I often get the honour of being the first Finnish person someone meets, which creates quite a unique social setting.

I get asked questions about my background on a daily basis and I answer all of them, because I want to create a positive impression for the next Finn they might meet, and foreigners in general.

Besides, as a reporter, it would be pretty ironic if I could not answer some questions myself.

“So what’s Finland like?” a genuinely interested doctor taking out pieces of plastic from my eye after I suffered a broken contact lens, asked.

And through a web of tears I told him, because I also think that it is always better to ask questions about something rather than stay silent and leave the questioner possibly misinformed.  

During my four years in the UK, I have across several situations which some people could define as ‘hate crime’ comments.

For example, ‘are you not ashamed of yourself, taking a job from a brit?’ 

People do not usually know enough about my culture to form harmful stereotypes, so anything negative I receive is not really against my nationality specifically but for being a foreigner in general.

This puts me in a completely different position to nationalities which are more prevalent in this country, such as people from Poland and Pakistan. 

I am, perhaps, an unusual ‘foreigner’, because I enjoy an occasional cheese and onion pasty and know what universal business rate is, people sometimes forget that I was not born here.

“I sometimes forget you are foreign”, one of my British friends said once. “Because you are not that different.”


With such a drastic divide between ‘us’ and ‘them’ portrayed so often by people with radical views and, occasionally, by the media, it is difficult to understand that someone you know and like could possibly be one of ‘them’. 

That’s why I will keep answering questions.

If just one person approaches the next ‘foreigner’ with genuine curiosity because I missed my stop while answering the bus driver’s questions about the Finnish education system, it was not in vain.