The real reason I moved to Finland

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5 years ago, I got on a plane and moved to Finland.

I no longer wanted to live in Canada. I didn’t feel ready to commit to a career and it seemed that that would’ve been the next logical step for me at the time. A career would’ve meant a 60-80 hour a week commitment to something I wasn’t passionate about, with 2 vacation weeks per year, from there onward.

I couldn’t handle the idea of ending an exciting and fulfilling relationship with my Finnish boyfriend, Juha, so I could settle on a career I didn’t want.

So I left.

Those first 8 months in Finland were among the most challenging of months: I’d completely uprooted myself from everything and almost everyone I’d ever known to move to a country where I didn’t speak the language, had no understanding of the culture, no job, and no familiar network of people I fit into.

What did I have? I had a loving partner, my life savings, a few friends, and a plan to apply to school in case I couldn’t find a job. I also had a stubborn desire to learn Finnish and fit in.

It’s easy to look back and think I was being naïve. What did I expect? Of course it was going to be hard – for the record, I’d also anticipated it being hard. But I couldn’t plan for everything either.

I realize now that my transition didn’t start in Finland though; it started back in Canada, long before I’d ever set eyes on Finland.

In a sense, Finland was my way forward.

In Finland, I faced the anxiety, overwhelm, insecurity, and the frustration that comes from uprooting yourself completely and from a complete lack of familiarity all around me. I know the resentment that comes with settling for less; the feeling of not having complete freedom to do whatever it is you want to and are capable of doing. Awareness was my first step.

Robert Frost gracefully wrote: “lost enough to find yourself.” For me – maybe for you too – Finland is the place I came to in order to lose and find myself, in equal measure. I believe there’s something even better on the other side of this transition.

I believe that moving to Finland is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Without it, I wouldn’t have found out what lay so far outside of my comfort zone. I wouldn’t have discovered all these amazing things I now know about myself and what I’m capable of.

Among them was my decision to become a coach, and more recently, to create the first ever Finnish Language Coaching Program. Because those of us who move to Finland need more than just a Finnish course to get settled. We need an experience that takes into account all the moving pieces of our lives:

  • how we learn,
  • what’s important to us,
  • what keeps us motivated,
  • what empowers us and gives us confidence,
  • and finally, we need support and guidance.

This is the same experience that allowed me to grow new, stronger roots.

So when it comes down to it, we all have a choice. We can choose to embrace the transition, see it through, and discover what awaits us, or we can ignore it and wait to see what happens.


If you’re ready to make 2015 the year you learn Finnish once and for all, now’s the time to act. Of the 6 spots in the program, 3 are left and the registration deadline is coming up in just 7 short days on Sunday, January 25th. You can find more info about the Finnish language coaching program here.


With gratitude,

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Hi! I’m Irina.

I’m a multibelonger to Finland, Canada and Romania, without ONE language or culture to call my own – I have several. My intention is to be present where I am and find inner peace and harmony where ever life takes me. I’m embracing the gems of the ongoing cultural and linguistic transition which is my life and hope to inspire others interested in doing the same. Click here to find out more!