Here & now: Nick Booth
Nick Booth reflects on the differences of life in Finland
Familiarity is comforting. By adulthood we have mostly decided upon the music we like to listen to, the food we like to eat and the ideal politics we hold to for the perfect ordering of society. Change can be scary, particularly when abrupt.
Before the pandemic had begun to settle down last year, I uprooted myself and moved to Finland by myself. Despite being a far-flung corner of Europe with a relatively tumultuous recent history, Finland and the Finns feel comfortingly familiar. The country is unmistakably European: the cuisine is hearty if rather bland, the architecture is fairly generic for the north of the continent, and the locals have refined queuing to an artform. Yet living here has exposed me to several stark differences in that ways that societies work which now have me questioning whether many of the familiarities of life in Britain are really to its benefit.
Finland certainly has a reputation as being one of the best countries in Europe for starting a family. It offers several eye-catching and internationally renowned policies such as the maternity package äitiyspakkaus – a box of essentials for newborn babies that is provided free to all expectant or adoptive parents, along with generous shared parental leave. However, state support doesn’t end during infancy: there is free provision of childcare until the age of five, and the fact that young Finns attend preschool from the age of six and only begin formal education at seven…
Nick Booth is a former clerk to the United Reformed Church Youth Assembly
This is an extract from an article published in the July/August 2022 edition of Reform