Sudipta in the wonderland
"10 years ago, I was a stranger; today I know - I always belonged here. Finland, the country I call my home."
In the initial days of my stay in Finland, during a conversation with some foreigners, somebody stated, “October is not the best time of the year for an Indian to visit Finland. It’s cold, dark, gloomy and to top it all, people never smile.” To which I secretly wondered: “what people are they referring to? I haven’t seen one.” Nevertheless, now I know, they (Finns) do exist and oh, how wonderful they are!
I started my journey from sunny India to cold Finland in October 2008, unaware of the fate that awaited me on the second half of my ten years. During all these sunny & snowy years, I have learned a new language, earned two degrees; a bachelor’s and a Master’s in International Business, secured a steady job and gained a good five years of working experience from reputable Finnish organizations. Additionally, I got the opportunity to complete my exchange studies in Ireland and in Italy, participate in many national and international events and represent my culture on different platforms as well.
"During all these sunny & snowy years, I have learned a new language, earned two degrees, secured a steady job and gained a good five years of working experience from reputable Finnish organizations."
In addition, I have evolved immensely in the past few years on the personal front. I have traveled to ten different countries, discovered different cultures and cuisines, met amazing people and made wonderful friends and networks all over the world. Furthermore, I have learned to ski, row a boat, relish in the wilderness, grill sausages on open fire, throw an almost perfect löyly in the sauna, enjoy avanto and eat mämmi to name a few. The list of my learnings may appear elusive to some but all I can say is that I have thrived well this far.
"Today, I am loved, respected and appreciated for being who I am."
Although my story sounds enjoyable, my journey was not all roses. I have had my share of failures and disappointments too: I was unemployed, I failed my exams, I did odd jobs to survive and also got rejected in many job interviews and I still do. Nevertheless, I’ve learned from my failures and have tried not to repeat them (mostly) and have believed in myself. Today, I am loved, respected and appreciated for being who I am. Finnish society has always encouraged me, supported my vision of being independent and strong, and has continuously provided me with many opportunities to live a good life. Throughout these years, I have worked hard, acted responsibly and have always tried and encouraged others to do the same in return. This is my way of saying- thank you Finland.
For those who feel lonely in Finland, I want you to know, Finland loves you too. Despite being a foreigner, companies have hired me for jobs, people have sat next to me on the bus, private landlords have rented me flats and people have helped me in public places. Also, I do get invited to Finnish homes, summer cottages and to Finnish weddings as well. And I never get “randomly checked” at the airport (no pun intended). Hence, I believe, there is hope for you too.
To me, Finnish winters are beautiful and Finnish food is delicious and yes, Finns do talk and smile (also when they are not drunk), but please, do not touch them or kiss them on the first meeting, you would not like it either. To sum it all up, I consider myself as a healthy part of the Finnish society and I know that Finns do so as well.
Sudipta Chatterjee, Kuopio