I woke up. Dead tired. I searched for the button to switch on the light but didn’t succeed. I realised I wasn’t at home, in my room, in my bed, next to the lamp I was so used to switch on every morning. Laying in the darkness I noticed it was also dark outside and I could see the stars. In Finland I was never able to see the stars in the end of the summer. The sun rises early in the North. I got up, puzzled, and walked the stairs down, continued to the corridor and ended up to the kitchen for petit déjeuner. Would you choose the fresh warm baguette with butter and homemade jam or a little can of yogurt? Yeah me too, but I took the yogurt because I was sure I wasn’t able to keep anything else in my stomach. At five past seven I walked to the nearest bus stop and took the bus 12 to the school, like I was to take every day after that.
Almost two months since the first day, I woke up in the morning (dead tired). I found the light in three seconds and realised I’m in my room, in my bed, next to the lamp I’m so used to switch on every morning. On the nightstand, behind the lamp I had added a jar of blooming flowers, which, at this time of the year, would have died pretty quickly in Finland. To the wall, beside my bed and above my desk, I had placed a bunch of photos. My favourite one has my sister wearing a teddy bear hat and four meters of christmas lights. I took the stairs down to the kitchen, had some coffee and baguette with butter and jam. At twelve past seven, half of the baguette in my mouth and the other half of it in my hand, I ran to the bus stop, just in time, to catch the bus 12.
Now, it’s been three months, and the light on my nightstand is broken. In the morning, after waking up (dead tired and that’s not going to change), I walk across the dark room to the light that works. I turn the light on, turn around and see two pots of flowers. The one blooming like my face after months of french food and the other one (I’m such a green thumb) kind of dead like my improvement in my “Voltaire-essay”. I grab the poor dead Cyclamen hederifolium and try to revive it while brushing my teeth. Smiling, I think how my friend back in Finland killed her cactus.
I navigate to the kitchen in the darkness and hear the bird sound off in our kitchen clock, it’s 7:00. Quickly I make some tea, drink it and look for something healthy to eat. 30 seconds of looking and my eyes catch the chocolate cookies I made the other day. I take two of them, say “Bonne journée” to my host dad and run again to the bus stop. I see the bus 12 passing in front of me, without me. Cursing in french, I sit down, start eating the cookies and wait obediently for the next bus.
Time goes buy, you get used to things, unfamiliar manners become old habits and before you even realise, you have made yourself a new life, with new family, new friends, new rules to go buy. From time to time you miss something from home and in certain moments you feel like you could give anything to have your mom beside you, your dad encouraging you and your sister to argue and then laugh with. Anyhow you learn to cope with it and instead of comparing the different habits in two different countries you start appreciating the things you had at home and step by step understanding the things you have in your life here. You will always see the gap between the two cultures, you can never be genuinely French or truly Finnish again. Despite of the occasional frustration, I found it beautiful. You become a world citizen: you can never be able to understand all the colourful cultures we have in the world, but you can learn to see every culture without strong prejudices and judgement.
Oh and here we have some photos, taken throughout the journey. Apparently my favourite view, wherever I go, is always the sea.