Although I have amazing adventures here in Finland, I sometimes forget that I also have a normal everyday life here in Turku. I go to school, I have practical training, I go to yoga, I run a lot and I hang out with friends and other people.
My life here differs not that much from my life I live in Netherlands. The major difference is that I use English a lot more than Dutch. Also every now and then, I even start speaking in Finnish or German. Mostly I do the last two when I’m at parties or I want to surprise someone with my language skills. I try to avoid using Dutch, I only use it when I’m contacting my family or when someone else favors it. I’m not traveling 1500km to Finland to just use Dutch all the time, I want to learn Finnish and sharpen my English. In the meantime, I sometimes practice my German because of the Austrians and Germans who live in Turku.
Also the way I go out differs somewhat. In Netherlands I mostly go out in bars, pubs or at a friend’s place. Here I normally go out in clubs and in spare situations at a friend’s place. But then only to have a pre-party to go to the club. It is not that my attitude changed here in Finland, I just follow the group in somewhat. If everyone is going out in the club, I’ll join them. But still someone makes me more happy if they say we go out in a bar or pub. I’m too social to only dance while going out. I love to have good (or awkward) conversations at the pub or playing games. Every game will do, from Monopoly to social games. I also like to go to clubs, but not as often as most students go around here.
I like to spend some time on my own, luckily I find the time and the possibility here to do so. Most of the time I listen to music, play a computer game, read a book or watch a movie. Although the latter I most often do at my practical placement. The youngsters over there watch every weekend a movie. I touches me that they always search for a movie in English or with English subtitles (although they also search for the Dutch ones). In this way the try to include me in, otherwise they think the struggle with Finnish would be too hard for me. The youngsters over there are a little to shy to talk to me in English, but they started to do it more and more. The same applies for the workers, but they are a little less shy. In the meantime I learn a lot of the welfare system of Finland and experience it myself. The main difference is in my opinion, that we try in the Netherlands to fit the child in to the system, while in Finland they try to fit the system to the child. They talk with the children instead of about the children, like in the Netherlands. Also I learn a lot of new card games at my practical placement. Playing cards with them helps them to feel more comfortable with me, also they are encouraged to use English a lot more (which also benefits them at school). This helps me a lot to start conversations with them over what they want to do with their life and the time they have with us.
And one of the best things I do here every week is visiting the sauna, oh man I love that one. I wish I had my own sauna back home. I really love Finnish sauna culture. In Netherlands we think sauna is a luxury item. In Finland is just a basic need.
Text & picture: Maurice Rozijn