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“Home is where the heart is”

Cliche - but true

About ten years ago I managed to surprise myself. Grown up in Helsinki, and always having considered myself proudly as a city girl, I found myself travelling across Finland’s countryside for years for work. I was working first with EU rural issues and after for a village action movement. So suddenly right after graduating I found myself in a very unfamiliar ground.  I have to say that I always wondered why they chose me out of 80 applicants for the ministry position, with EU rural affairs after my reply at the job interview question “What is your relation to countryside” was “My grandparents live in the countryside and I love visiting them”.  Well, I got it. First I wasn’t sure if that was what I wanted to do, as it did not sound very sexy to a city girl. But that’s when the surprise happened.

During those couple of years, I visited finnish villages and small municipalities. I met a lot of people working at the local level, municipal and regional level, also rural researchers and developers.  I learnt about the questions and issues that people living in the countryside are struggling with, and also just about the nature of people living in the countryside. It is a totally different ball game, where you need to keep your eyes open and fight for a good quality of life. These people amaze me with their communal spirit and activity to create their own happiness, as they have learnt not to expect things to be given to them.

After a few years among rural issues I started fantasizing about moving into the countryside myself . To me, it felt like they have a “deeper” understanding of the important things in life. In a small community everyone has a place, and everyone counts. You are accepted just as you are. Their lives circulate around issues like helping each other on daily basis rather than trying to choose if you should have skimmed or oatmilk with your daily latte from the neighborhood café. I do love a good coffee and I still live the citylife, but I have kept working with rural issues and expanded that beyond Finnish boarders to the Nordic countries and Nordic Arctic areas, as these issues feel close to my heart.