I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
-“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
Sometimes superstition can’t fully convince me; however, certain little coincidences can lead one’s life path in an entirely different direction. Could it be the butterfly effect? Or even a power that people cannot themselves control? Who knows. Anyway, let us just have a positive attitude and go with the flow of life and time!
Due to some personal reasons, I relocated all the way from Australia to another hemisphere: Finland (I have to clarify - I am originally from China). Both of them are nearly extremes. Did I perhaps follow a dream? Once upon a time during my childhood, I had a dream that left a certain vague impression that I can barely recall: red wooden houses with heavy snow – a typical natural Finnish winter environment?!
At this point, I have lived here for almost 6 years now, doing research in one of the universities as a doctoral student. While enjoying my life, I am able to describe and share certain impressions and experiences that I have had.
Positive sign I:
I believe I have a Finnish soul! When I have mentioned it to my Finnish friends, they have never rejected the idea. On a certain level, I am a bit of an introvert, shy, and sometimes enjoy a certain personal distance and being independent. One of my friends told me that I am more like a Finnish man (though I am a woman). I even asked my Finnish boyfriend once, do you feel as though you are dating another Finnish guy? Silence was his response. Of course, I am joking a bit here, but Finnish folk are customarily pure and sincere. I also prefer being honest, straightforward, and punctual. These are really good Finnish virtues, which I admire quite lot and would love to follow.
What’s more, now I can read Finnish much better – perhaps my listening skills have improved reasonably. The worst is my speaking skill. But one thing I even feel quite proud of is that I have been influenced [by the language] and now I have a Finnish accent when I speak English. My friend traveling from the UK to the city where I live has confirmed this. And my Finnish friends feel as though it is even more easy to understand me when we speak English together. Finnish-accented English is a unique 'language' indeed! Now I feel more addicted to it.
Positive sign II:
I like mämmi [rye pudding], salmiakki [salted liquorice], and mustamakkara [blood sausage]... but sorry I don’t drink olut [beer] or Kosksenkorva [Finnish liquor similar to vodka]. The taste of certain Finnish traditional foods can be really unique and tasting them is an enjoyable experience for me. Many recipes, although I haven't tried them myself, employ quite creative and interesting thinking.
Food indeed is another symbol of the culture, e.g. lohikeitto [salmon soup], mustikkapiirakka [blueberry pie], poronkäristys [fried reindeer], karjalanpiirakka [Karelian pastries], etc. They are culture-oriented and also based on the local environment. Some dishes are even distinguishable based on the different regions in Finland, just like the dialects. They all are quite interesting and I would like to explore more and more deeply by myself (I even bought a book for this – “Perinnemakuja maakunnista” written by Riitta Pojanluoma).
Positive sign III:
Finnish nature is incredibly beautiful – a fairytale country – quiet and peaceful. I love Finnish nature. What a country, with thousands of lakes and full of forests. Some people might find it boring to live in such a quiet country, while for me, my inner mindset fits in well here. Undoubtedly, an environment cannot adapt itself to people; however, people themselves are able to make changes. I am lucky that I find it quite relaxing to live in such a peaceful place. It is a country suitable for deep thinking and meditation! That is perhaps why it has nurtured quite different and influential philosophies and many innovations.
The animal species that live here are not particularly diverse, but it is enjoyable to feed the ducks around the lake during the warmer seasons. And squirrels visit me on my balcony sometimes in the freezing winter. Or why not travel to Lapland to see moose and reindeer? Or perhaps the Santa Claus village! Additionally, traveling inside Finland is also a good idea, to collect different tourist experiences. I would still like to travel to more areas; I have already been to a lot of cities and it is quite different to compare western and eastern Finland. And don’t forget to visit the sauna regularly!
All-in-all, there are positive signs. With a positive attitudel – I look forward to living here still in the near the future, always with a positive outlook and hope.