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Friday, March 14, 2014

You Learn to Appreciate Your Context Only After You Lose It

You learn the most about yourself when you lose your context. I took a big step eight weeks ago. I spent the hardest part of Winter at Italy. For me it's like Summer here. The weather is just ideal for an adventurous person like me. At times it was a little rainy and windy but nothing I couldn't take. It was funny to see people in jumpers when it was 20 C out there. What do they wear when it gets really cold?

Weather is just one part of the equation. It is always challenging when a lot of things change at once and you need to adjust. I have taken certain things for granted for too long and this trip made me realize some of those.

I also have a lot of thinking to do as a result. I will need to choose my next steps very carefully. I took on perhaps too many projects during my time here. When work starts to feel like work you need to do something. I might need to restructure my business a little bit and start working smarter. I also should start saying "no" a lot more often and be more focused. You can do only so many things at once.

I Miss My Winter

The dark, cold part in the middle is absolutely dreadful and takes away your energy. In return we get to enjoy Spring. Is this something that is harder to experience without a proper Winter?

Be as it may I've noticed my energy levels have gone up. I sleep less and feel more awake. All days aren't perfect but that's just normal. It still feels nice to go out there not having to worry about what to wear. Fashionistas might disapprove my choices but it's their problem.

I Miss My Nature

Even though there is plenty of nature in Sardinia, it's different. I have taken the presence of forest within the vicinity of my home for granted. You only realize that when you lose it.

Maybe it's a Finnish thing but for me personally it's one of those places that allows me to relax and gain energy. Yes, I can go to visit a park here or take a nice little ride on bike. It's different.

I Miss My Sauna

Again, this might be one of those weird Finnish things. But life is just not the same without a sauna. Maybe it serves a similar purpose as nature. It's a tradition. It's something that allows you to forget yourself for a while.

I Miss My Culture

Probably the biggest hit I took had to do with losing my cultural context. When you are pretty much alone in a strange country you start to look your own culture in a different way. Perhaps I appreciate some aspects of the Finnish culture more now.

Besides culture in general the absence of a technical culture has been a little shocking. Where is IT in Italy? Maybe it exists in certain cities and you just have to know where to look. It's a different economy, you can tell that.

That said the locals have been excessively friendly and there are features that I find admirable. We have lost some of these in our own culture. You can see very well that family is in the center of it. It's not all just money and materialism.

Interestingly Finns value nature perhaps a little more. This is visible in the way we recycle and in nature too. Less trash on the roads. Italy is also missing freedom to roam and private property is respected on an entire different level. That's one of those things which is so easy to take for granted. You just never think about things you are given.

I Miss My Language

If you want to learn a very expressive language, learn Finnish. Most Finns speak English, though, so communicating won't be a big problem. You just have to figure out what they are saying. You might expect the situation to be the same in Italy especially given they live partially on tourism. Mostly that's just a false belief.

In case you want to get into the culture, you had better be prepared to learn the language at least a little bit. It's fairly fast to pick up and resembles English somewhat structurally. I still have a lot to learn myself but I can understand a word or two and get basic ideas through. If I get back, this is definitely something I need to improve upon.


Even though I missed certain things about Finland that doesn't mean the trip wasn't a success. As I said in the beginning you learn the most about yourself when you challenge yourself. I would not doubt to make another Winter trip. Another one would be so much easier. In order to leap you have to jump first.