Last year me and my partner moved to Finland from Denmark. As a native, he was coming home after a year of living abroad, but for me it was a new, both exciting and scary adventure. Neither me nor my partner had an intercultural couple in our extended families, so we both knew that we are pioneering in this. That is how started my Finnish journey, about which I want to share here.
Before moving to Finland, I heard a lot how difficult Finnish is. So, I was preparing myself that learning this language would not be easy. But it was much more difficult than I could have expected: new language group, puhukieli, cases, monikon partitiivi … Luckily, in Finland there is an opportunity to take an intense Finnish course and I applied to it almost immediately after landing in Finland. But it was summer and the queue for the course was quite long, so I got my spot only six months later, in January. While I was waiting, I was applying for jobs and building my social life.
Very often it was exhausting to be constantly in silence around people talking. Finally, my Finnish course began, and I started to learn the language vigorously. I have never felt so motivated to being able to understand Finnish: I had five hours of classes every working day and in addition I tried studying a couple of hours every day at home. Slowly I started understanding more, and it became easier for me to express myself. I felt proud on the day when I realized that I hadn’t switch to English while talking to my in-laws.
Even though I am still far from being fluent, I believe it is important to find victory in small things
In addition, I am going through the process of integration, while my partner is at home. We have different backgrounds, different cultures and different challenges we face. I feel lucky to have my partner’s support, but sometimes it feels like roller-coaster with great ups and scary downs. Luckily, most of the problems can be solved with the help of communication and openness. In addition, there are services that help me go through integration smoothly. For example, me and my partner took part in the “Plus Workshop Weekend brunch: integrating into Finland” organized by Familia. We could talk about the process of adaptation to a new country through a new angle. I also attended different support groups that included working on my mental health. We had group discussions related to different problems one can face during integration into a new country. Talking about it helped me feel that I am not alone and that there are communities where I can find support.
My advice is to be kind to yourself and give yourself enough time to go through the process of integration. Try to find new things and new communities that will support you. And ask for help when one is needed
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.