Intercultural families: my type of roller coaster and we are here to stay!
Last month I had my 7-year wedding anniversary which also marked a 11-year relationship with my husband. Intercultural marriage is not always an easy ride and after achieving this milestone, I thought of writing about the ups and downs of this colourful roller coaster. We are a Finno-Nicaraguan family with a 5-year-old daughter and a small blue bird. Yes, living the Ruuhkavuodet (traffic years) is an essential part of our family identity.
If you see our family eating in a restaurant, the first thing you will notice is the trilingual blend of Finnish, Spanish and English that we speak all together. It is quite entertaining but sometimes I worry that my daughter might end up not being able to separate one language from the other. The same happens for me: there are words in my mother tongue - like mustikka- that I fail to remember due to the prolonged exposure to Finnish language lessons. It is impressive that my husband understands Spanish just by being exposed to it, while I am struggling to learn Finnish. The relieving part of this is that languages simply make my family unique and rich, we all want to learn from each other.
I was born in Namibia and lived there for over a year before joining my mother and brother to accompany my father who was studying in Finland at the time. We ended up living in Helsinki until my completion of preschool. We then moved back to Namibia, and I lived there until when I returned to Finland for studies.
Namibia is a very hot and dry country sandwiched by two prominent deserts that mark its climatic conditions while the freezing cold Finland is quite the opposite with its abundance of lakes. Although the landscapes formed by sand dunes and snow anchors may share shapes, the environment that enables either is very far from each other. Cultures in Namibia are predominantly of collective nature while in Finland, individualism plays a great role in forming the core values of the culture. This affects family life greatly, both directly and indirectly.
Grace, a French national, found herself in an unexpected adventure when she decided to move to Helsinki, Finland 6 years ago.
It was through a mixed Spanish-Finnish friend that she got introduced to the Finnish culture. Her curiosity and desire to live a new experience in a northern country led her to visit Finland, where she immediately embraced the allure of a new country filled with the wonders of Nordic landscapes and the mysteries of a foreign culture.
As she settled into her new home: Helsinki, Grace excitement and enthusiasm for her new life in Finland were matched only by the challenges that came her way. As she embraced the Finnish culture, she soon realized that navigating daily life without knowing the language proved to be quite a hassle. Added to this, Grace also faced the daunting reality of being unemployed.
Haluamme kertoa juhlavuotemme kunniaksi 35 tarinaa kahden kulttuurin perheistä
Julkaisemme 35 viikon ajan 35 erilaista tarinaa, jotka kuvastavat monia haasteita ja mahdollisuuksia, joita kahden kulttuurin perheet jokapäiväisessä elämässään kohtaavat. Haluamme näiden tarinoiden heijastavan todellisuutta ja tarjoavan vertaistukea, voimaannuttavia kokemuksia ja inspiraation lähteitä sekä lisäävän tietoisuutta kulttuurienvälisyydestä ja monikielisyydestä Suomessa.
For 35 weeks, we will be publishing 35 different stories that reflect the many challenges and opportunities intercultural families face in their everyday lives. We want these stories to reflect reality and serve as an accessible peer support, source of empowerment and inspiration, and increase awareness of Interculturalism and Multilingualism in Finland.