I am a love immigrant from Taiwan and have lived in Finland for three and a half years. I used to be a workaholic, who dismisses the idea of marriage. After several heartbroken I met my Finnish husband unexpectedly which I’ve never imagined before. I was 35 and I had really put up a lot of courage to make the hard decision to give up my beloved families, friends, job (and salary!) and all my ties back at home to come to Finland. It was really a hard decision for me.
To me, marriage is a covenant, that only through consistent mutual contribution and hard effort, can we create a win-win situation for both of us. Before we got married, my husband and I thought that we had a very good understanding of each other’s background, values and families but only after we went through a pre-marriage counselling program through a church in Taiwan, we found out that there was still much to learn for us. Luckily our mutual understanding has become deeper and deeper ever since.
Culture shock and difference have nourished my life and even brought the birth of a book!
Even though I really like the Finnish culture and I had think hard and prepare a lot for this marriage abroad, my arrival here in Finland still give me tons of culture shock, amazement and challenges. To record all these special experiences, as well as to continuing to improve my Chinese writing skill, I’ve since set up a blog writing about all the positives and negatives things that I’ve went through. I’ve learnt a lot through writing this blog and luckily a small group of supporter for the blog has grown and the interactions with them gave me a lot of feedback and encouragement. Last year during my visit back home, I was then offered this chance to publish my experiences here in Finland to share with more people back in Taiwan.
In Taiwan, people long for different perspectives and foreign culture and especially, Finnish design and its education system is rather famous amongst the general public. Also a growing number of people has come to believe that interracial marriage is now trending and ever more acceptable. For me, I’ve found a brand new set of value here in Finland and I want to convey these values to my reader back at home.
My book is about "intercultural issue" such as intercultural marriage, life style, design, local color and self growth. The book is written in a bibliography style, mostly consist of dialogues between me and my husband. I try to write it in a humorous way to describe my life experiences, as well as my reflection on the conflicts between my husband and myself and the two cultures, what values I used to have that has changed, and what I consider to be unique and must keep. Maybe, through these conflicts and reflections, I can invent a new culture which describe the goods of interracial marriages.
Through writing and photography, I had the chance to get to know myself a bit more, and also to maintain the ties to my mother culture. I encourage all the immigrants to write about their experiences, so through writing, they may find new values in themselves and their position in the new society.
Two and a half years ago, my husband and I welcomed the fruit of our love, our daughter Ida. I’ve since entered a new stage in my life, and everyday Ida brings me new joys and surprises. While in Finland, I’ve learnt that being pregnant is not all about inconveniences, rather, a pregnant woman has so much creativity and potential to achieve, that what she can do, is almost unlimited. The wife can also take the active role in creating intimacy in the marriage.
Be patient! Our job as parent is not to dictate or to control, but to give time, space and encouragement so the kids can grow at their own pace, naturally and freely. Once in a parent-teacher meeting, Ida’s teacher totally shocked me by pointing out … the harsh, strict “Asian” parenting that I’ve grew up under, has so much hold on me that I have unknowingly applied the same altitude to my child. How to raise a child in a bi-cultural family, has always been an interesting problem my husband and I tried to solve. Early in my pregnancy, I’ve often troubled myself on the potential difficult task of raising a mixed-blood child, questioning my own ability to meet the standard of a proper parent.
But in fact, it doesn’t matter where you live in the world, nor what background the parents came are, the most important factors to raise a healthy and happy child are the parents’ unconditional love and positive values. Similar to other countries in the Nordic, Finnish emphasize on children’s growth and education and I feel very grateful that I’ve the chance to learn how to become a confident, able and loving mother to my Ida.
While living in Finland, there’s two Finnish proverbs that I’ve often find helpful: “Alku aina hankalaa, lopussa kiitos seisoo” - The beginning is always difficult, in the end stands the thank and “Rakkauden tunne on kuin aurinko molemmin puolen” - To be in love is to feel the sun from both sides.
I wish to share these two proverbs with you being a love immigrant makes your life richer and more promising.
(Huan Ya, Chen Ketonen)
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