Finn. VS. Spanish in a Relationship

I had lunch with a Finnish friend today and we were talking about equality roles and cultures in relationships. She asked me if we have some clear Finn vs. Spanish things in our relationship with my boyfriend?  As my boyfriend is not a very traditional Spanish on many points, and I am not typical Finn, I really had to think about the question. However, few points came to my mind…

  • Dish brush vs. Sponge

This is a general thing with Nordic countries versus Southern countries. Even in France I’ve always got comments about the fact that I am washing dishes with the brush and not with the sponge. I still haven’t find how to make clear enough that the brush IS A BETTER choice and much more hygienic than a sponge. Also with my boyfriend we have had this conversation many times, but he just can’t change the sponge to the brush… That is why, as a compromise in both of our kitchens, there is a sponge and a brush. The difference is that in his place the brush always looks like new, and in my place the sponge looks newer ;).

  • Use of the dish closet

An other thing related to dishes and to Nordic innovations, is the closet all the Finnish houses have above the kitchen sink, to dry the dishes. I repeat: its use is to hang the wet dishes the time they dry, and once they are clean and dry, you just place them in the cupboards. It saves the time of wiping dishes with a towel and is very practical! And even though, many houses have a dishwasher nowadays we always have kitchen stuff that cannot be washed in the machine, so the closet finds its use.

But my dear boyfriend uses his dish closet, as a cupboard. When I wash something by hand in his kitchen I never have a place where to hang the dish to dry because the place for that is already full of well organized dishes! Then he has three other closets that are half empty, because the dry food never fills all of those closets… In his mind that is the most logical way to do. In my mind it is insane!

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Guess which one of the closets is mine, and which his?  😉

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  • Dinner time

In Finland people have dinner around 5 – 6 pm when they come home from work, then they just have a light snack before going to sleep. In France we have dinner around 8-9 pm, and it is somewhere around that time that my family have always been used to eat as well. In Spain they have dinner somewhere around 10 pm.

For finnish people our dinner time is completely weird, but for us, a common time to have dinner is around 9 pm and it fits for both of us… As we live separately with 700 km between us, the dinner time is actually the only moment of the day that we are doing the same thing and are available for each others. Skype-dinners are very common in this couple-life!

  • Porridge vs. Sweet on morning

In Spain, as in France, the breakfast is sweet and quit light. After living 3-4 years in Finland, my boyfriend started to eat a local breakfast; salty on the bread, and porridge (kaurapuuro).  My dad, who have lived around 30 years in Finland still doesn’t eat porridge!  I have always eaten salty on mornings and have never learned on the french habits to put some sweet jam on the bread.

Even though my boyfriend also eats salty or porridge nowadays, he still has that “need for something sweet”. On week-time he have decided to stay healthy and eat only porridge and bread with cheese, but on week-ends he always needs to get some pancakes, biscuits, buns, or at least jam on his toast! Every single week-end I hear the same little sad sentence: “I haven’t had any sweet the whole week…”

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  • Carpets

He doesn’t have any carpets at his place. I had to buy him at least one for the  bathroom because I found it so uncomfortable to not have anything to dry my feet after a shower. In my own bathroom I have three carpets, and each room of my apartment has at least one.

In Finland we have carpets in houses and we take our shoes off when we come to a house. In Spain people hang in their houses with the shoes on their feet and that’s why people don’t have carpets… At least that is what he explains to me.  In France people have carpets, even though when visiting other peoples’ houses they keep the shoes. But when hanging in their own houses, french people use some kind of slippers, which are more comfortable than actual shoes and also keep the foot warm on the stone floor.

 

Until now we have never got to big fights because of our cultural differences, and we actually just like them. I am also very lucky that his parents have raised him in a “not so traditional Latin way”, so he have learn that men and women do equally the same things at home ;).

 

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Mothers’ Day -Maybe next year together for this day?

Today, Mays’ second Sunday, it’s the Mothers’ day in Finland. I haven’t celebrated it in years, because I was always in France on that day, and my mom was in Finland. Every year I sent a message or called her, and that was it. But it didn’t feel so bad because in France they don’t celebrate the Mothers’ Day the same day, and as I was so far, there was no other possibility… Not a chance to be together.

Today I’m in Finland. But as my mom is living in the north of Finland nowadays, and I’m in Tampere at the moment, we are not together today either. We have this kind of family who moves and travels a lot, and we are rarely all in the same place at the same time. She’s coming to Tampere next week, one day after that I’ll leave for a three weeks trip… So next time we’ll see, will probably be in June.                                                                         Anyway, this morning I was feeling a little sad. I was remembering those Mothers’ Days that we used to celebrate when we were kids… When we were picking the first flowers from the garden to bring them to bed with the breakfast to our mom.

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Today I was feeling lonely and jealous, because I didn’t have anything to do today, and it’s a sunny Sunday. But I couldn’t call any of my friends, as I knew they are all celebrating this day with their moms.  I was also thinking about my friends who celebrate their first Mothers’ Day as a Mother, and how special that day has to be for them too.

But actually, instead of feeling sad and selfish, I want to thank our mom that she have raised us, me and my sister, in this way. Maybe we are rarely all the family together, but even when we are far from each other, we try to help each other and stay together. Sometimes we are not so much in contact, but it doesn’t matter, because when we see each other again, we are close and happy to be together. In our family it’s our mom who  have taught us to travel, to live in different places and to make a home there where we feel good, she have taught us to step out from our comfort zone and to trust ourselves. Since I was small, I’ve been always secretly admiring my mom, because she was travelling and doing things that she wanted to do, and had friends and nice things around her. When I was a kid I wanted to do the same job than she did…  Today, it’s thanks to her and the way she’ve raised me, that I’m doing things that I want to do and  living the life that I enjoy.

This week I got accepted to Lapland University where I will start studying next autumn.It was also my mom who pushed me to do the papers for that, and who made me to believe that I’ll get in there… So starting next September, we will be living in the same city again, after many years being in different countries. Many have told to me “Your mom has to be very happy you’re going there!” That’s probably true, and she’s allowed to be happy about that!

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Happy Mothers’ Day to my mom, and to all moms! It is certainly the longer and harder job a woman can have in her life 😉 <3.

 

About double-nationality

I’m following a blog group of expat-Finns, and many of these bloggers have children who are growing in a foreign-country with at least two languages and cultures around them. It’s been interesting to read and follow the articles about their lives, and what do those parents wonder about their children growing with that kind of environment.

I am one of those children too, just a grown-up one,  and I’ve been often thinking about that richness I have, but also that feeling of being ripped on two parts my whole life… That feeling came back very strongly last week, when I was in France for holidays.

Just a little reminder, for those who don’t know me yet; I was born in Finland, from a Finnish mother and French father. I also grew up and finished my high-school in Finland.

Since I was a baby, my dad was talking in French to me, and my mom in Finnish. I have a two years younger sister, and at home, we all used to talk in Finnish and French. Basically we were supposed to talk in French with our dad, and Finnish wit our mom. Of course the fact that we were living in Finland affected our language-learning and Finnish became the dominant language for us. Before the elementary School we used to go for few years in a French kindergarten in Tampere. As all the kids were not half French, but some were fully Finnish, my parents still remind me how  already on that early age I used to translate to other kids, when they didn’t understand something…  And I did that a lot at home with my sister too.

When my friends in school spent holidays with their grand parents and cousins in Finland, we traveled every year to France to spend at least one month with our French grand parents and cousins.  Actually, we spent almost all our holidays abroad, in France, there was not really other choices as half of the family was there.

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In high-school, when I wanted to leave abroad for one year, I decided to go to France, to Strasbourg. I’m not sure why I choose France instead of England, Germany, Spain or Austria…I actually don’t even remember to have thought for other options, France was the most natural solution. And the year passed in a French high school taught me a lot. I finally learned how to write French, as in Finland I was always talking in French but never learning it at school. That also helped me to pass the more demanding French baccalaureate exam.   It was also the first time and occasion that I was getting real friends in France, who were not related to my family… And getting stronger liaison with the country. I also had my first serious boyfriend and love there, which made me to take the decision that once I’ll finish high school in Finland I’ll immediately move back to France.

Well, that relationship ended meanwhile, and there were others, but one thing didn’t change; Once I had finished high school in Finland, I moved to Paris and stayed there for 6 years.

When I was living in France I came for holidays in Finland once or twice per year for a short time. I also traveled other places and countries but Finland was the mandatory place I had to go. And when I was in Finland I spent the holidays by running everywhere, to see all my friends and family… As all the expats when they go home for holidays (I just never considered myself as expat, as I was at home).  Each time when I left from Finland back to France, I was feeling sad to not be able to stay more. But I was always happy to go back home. I always said that my home was in France and that I couldn’t imagine to live back in Finland any more.

Well, when I suddenly decided to move back to Finland last year, I’m not sure what I was expecting about the adaptation and feelings to be back “home”… But it have been surprising to notice that it takes such a long time to feel really at home. When I was in France last week, and talking with friends, my family, old colleagues… Everybody were saying “you are so French, you should live here instead of Finland”. And I was feeling so at home there, that I was also wondering why I ever left… But then I was thinking about all my friends and family that I’ve got back in my life when I moved to Finland, and also the new people and activities, as well as the quality of life, which I prefer here…

As France is the place where I feel REALLY at home; Today, what still bothers me, is that I can’t get rid of that little accent I have, when I speak French. People can say what ever they want about how cute it is, or how it makes me ME, or it’s my personality…etc. For me it’s not the same than to talk English or Spanish or German, for me French is my second language and I should be able to speak it as I speak Finnish.

Some moments I also really get tired about this so called richness of having two languages with two homes and cultures. Sometimes I would prefer to have one home country where I know I always want to come back, without missing anything else. I know I shouldn’t complain about this gift that I have, and of course I wouldn’t change that for anything… But some moments I just feel too ripped and tired, that I’m wondering how life would be if my both parents were only Finnish or just French.

The worst   funniest thing in this, is that now I’m dating a Spanish guy, who’s living in Finland… And I don’t know about the future, but seems that instead of two, now I’m having three countries and cultures in my life! 😉

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When our first french cousin born, our Finnish grand-parents came to France with us. This is one of the rare pics that our both grandparents from Finland and France, are on the same picture…

Back in Paris – back home

Since Ivalo the blog have been quit silent. I have had some inspiration issues, and problems to finish my many drafts on different subjects.
Now I’m writing from the bus to Tampere. I just landed back to Finland, after one week spent in Paris. Paris, the city were I used to live for 6 years and which I left last summer for Finland. Being in Paris felt extremely normal and at the same time very strange. Last time I was in Paris for holidays, was on summer 2009, and few months later I moved in there.

When I was a kid I spent my holidays in France, in Le Mans, with my French grand parents and cousins.  And during all past 6 years, Finland was the place where I went for holidays… To meet friends and family, to eat local food that I was missing, to do Finnish things. Now, that have changed again. Now I’m going for holidays in France, but sharing my time between Paris and Le Mans. No matter the country you are it’s always the same; your time is limited and there’s a lot of people to see and things to do. And as with my Finnish friends when I came to Finland for holidays, also my French friends have their life with work and family and I can’t suppose they are 100% available for me when I come.


And the biggest different with Paris now, is that I don’t really have a home there anymore. Luckily one of my very good friend hosts me whenever I need, and I feel at home in her place… But before I used to have my place in Paris, my home where I always went once the plane have landed. Now that place is not my place anymore, and it felt strange to not go there…

Being back in Paris 10 months later I moved out from there, was very confusing. Places and people haven’t changed, I still speak French and know how to use metros and how to behave and communicate in different places… Nothing is difficult, everything’s natural and goes normally. In a way I felt much more at home in Paris than in Finland! I think last years I got so distant with Finland that it still takes time to get to feel at home there…. A lot of people have told me that I’m more French than Finnish, despite the accent I have when I speak French. And I feel so too.


After few days in Paris, I still don’t regret I left that city, no matter how much I love it! Paris is still very tiring. When I take the metro to cross the city in one hour I can’t not to think how in Tampere I cross the city in 15 min by bike. Or when we talk about holidays with friends, I realize in Finland it’s totally fine to stay at home for holidays, in Paris it’s almost not possible to imagine that… Being in Paris now, reminded  my about the life style, the hurry, the pollution, the traffic – it reminded me why I wanted away from there.

But also spending evenings with my friends, with who I have studied, with who we share the same professional interests and with who we are in quit same life-situations – that makes me to miss being there. Drinking wine which is good and cheap, eating cheese and charcuterie, going to Japanese – Corean – Italian – French restaurants for half the price that in Finland….


I guess, like my Spanish friend once said, I’ll always have a kind of identity-crisis, as I will always be between Finland and France and never able to be in the both countries at the same time.

Valentines’ day VS. Finnish Friends’ day

In the beginning of February, Facebook made a campaign with video clips about our friends (here) . It was for Facebooks’ birthday, but I first thought it had something to do with Valentines’ Day. Then I remembered, it’s only in Finland that Valentines day is a Friends’ day.

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Yes, here it’s called Ystävän päivä (ystävä = friend, day = päivä) and since children are small, they draw post cards in school to give for friends. At least it was like that when I was a child… I’m not sure if they still do that? As teenager we always did something between friends on that day; went to movie together and gave presents between best friends.

A Spanish friend told me about hes’ first year in Finland, and how he got scared when on Valentines’ day a girl he have knew for about a week, came with some chocolates and wished him Happy Valentines’ day! He was asking if the girl wasn’t going a little fast, as they had just met… She had to explain that it was a gift for a friend, as in Finland 14th February is a friends’ day. The Spanish guy immediately felt better ;).

While I was living in France, I reminded my friends so many times about it, that last years my French friends also sent me messages for Valentines day by  saying “…because in Finland it’s a friends’ day, happy Valentines day…” Or something like that.

In France  I also used to celebrate Valentines’ day in the both ways, as a lovers-day, and as a friends’ day. Sometimes I had romantic dinners with my boyfriend, sometimes with him and our friends, but for me the most important was to remember my good Finnish friends on that day. I didn’t send any postcards, even that some years I still got some (God that was warming my heart!), but I always sent messages for my good friends to thank them about being here and being my friend and to tell them how much I care about them.

Well, as for Valentines day as a lovers’ day, also as a friends’ day, I don’t think we need a special day marked in the calendar to tell our loved-ones how much we care about them… But as that day exists I can as well use that day to remind my friends that they are important for me.

For me friends are the most important thing in my life, and I think they earn a special day. This might be a cliché, but for me good friends are the ones that always stay and that you keep for your whole life. Other relationships come and go and change all the time, they are great meetings and experiences but not always lasting…

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And this brings me to Finnish people as friends, because I have to say, my best, most important and reliable friends are Finnish. And God how much friends and great people I have all over the world!                                                                                                                                      I know Finnish people are difficult to approach and in the beginning they are not very talkative. It can take long time to break the ice and get something deeper from a Finnish person. But, once you’ve become friend, and you’ve earn the trust with a Finnish person, you will have him as a good friend for the rest of your life. Finnish people have a lot of negative points and things I don’t like, but one thing I really admire with them is their honesty and transparency.

Of course I love my friends from other countries too, and they have a lot of good qualities that Finnish people maybe don’t… For example hugging, kissing and touching much more between friends!

With my good friends I know, that even we don’t meet in years, and even we are very slightly in contact, the day we see again we start on where we stopped the last time…

In Finland Valentines’ day is of course becoming more commercial every year, and it have become a lovers’ day as well. People do talk about romantic dates and participate on love events, or buy heart-chocolate and flowers… And that’s fine, I did participate on that too when I was in Paris.  But in Ivalo, I can’t see almost anything about that!  It’s not like in big cities, where you have ads all over, and as I don’t watch TV I don’t see the Valentines’ ads there either! And that feels good.

I can still celebrate 14 February as a Friends’ day and be happy about all the great people I have met in my life, and who have became my friends! ❤

Happy Valentines’ Day for all, no matter if you are celebrating your friends or lovers, or no-one… Enjoy your day! 🙂

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Homesickness and Goodbyes

Two weeks ago I had to face the worst homesickness I’ve ever had, but that I’ve been knowing to arrive for a while already.

I talked with my mom and sister on the week-end, and Monday when I saw my phone ringing I new it wasn’t about good news. My sister announced me that our almost 14 years Lappish dog, Karmen, was leaving on her last trip the next day.

 

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Despite that I knew that day will arrive, that I left Tampere in November and just hoped she will have enough strength to pass the winter,  that I was super lucky to spend about 4 months with her  after many years being separated, that I’ve been afraid about this day for all those years I wasn’t living at home and hoping it will not arrive when I will be somewhere else…. Despite all that I just felt desperate and burst on tears.

My mom was was able to leave from Rovaniemi to Tampere and pass the last hours with Karmen and to go to the veterinary with my sister… And our dad told he will be able to go there too. Only I didn’t have the possibility to leave from Ivalo and say goodbye, and be with my family. That broke my heart.

Karmen was in our family for 13,5 years, half of my life. We got her in 2002 when we had spent 4 months in Senegal for my moms’ work… And we started to talk about taking a dog when we were still there. My mom was working on the local movie-version of the Carmen opera. That movie, called Karmen Geï, came out in Senegal on that year and we saw it many times during that spring…. The main character, playing Karmen, was a beautiful black woman and she was also the film-makers wife. With my sister we followed my mom when she had interviews in the film-makers house, and as we all liked the film a lot, we decided then that back to Finland we will take a black dog and name her Karmen. And that we did.

 

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As a baby, she was the cutest thing ever.

Karmen was a perfect dog, everybody liked her, even those who usually don’t like dogs. She was beautiful and calm, always and until the end. She never became one those old dogs who look old and ugly. Sure she got more white hairs, she started to walk more slowly and less, at the end her hearing was very bad and that made her bark very low and shrill… Which was quit annoying, we all agreed with that. But still, she was always perfect.

As she was a herding dog she was always worried about her herd, the family. When she was younger, we used to play all the family together that we scattered in different ways and she needed to gather us together… She did it very well!

When I was talking on phone with my sister the last night before Karmen was taken to the veterinary, I talked to her too, to tell her my goodbyes… And we were remembering all those great years we’ve had together.

As a teenager, when I was sad, she always came to lip my tears, when someone from the family was packing (which happened a lot in our house), she always felt someone is leaving and started to follow us everywhere worrying… But she was used to have a traveling family. She travelled very well in the car, the bus or the train. And when we all were abroad for some reason, she always had a place near the house, with our neighbors who had a Lappish dog too and who took care of her, as she was part of their family as well. We know that Karmens’ passing is difficult for them as well.

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And last summer, when I moved back from France to Finland, and was unemployed and lost with my life, she was the one who kept me on my foot and made me to wake up every morning. Those morning-walks with her from July to November, were the best moments I had… Even there were days I was complaining because she was waking as slow as an old lady, and some days just decided to sit in the middle on the street and not to go anywhere…

 

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We all had our places where we were used to go with her, around our neighborhood, and sometimes we just sat on a bench near the lake and watched the landscapes together, or sometimes we ran around the lake, or walked until the city and sat on a terrace for a coffee… She was used to go many places with us, and all our neighbors and friends knew her as part of our family.

As I’m not at home at the moment I will probably realize that emptiness only once I get back there in few months, as those dark lovely eyes will not be welcoming me anymore… Now the very bad side of living far from home, have been faced also.

 

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Who’s gonna clean our ice-cream packages now???

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She had a good life. We will miss you Karmen <3.

 

 

What a wonderful year…

Wow. When I think about this year, I still get breathless.

It’s been the most exhausting and exciting year ever… And I really had no clue about how full of events this year would be, when I spent the last New Year in bed with almost 39 of fever and suffering about some horrible food poisoning. I was in Paris, and thinking that it was the first time since I moved to Paris that I wasn’t celebrating New Year with anyone, I was really too sick… And in my little superstitious mind I remember I was also thinking “this can’t be a good year, as it starts so bad…”

Well, now I’m in Ivalo in Finnish Lapland, but the road was long to get until here! 😀

When I left Paris for Brazil in March, I was saying to my current boyfriend that when I come back, I want to leave Paris for real. But I wasn’t thinking that I would do it alone, AND, that I’ll not leave only Paris, but also France!

So….Brazil was awesome. I haven’t enough words to describe those three months spent in Foz do Iguaçu, but you can read some of what happened there in the beginning of this blog (April-May 2015). That experience allowed me to meet the most amazing people, to realize a lot of things about me and my dreams, to discover wonderful places, to see new opportunities opening for me and also put me in front of the most hard decisions that I’ve ever took.

And one decision led to another. In June I came back to Paris, and in July I was already in Finland with all my luggage from last 6 years.

During about 4 months I enjoyed, I struggled, I cried, I was extremely happy… I went trough all kind of feelings and  finally ended up to Lapland with “waitress” marked on my payslip.

Of course things were not as easy as they seem written here in. But this was to say, that I’ve been extremely lucky this year, because I’ve seen few of the most beautiful places in the world within less than a year. Iguaçu Falls, Rio de Janeiro, Paris, Helsinki, Tampere, Lapland…

I’ve been taking very different means of transportation to go to work, under extreme climates and temperatures… In Paris I was cramped in the subway among hundreds of people, in Brazil I took the bus or walked under the sun in + 35 C, and now I’m biking in -25 C, under the polar night!

And I’ve been discovering new cultures and tasting new foods and flavors, having conversations in English, Portuguese, Spanish, Finnish, French. I’ve exchanged about travel-tips and cultural differences with so many people, I’ve been partying and having caipirinhas, beers, wines, glögis, and so much more!

All these countries and places also included a lot of hellos and goodbyes…

This year I’ve left and let go some very important people from my life, but I’ve also got a lot of new ones. Actually the year 2015 was not only rich with new cultures and natural or geographical places, but especially on relationships. It’s better to not be sad about what we’ve done or what we’ve loos, but to be happy about what we have gained. Except that I’ve met wonderful new people which I hope I’ll keep in my life for ever, I’ve also got closer to my family and old friends again. And this has been really amazing.

And I want to thank all those lovely people who I’ve met and got back this year! You people, really made this year a very special-one ❤

 

I’m very excited about the new coming year, and sure it’s going to be a great one also…  I hope and promise only one (or two) thing for the coming year; Less of big changes and not so much running  ;).

Happy New Year everybody! Enjoy the moment, your loves and what you have now….