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?