My name is Irina.
I don’t identify with a single nationality or native language – I have several.
Although I grew up trilingual and learned languages easily as a kid, moving to Finland at the age of 21 changed everything. I’d expected to learn Finnish and hit the ground running…
Instead, I struggled with the Finnish language, the culture, my work, my health, and just about everything one can struggle with during an international move.
I’ve since learned (always learning) that within the cultural and linguistic transition (aka. the move abroad), it’s possible to get lost enough to find yourself – whether entirely or in small pieces.
I believe learning a language abroad happens in the context of many transitions. And that in order to see ourselves as the capable, multi-faceted and awe-inspiring humans we are, we need to widen the lens of ‘learning Finnish’ to acknowledge these transitions and work with, instead of against them.
“Finnish is really hard!”
I’ve heard this stated as a fact ever since I stepped off the plane at Helsinki-Vantaa. I’ve seen seasoned multilinguals struggle to learn but I’ve also seen native English speakers and individuals with little education succeed.
As someone who now speaks Finnish, I don’t think it’s about Finnish being hard or not.
We’re asking the wrong question.
Thanks to my early life experience, I had a visceral knowing that struggle wasn’t the only way and that my success was imminent. I just didn’t know how to bridge the gap between what I was experiencing and what I knew to be true.
When we reach a dead-end, it’s time step back and question our assumptions. If it’s not about Finnish being hard, what else is going on here?
Struggling to learn Finnish forced me to question everything I thought I knew about language learning. I came to realize 3 truths I’d like to share with you (about all humans):
These are universal and irrespective of which country you moved to or what language you’re learning. They also make up the foundation for the perspective I share: I believe in your vast, inborn potential to learn, adapt and integrate.
My hope is that a broader perspective of learning in the context of living abroad can empower you to navigate transitions with more ease – and learn Finnish in a joyful, inspiring way.
The perspective I offer is that of a cultural and linguistic chameleon – not an out-of-the-ordinary thing if we acknowledge that how we define ordinary is just a fraction of what’s possible. 😉
I’m here to share what I’ve learned, not as an expert with a fool-proof recipe, rather as a fellow human being on a parallel path.
Want to travel down this path together? Consider joining my online community!
I’ve put together a video library to help you see beyond ‘just learning Finnish’ to a broader perspective of cultural and linguistic transition. You’ll learn…
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