This summer was one of satisfying structure. Working full time at the Raseborg Tourist Information Office @VisitRaseborg left me with the impression that my Finland is much more nuanced than I imagined. I mean, every summer spent here before has been a retreat to the islets and reefs of the archipelago, our two light gray, wind-weathered, tiny cabins with huge windows, our sauna, the woods that rise to meet the ridge of the island, the blueberries that litter the undergrowth like tiny gems to be eaten… this is summer to me, this is my tiny plot of Finland.
Beyond this, I know there are vast virgin forests of pine and fir, the Arctic tundra, tens of thousands of still, cool lakes, miles and miles of paths to hike, and above it all, an arch of a sky that rises high on clear days, so much air to breathe, or that swaddles the whole earth softly in veils of gray.
This summer, I met tourists from all over Europe- mostly Swedish, German, Spanish and French, but also so many Finns (all eager to explore the south coast and to squeeze the most out of a summer that has been somewhat stern, and not very generous with its mild breezes and sunshine kisses). In the future, I would like to make a point to see more of my home country.
My greatest joy has been speaking all five languages I know on a daily basis, and even surprising a few happy Danes who loved that I could understand them when they spoke, and speak Swedish back to them. I bonded with my colleagues over coffee breaks and a Friday ice cream ritual, funny stories and the situational comedy that goes hand in hand with customer service and some language barriers…
My wrists tell me I need a break from the computer keyboard but my mind and my energy could have gone to work for many more weeks, especially knowing how much there is to do in the fall and winter ahead of next year’s season. I am in awe of the three-person team who keeps the department in line for most of the year.
Something that really stuck with me is the idea of tourism and development. They are definitely aligned if not interdependent entities. Organizationally speaking, the tourism entity in Raseborg is a subset of the city’s department of development. Clearly they have already recognized the importance of tourism to economic development, but in terms of staff and budget there is still a big dissonance here. (Hey my OML peeps from SRM!)
Finland is a safe and peaceful country, but in places that suffer political violence or turbulent transfers of power, tourism is one of the first income sources to go, and one of the last to reappear.
If you’re still reading after that little tangent: the real reason I wrote today is that it’s my last day in Finland. Tomorrow I’m dragging most of my belongings to a hostel in Brighton to start another apartment hunt. I’m on a ten day deadline before I have to extend my hostel stay… Let’s hope it’s easier than in Copenhagen!
I’ve renewed my passport, I’ve pushed panic from my mind, and I’ve spent my last week in Finland thinking hard about what I dream of, and why I set my sights on England, where (fun fact) I have never been.
Three more random things:
- There are so many infinitesimal combinations of choices we make that bring us exactly where we are in any given moment.
- Contentment is best when practiced.
- Life is so funny but it’s also so good.
from my Finland, with love–