Swapping Poles: Moving to Finland from Australia

August 11, 2014
finland, living abroad
Swapping Poles: Moving to Finland from Australia

Swapping Poles: Moving to Finland from Australia

The most common question I have encountered when meeting people and telling them of my plans is, “Why did you decide to go to Finland?” Even the locals ask this with an obvious note of puzzlement in their voice. I guess it’s a bit hard to understand why I have come across the world to a small, cold country near the Arctic Circle, with a population of 5 million people.

I have left behind my family, friends and the warm and sunny beaches of Perth, Australia, to find myself in a country that is rich in culture and where the people are some of the warm and friendliest I have met. By and large, what attracted me to Finland were curiosity and a confirmation from various fellow travelers that it is a great country where I will have a wonderful time.

Arriving in Helsinki, at the beginning of July, I was greeted with a city that was vibrant, colorful and merged perfectly between sea, forest and urban design. It was so picturesque and warm, it reminded me of a small seaside town, and I quickly forgot that I was in the biggest city in Finland. The architecture blew me away on that first day; I thought I landed in a movie set based in some lovely, far away European land.

It was a bit of a surprise, too, to see everything written in Finnish and not in English, as I was so accustomed to.

It was a bit of a surprise, too, to see everything written in Finnish and not in English, as I was so accustomed to. The first couple of days were hard, but quickly I learned that almost everyone in Finland speaks English fluently, and the people are also very friendly and helpful.

I have also experienced the “Midnight Sun” and was pleasantly amazed when I found the sky filed with dusky light at 1 a.m., while doing a pub crawl. So far, I have been blessed with long, warm summer days that have been filled with new experiences. I have been lucky as an au pair to find a family that has quickly adopted me and treats me as a member of their family.  And, Varkaus, the town I am living in at the moment, is very beautiful and compact.

Also, the East Finland region is absolutely stunning with all the lakes, and the forests.

The downside to this journey so far has been some feelings of homesickness, loneliness and struggle to fit in

Swapping Poles: Moving to Finland from Australia
moving to Finland

The downside to this journey so far has been some feelings of homesickness, loneliness and struggle to fit in. I won’t say that it has affected me so badly that I want go home, but it has brought a whole new level of seeing things to my eyes. The culture shock has not been tremendous, but there have been times when I’ve questioned myself.

I realized some things are taken for granted when you are home: spending time with your family, knowing every hidden corner of your city, calling friends at any time of day to talk about things, full awareness of how your culture and language works.

However, I can also say that I have grown more as a person and developed an attitude of taking everything in stride because of these struggles.

However, I can also say that I have grown more as a person and developed an attitude of taking everything in stride because of these struggles. I’ve had to learn to open up to new people and experiences, take pleasure in the little things, and to be brave and try speaking in Finnish (even if I get it totally wrong!).

I thoroughly recommend to anyone who has wanted to travel, to take the first step and just do it. It is the most wonderful life-changing experience that will change you for the best. At first, it seemed hard. But after a while, I developed a rhythm and it wasn’t difficult to join in with my surroundings.

I’ve escaped the 9 to 5 office grind, and a life of boredom, in order to really find myself on the opposite side of the world.

Swapping Poles: Moving to Finland from Australia

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Have you traveled to Finland? What were your impressions? Email us at editor@pinkpangea.com for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.

Swapping Poles: Moving to Finland from Australia
Moving to Finland

Swapping Poles: Moving to Finland from Australia photography credits: pixabay.com and Alexandra Sandra

About Alexandra Sanda

Alexandra SandaAlexandra Sanda was born in a small town in Romania, but raised in Perth, Western Australia. She has always had a passion for traveling and discovering new places around the world. She is currently au pairing in Varkaus, Finland.  Follow her at @retrographypics.

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