The Negatives of Living Abroad

One thing about living in a foreign country is that I’m very conscious about what I say about my host country.  I think about what I would want to say if I was back home and a foreigner expressed negative views about my country.  “If you don’t like it, leave.”  Of course, it’s not always that simple, I know.  But there’s certainly a bit of that protective instinct that takes over, even if you agree with the what the person is saying.

In general, I try to stay positive about my stay in Finland.  I actually really do like this country – I love how safe it is, I love the spring and summer seasons, I love that I can get anywhere in town I need to go just by walking.  I love the quietness of Finland, where there’s not a need to fill every silence with words.  I love long summer days and having 20 hours of daylight.  I love the random crazy holidays and competitions and television shows, the ones that make you go, “Only in Finland.”

I try very hard to defend this country when others say negative things, and I get very uncomfortable when fellow Americans say unfair things.  Have I said negative things?  Of course I have.  You can’t live somewhere and not occasionally express displeasure about your lot in life.  First World Problems like “I can’t find Italian Ice” and “I wish we were closer to The Big City.”  And of course I miss things about living in the US – being able to go to the grocery store at midnight on a Sunday, being able to find just about anything I could possibly be looking for, going to Target.  But negativity doesn’t make living abroad any easier, and it doesn’t account for all the great things that come with being an expat.

So, yes, I could start a category labeled “Things I can’t find in Finland” and fill it with a hundred posts.  But I’m not going to.  When I do complain, as I did in my last post, I try to do it with an ironic tone and convey that my complaint is really about nothing substantial.  Can I live without Italian Ice?  Of course I can.  I can live without a lot of things, I’ve found.  Tostitos Hint of Lime chips.  Jiffy peanut butter.  Good Tex-Mex.  I’ve learned how to substitute for things I can’t find, thanks to the Internet, and how to make my own Bisquick, limeade concentrate, egg nog.  I’ve survived two years without Wheat Thins and Thin Trisquits, I’m sure I can survive another couple.


Categories: Finland | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “The Negatives of Living Abroad

  1. Eh, I’ve actually not run into expats who’ve had any serious issues about living here, any more than I have. I mean, there’s a reason why I preferred starting a family here to staying back in the States. Sure, there’s little inconveniences, but you find that just about anywhere you go and I think most people realize that little complaints (like the whole lack of takeout and 24 hour places which we like to jab at) are just that — quibbles. Meant in good humor and not really to be taken seriously as a point of contention. As I noted in class a few months back, when we were talking about “things that concern you about the place you grew up in”, my top 5 list in all seriousness included carjackings, riots, earthquakes, wildfire and vehicular manslaughter as genuine daily considerations we had back in SoCal. A place that will always have a place in my heart, but which I have no great desire to settle down in anymore. So yeah, I don’t mind driving a bit further to go to the mall here 😉

    • “I think most people realize that little complaints (like the whole lack of takeout and 24 hour places which we like to jab at) are just that — quibbles. Meant in good humor and not really to be taken seriously as a point of contention.”

      I wish I could agree with this, and I guess the “most people” part is correct, but I’ve gotten some (what I consider to be) snarky and/or mean comments in the past, both on this blog and on some forums, and it’s enough to make me never post again on particular forums. Besides, I’ve been around people who complain all the time about everything, and it makes it hard to remain positive about things, so I am very conscious about NOT being that person!! 🙂

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