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Finland: 11 years on

September 24, 2009
On this date 11 years ago, I arrived in Finland!
Back then I had no idea whether I was going to stay or not, but wow… I am still here!
I like living here, plain and simple. I’ve had my challenges over the years – learning Finnish (a project still in progress – probably for the rest of my life), navigating the tax system and other bureaucratic red tape.
I can be very thankful for a few things during my time here:
  • A great partner – the Mr. – we have our occasional differences, but that does nothing to refute the fact that he has been a very major part of my life and thus made my life enjoyable here. It would be a different reality without him.
  • A job – and a good one at that. I’ve learned a lot in (almost) nine years. I thank my boss for taking a chance on me way back then. Again a different reality if wasn’t working where I am now.
  • There is an opportunity to learn something – all the time! I think that is what I like the most about living here. Almost every day I can tell you something that I didn’t know about Finland before…
  • The Canadians Living in Finland mailing list. I have made some really great friends through that list, and have the chance to bang heads with a fellow Canadian when needed!
Plenty of things have changed in 11 years let me tell ya. There has been a massive infrastructure boom with big, multi-million Euro projects changing the face of Finland, many of them in the capital area and southern Finland – including Ring II, the Sello, Iso Omena and Kamppi shopping centres, the Lahti-Heinola motorway, the Turku (E1) motorway, the transformation of Ruoholahti and major road work in Tampere and Oulu. I could go on… A lot more people speak English now than when I first moved here – or their English has improved and my Finnish has gotten better. 🙂 Finland switched to the Euro at the beginning of 2002. Now Finland recognizes dual-citizenship. The media has gone through a massive transformation with the deployment of Nelonen and lots of other new television channels. Now we get more channels in Finland than I did when I was in university in Thunder Bay! Leveä hymy
Finland seems to have lost something at the same time in that it is much more North American in character. Things have to be big, overdone and sensationalized in order to catch people’s attention. I don’t like the materialistic society Finland has become. There used to be something so simple about Finnish life in the past, but it has changed.
In recent months I’ve actually been suffering a bit of an identity crisis. It’s not a matter of where I belong; because I am pretty sure I belong here. Yes, I am a wife, a mother, a student and an average thirty-something who tries to make a difference; but it is more of a "who am I?" with regards to my nationality. I’m a Canadian, yes, but I have been away so long that I feel like I don’t identify with other Canadians in the same way anymore. (Okay – with HOCKEY – but that is hardwired into my identity!!) I’m not a Finn, I fit in on the surface because I can speak some Finnish, I get some of the jokes and I participate in Finnish society on many fronts, but there is something missing that I can’t put my finger on. I feel stuck in the middle of something. This is an issue that will take some to resolve itself I think… If I find myself, I will let you know! Sateenkaari
One Comment leave one →
  1. Mario permalink
    September 24, 2009 1:18 pm

    Hi Carmen, I completely understand. These are the issues of a globetrotter, and this is always part of your life. Take care, Mario 🙂

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