March 27, 2015

connected


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These past two weeks in Helsinki have been filled with stories; stories of friends very dear to me, stories of reconnected acquaintances, and stories of my family.
Living far from home and from the social hub I have built up for years before my departure is one of the heaviest sacrifices I have made. It was unforeseeable to imagine how difficult and sometimes how easy it has been to be so disconnected from everyone important that used to fill my days entirely.
How quickly the closest of friendships level down from knowledge of everyday details to broad sketches of developments in life. Living in England robs me of the knowledge of what my best friend enjoys for breakfast, who annoyed her that day, and that provoking article she read in the newspaper.
Snapchat and Whatsapp go a surprisingly long way here, but even voice messages and little videos of “what are you doing” are lovely but almost painful peeks into lives I am no longer a permanent part of.

The pattern is similar with close friends; a warm greeting, a lingering tight hug, the faint oddness of meeting each other once again and the silly small talk that is had while ordering something off the menu.
Why is it we always drink or eat when we meet? Funny social conventions imply that it is nice to have something to stir or to poke while having a conversation, just in case an awkward gap of silence grips the air. But it hardly does.

The conversation starts out with an enthusiastic, long-unfulfilled excitement to learn how the other has been doing. How is school, work, your love life, your passions, your mental state? How do you feel about your life direction? What are you proud of, dissatisfied with? What makes you get up in the morning? Who are you voting for?
It is nearly stressful to try and grasp every word that is eagerly pushed forward from one to another. How can we fit months of experiences into a few hours of conversation? How can we possibly relate all the passion, enthusiasm, heartbreak or love drunk, annoyances, sorrow and loss, confusion and hopelessness, sheer joy and community, into less than two hundred minutes? The task seems hopeless and all we can seem to do is to be thankful for every feeling related. I can’t help but hear my thoughts whisper to me in a somber tone: I regret not having this person in my everyday life.

At times I wish I could break into song to fully convey the joy I have experienced in my new life! How do I explain the amazing communities I’ve become a part of, the strange loneliness of a foreign land, the overwhelming chaotic of opportunities, the radiant friendships, the awkward acquaintances? Similarly, explaining the difficulties youth and change have imposed on my character, on my mind, seem entirely impossible to put just right without scripting out my thoughts beforehand. I am entirely anxious to answer this dear person’s queries as well as I can, and time again I feel I am unable to.

When she talks of her woes and worries, her joys and curiosities, I can’t help but study her eyes and her visage. I wish I could soak in all of her existence at once, burn it into my memory as something I could play back when I miss her again in three weeks time.
I pay special attention to the way she uses her arms to paint landscapes of words, to her posture, to her outfit. Often times I notice she has changed. She has matured. Her voice has new vibration to it, which I fail to recognise. She has changed her hair and it frames her face in a new way entirely. I often sit there in awe. She is beautiful. I soak in the gratitude of having her as some ever-changing and distant, but still truly important part of my life. As I listen my mind surfs on and wonders about the novel someone might write of us one day. The song I’ll write about her. The stories I’ll relate to my children about the wild wild 2010’s! The time we had!

What is amazing about my circle of friends is that one hardly knows another. I have always been one to make friends with very different types of people that rarely meet. I am a one-on-one type of girl. I feed off of immersing myself in communication between just two people. That kind of connection seems the most precious.

And even in this group of fifteen persons all different shapes and minds, the turbulences of life seem to be ever so similar. It comforts me greatly. No one has it all right. Everyone is battling something.

The beauty of seeing the richness of our lives up so close is realising that there is no one way to cope with being young. There is no one way to move on from heartbreak, to fit into a new community, to improve yourself, to love others. These past two weeks I listened, in awe, to the personal stories of fifteen of my closest friends. No two experiences were the same, no two reactions to adversity or success were the same. But what we all seemed to share is that being nineteen or twenty, is a time where we encounter the inevitability of change in our young lives. We are confused about our identities still or feel hope in finding them. We are all faced with difficult educational, romantic, financial, and emotional challenges. We all battle them. We all survive.

As I travel back to the new place I try to call home, I feel loss of these wonderful individuals. But even more than that, I am so grateful to witness the development of such a raw and beautiful generation. 

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6 comments:

  1. Hei, opiskeleeko sun poikaystävä Edinburgin yliopistossa ja mitä opiskelee? Onko ollut tyytyväinen? :)

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  2. could you give an honest account on what are the downsides of studying abroad and what has been difficult for you? i'm sure that for the most part it has been an incredible experience for you but as someone who is thinking of studying abroad I'd like to know what to expect. thank you! :)

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    1. I guess to keep it short and snappy the hardest bits have been
      1- being away from my family
      2- (initially) finding like-minded close friends in a sea of young people
      3- adjusting to being entirely independent, fighting loneliness
      4- feeling like I have two separate lives: uni life and life back in Finland
      5- staying in touch with friends in Finland can be hard as I have a large group of friends there and cannot be on Skype all the time

      other "downsides" for me specifically include
      -the cost of tuition+rent+food (food is very cheap here, but I chose an expensive flat), as well as the cost of flying home and using the train e.g. to go to London
      -pressure to build CV over holidays with placements, internships (more so abroad than in Finland I feel as the breaks are very long)

      Hope this helps!

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  3. Such a nice post!
    I really enjoy those postings about studying abroad since I plan on doing that as well. Please tell us so more about what you are up to in the moment, how uni is going and how you like your degree and for what reasons. I´ll graduate next year and your such an inspiration for me to work hard to pursue my dreams!
    Hope you´ll be back soon!
    Love, Cathérine

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  4. will we hear from you again sometime soon? :)

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  5. Olisi ihana saada pitkästä aikaa uusi postaus - edes lyhyet kuulumiset! :) Ihanaa syksyä!

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