A new beginning

I haven’t blogged in a long time, but I miss this form. A while ago I found my old, old blog, the one I wrote in high school. And I was glad to have some sort of record, a place for the moments and feelings I’ve forgotten. I thought, “what a lovely thing” and decided it might be a good idea to do something like that again.

So here we go.

Will I be a better or a worse writer after all of these years?

Here is who I was:

“Aurilia and I drove to the ocean today, grey sky and stormy, angry waves. We sat on the cliffs, listened to the wind, whispering. Drank tea from plastic cups that warmed our fingers. Then we drove home, twisting roads, I sang along to Abba and tapped my fingers along with the rhythm.

I have a rune painted on my wrist, raidu, it will protect me, bring structure into my life. Soon I will have structure, soon all the stress and work will be over, soon I’m finished, free.”

First snow of the winter… sort of

london snow

It’s been snowing the whole day. Tireless clouds have kept on spewing out tiny flakes over London since Gerry left for work this morning (around seven thirty). The flakes might not look very big, but there have been lots of them and the ground is cold enough for them to stay put. The city kids and their parents have taken advantage of the situation and every time I’ve looked out the window another snowman has popped up on the green or in the yard outside the house.

I’ve stayed indoors for most of the day, hooked on a Swedish detective novel which wasn’t actually gripping enough to warrant a five-hour readathon. But I’m looking at it as research. When I finally made it out it was dark and quiet in a way London is never quiet. No wonder the snow has this silencer effect on the city since there is so much of it left, on the ground, on people’s cars, on the roads. Not even London traffic has managed to turn it into a wet sludge.

During my short walk to the Turkish corner shop (to buy feta and salad, exciting) I quickly regretted not going out sooner, not talking my laptop and sitting down in some café where I could have had soy hot chocolate and looked out at the ever increasing masses of snow. There were a few people out and about, slipping around on the pavements, huddling close together outside the bars, smoking with red fingertips. A man (a dad) was pulling his child along the pavement in a sledge. The child looked happy in that rosy cheeked, but completely drenched way you only get from playing in the snow. I remember it, the feeling of being soaked, warm and freezing at the same time, of snow that always managed to sneak into your socks or past the gloves and down your arms. Sometimes being a kid is great.

I sort of missed the first proper snow of the year. I didn’t make much of an event out of it, although at least I’m marking it with a blog post. But as I walked back home with my feta and my salad I stopped to look around and I felt so happy about it being winter, about the snow, about memories of building snowmen and the snow running down my arms and melting. Tomorrow it might all be gone, but at least London is enjoying it tonight.

Finland, Finland, Finland…

I feel good after my trip to Finland. I have more energy, I feel happier, more like myself. I feel better and it makes me realise how important it is to go back and recharge my Finnish batteries. How important it is to be able to see my family and to speak my language.

Speaking a foreign language for 80 percent of the time gets to you after a while. Some thoughts are more difficult to think, some feelings come up in different ways, some things get muddled and some things stay on the surface because English will always be the second language.

There has been some research done into the emotional impact of speaking a foreign language. Apparently it makes the speaker more rational (which will only be a good thing for me) and making financial decisions is supposedly easier. Also…

For many multilinguals, swearing in a foreign language doesn’t evoke the same anxiety (or bring the same emotional release) as using a native language. Decreased emotionality in a foreign language spans the gamut of emotions, from saying “I love you,” to hearing childhood reprimands, to uttering morally grave lies, or being influenced by persuasive messages in advertising, writes the Smithsonian.

I find it a lot easier to swear in English than in Swedish. I actually tend to swear in English when I speak Swedish, I find it equally difficult to lie in both languages though. According to the research quoted in the blog, people answer surveys differently depending on language.

Chinese international students studying in North America agreed with traditional Chinese values more when answering a survey in Chinese; they had higher self-esteem scores when completing a self-esteem questionnaire in English. The full extent of these effects of languages on responses are still being investigated.

Talking Swedish for a while, with my family who speak Swedish in the same way I do, means I get to relax, there are no barriers. It means recharging, properly. I wonder if everyone who has moved abroad feels the same way.

I spent most of my teenage years and early 20s dreaming about leaving Finland and going abroad. Now that I’m here, in a foreign country I can never fully understand or integrate into, I find myself missing home. It’s natural, but I didn’t expect it to be such a physical thing.

London is a very accepting place and there are many people like me here, but I still find myself needing my own culture every now and then. It’s not about idolising the home country, what I miss doesn’t even necessarily have anything to do with the actual place. And I don’t miss many specific things, only my family, friends, the summerhouse and, of course, the rye bread. I still don’t know if I want to move back, I love living in the UK, this is where my home is and where work is, but I need to go back.

I wonder how the people who emigrated from Finland in the 1800s and early 1900s felt. How did they manage to hold on to their sense of identity, knowing that they would probably never go home again? How did they deal with the homesickness, waking up on a muggy winter morning and missing real cold. Did their bodies ache for long summer nights when the sun never sets? It’s funny how some things just seem to be programmed into you from a young age, this is your language, this is what weather is supposed to be like, this is how the air is supposed to smell. You don’t really realise it’s there until you start missing it.

Image via Visit Finland.