I moved from Sydney, Australia to do my service at the start of January. As I have never lived in Finland before this, I wasn't really required to do service but I thought that it would be a great life experience and I could see the benefits from experiencing army life.

I served in Santahamina near Helsinki in 1st Jääkärikomppania as my rooms machine gunner.

There was about 10 of us in the company who spoke very little Finnish, but this was not an issue since almost everyone speaks good English. All the instructions and commands were in Finnish but they were translated to us by friends if we did not understand.

I will try to answer everything that I can.




EDIT: Further proof if it helps @aleksimonaghan on Instagram I've posted a few photos from my army experience

Comments: 615 • Responses: 49  • Date: 

Fort_Lotus358 karma

Do you plan to continue your military service in Australia or are you Finnish with all that?

finnishaussieguy561 karma


Voriki2217 karma

Did your training in Finland teach you interesting new tactics to use against the Emu's?

finnishaussieguy466 karma

The emu's are a superior being and we stand no chance against them

MyOtherShirtIsClean160 karma

Was it isolating to not be able to understand the majority of the general chatter between all the people you were with? Or was English the general spoken language?

finnishaussieguy242 karma

I understand a good amount of Finnish since my mum spoke it to me as a child but I'm pretty average at speaking it so I couldn't really join Finnish conversations too well. The guys in my room would talk with me in English and they enjoyed trying to banter with me in Finnish.

ANoState133 karma


finnishaussieguy231 karma

Originally I said no when I was 18 since I didn't have and didn't think twice about it. Then when I turned 20 my mum mentioned it again and I realised I would regret not taking the opportunity. It was a pretty badass experience in the end and I am incredibly thankful that I did it.

BelievesInGod121 karma

Was the require service only 6 months long? Additionally, would you do it again?

finnishaussieguy154 karma

The requirement is 6 months. There's a 9 month option if you were chosen to be a medic in my company or 12 months if you wanted to have a leadership role, an Alikersantti or a Kokkelas

littleko103 karma

are you a dual citizen? is this voluntary or compulsory?

finnishaussieguy167 karma

I'm a dual citizen. There's a rule if you haven't lived in Finland for 7 years then you can ask to be exempt from service I believe. Otherwise every Finnish male has to do it.

Kaamosteoria95 karma

Asking as a Finn who has finished his military service, what part of it surprised you the most?

finnishaussieguy128 karma

It took me a while to realise that our Alikersantti's and Kokkelas' were conscripts as well, I thought they were doing this as a full time job. I didn't I didn't really do too much research before I came in

Darrens_Coconut90 karma

What did your friends and family think when you told them you were going to go to Finland to do your service?

finnishaussieguy142 karma

Parents were all for it. Friends thought I was nuts

Jordandenholm85 karma

What was your first "oh shit" moment of your deployment?

finnishaussieguy188 karma

Couldn't feel my hands in -1 and started freaking out. We had one night a month or two later on when it was -27 and that was an even bigger holy shit moment.

jacofnotrades67 karma

You mentioned the benefits of the experience. What do you think are the benefits and how would someone emulate them without serving in the army ?

finnishaussieguy135 karma

Personally I loved the routine of and the disciplines it gives you. I liked the routine of waking up at 6, doing your bed and cleaning up the room every day. Simple stuff like that makes you feel like you've accomplished something for the day.

Also personally, just throwing myself into the situation of I'm in a country where I don't speak the language very well and I'm joining their army in the middle of winter and coming out of that is something I feel like I can be proud of. I think anyone can do something like that in their lives.

dennisi0122 karma

Jesus christ why not join in the spring?!

finnishaussieguy67 karma

That's no fun, need the hardcore winter experience ;)

CardboardSoyuz60 karma

One of my favorite history books is A Frozen Hell, a history of the Winter War. I feel like I should actually ask a question, so, did they give you a good course in Finnish military history? You Finns are tough hombres and have a military legacy to be very proud of.

finnishaussieguy80 karma

There was one day around the start of service where they took us to a building on the base and they talked us through our company history and about the war etc. It's cool to know the history behind the army and that we're apart of it now. And yes, Finland is hardcore. I have gained so much respect for this country and its people in the short time that I've been here now.

thenomadicmonad39 karma


finnishaussieguy40 karma

Woah who's this?

thenomadicmonad33 karma


finnishaussieguy3 karma

haha thanks mate!

ExchangeStudentAMA28 karma

As a New Zealander who's been living in Sweden for the last 10 months. I feel a weird hatred towards you. (But only brotherly, sounds like you had a great time!)

But anyway questions:
Did you spend much time in Helsinki? (If so, I have to spend a day there, what would you recommend to see?)
Did many people also speak Swedish?
Did you end up picking up the language better while serving?

Thanks for the AMA!

finnishaussieguy24 karma

I spent my weekends in the city which has been fun. I'd recommend just walking around the city centre and checking out different neighbourhoods like Kallio if you're into nightlife.

Not many people spoke Swedish, mostly Finnish and English.

Yep, for sure. I had a decent understanding of the language coming in so I had a good idea of what people were saying in conversations. Being immersed in the language because everyones talking it around you definitely helps, my confidence in the language has definitely gone up but it's nowhere close to fluent.

Demderdemden24 karma

How long were you there before "perkele" became part of your normal vocabulary?

finnishaussieguy50 karma

For me it's 'voi vittu'. That was easily the most common thing said by the guys in my room

Lunchyyy22 karma

Now that you’ve experienced it would you support a similar mandatory service back in Australia?

Also did it ever feel like there was a real sense of threat from Russia?

finnishaussieguy28 karma

Something similar could work, maybe not specifically army.

And no, the Finns don't seem to have any real sense of threat but I think that's because they're so prepared in the case of a threat.

Cakiery21 karma

Do you put on your own face paint or does someone do it for you?

finnishaussieguy35 karma

Someone always did it for me, same for everyone else usually. I'd probably butcher it if I did it on myself

gamgetta18 karma

What did you do before having to do your service? and has this stint in the military changed you in any way?

finnishaussieguy26 karma

I was just working in bars, finished a music business diploma and playing drums in a hardcore band before I came here. My stint here has pushed up my confidence for sure

Pumpt8769517 karma

Do you have any plans to join the Australian Defence Force?

finnishaussieguy30 karma

It's always an option but I don't think it's something I could dedicate my life to. I think I've had all the army experience I need for my life now haha

Vegeta_00715 karma

As an American Veteran I'll ask the question. Did you become a Master Sweeper or a Master at Mopping?

finnishaussieguy20 karma

I love a good sweep

lyyki12 karma

What's the deal with Aussies coming to Finland to do military? I had one in my squad way back in 2011.

finnishaussieguy17 karma

We're an adventurous bunch us Aussies. There was also a Mexican, Spanish, American, English, Greek and a few guys from different countries there.

emppeng11 karma

Interesting. I'm Korean and had to serve in army for 21 months since military service is mandatory here.

I see you were a machine gunner. Which machine gun did you use? FYI, My company used M60 and M2.

EDIT: added M2.

finnishaussieguy7 karma


GeoRhi8 karma

Do you think Australia and specifically young Australians would benefit from a similar programme here?

finnishaussieguy21 karma

Maybe not army specifically but I could see the benefits of having something similar. It's great here because every Finnish guy I talk to no matter what their age, they have some great stories about their army experience

E-RKKI8 karma

I'm a finn-american. Been living in Finland 3 years but never had a parent speak the language. Thanks for the ama, lots i learned! I am also doing the army and wanted to know who were the oldest guys? I will be going at the max age of 28!

finnishaussieguy7 karma

I know there was one 28 year old guy, had one mate who was 26 years old. I know it can be a bit rough because you're going to be bossed around by a 19-20 year old guy for 6 months haha

eleven_tentacles8 karma

It's probably just because I know it, but you look really damn Australian to me, replete with your expression in that first picture.

G'day from Sydney, what was the most challenging part of your military service? Are there any parts you regret?

finnishaussieguy15 karma

Gday mate!

I guess the hardest part is the mental battle you go through with yourself sometimes when it gets hard. You come out of those experiences a bit more headstrong than before. I think I only regret not being 100% clear on my motivations coming in. I wanted to have the experience and challenge myself but I didn't have specific goals that I could aim to achieve while I was here (if that makes sense)

ningkamput8 karma

Do they give ya an extra hard time just because you’re not fluent like them in the Finnish language?

finnishaussieguy21 karma

There's some people who get a bit frustrated which is fair enough. But for the most part everyone liked the English speakers, they were all curious to why we signed up to do it.

doc_frankenfurter7 karma

What was the cold weather training like in the army?

I understand that the navy expects you to go into the water, in winter and without protection for a period of time rather longer than the average cold dip after a sauna.

finnishaussieguy8 karma

We were doing our 8 weeks basic training during winter. So we were learning the simpler stuff then but it just happened to be bloody freezing

lurking_digger6 karma

Hello, thank you for your time

Do you want to keep playing with guns?

finnishaussieguy7 karma

Not really haha, I've had my fun already

Shaldivar5 karma

Do you think mandatory service helps young people's self confidence and worth, mental health, and sense of purpose? Do you believe it would be a positive experience for most people, and why?

I've had a theory for a while that young people (22 myself) are swamped with opportunities without direction, which has given rise to a directionless generation... possibly solved by something like this?

finnishaussieguy8 karma

There's some people who just really did not want to be there at all so I'm not sure how this experience has affected them. For someone like me who has a reason to come, it's a good experience. I guess people need the desire to do it for it to be a worthwhile experience.

randy88moss5 karma

Whats the general consensus amongst your fellow soldiers in regards to the current president of the united states?

finnishaussieguy17 karma

Personally I think he is an absolutely despicable excuse of a human, seems to be similar thinking with most of the guys but there are still a few who support him.

yik775 karma

What are you allowed to say, when captured? How long are you supposed to hold?

finnishaussieguy13 karma


shatteredmatt5 karma

Now that your service is finished, do you feel it was a beneficial life experience?

I almost joined the British Army 6 years ago as I was unemployed (I'm Irish but have family who have served) but took a job instead. Always wonder if I missed out.

finnishaussieguy8 karma

For sure, I'm definitely just an overall more confident person now. And I'll also just look back on this whole experience and say 'far out, that was nuts'

WrongTurnforLife5 karma

Is there anything you gonna miss about living in Finland when you're back in Australia? Like real winter or some specific food?

finnishaussieguy9 karma

I'll miss the people for sure, can't say I'm a big fan of the weather

VAPACOFlyFish5 karma

What's the most beautiful scenery you saw in Finland?

As a fly fisherman, did you see anyone fishing for trout in rivers/ creeks?

Thanks for answering these Q's!

finnishaussieguy8 karma

I went to Nuuksio National Park recently and the lakes there are beautiful! And no, I don't think I've seen anyone fishing

kingz_n_da_norf5 karma

Are you planning on doing a gap year now and serving your other (adopted) country for 12 months? If not, why?

finnishaussieguy5 karma

Back to Sydney soon to start working again. There's no conscription in Australia, just 'proper' army which is a 4 year contract I believe.

someone_FIN3 karma


What was the best/coolest/most fun experience you had? What was the worst?

Regards, 2/16 gona

finnishaussieguy5 karma

Our tutkinto was insane, 75km walking I think in 36 hours with the odd 15 minute sleep. I had one hallucination kind of moment and was just completely shattered in the last 12 hours, every step was agony. One guy told me he fell asleep when they sat down for a break and then woke up when he was already walking, so he had stood up and started walking in his sleep.

Hates_commies3 karma

Any advice for someone whos starting in 2 weeks?

finnishaussieguy6 karma

You'll remember this experience for the rest of your life so just give it your best effort. It's a once in a lifetime kind of thing

UnholyPingas3 karma

Hi, Estonian guy here who finished his 8 months service(the shortest time you can serve) at the beginning of june. I was the pointman/sharpshooter of my squad

In the middle of May there was this big military training exercise here called Siil2018, did you hear anything about it? There were some conscripts from finland who came down here for the event.

Do you also have a PhD in cleaning now that you've finished your service?

What machine gun did you have? Did you get a lot of chances to shoot real ammo?

finnishaussieguy4 karma

I heard about the training exercise, think I saw some photos through the armies facebook page or something. And yes, I'm a professional floor sweeper now. Had a PKM machine gun, Russian I'm fairly certain.

shanewarnesfeet2 karma

How can Finland have a military if it doesn't exist?

finnishaussieguy1 karma


_uggh2 karma

Do you have an Australian accent or a Finnish one?

finnishaussieguy8 karma

Aussie, there's been many instances of no one understanding what I'm saying at all cause my accent even though it's not very strong.

Karelende2 karma

Interesting story! As a Dutch Australian that grew up in the Netherlands and is moving to Sydney to study in two weeks, what things were a lot more different in Europe compared to Sydney/Australia?

finnishaussieguy7 karma

Personally I've got a lot of issues with Sydney at the moment. Everything is way more relaxed here when it comes to nightlife/alcohol/fun in general. Sydney seems to be turning into a work your arse off and go home kind of place. Also I'm considering moving back to Finland to do university, haven't considered it really in Australia

onarutram2 karma

Is that you Andy Bernard?

finnishaussieguy2 karma

This the second time I've heard this haha

StrikeMePurple2 karma

How quickly did you adapt to the cold? Are you considering joining the Australian military now? Some similarities between Australia and Finland?

finnishaussieguy4 karma

I don't think anyone really adapts to it because even the Finns were losing their minds being out in -20 whatever it was. It just ends up becoming a "I've dealt with this before, I can deal with it again" kind of thing, certainly was for me after not being able to feel my hands or feet because it was so cold.

Not considering Australian military, I don't think I can dedicate my life to that.

And no, I can't really think of any obvious ones

eddieafck2 karma

What was your day like? Did you receive some kind of allowance? Were you allowed to go out?

finnishaussieguy4 karma

We got something like 5 euros each day, pocket money really. We got to go out most weekend, sometimes we'd be on base a few weeks in a row.

A_hanging_chad2 karma

Are the rations good?

finnishaussieguy4 karma

The food we got was usually pretty good, or good enough. Hated that the only option for breakfast was porridge usually

Crimson_13371 karma

Did you speak any Finnish before starting the service? How about now?

finnishaussieguy2 karma

My Finnish was ok I guess when I came in, definitely better now but nowhere close to fluent

Savoid1 karma

What made you decide to go from a warm place such as Australia to a freezing hell like Finland?

finnishaussieguy2 karma

The best experiences come from doing stuff like this

brodeals-2 karma

What was your kill / death ratio during your deployment?

finnishaussieguy6 karma

It's not deployment just to clarify. We did training exercises though with gun and body sensors, so pretty much hardcore laser tag. I died or got shot way too often.