some various notes about why we think we can make this crazy move to finland work:
1. the similarities with life in halifax
- halifax/helsinki weather is very similar
- we rarely get visitors here in halifax. we deeply appreciate all those who have come here to visit and definitely understand why others were not able to do so, however, on the visitor front, we arent going to be sacrificing much.
- we think its very doable to come back to the u.s. for 2+ weeks each year. this is not nearly enough time for some loved ones, we realize, but its about as much as weve been averaging while living in halifax.
2. the new/exciting opportunities to visit with people
- do you like europe or surrounding regions? come! if you have any interest in involving friends on your vacation, we would love to fill that void. a villa in tuscany? a boat off the southern french coast? a tour of jane austen country (eva, we are doing this for our 50th birthdays...yes?)? a condo anywhere in spain or portugal? skiing in the alps? how about morroco? we could get on-board for these things (and likely could be talked in to anything else). gleefully. think about it. it might not be next year that you are up for this, maybe its 15 years down the road when your kids are grown. or maybe you just want to tack a brief sighting of us on to a solo trip of europe you have planned, im sure we can manage that too. this alleviates the pressure of coming directly to finland if thats not possible or of interest to you.
- while we're at it, let me mention that if you and i have been friends or even enthusiastic acquaintances, i will remember you, i will always want to see your face, and i will always welcome you to our corner of the world...however long it might be until the next time i see you. i feel like that is one joy/benefit of the long-distance life: you more vividly carry with you the people who made you happy in the past, and, with minimal effort, can fan the flames back up to a full-blown fire of friendship.
3. the strength of my relationship with dave
- i was talking to a mom friend here (the woman grew-up in a nova scotian fishing village of ~200 residents and yet seems to have had quite an adventurous life before becoming the [single] mother of three nice kids. she solo sailed, taught in prague, traveled alone around south america, the far east, the middle east, and europe, hitchhiked up to lapland and ran with some long distance runners going from paris to moscow) about finland and the different things to contemplate about the move and at some point she stopped her train of thought and said "gee, to make a move like that, to do that, you need to have a very close bond with your partner". i paused for a beat after she said that before agreeing, not because it was something surprising to say (i agree with her of course) but because it felt palpably true. its a simple statement felt very heavy with importance to me. we can go anywhere in the world because i automatically get to transport my best friend with me. im lucky that it doesnt feel stifling. its my normal.
4. the "success" stories of all the academic couples who came before us
- in gathering tales of adventure from academic people over the years, i always marveled at their fascinating lives. the things theyve seen, the opportunities theyve had, the experiences their kids got to have, and the comfortable-in-their-skin energy they exude. it was always a mystery to me how they amassed such a life of interesting tales. i wondered, when could my life sound like that? or would it ever? i still dont know, but i suppose this kind of move is one of the bigger steps onto that road. not that i would be choosing this life to collect stories, rather i chose this life to see and do and eat and bump into a million different people who bring me new ideas, viewpoints, energy and in the end i hope i am brought closer and closer to understanding who i really am. that must be how they arrive at the comfortable-in-my-own-skin vibe. so, this path is not without its huge challenges, but its also not without its rewards.
5. our new countrymen
- in reading more and more about the finns, i think they might be my kind of people. it is said they are loyal, introverted, determined, honest, hardworking, have ironic senses of humor, like to swear, and are major consumers of information. if i can find an "in" with some of them, or even just one (to start), i think i could make myself quite comfortable.
6. the countrys values
*disclaimer: these points are obviously from my outsiders perspective and understanding. who knows what the actualities of the countrys value and actions are...i suppose we will soon enough.*
- equality is numero uno on their priority list, followed closely by government transparency. people are taken care of and everyone is given a fair shot at a good life. you pay a heap in taxes, but at the end of the day you dont need to worry about saving for college (free! including a masters degree if you want!), incurring medical debt, buffering your savings for periods of unemployment or maternity leave or retirement, or things of this nature. it seems that the money you actually get to take home is, largely, truly yours to freely spend on enjoying your life. of course you still need to buy food, pay bills, and maintain up-keep of any vehicles you might choose to own (and many choose not to own a car), but beyond your cost-of-living stuff you dont need to divide the remaining pot of money into "needs" and "wants". you can just spend it on "wants". that seems pretty nice.
- two interesting examples of what their taxes provide: 1. all pregnant women get maternity packages sent to them (unless they just want a check) and the maternity package box is even bad ass. 2. school lunches are free and actually nutritious (really, there are guidelines).
- a highly complimentary article on finland from a UK paper.
7. * patience and perseverance *
- the last thing i wanted to note: dave did an internship with exxon during his phd (summer of 2007) in houston, texas. after the internship he was offered a job with a cush salary. he politely declined but kept a line of communication open with them throughout the years. he really wanted to teach and be in the academic research world. we knew houston and corporate/industry world was not for us and we would have to struggle to keep ourselves happy in that lifestyle. it felt weird because u.s. society trains you not to turn down offers like that. its been 5 years since the exxon offer and i can honestly say we never looked back. it hasnt been an easy ride and i know dave has had to be very patient and persevere while wading through feelings of self-doubt, but im beyond proud of him for sticking through his struggles. i didnt know what would would become of us or when it would happen, but i just never saw us failing. closing this post-doctoral chapter of our lives (or daves career i guess) will be interesting because a permanent job has been SO desired, but it also leads us into the biggest unknown yet. true living abroad, with all of our stuff, in a place basically totally foreign to us. but, we think we can make it work, with patience and perseverance. here goes nothing...