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.