14 April 2012

Thoughts on finland (pre-visiting)

so, i started documenting my flow of finland thoughts after dave was offered the interview and our flights were booked for the visit.

move-to-finland pros:
*the school system
*the possibility of escaping the city via car, train, boat, and plane (halifax really only offers escape by car and [expensive] plane)
*its in europe
*most people speak english
*the university is good and has health research going on
*the quality of life for the citizens is very high
*the vacation behaviors of finns would allow long periods of time (possibly 2-3 weeks at a time) to travel to the u.s. every year
*helsinki is a more populated city (1 million in the greater helsinki area) than weve ever lived in, so, presumably that would mean more to do, see, experience

move-to-finland cons:
*its very northern (this means cold weather and large swings in available sunlight)
*its a bit detached from mainland europe
*its fairly expensive to get to and from [the u.s.]
*a move like this would mean more, new culture shock
*its far from friends and family

my first inclination (post-interview acceptance) was to roll with it and gather all the finnish information i felt comfortable getting acquainted with (i didnt want to spend gobs of time being insane about looking into life in finland, in case things didnt materialize). then i started critically thinking about a move. i was basically thinking about the above pro/con list. i got a bit excited. then i realized that i was basically making my assessments based on simply moving the current life/routine we have here to finland and how this life could be harder/easier based on the above pro/cons. well, smack-me-in-the-face, i suddenly realized it wouldnt be like that. dave would be establishing himself in a new part of his career as a junior faculty, starting out at point zero on the tenure track. he would need to get his office and lab set up, meet and start building bonds with colleagues in his department and across campus, he will need to be present and visible AT WORK (no more working from home!), he will need to be building course material up from scratch, he will need to start thinking about where to draw his graduate student pool from, he will need to get used to being in the solo driver seat of his career, and so on... i will be more alone than i ever have been. and i will simply have to suck it up because there is no way around the grunt work that comes at this stage of the game.

on the plus(?) side, i wouldnt be able to get a job right away. we would need to move, settle in, get acquainted, get comfortable, and establish a routine. once X seemed acclimated, i would THINK about the possibility of day care (even part-time) or a babysitter or anything. i wouldnt have a way to meet researchers or get started with work right away if i wanted to. the kind of job flexibility i currently enjoy took time (pre-X) to establish my work habits with my boss, to get her to trust me and to teach me about what she does. i cant jump right in to something like that. so, it would mean my only "job" while there, at first, would be to settle the family. it would mean real, true free time in the evening and weekends. nothing else (work-related) would be grabbing at my time but X and dave and life. i havent known that feeling in a while.

bottom line, finland would be a whole new, unpredictable, mega challenge (frankly, any professorship dave would take would be this way). and just like that, my excitement turned to fear. not unmanageable fear, but fear nonetheless. this would be the first time we are really guiding our own ship (the post-doc was suggested by daves PhD advisor and then steered by jean and chris, the post-doc advisors). this would be totally our decision, and it would need to be treated as permanent. and all the hardships would need to be committed to and mounted by us. its really, really scary. 

to quell the scary, i reminded myself of things i could do (that i currently dont do enough of) to re-connect with my calm: movies (old ones especially and new ones), music, and yoga. im not a music snob, in fact, i love soundtracks best. things that transport me to happy images or memories. fun, easy songs. these things will help, wherever in the world i find myself.

and then, as if to put a total stop to the free flow of anxiety that all this finland stuff was causing, i got sick the weekend before the trip. a cold (complete with fever), a cough, fatigue. i tried my darnedest to take care of myself (and X, who of course also acquired a cold with cough), i even had the babysitter come when i was too sick to do work just so she would take X for a bit so i could rest. *TMI alert* another rad thing was that the night before the flight, i was sick with my cold as well as experiencing the massive migraine i always get pre-period. i wouldnt say it was a good thing to occupy all my waking hours trying to just get healthy, but it did take my mind off other things. 

also helpful, i got another very nice email from hannah a few days before we left. so, i went in to the finland travel physically weak, but mentally prepared. and thats not half bad.

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