Here's a question I've heard many times; "why did you move back to Finland?" and I'm sure husband has been asked why he moved to Finland way more times :) I obviously have never had to explain to my family and friends why we moved to Finland, but husband's family is another story and I'm not really sure if they still understand why it's better for us to live in Finland at least for now. Either way, the question "why" has been raised by both the Finns and the Americans a like.
Before I got pregnant I used to love living in the U.S. College is a lot of fun, people are friendly, living is cheap. It was so easy to make friends and there was so much to do too, so many places to see. Life was pretty easygoing, no real worries in sight :) I was lucky enough to get a scholarship so I didn't even have to pay for college. I had a low paying (minimum wage), but interesting and fun job, which funded my other expenses and would look great in my resume. I was in no real hurry to return to Finland, which in my book had depressing weather, expensive living and wasn't as much fun. None of the jobs I had had in Finland had been "fun", mostly due to grumpy bosses or coworkers. And just to be sure not all my bosses or coworkers were grumpy, I had some pretty amazing ones too! But they were still not as interesting or fun as the job I had in the U.S as an archivist. I was entertaining the idea of staying in the U.S and only returning to Finland for vacations and such :)
Then I got pregnant and I realized that I was in fact a foreign person in a foreign country. Never before in my life had I felt foreign in the U.S, all my friends always treated me equally. After it was obvious I was expecting, some of my religious acquaintances (not friends) stopped talking to me, since I was not married when I got pregnant. So much for all the Christian love they had, ha. Anyways, when I got pregnant I had to start dealing with state government officials (health care, visa issues etc). In the end I lost both my insurance and my visa, and basically realized that the law was there only to protect citizens. As a foreign person and as a woman, I was on the bottom of every ladder. The local politics started to disgust me. I realized what hypocrites the Republicans really are and how in the Republican government's eyes I'd always have these two faults: I was foreign born and I was a woman. I realized that I'd never be equal in the U.S and will not hide the fact that after my experiences I greatly despise the Republican state government.
Now, all of these somewhat dramatic feelings aside :) here's one really obvious reason to move to Finland: my visa extension got denied. This was partly due to a mistake the U.S Embassy in Finland made when writing my last visa. I tried to correct the mistake right after I got the visa, but the Embassy refused to correct it and told me I can apply for correction later. I did, but got denied. It was becoming fairly obvious to me that I was not welcome in the U.S. I know it's nothing personal, I was just another foreign person unwanted in their country. If I had married my husband right there and then I would've been able to stay in the U.S, but I wanted to get married when we planned and not when we were forced to. So we moved to Finland, where my husband (then boyfriend) was welcomed and given a residence permit almost right away. Applying for his permit was so easy and cheap, everything went really well.
The second reason was purely financial. My husband was just graduating, so he was only working part time and I turned into a stay-at-home Mom after our lil man was born. I could have returned to work after six weeks of unpaid maternity leave, but the daycare at the university (where I worked) cost more than I got paid! So I had to tell my amazing boss I wasn't coming back :( And I didn't even want to, I could not have put my 6 week old baby to daycare! I wanted to be with him and see him grow, so I stayed at home. As a Finnish citizen and permanent resident, I was granted maternity allowance from Finland, so I had some sort of income too. I have to say that Finnish social security system was extremely lenient in my case, I didn't expect to get the Finnish maternity allowance, since I wasn't living there, but since I was moving back to Finland they granted me it. Since husband's chances of employment after graduation were about the same in Finland than in the U.S, we decided Finland - with it's amazing social security system, that allowed me to stay home with our precious baby - was the way to go.
The third and perhaps one of the most important one for me was that I'd finally get to spend as much time as I want with my Finnish family and friends! I had not lived in Finland for over 5 years and was so happy to be home :) If we had stayed in the U.S, it would have been impossible for me to continue my studies, but here in Finland my mom helps me a lot by baby sitting our lil man, so I can go to classes and write my thesis. Also the university day care in Finland is really cheap! I'm so much freer in Finland to do what I want thanks to my family's babysitting help :)
All in all, I admit that I'm bitter towards the state government and the immigration officials. But I love and miss my friends in the U.S dearly :( I get so sad when I get another wedding invitation and realize I can't be there for their big day. I miss the cheap living and I miss the warmer climate. But I know I'm better off living in Finland right now, and big part of it is the social security system. I also love that my husband gets more paid time off from work and gets to be with us. Husband says he would like to return to U.S eventually and that isn't something that I'm automatically opposed to, depending on the visa situation and of course at what age our lil man is (I have reservations when it comes to U.S elementary school system). United States can be great country to live, but only if you have a comfortable amount of money. Right now I'm enjoying my life in the wonderful Finland! :)
Hope everyone is having an amazing week!