Episode 26

Serving in the Finnish Military as a Finnish-Canadian: Dallin's Story

Dallin is a quarter Finnish, and he moved to Finland in 2019. His grandparents moved to Canada during a wave of immigration following the country’s economic downturn just after WWII. Looking to start a new chapter in his life and already in possession of eligible travel documents, Dallin accepted an invitation to join the Finnish military. It was quite a leap, as he had never even visited Finland before joining the army! He was able to visit Canada twice during his service, and he was grateful that the military funded his trips.

Although he was excited at the prospect of moving to Finland, Dallin was a bit wary of joining the service. His image of the military was disturbed by North American stereotypes, but he soon found out that the military culture in Finland is much different from what it was back home. However, punctuality is a very important part of Finnish military discipline, and this emphasis extends into Finnish civic life as well.

As a medic, Dallin’s typical day started at 6:00 a.m. By 6:20 a.m., he was ready for the day. He had breakfast time and then some sort of activity, then ate lunch and participated in a physical activity, before having dinner. After dinner, he did more activities, and performed cleaning checking routines. From 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.pm., Dallin enjoyed free time before bed check.

Overall he referred to himself as not the best soldier. However, his proudest moment was when he got a medical badge that not everyone received. As for his coolest memory? That would be throwing a grenade. Dallin’s least favorite memory is marching for 36 hours (no, not 3.6). Dallin collapsed after the march, and slept for 20 hours.

There was a bit of a language barrier during his time in the military; however, there were a lot of people who spoke English. Most of his dialogue consisted of the question “ what is happening?” He used WorkDive to learn Finnish, but claims that he learned more conversational Finnish through his job bartending than he did in the military, where he only learned jargon.

After finishing his military service one year ago, Dallin received a fully funded grant for studying business and IT at a Finnish university. He looks forward to beginning his degree, even though he misses his family and Canadian food. So far, he is not sure whether he will choose to remain in Finland or return to Canada. He prefers the Finnish democratic-socialist system of government, but also suffers due to the country’s extreme darkness; his best advice for people planning to move to Finland would be to take plenty of Vitamin D.