I left 2 months ago to take upon a new journey which life had put in front of me, and I can still remember the excitement and the sadness I was feeling. I remember how I cried leaving my husband behind, but I also remember the feeling of strength I had for going towards the unknown all by myself. And here I am, feeling those same feelings yet again, feeling sadness that this journey has come to its end but so, so excited to go back home to the arms of my husband and the warmth of my furry children. I must say that in overall I have enjoyed my time here, people have been good to me.
What was it that I came here to do, well, I worked in Chichester College in the Business department and I was working closely with the Admin Assistant and I got the chance to see what her job entitled. First weeks I was walking on eggshells just to get my bearings on things, didn’t really know people, didn’t really know what was happening and how this office here worked, what was it’s purpose etc. Day by day, everything just started to clear, at least a bit. I got my own desk where to work and just that made me feel more like I belonged here, having a desk where to come every morning. Little by little, I got to know the people I was working with and I started to remember people’s faces and their names. There are still people on the department that I don’t know, we have 4 office rooms here where people are working so I’ve grown custom of the office that I’m in. My office is filled with crazy people (meaning it as a good thing) and one Irish who is the whole office’s sweets guy. People would literally come to this office and ask if he would have something to eat and if he weren’t at his desk people would help themselves to his drawers. This person is sitting right behind me so he is always offering snacks to me. Their sense of humour is just fantastic and I must say that I have had fun in this office, but it’s home time for me. (A little private joke we used whenever we felt tired).
I have done a lot of archiving, photocopying, scanning, sending emails, and learned how to post mail here. I have also done of my share of answering phone calls and did a bit of research via phone. I have mastered skills on spreadsheets, updating, creating, making formulas etc. I have sold books to students, I have been typing letters and mailing them, using word mail merge. I have done a bit of inventory, splitting PDF files. I also helped a student in her mock exam, by reading it to her out loud. Therefore, I think I have learned a lot and many different things. I have had proper professional training and have gotten the support of my colleagues, and learned the office life in the UK. I must say that I have not really worked in an office before, so I do not know how it is in Finland, but I am pretty sure it would be similar to this; hard working people with good sense of humour and coffee (well, mostly tea here). I just think in overall this school cares for it’s students and want them to succeed as well as in their studies as in life in general.
I have been in the workforce for many, many years so I think I really have not changed in that regard; I know how the world works in working life, and I still consider myself a trustworthy, diligent and conscientious worker. If I had done this work experience in Finland, it would have been easier, but only because we would have shared the same language, but besides that, I believe I have managed well. I am sure my English skills have improved while being here, and I am writing English better than before, because I’m writing the blog every week in English, plus of course I have to write at work also. My listening comprehension skills have improved; I understand the conversations around me but I could very easily just phase it out and then it would just be a noise in the background. Speaking of my verbal skills, I’m still very harsh on myself and I think I could do better, it isn’t as natural as I would wish it to be and I believe that would correct itself if I would stay here.
However, how could I stay? If my husband would pack our dogs and fly here with me! We would get a nice little cottage of our own and we would name it the Lynx Cottage. Many people here have named their houses and you could see the sign outside their homes, the house where I’m staying is called the Clayton Cottage. You don’t have to name your house, it’s not mandatory, but many people do. We would have a nice home, with fence that would go all around it, so that the dogs could run freely in the yard and we would have garden there and a palm tree! We would take nice strolls outside on the public footpaths that go through the fields and our dogs could run freely there as well. We would have different coloured door, something bright, inviting, and black frames on an otherwise white layout. We would have a fireplace because it gets so damn cold in here sometimes and we would have hot water bottles at night. We would have a gas stove and a washing machine in the kitchen. We would have to get a car and learn how to drive on the other side of the road so that we could pick up our friends at the airport who would come and visit us. We would enjoy the very interesting and incalculable British weather and we would not miss the snow in Finland, if we would, we could always visit. We would learn to be more polite and we would get drinks in the pub with the locals and share stories. The airport would be a short train ride away and we would have better options to fly elsewhere for holidays. Yes, I could see the life I would have here…
I do miss home though, I miss my car, I miss driving my car and singing to a country song out loud. I miss my home, I miss my hobbies, and I miss my sisters, my mum and dad, my friends. I miss sauna, (I’m going straight there when I come home), I miss salmiakki and Finnish candy in general and not just the candy itself, the opportunity that I would be able to get it whenever I wanted. I miss the familiarity of my surroundings back home. I even miss those crazy sounds our neighbours make. I miss my husband’s cooking and his jokes. I miss the constant attention of my dogs, when they are all around my feet and following me everywhere, I miss the smell of their paws.
I must say being here for those two months, I have seen a lot. Not just Chichester, but I also saw Brighton, Arundel, Portsmouth, Isle of Wight and London on my journey here. I have seen a castle, I have seen beautiful sceneries, and I have seen old buildings and ruins. Actually, where I’m staying, right across from it is this 2000 year old ruin, called Fishbourne Roman Palace and it’s the largest Roman ruins in UK and on my last Sunday here, I finally went to see it. I must say even though it was nothing more than old mosaic floors I can imagined how it once stood there. In addition, if I would be living here I would be rather proud of those old historic ruins because that is something I’ll never get to have in Finland.
Today’s my last day in the office and I spent last evening baking Finnish Pulla, and I think I did alright with the ingredients I had, I couldn’t find ground cardamom, so that’s what they are lacking. I also had a wee problem with the baking sheets, because the Pullas got stuck on it which is weird, because I bought the paper just to prevent that from happening. People seem to enjoy them and that’s what matters.
I just want to thank everyone involved in my exchange journey, in here in Chichester and in my school in Jämsä. I want to thank the patience of my teachers who answered calmly in every of my constant questions, before, during and after this trip. I’m also so grateful for the people in here who were patience as well and so, so nice and I will cherish each and every one of them for the rest of my life. I just can’t believe that I got the chance to have this opportunity at all. I have always considered myself someone who was born in the wrong country but I think I might be true Finn after all.
But now it has come the time to go where my heart is. Home.