after Cape Town. Today a year and 11 days, to be precise. Not that I’m counting days, like with my not-running (28).
I sure hope years are different from children – wonderful ones, terrible twos.
Because year one back in Helsinki is not a year I ever want to relive, nor do I wish anybody to go through anything even vaguely similar. We were warned the first year back will be awful, but not in a million years could I have imagined how awful. TG it’s over. And I’m pretty sure year two will be a lot better.
What happened? What went wrong? What would I do differently had I known all I know now a year ago. I still have no clue what actually happened and what went wrong. However, I have a pretty clear idea what I’d do differently. I don’t believe in hindsight, but maybe – just maybe – the list that’s about to follow will help people moving back to Finland.
And before I go any further, there are people who come back after an extended period overseas without any problems. There must be. I just haven’t met one yet.
So the things I’d do differently:
- Timing. Come back in May or June. Spring. Not in the end of July just before school starts and everybody is back to their busy lives. Not that I’d change our last South African roadtrip, but…
- Work. Get a job before coming back. Not easy, as Finland doesn’t really value experience gained abroad. Unless you do code. Anyway, get a job. Any kind of job. Just to keep yourself busy and brain off over-analysing.
- School. In case your child is a typical Finn (=likes sitting still, working quietly, has good self-discipline), no problem. In case not, big problem. Get ready for (daily) Wilma messages. Could I choose now, I’d choose a Finnish school/class with Finnish as medium. Why? Because. Firstly, in case you’re unlucky with the teacher, options are limited. You’re stuck with the class and with the teacher. Secondly, Talky now speaks way worse Finnish than in Cape Town. Because most Finnish he hears is Finnish with a very strong English accent, whereas in Cape Town he only was exposed to our almost-nearly-perfect-Finnish.
- People. Force yourself into being socially active. Meet new people. Accept some “old” people being lost forever. Meet people who give you positive energy. Lean on people who’ve been through the same as you have (i.e. come back).
- Activities. Get a new hobby. Study something you’ve always wanted to. Do something you like. Do something that makes you step out of your comfort zone.
- Focus. Read books. Forget checking what your friends from what you left behind are posting. Stay in touch with the important ones via email. Or Skype or WA.
- Accept. Don’t think it will be easy for you. Because you think you’re different and it’s up to your own attitude. If it will be easy, consider it as a nice surprise. An extra.
- Hate. Allow I-hate-Finland days. Allow I-miss-xxx days. Because fighting back only makes both hating and missing worse.
- Stay. Don’t go back. I’d say only go back after you’ve settled back in Finland. Do what I say, not what I do.
- Laugh. At yourself. Laugh more. Living in Finland is serious stuff – you’ll need it.
THOUGHTS ON THE FIRST DAYS OF YEAR TWO
How does beginning of year two look like? Better? Promising? Yes and yes.
Summer has been amazing with 50+ hot (in Finland anything above +25 degrees is considered “hot”) days. The average is seven per summer.
I’ve started a few new hobbies. Since I can’t run, I’m feeling young when aqua jogging. I finally bought a gym membership, and have found stretching, core and pilates classes interesting. Interesting in a nice way, not the capetonian what-the-heck-is-this-supposed-to-be way. I’ve entered a creative writing course.
Hopefully Talky’s second year in the Finnish school system will be easier. At least the system is making all kinds of efforts to make it easier. As we cannot fight the system, he’ll to be adjusted. At some point I predicted we’ll all be on meds before year one back in Finland ends. Well, we all made it without. Year two on the other hand is a whole different story.
I still don’t have a job. I thought of getting one. A job job with a title and everything. Then I realised I cannot sacrifice my freedom for security and monthly pay check. So I’m gonna continue as an entrepreneur. Or freelancer, whatever you want to call it. With all pros and cons. And the first time in years I’m pretty excited about what’s (and what’s not yet) on my plate.
I’m on social media leave, think it’s about day 20 today. Deleted Instagram and Facebook on mobile. Blocked Facebook on my desktop. I’m reading more, and enjoying it big time. I’m sleeping better. I feel I get more done. I’d say I’m happier.
Today was the first day of school after a two month summer break. So we’re back to normal. I hope this normal will be a good normal. For all of us. For all people starting their year two. Hang in there struggling year ones!