Perhaps you have read similar stories in this column, but one more is not going to hurt. I had the privilege to visit this country since 2001 due to business travels. Over these years, it was always quite an experience to see different aspects of Finnish life; however, being in hotels and business meetings for the whole trip did not even scratch the surface of the day-to-day life of Finland.
My company offered me relocation to Finland in 2009 and after a lengthy discussion with my wife and son, we all agreed that it was a great opportunity for us to experience a new culture and lifestyle. Long story short, I have been living in Finland for 5 years now, and the adaptation journey has been exciting.
Coming from a different climate to the one here in Finland was the first adjustment that I needed to make, but with the proper clothing and eagerness to experience nature, say at -20C, it has been quite interesting. Proud to say, if proud is the right word, that I became fond of avantouinti [ice swimming]!
It is not a secret that Mexican cuisine is rich in variety and flavours. Sadly, most of the Mexican ingredients are not easily accessible here in Finland. So the biggest adaptation is to 'let go' of what you are used to and enjoy the local cuisine and taste. Case in point: there are always Karelian pies in our kitchen.
When you move to another country, you should not focus only on following rules like working hours, school schedules, or other day-to-day activities. For me, adaptation is to understand how you as an individual can integrate into the new society and lifestyles that you are joining and get the best out of the experience. However, keeping your cultural background and providing that mixture of cultures to this fascinating country also enriches everybody's diversity. In simple terms: it is a two-way street.
My Finnish language skills are close to zero, but I am fortunate that my expats and Finnish friends – yes Finnish people – have been supporting me and my family during our stay here in Finland. Having someone around you willing to help you with practicalities and activities to enjoy Finnish life at its best helps tremendously, from simple practicalities like where you can find the best berries in the summer to having someone to teach you cross-country and downhill skiing during winter. I will be forever grateful to all of my friends for these life experiences.
Yes, we as a family miss lots of things from Mexico, with all our extended family on the top of the list. I feel this journey in Finland has made us richer in increasing our experiences of different cultures, lifestyles, and adaptation.
Living in Finland, as nice as it is, is not a fairytale, but it is up to us, the people coming to this country, to make it a remarkable experience. And when the journey ends and we decided to move to the next chapter of our lives, we can proudly say that we enjoyed the ride while it lasted.