Having spent a substantial amount of time living in Finland and preparing to spend (atleast) the next four years in Scotland, we figured it would be entertaining (an potentially useful to someone) to compare the two countries. Now, we’re not talking about some boring list of census data or such mind-numbing drivel. if that’s what you want, you’re looking for the CIA World Factbook (of which you can find the latest version here) or the Wikipedia pages for Scotland and Finland.
This is not for the fact-driven, instead being an illustrative and fun look at the two countries through their differences, the differences which you won’t understand from merely reading a travel guide or looking at photos.
The newest ones will appear at the top of this list.
- In Finland, pre-packaged meat products come in a plastic container, with a thin film of clear plastic covering on top. To open the package, one simply grabs one of the corners of the film with two fingers and in one fell swoop pulls the film off in one piece. No knife needed, and your fingers remain clean.
- In Scotland, pre-packaged meat products come in a plastic container, with a thin film of clear plastic covering on top. To open the package, one simply grabs one of the corners of the film with two fingers and in one fell swoop pulls the film off in one piece tears a small bit of the film off, without breaking into the actual package as there’s a second layer under the first. In order to remove the entire film cover, one can either a) tear the film off in tiny shreds in about a minute or five, growing increasingly frustrated at the darn thing, or b) use a knife to cut the film off.
- In Finland, shopping malls and supermarkets continuously have music and/or advertisements blaring through speakers audible everywhere you go, even in the car park and the staff breakrooms.
- In Scotland, not so much. There’s no music blaring through speakers when you park your car or walk from store to store. There’s no repetitive advertisements tempting you on a sale going on at a shoe store or such.
- In Scotland, the concept of “dark” or rye bread in unheard of. All “dark” bread is either multiwheat or quasi-rye bread. Everything else, in this case 95% of all bread sold in supermarkets, is toast.
- In Finland, rye bread and other such dark breads are vastly more common than light bread and toast.
Finnish rye bread (Ruisleipä) is wholly different from rye bread found elsewhere in the world. Whilst in rye bread is the most popular bread in Finland, the most popular bread in Scotland (judging by what is on sale at all the supermarkets) seems to be toast of various kinds. An interesting bread related note: a popular British bread snack is the scone, which happens to be of Scottish origin. In conclusion, we’ll just call the scone Scotland’s ruisleipä and wait until we get back to Finland to have proper rye bread again!
- In Scotland, practically every restaurant has a take-away menu and most restaurants deliver to your door.
- In Finland, Pizza Hut is a “family restaurant”. You can forget about delivery.
- In Scotland you have Kentucky Fried Chicken and Burger King.
- In Finland you have Southern Fried Chicken and Hesburger.
- In Scotland, bars and pubs stop serving alcohol at 11pm. Doesn’t mean you have to leave immediately, though. Finish your pint in peace. No worries.
- In Finland, bars generally close around 1am (time differs from place to place, city to city), but you can’t get any more alcohol half an hour before closing time. Oh, and you must be out by 1am. Period.
[More to come on the accuracy of this as the Licensing Laws have recently changed in Scotland. Stay tuned.]
- In Finland, a grocery store store clerk must be speedy and efficient, acknowledging the next customer the split second the previous customer has been given the receipt.
- In Scotland, that grocery store clerk will passively scan all your groceries, allow you to pay, and then patiently wait for you to pack all your purchases BEFORE even greeting the next customer.
- In Finland, microwave meals and meat packages have a clear plastic film on top of them which can be easily pulled off with a simple hand movement, coming off in one easily disposable piece.
- In Scotland, that same plastic film does not have one predesignated corner to pull from, leading you to pull from any random corner to remove the film. Instead of coming off in one single piece, the film comes off a tiny piece at a time from the sides, requiring the use of a knife or other sharp object. It’s so incredibly frustrating!
- In Finland, water comes from one tap, with hot and cold water mixing perfectly. You turn the tap towards hot, the water gets warmer. You turn the tap towards cold, the water gets cooler. It’s a given. How could it be otherwise?
- In Scotland, water comes from TWO taps. One tap is for really cold water, and the other tap is for excruciatingly hot. Not only that, the taps are a good foot apart, which completely negates the possibility of comfortably washing your hands or face without one side of your face melting whilst the other freezes. If by some magical stroke of ingenuity the water comes from a single tap, there are still two knobs to twist, and the water that comes out of that one tap does not actually mix, meaning that one side of the stream of water is cold, the other side is hot. AARGH!!!
There’s even a group on Facebook related to this subject, going with the apt title of “You are not an advanced country if you have separate water taps”. The group introduces itself with the following blurb:
“We all know it. You want to wash your hands. You get some soap and then you BURN your hands in the boiling water from the first tap. Then, to cool down the burns, you stick your hands under the freezing water on the other side of the sink. And again. And again…”
“When Winston S. Churchill visited Moscow in 1942, he was astonished by the advanced technology used in the bathrooms. Oh yes! They had mixer taps! Fascinating little things, that allow you to, as he later wrote, “mingle [the water] to exactly the temperature one desire”.”
“Yet 66 years later, we still have to burn our hands, every single day over and over…”
“Welcome to the British Empire!”
MORE TO COME!
If you have lived/studied/visited both Scotland and Finland and have other differences or striking similarities between the two countries to share, please suggest them in the comments section below! Corrections welcome too.