INDONESIAN Jesica Kaboel was initially shocked by the Finnish language but has since mastered it and settled in well to the Helsinki way of life. She embraces the honesty of Finns and thinks that Finland has made her a better person.
What do you do here in Finland?
I have a day job to make a living. In my spare time, I do what I really want to do: read, write, listen to music. I used to play in a band back in Indonesia so music’s close to my heart. Art in all its forms is my passion, actually. I’m specifically fond of old literature.
When and how did you end up here?
25 August nearly nine years ago marks my arrival here. I remember the date so clearly because it’s my mum’s birthday. Originally, I was brought here by love. And after that was gone I stayed because nothing, except for my family, awaited me in Indonesia. Moving here was one of the biggest decisions I’ve ever made in my life and I didn’t see the point of going back once that decision was made. I wanted to see what life had to offer me here.
What attracts you about Finnish culture?
What I like so much about Finns is that they are very straightforward and honest. In Indonesia, the culture is very different. Here, even if what you say is going to be hurtful, it is still ok to say it. There’s no pretending, it is what it is. I prefer that.
What were your worries about life in Finland?
I’m not the kind of person to worry much about anything. The biggest difficulty for me when leaving my country was leaving my family. Apart from that, the move was like an exciting adventure.
How has Finland changed you?
Oh my God, this could be a novel! It has changed me in every possible way – my way of living, my way of thinking. My whole life philosophy, if you like. Finland has changed me into a better person because here I experienced my biggest downfall and overcame it. It’s a sad story and a sad experience but it was all essential in shaping me into what I am now.
What culture shocks did you experience when coming to Finland?
The language was the biggest shock to me! As I’m a literature lover, I naturally also love language. But before coming here I had mainly travelled in English-speaking countries and Finnish was something else. And of course the weather shocked me – I’m a tropical girl! The winter was truly shocking.
Have you been able to settle and integrate into Finnish society?
Yes. Very well, I’d say.
What are your future wishes for your life here?
I go where life takes me, and at the moment my life is still in Finland. I have expectations but no particular wishes, as long as I can do what I love doing and I’m happy.
What is your favourite Finnish word?
I’ll say karhu (bear). Because it has two meanings, a bear and a beer. I just recently saw Aleksis Kivi’s play Seitsemän veljestä (Seven Brothers) and there was talk about bears. For some reason, I like the word.
Photo: Jan Ahlstedt