Sunday, October 21, 2012

Miss My

Hello, this is My. My being a 34-year-old mother living in Helsinki. How I ended up in Helsinki is a long story. I guess it would make sense to start from the beginning.

I'm Chinese but I was born in Vietnam. If you know anything about the history of Vietnam you know about the war which ended in 1975. Vietnam was recovering from the war but burdened by communism. When I was a baby my parents decided they wanted a better future for their children so like many others they tried to flee Vietnam. Their first attempt was unsuccessful and as a punishment my mum and dad spent some time in jail. My older brother, sister and I were in jail with my mum. So, that means I was a jailbird before age 1. Their second attempt to flee Vietnam was successful. We were some of many Vietnamese boat refugees. We ended up in a UN refugee camp. My mum told me that while in the camp I almost died of diarrhoea. It's not the best way to die, is it? But as you might have guessed, I made it.

We then ended up in a refugee camp in the Netherlands. My younger sister was born there. After a while we were provided housing in a very small village in the northern part of the Netherlands. The part where they speak Frisian. Like my life wasn't complicated enough I had to learn Frisian and Dutch while my parents were speaking a Chinese dialect at home. My parents decided we didn't speak enough languages so my siblings and I had Cantonese lessons on Sundays.

Slowly but surely we got settled. Back then refugees weren't the outcasts they are now so we got a lot of help and support from the locals. My dad got a job and I went to school, learned Frisian and Dutch and made friends. Life was very good back then. I have many happy memories from that time. Such as my father coming home from work by bike. We could always hear it when he came home because his bike's breaks sounded like a big fart.

There were also unhappy memories. I remember my father being sick a lot back then. The doctor visited our house a lot. I guess the doctor became a family friend as I remember a play date with his daughter. I think the culprit of my father's poor health was his welding job at a shipyard. So, when my parents had the chance to purchase a Chinese restaurant they took it. The Chinese restaurant was in a slightly bigger village so the change in scenery wasn't that big for me. I was 9 at the time and assumed that my life would be pretty much the same as before. It wasn't. My parents spent a lot of time working at the restaurant and that was quite hard on my younger sister and I. At that time I started craving a normal family life like my Dutch friends had. Normal being: a house, a father who works, a mother at home with the kids and possibly a dog. I really wanted a dog. It all resulted in an identity crisis.

Fast forward to September 2001. The time I started law school. I was very proud of getting into law school. However, I knew my law study was doomed when we got an internet connection. Someone introduced me to a chat program and that was it. I was very excited to have the chance to talk to people from different countries from the comfort of my desk chair. Imagine! I found out I liked talking to Finnish people more than my law study. So, after struggling in law school for 3 years I decided to put my study on hold (I don't think it will ever be 'off hold') to work as an au-pair for a year. My destination? Finland.

In Finland I met a guy (why does that always happen?) and we started dating. After my au-pair stint I had difficulties finding a job in Finland so the guy and I ended up in Ireland. As you do. In Ireland I worked at a company where at some point I befriended a Finnish girl. She was the only Finnish person working at that company (with at the time hundreds of employees) so naturally we instantly bonded and I had her at "moi". We spent many a lunch hour making jokes (and fun of others) in Finnish.

After three and a half years in Ireland my guy and I moved to Finland. We now live in Helsinki with our 4-year-old daughter. For a long time I was struggling with my identity and didn't feel like I belonged anywhere. Now, for the first time in my life I feel like I'm at home. The main reason why I feel at home in Finland is because my sense of humour is very Finnish. Some Finns have even told me I am more Finnish than they are.

I have many interests and like to write about whatever pops up in my head. I could write about food, fashion, celebrities, interior, books, art, restaurants, Ryan Gosling, parenting and what life as a foreigner in Finland is like. You name it, I'll write it. Your input and comments are very much appreciated. Also very much appreciated is the friendship of my blog-buddy, a.k.a. my blog-partner-in-crime: Miss Mo. Together we have shared many a sweet moment and together we will write about the sweet things in life. I hope reading our stories will make you feel like you are sharing our friendship and make you feel, in today's individual society, a little less alone. I also hope that reading our stories will make you remember the sweet things in YOUR life!

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