Friday, July 9, 2010

Finland, Finland, Finland

[ ...the country where I quite want to be ]

From Göttingen, I needed to be at the train station at 9:30 at night, I would change trains in Hanover and continue to Bremen. Once I arrived at Bremen at around 12:30 at night, I would have to find the last S5 city train and take it about 15 minutes to the Airport. There I could finally sleep just a few hours before checking into my early morning Flight to Finland [ which would be to Tampere, and would result in more train and bus rides.] Everything was going well though – undeniably a bit obnoxious, all this to save some euros flying Ryanair – but I had made it to the airport and I was still organized.

It wasn’t until I woke up, however, around 4:30 on an Airport bench that I really realized the magnitude of the trip I was going on – I was going to be back in Finland for the first time since I had left just three summers ago – cue the “I can’t believe it has already been three years!”

Even before departing for Germany, when Fanny was still visiting my family in Michigan, I knew that I would somehow, someway be visiting Finland over the year. As time has rapidly passed, my vacation period at the end of the year became my last time to make the plans come together, and everything would work out excellently, since in a way, I would be able to add a chapter to my original Finish exchange story that I couldn’t experience before – the Juhannus festival – a big family celebration to mark the longest day of the year [ and in terms of Finnish summer sun, that is long! ]

In three years though a lot could change. I had been in good contact with my host family, but pictures of the girls growing up came sparingly. It hit me at that moment in the airport that the twins would now be almost 6 – would they even remember me? Sanni would be close to 10. Fiia, Fanny’s sister, would now be the age to have her confirmation – the same age Fanny was three years ago when I first met her. Everything seemed to have shifted, and this elevated the curiosity and anxiousness that I had making the first return visits to one of my host families – a definite landmark of passing time.

It is funny to admit though, amongst all this banter about change and growing up, that as I arrived at Turku train station, and Jarno was there to pick me up with a hearty-only-as-Jarno-could-say “Nice to meet you. Welcome to Turku”, everything felt exactly back to normal.

I am not quite sure what detail made me realize it – maybe the cafeteria at Jarno’s work where there were about 20 cartons of milk at the beverage bar, or possibly the sterile white buildings with extremely large windows letting in so much sunlight, or just the streets of clustered blonde haired people talking in a hush even though they are outside. My Euros from Germany may have been able to buy me things, but even so, I was in another country, and now being able to compare Finland not only to America, but also my home in Germany for the past 11 months, my perspective seemed even broader.

I questioned myself where I should document some of the stories of this experience – attach them to the original Finnish blog, like a big 3 year jump. Or should I include them in my impressions of Germany as just another chapter of my story – since frankly, after all the transportation I had to do to get to Finland from Germany, that was a cultural experience in itself. These blog posts will remain here as a part of this year’s story, but I will add a link to update the Finnish blog [ since, always to my pleasure, I receive many emails a year from students curious about Finland and wanting to travel and study there. ]

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