For the first 40 minutes that I was seating in a mini-bus heading to Saint Petersburg within a crowd of dear Russians I felt a strong rejection of the already forgotten reality. My lovely co-citizens were loudly discussing their lives while simultaneously consuming wine with some salty cucumbers 0_o. Their rather typical Russian behavior, after my three-and-a-half years of relatively permanent residence in Finland, got me slightly scandalized. Yet just one hour later, I got totally adopted and the whole trip started to appear pleasant and somewhat even romantic.
Surprisingly as it is, even now after all the years of living abroad there is something in the air of my home country that makes me feel different, makes me fit. Do not get me wrong, I have no intentions of going back there to work or live unless I am literally forced to do it. Current Russian economic and political situation is beyond sad, but even though, I do not plan to come back, there are still many things in my home country that touch my heart’s soft spot.
Russian people are open-hearted, friendly and very hospitable. My lovely Korean roommate who bravely went to explore Saint Petersburg on her own was impressed with how citizens would eagerly try to help her, even if they weren’t able to construct a single sentence in English. Generally speaking, Russians will easily welcome you in their house, share with you all their fridge contents and tell you their life story in an hour after you learned each others names. This warmness of the character is something you rarely meet in the developed Finnish society… On the other hand, of course, Finland has its own strong points: although not so communicative, Finnish people are very hardworking and honest. Life is simpler in Finland, it is safe, with all the social security, organic food and sustainable approaches. Finland pampers you and, thus naturally, when last time I landed in my hometown in Siberia, I felt like I lost all my skills of living the Russian life.
Yet even though, lately I felt like I do not belong in Russian reality, I still feel glad to visit my home country and particularly Saint Petersburg, the cultural capital. There is so much to see, so many exhibitions and theaters, not to mention endless amounts of cozy affordable restaurants, hipsters’ coffee places and diverse shopping malls, where I immediately want to spend all my money. True as it is that in between those places you have to experience dusty streets, noisy cars and chaotic movements, but many things in life come in a package don’t they?
The bottom line of my story is that I think we should value and appreciate whatever given. If staying in Finland, enjoy the tastiest tap water and the most honest people, giving you more personal space that you could ever need. Appreciate the transparency of business, extremely comfortable public transport and unrealistically clean surroundings. If staying in Russia, enjoy the vividness of life, availability and diversity of services and entertainments. Embrace the tough spontaneous environment that keeps you alert. Get inspired by beautiful women who dress up even to take the trash out and the fusion of interior and architectural styles, piling and overlapping in every corner.
Be grateful for what you have around, work with it, forget complaining and life will get better and better wherever you are.
Gorgeous Saint-Petersburg in September 2014