Finland is where my heart is

    Me and my Finnish language teacher Sini-Mari Lepistö.

    Me and my Finnish language teacher Sini-Mari Lepistö.

    I’m Jinggay Pagatpat from the Philippines. It’s my second time to visit Finland. I’ve been here for ten months now. To be exact, I live in the southern part of the country called Sastamala.

    There is so much to say about Finland. With it’s fascinating people, rich culture, favorable weather, and varied lifestyles, you’ll have it all. Having been given the chance to visit Finland for the second time is something I will truly treasure for the rest of my life.

    Life in a foreign land is a bewildering and challenging experience. It is indeed a big challenge on my part to cope with loneliness for being away from my most treasured family, friends and students. As a foreign student, I didn’t have any idea as regards to schooling in a Finnish environment, particularly on the educational system and how students and teachers interact with each other.

    Despite the seemingly challenging adventures in this foreign soil, I am able to surpass it with the help of a very special person, my Finnish language teacher, Sini-Mari Lepistö. My classmates from Spain, Lithuania, Hungary, England and America call her by her first name. I am the only student who addresses her ’Ma’am’, and there are times when I say ’Kiitos rouva’ (for ’Thank you Mrs.’)  if she hands in something to me. I sometimes find it awkward to call her ’Ma’am’ in the classroom, though, because Finnish teachers are addressed by their first names and never put emphasis on honorific titles which is very different from the Philippine culture.

    When I began studying my first Finnish language course in Vammala I felt like a child because I need to learn everything from scratch. Learning the numbers, the names of colors, how to introduce yourself to a new friend and so on in a basic way. All this seemed like a big job. It took time and patience before I was able to construct my first sentence in Finnish. But after doing it so, I feel as if I am a part of the culture, and the life of this new world.

    Just like any other foreign language, Finnish language has its own way of versatility in terms of usage and function. I learned quickly that spoken Finnish differs from written Finnish. The words ‘minä olen’ for ‘I am’ become ‘mä oon’ in colloquial form. The word ‘muru’ is an affectionate word for Finnish meaning sweetheart, but when a friend calls up in your phone you say ‘moro’ as a greeting to mean ‘hi’. I consider Finnish language similar to my native tongue except a few words that are written in special characters, more endings, and the so called diphthongs.

    As of now I am totally motivated to continue the course in Finnish language. As a teacher in my home country, I always believe that the quest for knowledge must continue regardless of what age a person is. My goal is to continue my profession so that I can touch many lives of students across the world.

    I intend to pursue my Master’s Degree in Research and Innovation in Higher Education in the University of Tampere after my Finnish language course. Doing research is a big task to do as a student but discovering something new is quite rewarding and fulfilling to one’s feeling and personal worth. University of Tampere was one of my biggest dreams even before I arrived in Finland, for my studies and further career opportunities. I would like to consider myself working in the university in the near future and be part of UTA team in God’s time.

    Finns are known as shy and silent people. But for me they are polite, friendly and helpful, honest, hardworking and caring.  For the second time that I am here, I find the Finnish people somewhat exceptional and distinct in many ways. Finns are humble, and they don’t brag about their professional titles, economic status and achievements. Further, they are  caring people. They care about you. I would like to stay here for a lifetime being with my sweet prince beau, Reijo.

    Jing Pagatpat

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