“Who have I become?”

Life gives us the best opportunities, it’s in our best interest to look beyond the negative and focus on the positive, also to get the best out of life. As a young girl who loves to acquire knowledge, I grew up in a close knitted family who value the benefit of education and self-development. Originally from the capital city Lagos, Nigeria, I have enjoyed the lifestyle and the relationship that comes with having a large family and relatives coming to our home from time to time without prior knowledge or announcement. (best part of being a Nigeria 😊). 

Living my whole life in Nigeria, I moved to Jyväskylä, Finland in 2010 to study. It was initially confusing and disturbing to understand the silence, why people never want to talk or greet strangers and how I got long stare while walking on the streets (NOW I am used to it 😊). As my days and years grew living in Finland, I got more and more depressed. I would work and have a pleasant conversation with colleagues at work but when meeting the following time outside work, I will get the absurd attitude like “I was never known”. In my home country, greeting and interaction is normal, we greet like we have known each other for years. The challenges continue but I have had to deal with the issue by expecting not to be greeted and not greeting (No offence).  

I have emulated the Finnish quiet culture that whenever I visit Nigeria, I find the noise very strange. Loud noises and close distance between me and other people in public places affect me. It is normal in Nigeria for a person to talk super loud with one another or when on phone calls or intrude in your private places without invitation. Nowadays, I find it disturbing and disrespecting. I sometimes find myself looking like an outsider and my sister wonder who have I become. I wonder if I am still a Nigerian or “am I becoming another person?” 

Becoming a mother, I would want my kids born in Finland to understand their identity. The important part of my identity is my hair, thick, strong and sometimes I wear it as kinky. I have found it to be my strength but sometimes I have gotten a lot of stares from being me because of the norms of Finns being used to long straight hair. My language, my colour, my hair, my religion, my culture are all part of who I am and I try to make my kids appreciate their identity and seeing the beauty in their differences because I tell them “the world will not be beautiful if we were not different”.   

Coming from a country colonised by the Britons, I am fluent in English and my native language Yoruba. I have come around to learn the Finnish language. I have made Finland my home because I have found its beauty, enjoyed its strengths and accommodated its weaknesses. Irrespective, I still feel like non- Finnish. Sometimes, I get the weird question/comment when visiting places or office that “Do I speak Finnish”. Once I start to discuss with the person, I get this reaction that “Oh, you speak good Finnish” and “how long have you lived in Finland?”. I have done these million times, but I believe this kind of situation will never end. I definitely want to make Finland my home until I grow old but I have this conflicting feeling if I can really call Finland, my home no matter how long I lived here nor no matter how much I miss it when I visit Nigeria. What I can I do? Which leaves me having a void answer. 

Yksi kommentti artikkeliin ”“Who have I become?”

  1. Susana Marques

    Hello 🙂
    Thank you for your lovely life story. While I was reading it I felt in many ways the same as you. I live here for many years, I call Finland my home and whenever I visit my country I feel a bit divided and like an outsider. Some things in my country I completely disagree, some other I do not identify with. Nevertheless, I miss some things as well. I got used to Finnish culture and I appreciate many things here but I started to lose some of my primary culture. I guess that is something that we all face it once we move to another country.
    I try to give as much as possible Portuguese culture to my children, starting with the Portuguese language.
    The world is becoming more and more International and that is a good thing.
    Home is where you feel most comfortable.

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