What is is it like to move from Norhtern Italy to a small town in Finland? Marta Butturini tells her thoughts about her first month in Finland.
Last march, when I was home in Italy and received the first informations about my Finnish host family and new Finnish hometown, I tried not to make myself expectations.
The idea was to arrive in a new place and try to adapt to it, trying to get to know new people, with their own personalities and ideals, and learning to appreciate them, trying to find something positive in everything that would surround me… and to succeed in my project, I needed not to have expectations before arriving to my new place.
Currently, I am living in Oripää, Myllykylä, Southwest Finland, while I am going to high school in Loimaa. The Saarelainen family, which is hosting me for this semester, is composed by seven people and has always lived in Myllykylä.
Myllykylä is part of the municipality of Oripaa and counts ca. 150 people, while in Oripää are living ca. 1400.
The municipality of Oripää is located in the province of Western Finland and is part of the Southwest Finland Region, it covers an area of 117.72 square kilometres.
The two most important cultural attractions are two museums, the house of Viljo Syrjämaa, an artist, which was built in the beginning of the 50s, and a Shop Museum.
Then the 17th of August, after two different flies and two and a half hours by car, I finally saw my new home for the first time. Before actually arriving there, my host mom Mari drove me to Loimaa and Oripää, to get an idea of where I would live the next months. It has to be said that I didn’t really notice what was surrounding me until maybe the 3rd day, because I was really concentrated on my new host family; trying to figure out everyone, trying to start knowing them, trying to getting used to the new house and
also to introduce myself properly, to make a good first impression.
Later on, having a little more spare time, I started figuring out the new place.
Forests, fields, two lakes, few houses, common sauna place, roads. I remember that when I was almost landed in Helsinki, it surprised me how watching outside the plane window, all I could see were forests and lakes and more forests and more lakes and so on. These super tall and thin trees stunned me – I am not sure of the reason why – maybe because they aren’t common at all in my home country. Maybe it’s because the idea they gave me since the first moment is of a very strong nature, with whom the Finns have learned to live.
I thought I really had to explore this kind of nature, so I started going for walks more less everyday, sometimes even running, just because running in the silence, on a dirt road, surrounded by those trees is kind of spontaneous and really makes me feel in contact with the place I am getting to know, a little bit more day by day.
It has really surprised me the atmosphere of this community; everybody knows each other.
There is an association of the people of the village, which sometimes organises parties and trips, for example to theatres or castles, sometimes even cruises. Also Thursday is the sauna day, people meet at the common sauna place and swim in Myllykylän lähde, share a coffee, talk.
People seem so friendly and nice with each other, while unfortunately in my home country sometimes even neighbours don’t greet each other. I met a lot of new people during this month and I really have to say that nobody has ever been rude to me, even if somebody couldn’t speak English, I always felt welcome and appreciated.
My host mom, Mari, who has been living in Myllykylä for 17 years, says she really likes this place because it’s countryside and she likes not to have too many neighbours, and says, joking, that is nice to go out without having nobody caring if you have a bad day or are wearing funny clothes. In her opinion, things have changed for the better during these years. The first thing she notices thinking about it, is that people have grown older, but also many kids have born; There were almost no kids when she moved here, now there are more less 20.
My oldest host sister Lotta, who is 16, says that she likes living in Myllykylä and that she wouldn’t change it with a bigger city, at least for now. In her opinion it is nice because it is peaceful and there is no traffic; also people are nice and she trusts them. She says that if you need help, you could ask everybody here and everybody would care about it. Also my host siblings Vilho (11) and Fiinu (9) agree that it is nice to live in Myllykylä because it is a very safe place, they feel free to go everywhere, whenever they want to.
To conclude, I really like my Finnish place. It was my desire not to live in a big city because, in my opinion, once you have tried to live in one, you more less saw them all. Yes sure, every city is different and to visit them as a tourist it is always interesting. Also in cities you can for sure have more facilities and art, culture, history to discover.
But I still dreamt about a host family in the countryside before coming here, to be closer to the Finnish nature and to experience a easier lifestyle.
It is strange thought, but I already feel like I couldn’t have ended up in a better family or in a better place.
I already kind of feel at home in Myllykylä and most of all in the Saarelainen family. I of course would like to see different places, bigger cities and the more I can of Finland, but I thing the most important part of it, is having a nice place to come back to, and I’m finding it here! I am really trying to challenge myself in adapting to a different and new life and I am kind of proud of how I grew up in one month time only… I am also happy and excited for what is yet to come.