Finnish dating culture

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The Americans I know are in the habit of saying things like “Come on over anytime! ” when we know it will be difficult to follow through on such sentiments.

But to refrain from using these warm words would almost seem impolite.

To take one example: In a study of Colorado elementary- and middle-school students conducted in 2010, those observed in elementary school, in the authors’ words, “wasted more than a third of grain, fruit and vegetable menu items.”As for me, I learned my lesson last year when my sixth-graders caught me throwing away nearly half a plate of food. Americans have a reputation for doing things on the go: breakfast in the car, lunch at a desk while catching up on email and, of course, coffee on the run. In Finland, my experience is that people are more likely to slow down when they drink coffee. Frantically, I rummaged through the shelf that held our cups.

I had severely miscalculated, taking too much food without having enough time to stomach it all. Eventually, I found one silver to-go mug, but the cover was warped.

A lull in any conversation is to be avoided at all costs—even if it means talking about the latest viral cat video or celebrity breakup.

The Finns I’ve met, on the other hand, embrace the awkward silence.

On a recent school day, as I dug into a lunch of fish sticks and steamed potatoes at the teachers’ table in the cafeteria, I was joined by a Finnish colleague.

After 10 minutes, I glanced up at the clock and, seeing that my next lesson was about to begin, broke the calm by saying goodbye. On the morning commute to my toddler’s daycare, the subway is often so packed that we can’t find a spot to sit. On the rare occasions when someone speaks—whether to bid farewell to a friend or make a quick phone call—my son Misaiel asks me, “Why they talkin’, Dada?

” Johanna snapped back, “Because we live in Europe. A close friend from New York was visiting, and I insisted that on his last night in Finland he join me for a trip to one of the city’s public saunas.

I was convinced that he would fall in love with this Finnish pastime, but I was wrong. I explained that Finns go naked into saunas, but there are separate ones for men and women.

I’ve never seen or heard of anything like this in the United States. It’s no surprise then that Finns consume nearly twice as much coffee as Americans.

But I have heard of American kids wasting a lot of school food. And now I’ve become one of those coffee-drinking space cadets. I needed to rush out of the apartment, and I didn’t have time to sit down for a cup of coffee.

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