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Sanna from Sannankupla-blog challenged me to write the ‘Story of my blog’.

Since it is not quite clear to me what is meant by the ‘Story of my blog’ or if my blog even has a story, what follows is some ramblings about my blog, friendships, family, expathood and syphilis.

I’ve been writing my blog for over a year and a half now. I am not a particularly keen writer, and so, the reason why I write my blog is not because I want to quench my thirst for expressing myself in written form. Quenching my thirst in liquid form (preferably with something that has a moderate or high alcohol content) is more my thing. But writing – I can take it or leave it.

Some weeks before moving to Japan, I – akin to many expats who are moving to a new country – felt nervous about leaving my mental and physical safety net 10,000 km behind me. Since I didn’t want to find that my safety net had disappeared by the time I returned to Europe, blogging sounded like a good way to keep in contact with friends and family whom I would not be able to meet up with for a quick coffee, a sneaky pint, or a sneaky pint that turned into me, at 4am, prepping the kidzz’ lunch bloxes for the dext nay.

So it all made sense – writing the blog (not prepping the kids’ lunch boxes at 4am after 2 bottles of wine). Except that, to my disappointment, blogging wasn’t such a great way to keep in contact after all, given that many of my friends and family do not read my blog.

I’m guessing that they have better things to do (like watch True Detective or Game of Thrones) than read blogs about vending machines vending used women’s underwear or mosquitos that are trained by the ninja. But it might of course also be that they do not get my humour, and thus assume that I have contracted syphilis and am slowly going crazy.

But I have not contracted syphilis, and my brain functioning, I guess, is more or less normal for a person who thinks sarcasm is funny, and who assumes the only readers of her blog are her friends, most of whom have a great sense of humour – and thus would be able to get what she is going on about.

And then there is the Lost in Google Translation Problem. This is a problem that many of my Finnish friends/relatives (including my parents) encounter, due to Google being as good at translating English into Finnish as Japanese human translators are in translation work (see photo below of some lunch boxes whose text one might think was translated at 4am after two bottles of wine). I could of course write my blog in Finnish but due to having lived abroad for 15 years, my written Finnish is nearly as bad as the Japanese translators’ English. So, English it is, unfortunately, with the cost being that some of my Finnish friends/relatives struggle to read my blog.

 

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But that’s fine. I am ok with the fact that not each and every one of my friends read my blog, because I’ve learned during the past year and a half that I have strong friendships, so strong that my pals don’t have to read my blog to remember that I exist. OK, in the name of honesty, I do regularly see photos on Facebook of parties back home to which I never got invited, or memes to which several friends have been tagged but not me, and I do get a little upset about them. But I just need to remember that my life is currently removed from theirs, and being excluded from parties and memes is what happens when you move to the other side of the world and you don’t speak to people back home for months.

But luckily, I’ve realized that regardless of the parties and memes, my long distance friendships are like hedgehogs. Hedgehogs hibernating for long periods of time and then waking up one day and going on with their business like they were never asleep. When I am back in England/Finland, my friends/familiy and I pick up from where we left off during my previous visit, like I was never away. When back in the UK – I feel I never abandoned those old wooden coffee shop tables with their mismatched chairs or the quirky pub corners with their kitsch Brightonian interiors. The same goes to my friends, family, and pub corners in Finland. I haven’t forgotten them and importantly, they haven’t forgotten me, and even more importantly, whenever I am back in Europe, they are as happy to see me as I am them (apart from maybe the ones who think I have syphilis).

If there are any expats reading this, I’m sure at least some of you would agree with me on the long distance friendships’ hedgehog qualities. I don’t mean to say that all friendships can take the long hibernation, but I would argue that many of them can.

One last thing that I would like to say about my blog and my friends is that I’ve actually made some new friends through my blog. I never assumed that would happen. I started writing my blog, like I said, to keep in contact with my existing friends and family, which is reflected in the language, analogies, observations and general points I make, but I’ve also acquired some new friends in the process – people who I don’t personally know but who get my humour and/or agree with the points that I make and who sometimes even comment on my posts. I love it! It’s amazing how you can find people whose name, age, nationality or sex you don’t necessarily know, but through comments on blog posts, you start considering them as friends.

To wrap this rambling up, as a conclusion, if you are my friend/family member, I don’t mind if you don’t read my blog, as long as you promise that when I am back in England/Finland you will send me party invitations and tag me on memes again.

PS. We are coming to England for Christmas! Hope to see you all over some mulled wine and cranberry flavoured crisps. xxx

14 thoughts on “Long distance friendships are like hedgehogs

  1. This is a great post! I also started my blog as a kind of way to keep people up to date on what’s happening in my life over here, but i’m pretty sure almost none of my friends read it, which is fine.
    It’s great to be able to go back home and pick up with friends just like you left off.

    • I’m so happy to hear that I’m not the only one whose friends don’t read her blog. So, it’s not just me 🙂

      Yeah, what matters is not that one’s friends read blog posts but that they want to spend time with you when you are around.

      Btw, are you in Japan for good? -or are you planning to go back home at some point?

  2. Arvostan sitä, että kirjoitat englanniksi. Minä yritin vuosia molemmilla kielillä. Olen asunut Suomen ulkopuolella vuodesta 1995. Kaksikymmentä vuotta. Siitä huolimatta ja ehkä juuri siksi että mieheni on suomalainen, tajusin, että englanninkielinen tarinani on heikompi kuin suomenkielinen. Kirjoitan nyt vain suomeksi. Englanninkieliset ystäväni jäävät paitsioon, mutta aivan kuten sanoit, tekstiä kirjoitetaan sielun kielellä, sillä joka tunteiden ja ajattelun tasolla on se läheisin.

    • Kiitos 🙂

      Olet tainut tiputtaa englannin ihan vast’ikään koska olen vielä vähän aikaa sitten lukenut blogiasi suomeksi ja englanniksi…?

      Se taitaa olla usein niin että yksi kieli on vahvempi kuin toinen. Joskus se on oma äidinkieli, joskus äidinkieltä enemmän käytetty vieras kieli. Olettaisin että jos molemmat ovat ‘yhtä hyviä’ ei kumpikaan kieli ole loistava, koska kahden yhtä vahvan kielen välillä on enemmän rakenteiden, sanojen ja sanontojen välistä (kahden kielen välistä) ‘kilpailua’ siihen mitä sanoja ja rakenteita puhuja/kirjoittaja tuottaa, ja tämä häiritsee (inhibits and interferes) kummankin kielen tuottamista.

      Toisaalta, aika usein pitkään ulkomailla asuvasta henkilöstä tuntuu että kumpikaan kieli ei oikein luista ihan niinkuin pitäisi. 😀

  3. I also can’t write in Finnish and after sharing my blog on a Finns abroad group on FB people were saying that I should write in Finnish and why don’t I. I felt really bad so left the group. Multilingual children also use the language they are most comfortable with. I felt like when someone tells you that you are a bad mom if you don’t breastfeed for four years. Anyway I like your humour and think people don’t always get my tongue in cheek or sarcasm and my family and friends don’t read my blog. So thanks for reading mine.

    • I get your tongue and cheek – maybe because your sense of humour is quite similar to mine 😀 and I really enjoy reading your blogs.

      Yeah, I’ve also read (in a state of fury) FB treads in which people behave like the bloody ‘language police’ insisting that everyone should write in their native language and that native language is always the easiest language for a person to use. I don’t know where they get these claims from but I can tell you that it’s not from modern linguistics books.

      I’m looking forward to reading your next post 🙂

      • I think “easiest language to use” is relative to the subject of discussion. As you mentioned, you prefer to write in English; I am assuming this is because written Finnish is more “academic” (for lack of a better word). What about reading novels, technical material, letters…etc. etc.? And speaking? Does spoken Finnish have hierarchy? Looking forward to more language-related posts!

      • Good points 🙂

        Yes, some language contexts are easier than others.

        I am an academic and only use English at work. Thus, I find it easier to produce written and/or oral academic language in English than in Finnish. I suppose this is not really all that surprising given that for the past 15 years I have had much more practice with academic English than academic Finnish. My minimal Finnish practice is reflected in my ability to produce Finnish. My written Finnish (formal or informal) just feels really clumsy – so much so that sometimes Finnish people comment on my Facebook messages and say that I sound like a non-native Finnish speaker.

        This, I assume, is partly because written language is often the standard or formal variant of a particular language and hence the form of written texts are often more rule-based or restricted than spoken language. Related to this, I feel my oral production of Finnish is not too bad, but I have word finding difficulties and sometimes struggle with figuring out an infrequently used case ending (similar to an English speaker struggling to know whether the past tense form of ‘dive’ is ‘dived’ or ‘dove’).

        Interestingly, I don’t have the same problem with comprehension as with written (and to some extent) oral production. In fact, I feel that regardless of my poor written and spoken Finnish, generally speaking, my comprehension of oral and written texts is better in Finnish than in English.

        By ‘hierarchy’ do you mean social hierarchy? – e.g. that you would use more polite language with someone who is above you in the social hierarchy and less polite language with someone who is beneath you? The Finnish social system is really equal (between different social statuses, sexes, ages, etc.) and thus Finnish doesn’t really have those sort of hierarchical rules.

        The punch line is that my language usage has had a huge impact on my ability to produce written, and also, to some degree, oral Finnish. This means that if for instance I had decided to write my blog in Finnish rather than English, my Finnish would have probably improved over time, but the beginning would have been really difficult 🙂

        PS. Sorry for not replying sooner, we were on holiday for a couple of days (in Hong Kong).

  4. Hyvä kirjoitus! Samaistun tosi moneen asiaan… Miten kukin on alkanut kirjoittaa blogiaan perheelle ja kavereille, mutta pian huomannut että suurin osa lukijoista onkin ihan ulkopuolisia… Tai ystävyyssuhteet toimivat juurikin tuolla “hedgehog”-teorialla :D…. Tai englanniksi kirjoittaminen! Viimeisin on ollut mullekin tosi hankala juttu, koska englanti ei todellakaan ole se kieli millä parhaiten ilmaisen itseäni, mutta halusin pääasiassa sekä suomalaisten että ranskalaisten ystävieni pystyvän lukemaan blogiani, ja olen ehkä niin laiska etten kuvitellutkaan kirjoittavani kahdella kielellä, tai kolmella! So English it is. 🙂

    • Ihana kuulla että muillakin on samoja tunteita kun mulla. Olin alkuun vähän tyrmistyt kun kaikki kaverit eivät parin ekan postauksen jälkeen enää viitsineetkään lukea blogiani, mutta onneksi se ei tarkoittanut sitä että he eivät olisi enää ystäviäni 🙂

      Joo, nostan hattua niille bloggaajille jotka viitsivät kirjoittaa kahdella tai kolmella kielellä. 🙂

  5. Siillivertaus ON osuva!! Mäkin voin hyvin samaistua noihin mietintöihin ystävyyksistä niin blogissa kuin muuallakin. Kiitos kun vastasit haasteeseen. Tuo “native heart” -kuva naurattaa erityisesti muuten – mitähän ihmettä siinä on yritetty sanoa?

    • Kiva kuulla että samaistuit ja että sunkin kaverisuhteilla on siilimäisiä piirteitä 🙂

      Hyvä kysymys – jotain positiivista ne vissiinkin yrittää sanoa mutta mullekaan ei ole vieläkään auennut että mitä 😀

  6. Ihan jokaisen oon lukenut ihan joka kerta ja kaupan päälle vielä promoan 😀 Niin oon ylpee susta ja sun blogista! ❤ Way to go sis!

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