Blimey! Its been an action packed month and a half since the dove returned to Oulu , as this coincided with a month of essays and exams , us going to Norway as I said already , and then at the end , my family coming over from England to visit me in Oulu! Splendid! I’d been away from my family for a few months before, over the summer and when at university as I never really go back to Devon to see them, but this time I hadn’t seen them since September- a good 8 months since I so much as saw or heard them, as we don’t Skype so it’s just emails and postcards and stuff.
It was fantastic, they hadn’t changed a bit and it was a great reunion, we went out for dinner and I brought them round to see my apartment and I and the dove cooked them a three course dinner. I showed them the limited sights of Oulu and they came to the same conclusion as I had too- there’s not a whole lot to see around Oulu to be honest. It was a bit sad they didn’t get to see Oulu in the leafy midnight sun summer or the arctic snowy depths of winter, but on the last day we all went the island off the coast of Oulu, Hailuoto, which was a great idea. We started by taking the bus through the Finnish suburbs, out to the coast, onto the ice breaker ferry where we saw a little otter running along the sea ice alongside the ice breaker- truly incredible! A seagull had a go at it and it dipped below the ice a few times, it was quite the spectacle! These creatures are as timid and shy here as in England, and it’s a real treat to see them anywhere. We landed on the island , still on the bus , and were driven across the island- we all had our eyes out for a moose , this being my family’s and mine final chance to see one. My dad and brother thought they saw one lying down in a forest, but in a dark leafy forest everything looks a little bit like a lying down moose, so I’m not so sure.
we got the other side of the island, had a coffee, went for a gorgeous walk along the coast and into the foresty interior of the island, it was glorious weather with a stunning blue sky that contrasted with the green conifers and the seas of pale reindeer lichen that carpeted the forest, and the glowing white frozen sea around the island. We almost got lost a few times and then went back to an awesome little wooden restaurant, where we had a lush three course dinner that was pretty cheap, and then went off to have a look at the sea. I had got a bit used to seeing frozen sea , but seeing my families fascination with it made me appreciate it anew- we took some photos , looked out to see trying to spot a seal or two , and me and my bro chucked some rocks at the ice , which was more fun that it should have been. On the bus back we saw a huge lanky moose loping across a field, and bam! – The day, the visit and the whole Finnish experience was complete.
It was lovely seeing my family, I’d forgotten how much I missed them and how much I feel a part of them all. Only after being apart for so long I appreciate being with my family, and being a part of England again. I really didn’t realise until now a lot of really nice things about my English family, the tea drinking really is incredible and beyond a joke and I love it, the way of talking and their slight accents and just the words and way of talking, and just the pace of the day and the way of seeing things– only now I see these things for how special and precious they are. I don’t want to spend more time in England- I still love living overseas , but now I feel like I have a culture and home in England that I’m really proud of and appreciate , and is pretty special. I love Germany and Europe (let’s face it, England isn’t really Europe), speaking international English and the European way of life and lack of tea drinking. I always thought the coolest situation was to be born on a little island with strange customs and ways of life, a small strange language and culture, and then to fly out into the greater world and embrace a big world and big culture and language, whilst still remembering the intimacy and joy of the little place that made you who you are. I thought before England didn’t really have that, that the culture was a bit of the joke and everyone in the world speaks the language anyway- but after 8 months without hearing the real English accent, the Devonshire tea drinking and cake eating, the eclectic vocabulary and use of phrase and allusion of my family, and the foods, traditions and ways of my family, I really do feel like I have this, and I’m immensely happy for it. I will no longer tolerate jokes about tea drinking-it’s a serious business don’t you know. And I don’t want to ‘move back to England’, I want the world. This was also the first time being aboard with my family, and the first time they met the dove, my fabulous German girlfriend. It was like the meeting of two worlds, and now my family feel like a part of this international world, where living abroad and speaking different languages is a reality, it’s a great feeling. It’s the little things , the sayings , the turns of phrase, being brought a cup of tea in bed the morning , having another when you finally get out of bed , and then another with breakfast- a lavish ordeal with several courses , bacon , eggs , toast and cereal, then maybe a cup of coffee to wake you up , and then a cup of tea to take the edge off the coffee-now its 12 o clock and you’re ready to start the days business like a true Englishperson. The sense of humour too is decidedly English, where gently ridiculing every situation is par for the course- I don’t think I’ve laughed so much in the past 9 months as I did in these 5 days with my family.
It is different to the life in Europe, and English English and Erasmus English are unfortunately almost like two different dialects, but I prefer in some ways Erasmus English and being understood by English learners from every country in the world, but speaking English with my family is something really special. Everybodies gone home now and I’m alone in Oulu, but I’m a changed man,am s till experiencing tea withdrawal symptoms and am still getting back into international English- forever now, as a devonshire boy happily lost in a foreign country.