Why Finland

It is almost inevitable being asked “why Finland” and don’t be amazed or shocked of how frequent it would be-The most FAQ as long as you are in Finland as foreigner, no matter how long you have lived here.

I start to think how foreigners are being asked in China. At least from my experiences and my observations in Beijing and Shanghai, Chinese people would more likely to ask a foreigner “ Do you like China?” ” Do you like Chinese food?” or “Do you enjoy your stay here?”. ” Why China” sounds quite rare from my point of view and the only time I heard it was in Finland, in the small town I live where I met an Australian classmate in my evening Finnish lesson. She proposed the question to my Italian classmate when he told me he was willing to travel to Shanghai, with a voice quite questioning “Why China, what China have?” I feel like Hrrrrr…It was not I was not able to defend, but I thought it was not necessary to do so. People are allowed to have freedom of speech , but if I really defend or explain, I would just offer her a thick book of 5000 years of history and tell her “why China” hours by hours, or maybe even months by months.

I admit I feel it is a bit strange to be asked ” Why Finland”, but I suppose people are “eager” to hear a reasonable answer. The funny part is I am asked by both Finns and foreigners here. I don’t know if foreigners just pass the question to me-Well, I think most likely. Ironically, Chinese people here ALSO ask me this question, but less directly which always start with a question “Which part of China you are coming from?” ” Beijing”. ” Ok, are your parents also from Beijing?” ” Yes, my Grandparents also from Beijing.” ” Why you are coming here to Finland?!” 

The journey for me to come to Finland and come back as returnee was persistent and thus consistent. I found the “fit” immediately after I arrived in this beautiful territory in 2007. I found Finns love my honesty, simplicity and straightforwardness. In return, I found Finnish people are so comfortable to be with and Finnish language is so interesting!Later on I found there is another part of me matching up with Finns: my persistence and resilience, Finnish people call it SISU which is their National Spirit!

During my exchange study, I was not bothered too much by the same question. I am living over 9 years in Finland now. I have to admit it bothers somehow. I think if in the future I were asked this question again, I will just give the link to this blog:).

I believed and I still firmly believe Finland is one of the best places to live– So, be confident, Finland! For me, the deep attractiveness is the ultimate tranquility, the closest ever touch with our mother nature which is rare in this world driving by marketing economy, and well-organized system. I am also very often asked if I want to become a Finn- I do not think people need Finnish nationality to become a Finn, because I think to become something or somebody is more about the ideology and mentality. I love my motherland China, too, with her enormous landscape, diversity and beauty.

I have mentioned what I like about Finland before during my exchange experience in 2007. I still like what I liked about Finland from that time. The following are the complementary parts of what I like about Finland after living here almost 8 years:

  • Fresh berries and mushrooms everywhere in the forest!:)

It is truly a blessing, that one can be so close to nature and get what nature has generously offer. Finland is full of berries in summer and mushrooms in autumn. Some research shows only 1/3 of the berries and mushrooms are picked up, the rest are “wasted” in the forest. Thus every year, there are people from Thailand coming to Finland “help” Finns to pick up berries. I really love the experiences and feelings picking up mushrooms with my friend. It was an adventurous journey.

  • A great connecting point between Asia and Europe.

It is only 8 hours from Beijing to Helsinki. 2 hours from Helsinki to Germany and 4 hours from Helsinki to Turkey. I think Finland is a great place to travel and do business around the world. It is really a place to see the world from different point.

  • Able to enjoy Peace and find authentic self

I think most of city dwellers have some difficulties living in the quietness in Finland. It is so quiet that one could see nobody sometimes on the road in winter. I am used to the noise, hustling and bustling in Beijing. It was not very easy for me as well in the beginning to get used to the stillness here. But once one learned to be friend with oneself, to be friend with nature, one can truly get into the track of the life of one’s own. Particularly, nature is our best teacher.

  • Education is accessible every where.

I love learning, learning from books, from school, from experiences and from
others. Because I do not want to narrow my point of views.Education in Finland is free and accessible everywhere in the country, which I think is the greatest part outside the great nature.

  • Sometimes be “crazy”

I think no matter in personal life or business, it is important to cross personal limits sometimes, which will bring a sudden positive change in mind. I jumped in a small pool with my friend Virve. She hold my hand and told me not to be afraid. I did not know how deep is the pool except for her description. Besides, I do not swim well and I had been “drowned” twice in my life and been saved. But I trust her. So I jumped. -It was JUST SO GREAT!

  • Respect nature and waste categorization

Finland is a country has advanced technologies for waste dealing and categorization. Almost every household has boxes for different wastes, which contributes to the general high education level of citizens.I think many country should learn from Finland from this point.

  •  Negotiable and cooperative

I think except for being resilient, one thing makes me survive from culture shocks is that I am able to have conversation with Finns about different opinions-They do listen and reflect themselves, which I think is a supplementary part of their stubbornness. However, One has to be patient enough to always having such deep dialogues in order to make things different.

  • Great summer, unique nature!

I love the nature in Finland! No matter it is polar dark or brightness. It is just so unique and beautiful. I wish I can see Aurora next winter in Lapland. There is a hotel that has transparent glass roof. I have been always dreaming to go there and experiencing the aurora coming on the top. Or even live in the ice hotel for a night, which I think it is one of the ultimate joy the Nordic can bring ❤

  • Some other special points to mention about Finland as well:

Ice hockey and Ski

Finnish design

Music festivals a lot in summer

Long distance running is very common

Summer cottage

Consume a lot of coffee and ice cream

In terms of growing, Finland is also an ideal place for growing the seeds of Innovation, Sustainability, Design, Engineering, Food safety, Talents and Well-being.

I finished my journey with U.lab in 2015, an online course offered by MIT through online platform edx.org. Professor Otto Scharmer told us that when people try to feel the emerging future and make things happen, they always receive three common feed backs:  The voice of judging, the voice of cynicism and the voice of fear. 

Coming from a collective culture, I know really well why people judge: Because they are not able to make a difference. They follow the tide and consider it is the only “safe” way. The existence of a “difference” would just prove they are wrong. Thus people offer criticism without compassion and rationale.

I feel so grateful I have such a wise Mom who empower me to think and practice freely. My aunt is quite contrary- All my life encountering her, she would try to persuade me her notion how “important” it is for girls to have a “safe” income-the so called “iron bowl” in China. I believe the world would be truly safe when we can confront ourselves and environment. Professor Otto taught us that we need to treat the world with our Open Mind(Curiosity), Open Heart(Compassion), and Open Will( courage), which I think is the most important reason why strong people in our world are strong.

That’s why I think I was born twice: My motherland gave me life and empowered me with all her wisdom. Finland empowered me to find who I really am , deep listen  and love myself , thus I become stronger than ever before. In another words, China taught me to love and give and how the world is with me; Finland taught me to learn my own boundaries and how I am with the world.

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