One of the definitions of the word home given by Cambridge Dictionary is “someone's place of origin, or the place where a person feels they belong”. I think I can add a bit more details. In my opinion, a home is somewhere you naturally feel happy to be in. It’s where you can be yourself and also you know that you’re safe and loved there. And I can say that Finland actually became my home.
Why did I decide to come here
When I was 19 I chose Jyväskylä, city in the western part of Finland, to be the place for my exchange. I knew very little about Finland back then and I picked it because of two reasons. First, it was in Europe, so I could travel easily. Second, I was sure I would face a true winter with snow!
Integration into Finnish society
The first months were a bit shocking: I thought everyone hated me because they never socialized with me as I was used to people doing so in my home country, Brazil. It took me some time to realize that Finns socialize in a different way. Such fact forced me to get out of my comfort zone and get to know how things worked here. I decided to put more effort into learning Finnish language, culture and history. By doing so, I made several friends that are a part of my family and I noted something curious: in Finland I could be who I truly am.
The place where you can be yourself
In general I’ve always been more serious, blunt, “nerd” and introspective if compared to other Brazilians. I also take some time to open up to people since relationships are a serious business for me. Such personality traits made my life more difficult in Brazil and because I was so different I’ve never felt that I actually belonged there. So, I was quite delighted to see that those features are acceptable here and what a surprise it was to realize that I adapted so much that when my exchange was over I didn’t want to leave at all!
Now Finland is my home
That feeling of belonging somewhere even though I wasn’t born, nor raised there puzzled me and I couldn’t readapt to Brazilian culture anymore despite of my several attempts. I knew my home was Finland even though I didn’t understand why. Fortunately I got accepted in my current Master’s degree programme and Kuopio is an awesome place! It has the perfect combination of the peaceful atmosphere and nature is everywhere. I must also add that people are friendly and patient with me when I try to speak Finnish.
My original plan was to travel and to see snow, and in the end I finally found a place to call home. I’m very grateful about it and I’m also lucky to have been always welcomed by everyone that has crossed my path. I wish that everyone could experience such thing someday and give it the appropriate importance.
You can read the full version of her article published in Uljas at the University of Eastern Finland here.
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