)

So there you go a little more fodder for your feed. Enjoy!

More on artist Karoliina Korhonen here.

(All photos provided by and


2 Comments on Finnish Nightmares: My Own (expat) Story

  1. Joy
    October 20, 2016 at 2:52 pm (3 years ago)

    Haha!! I just discovered your blog through Hannah’s Universal Jetsetters’s post today. Your blog immediately stood out to me because my mom’s family is 100% Finnish (making me half) and this post is the culmination of my aunts and uncles and maternal grandparents. We always joke about their “rude” Finn behaviors, short-worded-arms-length conversations, and spacial distance quirks! They’re also SUPER type A about everything – is that something you notice over there? Gosh, I would love to get out to Finland and learn more family history and listen to them talk. My grandparents are now gone, but I can always pick up on a Finnish accent and I miss hearing my grandma speak it. It’s such a unique, pretty (in its own way) language 🙂

    • admin
      October 24, 2016 at 4:48 pm (3 years ago)

      Oh how great to hear! Yes, Finns are really quite unique, and it is SO hard to explain to anyone who has not been around it first hand!
      You should certainly come out here! It is really fantastic (even with all the weird social antics!). Keep following along – I have a ton of content lined up for travelers to Helsinki!
      Thanks for stopping by!


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