Thoughts of An Immigrant/Emigrant

The boats sailing between Finland and Sweden became more than familiar to me over the years that I crossed over the Gulf of Bothnia – one way or the other way, either I was going from Finland to Sweden or vice versa. In the early years of these sailings I would be so very sad leaving either port, that at times, I was thinking to myself that I should really settle in the in-between place called Mariehamn in the Aland Islands!

The happiest immigrant/emigrant is the one who has learned to take the very best of both worlds -or whatever number there is – and to combine them into a source of inner strength in the new. There is just no point to keep on hankering after something that is not going to happen in the new country, new place. One would not have left – many a time – at all if it had been possible to remain where one was living. Neither can I force my way in the new place to be exactly the way I want, as I am a newcomer who has to earn, one who has to get the right to express one’s opinion on the things and issues in the setting. I have no right to demand to be heard. I have to bide my time. I have to be ‘in’ to do that.

This is the thing, that I have learned and understood to be the case in my life going from place to place and from country to country, to do. When I did accept that things are never going to be the way I like or want to the T, the quality of my life improved vastly. I just chilled and enjoyed the here and now. I made the most of that circumstance, not wishing this way or that way.

In the first year in Sweden I was rather green in the life of an immigrant/emigrant – I bundle them together because one is really both – I would say things like: ‘Oh, our summers in Finland are just so great.’ As if the summers in Sweden would be the rock bottom! I did not mean it mean, it only sounded so, looking back. My new Swedish friends were very gracious and took it admirably.

When I went to Sweden my whole idea of the going was that I would be with the natives aka the Swedes even though the place was crawling with fellow Finns by the hundreds of thousands.I wanted to learn the language properly; and had I spent all my time with other Finns, that desire to learn the language and the culture would have been lost. Only the very last year – that turned out to be that – did I spend more time with my fellow countrymen.

Now when I am back here in Finland – well – it has not been easy to settle back in here. The hardest thing to me is the weather. It being more on the freezer style than anything else! But I am determined to make the best of this situation, this clime, and all the things that it is now to a strength. It is not Finland per se that makes it difficult to settle in; it is life. Life, in every country and culture has things that take their time to get into the gear, to get used to and to be familiar.

That is why I am patient, I am giving myself time to adjust, to ingest all that is here and now. It is the only way, I have learned. It can take years to become somewhat ‘in’ in the things in the new culture and life. It is not usually an instant happening; though, one can feel that instance nearly immediately arriving in some place. That is the way I felt in Israel, I had absolutely no culture shock, no feeling of being an alien, not a thing. I just jumped in and ‘BINGO’ – I was at home!

It is one’s own attitude to everything – even to oneself that matters. It says in a Bible translation:



Tis for now – Riihele xx.

The photo is taken by me.

I have four home countries: Finland, Sweden, Ireland and Israel.
If Lapland is counted as a separate entity, then five!!


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