About multiculturalism and double nationality…

Now, that in Finland we’ve had a lot of discussions about racism and multiculturalism I have some things to say about it as well. More related on double-nationality and living between different cultures…

Like most of you know, I’m half Finnish, half French. My mom is Finnish, my dad is French. I have a Finnish grandmother, aunt and cousins, and I have french grandparents, french uncle and french cousins.  I’ve born in Finland, grew up in Finland, went for holidays in France every year  since I was baby and moved to live in France for the first time when I was 16, then again when I was 20.

I’m not looking as a typical Finn, because I have brown hair, brown eyes and -eyebrows and my skin color is a little darker than Finnish people usually (I’m white, just maybe getting sun a little easier than some Finns).. I have a Finnish passport, and my double nationality is only marked on a paper called “birth certificate”.  No-one ever sees that paper, especially here in Finland.

I speak french as my second language, but with an accent and with some mistakes. When I lived in France, even after 5 years, each time I met a new person someone asked “Where are you from?” or “From where comes that little,cute accent you have?” And my friends still used to correct me when I mixed some feminine or masculine words or pronounced something “wrong”.

Okay, sometimes it was irritating, to be corrected, but I was used to that and didn’t do a problem about it. I never thought, that if someone asks me where  I’m from, it could be racism. In Finland, if someone says me I don’t look a real Finnish, I don’t take that as a racist comment.

Some weeks ago I  was in a family-reunion where I didn’t know the half of the people, and most of them probably didn’t know me either. But there was a moment a lady sitting next to me asked who I was. I told I was the daughter of one of her cousins and then she “recognized” me and said “Oh, that’s so nice of you to come from France for this reunion! And you speak so well Finnish!”

I thought that was very funny. Usually people who know I’ve been living in France, know me well enough to know that I really speak Finnish, as my mother tongue. On  that moment I just smiled.

And few weeks ago, when I was reading some articles about multiculturalism, and “ordinary racism” (fin. arkirasismi) I thought about that lady and wonder that I could have taken that comment as racism too.

All my life, living between two countries and cultures I’ve heard comments like “you’re not a real Finn” or “you are not really french”, “what’s your REAL home-country?”, “Which language you speak better?”  “In which language do you think?” ” In which language do you swear?”  and so on……

All I want to say is that I have never thought or taken these comments as racism. I’ve always thought it’s a fortune to be French and Finnish, the both. And for me it was a compliment when people asked me that kind of things. And I’ve always be proud to explain my origins, whiteout thinking they are denigrating me or thinking negatively about my origins.

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Why is it tiring great to be from two different countries? 

Because you have two homes; when you are getting tired of the other you can leave to the other-one. And when  you leave one, you never need to be sad because you know it’s your home and you can always go back.

Because you know two languages since you learn how to speak. And I’m sure it’s true when they say that bilingual children learn easily other languages, and that shouldn’t be ignored nowadays. And I really can’t understand those parents who don’t talk to their children on their mother tongue… I do know people, who have parents from other countries but they’ve never learned their language, that’s really a shame. I think I’ll never marry a Finnish man, but if I do, in that case i’ll speak french to my children. And if I marry a foreign, he will have no choice that to speak hes native language to my children ;-).

It’s also amazing to know things about different cultures and countries on your own, not because you’ve read or heard about them. You’ve always lived with them. For example since I was little we always had dinner very late at home (lie in southern Europe): When all my Finnish friends were having dinner about 5 – 6 pm, we had it around 8-9 pm. And for me it was exciting to eat on my friends houses so early, and then eat a second time in my house, (I think I didn’t tell my parents I already had a dinner before).

Or in France, no-one had ever seen Santa Claus on Xmas eve, because there he comes during the night and lets the presents in the living room… But I was able to tell people that I had seen Santa Claus many times because in Finland he comes to our home before leaving to other countries.

Or learning to eat different kind of foods very early. Of course, like every kid, I had some things I didn’t like, but I’m sure one of the reasons today I eat EVERYTHING, is that I’ve been eating Finnish and french food since I was small.

Yes, my friends would say that I’m always comparing a lot between the two countries. And probably I do, but because I CAN do it. I know what I’m talking about. Real experiences, not about things I’ve heard from somewhere…

Now that I’m back in Finland and getting used to the life here again, I realize there’s a lot of things in Finnish culture I had forgot, and I’m learning to love this home country again. Also, it helps when I have friends from other countries saying about my pictures “What a beautiful country you live in”! And I realize how lucky I am to be here, and see it, and at the same time to know how beautiful France is to live there too.

Of course it can be tiring to live between two countries, because you always have people you miss from somewhere, or the weather is better in the other place, or some great events are happening when you are not there… But you just need to know how to deal with it. Be in a place at time and enjoy the moment there.

A friend sent me this few days ago, and I think it’s very true:

“The real travel is not about seeing places, but about seeing the familiar places with new eyes”.

And for those who don’t know where did these discussions about multiculturalism start, you can check it here: http://yle.fi/uutiset/finnish_mp_calls_for_fight_against_nightmare_of_multiculturalism_no_comment_from_party_leadership/8182155


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