Now that I’ve been in Finland for about 8 months I was thinking to do a little recap about feelings and things I’ve noticed and faced, related to moving back from abroad.
I have been working for few months now, with a proper salary, a regular planning and a more balanced every-day life, so I feel much better than the first months. I have also been very lucky to be in Lapland where the winter is real, with plenty of snow and beautiful landscapes. I think in southern Finland it would have been more difficult; With the temperatures changing from +10 C to -20 C regularly and never knowing exactly if it’s raining or snowing… And I have to say, after 6 years in a big city as Paris, spending few months in this tiny village, as Ivalo, feels very good.
But there have also been many times that I haven’t really felt Finnish, especially for bureaucracy-reasons!
With work I had to learn again how the Finnish taxation-system works. In France I was always saying that the Finnish system is much better than the French-one, because we just get taxed directly on our payslip and that’s it. Well, it’s true… I still think it’s better than to pay taxes once a year with ugly surprises, but it have took me more time that I thought to do my Finnish ‘Verokortti’ (income-tax card) and to calculate all income limits correctly… Especially because I have understood that in Finland they really check everything correctly and follow all rules. In France it was easier to do things approximately… 😉
This week I also felt really foreign when I was trying to buy a new phone from the local phone-operators’ online-store… On the moment that I was trying to conclude a contract for paying the new iPhone monthly during 12 months, and I gave my banking information, there was a message saying “You have a temporary residence permit in Finland, and it’s not possible to continue the order… “.
Residence permit??! But I’m Finnish! And I was living in France! It’s Europe!
I tried again and again for few days, but always got the same message. I was really astonished, I couldn’t understand why it was telling me I wasn’t a permanent resident in Finland. I contacted my bank who told everything should be fine, as I’m paying my taxes in Finland correctly.
Finally one day, when I was trying again there was a chat-window from the customer-service asking if they can help me. -Usually I never talk to those strange pop-up chats that open on online-stores – But this time it came right on time and I really wanted help! They asked me if I’ve been living abroad recently, and I told that I’ve moved back to Finland last July. “To conclude a monthly-payment contract you have to be living in Finland for 12 months nonstop. So you have to wait until next July, or you can buy the phone by paying all at once. Thank you for contacting us, have a nice day”.
Great. I’m not a temporary immigrant but as I’ve been living abroad I can’t get a financing plan… The same happened when I was asking for a credit card, instead of a Visa Electron. Also, the first thing when I came back, was to ask from the Finnish healthcare a permit to get back to the Finnish system… Luckily they did accord it! 😉
A Spanish friend, who’ve been living in Finland for about four years, often makes fun of me by saying that he’s probably more Finnish than me, with all my different bureaucracy-fights or when I don’t know which bus to take to go somewhere, or when I don’t remember some words in Finnish because I use so much French and English during my workdays…
Luckily I have foreign friends, customers and colleagues, so that I can get a balance with Finnish people and the culture… As much as I love sauna, Lonkero (a local long-drink people drink as much as beer), porridge, the way that everybody takes their shoes off in the entrance… Some things still frustrates me. I have difficulties to get used with some habits and behavior, especially the Finnish alcohol-culture or being always on time (meaning 10 min at advance) everywhere! 😀
Few weeks ago I went to movies for a Finnish movie called “Järven tarina” (Lakes’ story), it was more like a nature documentary about Finnish lakes. And it was beautiful. While watching the movie I was thinking that Finland really is a very beautiful country and that I’m lucky to be here and to be able to see these places, and this nature. I was thinking about my friends, last summer, who told me “Don’t worry, in some time you will fall in love with Finland again” … And even that I’m already planning trips and holidays in different places and I also want to go to Paris, to see my friends and family, I am feeling more and more happy to be in Finland. And now that I’ve been living a great winter, I’m starting to wait for the Finnish summer again!
It’s true what they say, time makes miracles..