torstai 3. marraskuuta 2016

How living abroad made me patriotic

My personal pride of being Finnish (and recognizing other Finns abroad with a “Moi”) has increased from floor level through the roof. It´s hilarious. When we lived in Finland we couldn´t wait to move abroad. Get away from this tiny country, which is not “in” or even considered to be on the world map.

So, (ha-ha) we moved to Portugal. An even tinier country (geographically), which is as unknown as Finland. Portugal is in the shadow of Spain (but working hard to place itself on the mental world map of people) and good old Finland is kind of shadowed by Scandinavia and Russia. Is Finland even part of Scandinavia? I would say yes. But technically it´s not. And ok, Portugal is known as a football country, but theres so much more into it.

So what has happened? Well basically being a Finn in Portugal makes you stand out, a lot. At least if you get incorporated in groups of people who are only Portuguese. Taking an example, every official company event or business trip, I do get recognized for not being Portuguese. I stand out as a parrot among pigeons. All eyes on me. Standing out makes me different, and I like to feed the fact with my personal pride of the country I am from.

But how do you mean patriotic? I have been asked “tell me about Finland, what is your home like”. I usually skip the part of gray, cold, depressing, expensive, no jobs … it´s kind of rude and comparable to shooting yourself in the leg. Why would I dig a hole? So I tell them. It’s the country of a thousand lakes. The summer is warm and the people are nice. The nature is close, its green and you can walk around in it. The forest is a place where you can find peace and breathe fresh air. During winter the snow hangs on tree branches. White reflects light illuminating the air. The air you breathe is cold in the lungs like a menthol gum, your cheeks and nose turn red... Then I get homesick.

Moreover, I was asked to bring “salminakki” to work for Halloween because it´s black. And what was the name of that good Finnish chocolate fizer (fazer)? And you have that really good food, carne de reno (poronpaisti). They know, I am so proud.
I also think the Finnish ruisleipa is the best thing on earth. And Finnish candy is not even comparable to other countries. I always have a stash of remix at home.
Thank God I am going home for Christmas for reality therapy. Then I will happily return to my second home, Lisbon.