In the newspaper in Finland
Oh hi, we're in the newspaper today (Turku's Turun Sanomat). There's a special section on Turun Päivä, including a few stories about people who have moved to Turku from elsewhere. The reporter called the university asking for names of some international families, and they passed on my information. So I was interviewed, and then a photographer came to the house to take some photos. We got to just walk to the backyard for a nice forest backdrop!
The interview was nerve-wracking. I felt nervous to be talking about what I did and didn't like about Finland, and how it compares to other places we've lived, and the difficulties we faced when we first moved here. I was worried I would say something that could be taken horribly out of context and make it seem like I didn't like it here. For example, at one point, the reporter asked me which was my favorite out of all the countries we've lived in. It's a totally understandable (and common question), but I can't answer it even for myself, let alone for a newspaper article! The reporter also asked me what Finland could do better for people who move here. I did my best to give an honest answer while not also sounding like an entitled foreigner...and I'm not sure I succeeded.
There is one part that got a little mixed up. The article makes it sound like we visited Turku specifically in 2002, but it was actually Helsinki (I probably said "here" or "Finland" in the interview).
Here is a brief summary of the article text:
The American family Palmer moved to Turku two years ago, when the family's mother Bridget Palmer got a job at the University of Turku. "At the time we moved, only I had a job, but later my husband also found work at the university," Bridget says.
Bridget and Jeremy have three kids: 12-year-old Miriam, 9-year-old Magdalena, and 3-year-old Sterling.
Moving to a new country was not a new thing for the family, as before coming to Finland they had lived in the UAE. "Moving to a new culture and country, where you can't speak the language, is always challenging. But the people were always helpful," Bridget says.
Palmer says that the first year was difficult. "[I actually don't really understand this next sentence...even though I said it, ha! But something something] at first we didn't know what Vappu was or what to do, but the next year, we really looked forward to it!" Palmer smiles.
Learning Finnish has helped her adapt to the new culture. "Some people react strangely if you can't speak Finnish, and sometimes things happen. One time, for example, my neighbor was complaining that I put the garbage in the wrong bin. She was speaking to me in Finnish and I tried so hard to explain that I didn't understand and I was sorry. At times like that there's a feeling that you don't belong, but fortunately it goes away."
The two oldest kids in the family go to [school name], and the youngest is at päiväkoti. "The kids can learn Finnish and English. The kids enjoy Turku so much," the mom smiles. Bridget Palmer praises the Finnish school system. "The school days are comfortably short, and the teaching is [many-sided...maybe diverse?], like there's music, religion, handicrafts, and woodworking. It's excellent that they can have lunch at school, too, and they don't have to pack their own lunch from home."
The family says that one of the best things about moving to Turku has been nature. "In the UAE it was very hot, to the point that being outside was often uncomfortable. Now the kids can play outside year-round. They like to play in the forest behind our house, with hobby horses and orienteering. We had never heard of orienteering before we came to Finland."
The family has made Turku their home for two years now, and they have no plans of leaving.
Foreign countries are familiar to the parents, as they've lived in Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Russia.
"15 years ago we were living in Moscow and we visited Turku [as I said, it was actually Helsinki, but close enough!]. At that time, we thought maybe someday we could come live here. In Turku there are so many great events like Movie Day [a thing a couple times a year where businesses screen movies for free] and Cleaning Day [a city-wide yard sale]. The Main Library is our favorite place," Bridget declares.