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Introduction – greetings from Jyväskylä

Written By: mustikka on October 25, 2007 No Comment

My Life as a Returning Finn

I close my eyes on the corner of Voionmaankatu and Keskikatu, at the traffic lights, just as I did on a sunny September day in 1972. All of a sudden, 35 years seems like a bat of an eye – life is repeating itself. I remember that in 1972, I had thought of an aphorism by a Finnish poet, Elmer Diktonius, only the tame birds long; the wild ones fly. I had just returned from an au-pair job in New York where for 9 months, I had been responsible for three kids and a lot more. In September 2007, I have arrived from Berkeley where I have been responsible for four kids and a lot more for the last thirty years. I can’t help thinking of the cliché, free as a bird. The light changes, and I happily march towards the campus.

I am viewing my country, Finland, with Finnish eyes veiled by 30 years in Northern-California. Also my Finland has changed from a homogenous Nordic country to a multicultural European Union nation. For years, I have been comparing the life of a bilingual, bicultural person to that of a tightrope walker. Every day, we balance between two identities, mostly residing in the inbetween. My position in this dual world has been emphasized by the fact that I teach both languages, write fiction in both, and live in a bilingual, bicultural family. Now, I get to be where I started from, for an extended period of time. My friends here shake their heads at my observations; they refer to me as Sirpa in Wonderland. In my blog, I record my feelings and views from the standpoint of a returning immigrant and a marginal. I welcome your comments and questions.

I’m choosing entries that are connected to language and culture for the BLC-blog. If you’d like to check out my entire blog, you can find it at: http://mustikkasf.vuodatus.net/

Sirpa Tuomainen
Finnish Studies
Department of Scandinavian

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