“After the first Finnish classes, I still believed what many were saying: “Suomen kieli on vaikeaa” (Finnish language is difficult). To me it meant that I would have to jump into something scary.
I remember how long I trained myself to read the facial expressions of others when they were talking fast and I remember feeling so lost. But something in me kept saying: “keep going, it’s easy.”
Then Swedish came along – with its soft beauty and melody. Everything started to mix up. I couldn’t complete one sentence in Finnish without some Swedish words bubbling up and ending the phrase – more for the sound than the meaning. Swedish language made everything so much smoother and it increased my love for Finnish and its sounds.
“Everything has contributed to the removal of old useless beliefs and opened my heart to new interpretations of reality.”
Finland on many occasions has made me understand that everything is up to me. I remember walking in the woods on the coast of Lauttasaari in 2008, thinking, “Here you will find space for yourself.”
The nature is powerful, omnipresent, invasive – you just can’t ignore it. So cold, crisp, severe, beautiful – and so vast. It showed me how powerful I could be if I chose to direct my energy towards what counted. It opened up my heart, morning after morning. It forced me to become honest to my innate passions, honest in my new friendships. It forced me to choose better thoughts, to abandon self-judgment and prejudice about difference. I was the different one, I was the immigrant. I had to build everything from scratch and it was all brand new.
The country has given me real friends and time to appreciate Italy. Finland’s silence has enabled me to explore myself. It gave me the real meaning of the word “responsibility”. I got access to important new perspectives thanks to Finland and the beautiful family I spent so much fun and laughter with.
“I was the different one, I was the immigrant. I had to build everything from scratch and it was all brand new.”
I often wonder how many different sides of me have lived in Finland. I always felt welcomed and accepted. In nine years – probably the most important years of my life – the Finnish and the Swedish way of being, working, interacting and creating made deep impacts on my beliefs. Everything has contributed to the removal of old useless beliefs and opened my heart to new interpretations of reality.
In Finland I chose to forgive my father, I chose to give up wars, I chose to accept myself as I was, and to free myself from narrow-minded thinking. Finland gave me the curiosity of new perceptions, especially.
In Finland I’ve been able to distance myself from the old and imposed modus vivendi, which I felt so much with my Roman Catholic upbringing. Finland never pushed me to believe in something foreign to my heart and it taught me to listen to nature.
I will always remember the silence on the bus. The sound of my and my dog’s steps on the snow. I will always remember the kindness of many people, when interacting with me and my loved ones. I will always remember Esplanadi and its cafes, the trams, the live concerts, the new friendships, and the old friendships waiting patiently to bloom again. I will always remember people’s apparent harshness, which many times drove me crazy – why can’t you just hug? I will always remember their directness, their honesty, their being quick to appreciate effort and dedication.
If anyone would ask me: “Would you recommend Finland as a place to live to your friends?” I would answer, “YES!” I would say, “go for it, it’s gonna be your most valuable set of experiences.” Far from what you know, far from what is comfortable and granted.”
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