I’m going to be honest here-

Truth:

I got to Finland a little over a week ago and at first it was great. The weather was beautiful I was meshing well with the family and I had no jet lag at all. Yet, two days ago I was laying in my bunk bed of my Hello Kitty / Princess room crying and wanting to just go home. I literally googled “Does my travel insurance cover my trip dates changing?”.

I’m not sure if it was the weather changing from 60’s to near 40’s and the sun changing to gloomy clouds or if it was just my jet lag setting in a week too late, but I was full of depressing thoughts and just wanted to home to my family, friends and my puppy. Do I want you to feel bad for me? No, not at all I am just trying to be real here. I have never once felt this way before when traveling. I have always been around people my age and have always made friends quickly. My personality is usually very easy going and I love to meet people, but this experience will be different.

The family has been super accommodating and extremely good to me, but their situation is also different. The family is Chinese and they are living in Finland (obviously). Finns are pretty low key and simple (not in a bad way). Finns tend to keep to themselves and don’t go out of their way to introduce themselves. This is hard for the family I am living with because Finns tend to not integrate with Chinese people for some reason, or at least the ones in the area I am living. Chinese families tend to befriend other Chinese families and this is just what happens.

These are obstacles I will face as well, because I am living with a Chinese family they can’t really help me meet people from Finland or other locals, because they are not friends with these people. I am having a hard time this week as well as last because the little girl I am Au Pairing for is still in school for a few more days. This has left me bound up inside the apartment feeling lonely and depressed. I am worried I will not be able to meet people or make friends. Saying this is just awful for me because I have always been able to make friends easily.

I walk around the lake at night when the weather cooperates and I pass by Finns all of the time. I try to smile and make the effort but they look at me like I am mental. If they are walking their dog I always ask if I can pet it. The other night I did ask an older lady if I could pet her perky Yorkie and she gave me the meanest look! I was shocked and turned off by this. That experience kind of set a disgusting tone for me.

Do I still want to come home? Right now I seem to be in a better place mentally, and I am hoping once BaoBao is out of school it will keep me busy and my mind occupied. Until then, I have to keep myself busy and find some things to do around the city- which honestly shouldn’t be hard.

To end this on a high note I find special qualities in each one of the family members who will be on an equally bumpy ride with me for three months.

Cliff is a dedicated worker and he only wants the best for his daughter who he pushes to her highest potential.

Bei is a spunky woman who I have a lot in common with and I believe we will become closer as time moves on.

BaoBao a cute little girl who is very smart and has the potential to do anything she puts her mind to. She just needs confidence to make friends, in a place where being different isn’t always accepted.

I hope that me being here can help this family be open to introducing Finns into their lives and making friends outside of the Chinese culture. I hope I can successfully help their daughter with her English skills so that she can get into a better English school next year. Lastly I hope that  I can make friends and feel more comfortable here and make the best of every situation.

Until next time…

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8 responses to “I’m going to be honest here-

  1. I believe you are doing the right thing by making the best of your situation. You made a commitment to the family and now you have to do what it takes to put all you can in helping with Baobao. She is your main concern now. I know you will do a good job with her. You are a dedicated young woman and I am very proud of you.

    I believe that starting this blog is a great idea. It always helps to write down your thoughts and you will be able to look back and see how far you have come from being homesick to being proud of yourself for staying and helping a shy little girl become confident just like yourself.

    I love you and pray for you.

  2. Jamie,

    I’m sorry you have been feeling lonely lately. If you ever need someone to talk to feel free to msg me on Facebook! I just wanted to tell you that I think you are on an awesome adventure–a challenging one–but still awesome if you make the most of it! From what I have seen of you, you are a pretty strong lady 🙂 Try to keep busy and maybe you can see if there is some type of art or yoga class (any hobby of yours really) that you can maybe meet people with similar interests? You are a super nice gal and if you could make such an impression on me Katie, and Tessa and all of your roommates in London, I know you can do the same again in Finland 🙂

    If you need anything let me know! Keep in touch! And send me and Matt a postcard! Our address is :
    185 Woodpoint Rd Apt 3
    Brooklyn, NY
    11211

    Take care!
    Sara

    • Thanks Sar! I am sure it will be an experience like never before. It is so different not having anyone my age around. I am also going to get ahold of V at some point, once I get a cell phone. I appreciate your kind thoughts and I will definitely send a post card your way. Have a great summer and good luck with your Grad school apps! I will keep in touch. 🙂

  3. Really enjoy reading your update and thoughts. You are a very brave young lady to go on this adventure! I agree with your mom, writing will help you as you struggle through the feelings of discomfort. Hang tough! I know you can do this!! The feeling of accomplishment will be your greatest reward in the end.
    Keep the posts coming and remember: you are in charge of whatever you make of this experience!
    Have fun!!!

  4. Jamie
    First that older lady should have her butt kicked for being mean to my Grandaughter !! I loved reading your blog you should be a journalist visiting
    different countrys for a vacation travel mag.You have a wonderful way with words.I am so proud of the young women you have become You are just the person to help your family to maybe meet people and make friends. Bao will maybe not be so shy if she is around you,maybe you and the Mom could join
    something together it would be good for the both of you.I’m sorry you are having a rough time and I know things will be better.I miss you and love you
    be careful and be HAPPY.

  5. Jamie !! Glad to have found this blog. I am so glad you are being honest, that will help you, I am also glad you could end on a high note.
    An observation, if you don’t mind…. I think in many ways this will be a great learning experience for you about many things, including race and minorities. What you seemed to discribe, perhaps without knowing, is that you seem to be living (in a small sence) what it is like to be a minorty. Many Asians feel isolated, outside their communities and like other races (including whites) they do tend to stick together due to the fact of having a nationality/heritage common-ness with others in that group. I know you knew this already but perhaps you are truly feeling it being you are living within a minority situation . Because you work for this family hopefully being out with this little girl will help you in meeting others, maybe at the park. You may end up meeting young Moms, other AuPair maybe…
    Keep writing Jamie !! I can only encourage you that this trip is just another experience that will help you realize all yor lifes desires and I am so excited to hear about all your experiences.
    I am keeping you close in prayer !
    Love ya,
    Patty

    • Patty- You bring up some great points. I haven’t been looking at the situation quite like that, so it gives me a different perspective.

      I was talking with Bei and Cliff the other night after BoaBoa brought her “yearbook” home from school. The English school she goes to separates the international students from the Finns, even though they are all there to learn English. I was appalled by this because as it is showing kids that it is okay to not integrate with each other and tends to create more problems. The school goes to 9th grade, I believe and looking through each class year there were less and less international students and more Finns in the higher grades. This shows that the international students are staying for only a few years (maybe parents are just in Finland for a few years for work) or that the international students are not gaining enough skills to move on to the higher grades. I believe it is the latter, and for a school that is supposed to be focuses on English, they are getting caught up in the race aspect more so than the learning and becoming more aware of differences that every child should come across.

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