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Life in between two countries and cultures


In the last few times I’ve gone home to Finland to visit my friends and family, I’ve felt increasingly emotional and somehow detached from my life there. I touched on this already in an Instagram post last week, but as I felt like I had so much more still to say, I decided to write a bit more about how I feel about it all. When I wrote that post I was feeling pretty rubbish, but after I put it out there I immediately felt better, so I’m hoping that writing this will act as some kind of catharsis, too. 


The first few years when I visited home after moving to London never really made me feel sad – I was just so excited to go back to all the old familiar spots, to see my friends and family and to kind of experience my hometown as a tourist, whilst it still feeling safe and familiar, too. I would go out with my friends, and just feel this immense happiness and gratefulness that I had this set of *amazing* people there that were willing to make time for me and make me feel like home whenever I went to visit. 



As time goes by, I guess, you start to lose touch with some people, but luckily the ones that really matter remain. It’s a cliche to say that with good friends time doesn’t pass in the same way, but it’s also so true. And yet, I wish I could be part of their lives more, I wish I could be there for them when bad things happen and I wish I could share the good moments too. Whatsapp and Skype are amazing, but they don’t come close to the real thing, and the longer I stay away, the more things I feel I miss. 


Coming back from these trips the past few times has been so hard. I struggle to get back into the swing of things here in London and I always wish I’d had more time to spend with my friends and family. At the same time, when I am there, I sometimes feel anxious about the lack of time, and the fact that I know that I have to leave again soon. Basically, I struggle to stay in the moment and dread when I have to say goodbye again. Seems a bit counter-intuitive, right? 



It’s not just the people that I feel this way about, either. I feel disconnected from the culture and the city that I used to know so well, too. I’ve become that person that compares everything to my “new” life, and I feel like I’m not “Finnish” enough, anymore. Which feels frustrating and ridiculous, as when I’m in London and around people here, I couldn’t feel more Finnish. It’s like existing in some kind of in-between land. 


And still, I don’t want to go back there. As much as I love my home country and as much as I love and adore my friends and family, I have to stay where I feel like I’ll be the happiest. Partly these feelings might be due to guilt, too: up until about a year ago, I always thought I’d move back soon, and now that I’ve realised I might not do that in a very long time, if ever, I feel like I’ve somehow abandoned everyone. It also feels a lot more final, which would explain the emotional feelings.


I’m not quite sure what the red line of this post was supposed to be – I just felt like I needed to get some thoughts out, old school diary style. Word vomit, if you will! 


I would love to hear if you’ve ever felt anything similar, and if so, how do you combat it? And how do you make the most out of where you are now without losing touch with your cultural identity? 


9 comments so far.
  • Oh darling, I am so sorry to hear that you feel this way. I can offer no friendly words of advice as I can’t even imagine what you are going through. But I do think it is important not to feel guilty for abandoning everyone as you haven’t! You are still going back, keeping in touch and being a good friend. And that is all that matters. As long as you are there for your friends, either over the telephone or via Skype, then that is all that matters. Friendship comes in all shapes and sizes and when you do go back home, it makes visiting those people all the more special! xx

    Lynsey || One More Slice

    • Thank you for your lovely words! I think I must just be hitting some sort of milestone at 5 years – before this it just kind of felt like I could still easily go back, whereas now I have a proper life here and I don’t see myself moving back in the near future. I imagine that triggered some kind of crisis..! xx

  • Oui In France

    Hi Laura, new reader here and can totally relate. In the beginning, it’s easier to go back and forth, like you have so much to look forward to in each place. But as certain relationships fade away and as we get older and our routines get more permanent, things change and sometimes it’s harder to go back to your “new” home. I always had more going on in the USA, where I’m from, a social network, a career, family, etc. and the last trip home, it was really hard coming back to France. I just felt more alive in the USA and felt more positive and inspired, and while that’s not France’s fault by any means that I feel less of that here, sometimes life’s circumstances kind of dictate our moods and feelings toward people and places in our lives. That can all change, good and bad, but I definitely understand where you’re coming from in this post.

    • Thank you for such a lovely comment! I’m glad to hear that I’m not alone in feeling this, although of course I hope everything would be better for you! Homesickness can be such a horrible feeling, but I think it’s like you said – it goes in waves and we just have to ride it out. And if it starts lasting for too long, and you’re just not at all happy in France anymore, maybe that’s when you need to start considering maybe moving back. Good luck! xx

  • Hayley

    Oh love, I’m so sorry to hear that – I can’t imagine how hard it is leaving every time! I know it’s not quite the same but I moved away from home to university and there were times when I loved heading back to my own space but then there were also times when I was so incredibly sad to leave my boyfriend, friends and family back home. It can be super lonely and isolating at times, but you’ve absolutely got this love! <3 Like you said the friends who truly matter will always be there!

    Hayley xo

    • Thank you for your kind words, Hayley! I can’t even imagine how horrible a long distance relationship would be on top of everything else – that sounds really hard! I’m so glad my boyfriend is here with me, at least xx

  • disqus_2tR8yP9h03

    Thank you for writing your feelings out. I can completely relate to this. I have lived two years in Paris and then moved to London where I have been now for over four years. Born and raised Helsinki girl, I feel disconnected from the Finnish culture and I feel I am betraying my family and few good friends who I have back home still. Yet for the moment I believe London is the best place for me at this point in my life. Maybe one day I’ll feel different but that is the only truth I know now. I hope you feel better soon and hopefully we both can feel like we have two homes, one in London and one in Helsinki. You are brave to live your dreams, not everyone has the guts! xx


    • Thank you Salli – and likewise! I feel exactly the same – London/the UK is where I’m supposed to be right now, but it can be so hard to remember that when you’re at your lowest. We can do this! xx