Victoria on yksi amerikkalaisista Future Leaders- ohjelmaan valituista nuorista. Lue hänen englanninkielinen tekstinsä siitä, millaisia ajatuksia suomen kieli, suomalaiset, pakallinen ruoka ja suomalainen arkkitehtuuri ovat herättäneet hänessä.
When I first arrived in Finland, my initial thoughts were focused on how different the human interactions were from my home country, the United States of America. When traveling almost anywhere in the world, one will encounter a new language. For me, that language was Finnish, and lucky for me, Finnish is a very hard language to learn. Although Finland teaches English in most schools, there are still many people who either know no english at all, or are too shy to speak what they do know. This made it intimidating to me at first because I often find myself as the only one in the room that does not speak it. However, my host family was very kind and worked patiently with me. They translated for me when we traveled and taught me small words and phrases that are important to know. It is never easy to not understand something, but after only a few days I quickly got used to it.
There’s no doubt that Finland is famous for their architecture. Even the apartments in the big cities are built in a both modern and colorful way. When I visited the large city of Helsinki, I saw the most beautiful buildings. Many buildings are very open with large windows to let the natural light flow in. I even got to walk inside a chapel that still had it’s original architecture, giving it a very regal appearance. Although all of the towns were built in exquisite detail, they are much smaller than American cities. Because Finland has hundreds of millions less people than America, most buildings, such as grocery stores and schools, do not need to be very large. It is this small town mentality that makes Finland feel like home. My host sister sometimes ran into people she knew from school because the community is so small. Since I have grown up in the capital area of the U.S. with such a large population, it was nice to experience such a drastic change in the atmosphere.
I have only been in Finland for a few days, but the food I have tasted has been delicious. It is different from American food, but not by much. Since berries grow wild throughout the forests of Finland, it is easy to find exquisite fruit. Finland is known for their dark rye bread which they eat with almost every meal and many people really enjoy it. During the summer, small potatoes are also steamed in one way or another and served with butter or a little seasoning. They are very good and one of the best things I have tried thus far. Most meats are very similar if not the same as those in America, so I haven't found myself missing the food from home. There is also a famous Finnish chocolate company named Frazer that is eaten very often. It is much better than American chocolate in my opinion simply because the flavor is richer. During my time here I have only tasted a small amount of foods which I did not like and because I am determined to try as much as I can, I have encountered many new and delicious foods.
I am still trying to get acclimated to the way things are done and how I am supposed to act in the Finnish society. So far, I have discovered that they are not as friendly to strangers as Americans are. You do not say hi to someone you do not know as I might when I am back home. Once you get to know people, such as my host family, Finns are very warm and inviting people that love conversation. I also discovered that because it is such a small society of people, relative to America, they are very honest people. When parking in an area with a specific amount of free parking time, they set a timer in their windshield stating when they arrived. It would be very easy to set it much later than your arrival to allow more free parking time, yet most of them do not. This sense of honesty is what makes Finland one of the safest countries in the world. It has been very nice to experience the culture and meet the people of such an amazing country.
Text and photos: Victoria