It is snowing today, which makes it quieter than normal and normal is pretty quiet. I got an email from a friend asking about my initial observations since I have landed in Finland and the biggest one has to be the quiet.
Before I came, I heard that the Finns were people of few words. I even read it in a book and got kinda excited about it. I figured this is one piece of the culture I can get with. But I certainly didn't understand it until I got here. On the streets, people pass each other in silence without recognition that you even walked by. (I had someone tell me that if a person smiles at you on the sidewalk, you know they are either American or a drunk Finn!) Offices are quiet while people work diligently on a task, not a background note of music to be heard. I haven't heard a peep from the neighbors. School hallways only have a slight murmur as I waited with students today for class to begin. And when people speak, they speak softly. Sometimes I have to lean in. It is amazing really.
Anyone who has been in my classroom before has heard me say multiple times, "why are we all yelling at each other?" In the hallways at school, I regularly turn to other teachers on hallway duty and ask, "have they always been this loud?" I complain about the summertime street noise in southeast and shutter as parked cars feel the need to blast music at the highest volume. In my DC world, I can hear a neighbor's entire conversation with me sitting on my porch and they on their own. However, I didn't really realize that as much as I complain, I had adjusted to the volume of DC.
So now that I am faced with real quiet, I sort of panic and find myself wanting to make noise. In fact, I open my window at night and pull up an extra blanket because I want to hear cars drive past. This morning the most familiar noise woke me up as my neighbors were scraping ice off their car. I smiled, hit snooze and rolled over quite thankful that I wasn't going to have to do that anytime soon. I recently read that Finland is literally the best country in the world, but I have to argue that this city girl thinks a little noise might make it better!