Outside Finns

There is a word that Finland calls us, the Finns that were born in Finland, yet live overseas. They call us “ulkosuomalaiset”. “Ulko” means outside, “suomalaiset” means Finns. We are the outside-Finns!

No matter where in the world we live, we have something in common with one-another. We all miss certain things about our birth country. For some of us it’s the summer cottages and saunas next to crystal clear blue lakes, for others it’s the taste of pulla or karjalanpiirakat.

Yet for some it’s the smell of a pine forest, or the beautiful autumn colours, or frozen lakes. It can be the midnight sun or the northern lights, the reindeer, or the multitude of berries ready for the picking.

We are attracted to understated elegance. We decorate our homes with Marimekko, Pentik and iittala. We drink our coffee out of a moomin mug. We try our best to surround ourselves with a little touch of Nordic.

We make our homes in foreign lands, but our eyes well up when we listen to Finlandia. We assimilate and learn the new ways of our adopted countries, yet a piece of our hearts always belongs to our place of origin. ⁠

When the plane lands in Vantaa airport, after years of being away, the heart skips a beat. When we hear our native tongue over the loudspeaker welcoming us back to Helsinki, our insides feel so totally overwhelmed and full of nervous excitement.

How can Finnish sound so beautiful to our ears? Why do we feel like Alice in Wonderland, simply going to a local supermarket? What is it within us that is so drawn to our roots, to that small country up north?

No matter how much we love the nations we live in, the love we feel for the country we left behind, will never die. It is just part of being an “outside Finn”.

The longing in our hearts, is just part of living, part of being, part of existing, because to live without that longing, would be like denying who we are.

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