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When I lived in Finland, I never thought which country is my homeland. Then I moved away and in the beginning, it was obvious that my homeland is Finland. Now I have lived over 15 years in Italy and suddenly I realized that it is not so obvious anymore what my homeland is.
One good example is that when I travel abroad if somebody asks where I do come from I don’t know what to answer. I could answer that I’m from Italy, but probably the person that made the question would remain perplexed, because I don’t look like Italian, I speak with my family Finnish. Naturally, I could answer that I come from Finland, but I don’t. Therefore, I often answer something like “I’m Finnish but I live currently in Italy”.
Yesterday I asked my husband (Finnish) what his homeland is. After a while he said, “My homeland is Finland from which I have grown apart”. This true in many ways. I will always feel that I’m Finnish, but when I go to Finland, I feel like a stranger there. It is not the same place that I left 15 years ago, friends have continued their life and I’m not part of it anymore. In addition, our relatives have continued their life and even though we will always be part of it, we are still part of it marginally.
Probably Finland will always be my homeland in heart, but also I have grown apart from it and the longer I live here in Italy the more I am attached to this country. Maybe I could say that I don’t have a homeland. Alternatively, if homeland were where you have the family my homeland would be Italy. I have thought about applying the Italian citizenship, but I know that I will never have the Italian identity. On the other hand, I have learned to love also this country. So should I say that I have two homelands – Finland and Italy?
Things get even more complicated if I ask my kids what their homeland is. My son was 3 years old when we moved here and my daughter was born here in Italy. Still they don’t feel that Italy is their homeland, but neither Finland. They feel that they are Finns, but then they are not Finns even if they have only the Finnish citizenship. Researchers call these kids third culture kids. They live in one culture that is different from their home culture. Like my kids, they speak better Italian than Finnish, they live in the Italian culture when they are outside our home, but then at home they speak Finnish, learn the Finnish traditions and habits. Therefore they are neither Finnish neither Italian – they are a mix of these two cultures.
I guess I will always be the Finn living in Italy. No matter if I take the Italian citizenship – I will always be Finnish. Moreover, I’m happy like this, I live in a country that I love and I so guess that I don’t need a homeland. Finland is my homeland that I have grown apart and Italy is my second homeland where I want to live with my family. And this is just fine.