It was a lonely June morning in our Royal Blue hotel room in Helsinki, Finland. The sound of strange words in an unknown language echoed in my head as I waited patiently for an elevator. The number seven illuminated above the silver doors as I entered. Stillness filled the elevator; I was alone. Finally I arrived at my destination and followed the scent of food: eggs, hotdogs, cheeses, fish, freshly baked bread, and baked beans. As I ate my “American breakfast” of dry scrambled eggs, miniature hot dogs, and classic baked beans, I attempted to fully grasp my foreign surroundings. My “American breakfast”, the sound of so many different languages, the stares of some Finnish people, the smell of raw fish in the morning … it was all too overwhelming. I quickly finished eating and rushed to my familiar hotel room where I could escape the strange languages, scents, and stares.
A loud ring made my heart race. I picked up the phone, “Hello?” A voice responded, “Hey hey!” It was Jonna, a Finnish girl around my age. Our fathers worked together and arranged for us to walk around Helsinki while they had an all-day business meeting. We had not spoken or met each other before and I was already stressed out from my morning.
She arrived at the door, we spoke and I was calmed to be speaking English. We became friends instantly! Jonna showed me around Helsinki malls, stores, a museum and amusement park.
I would never have even made it across the road alone in Finland, but I thank God for Jonna, who guided me safely through Helsinki’s busy streets. Having a friend who lived in Finland changed my perspective and Helsinki didn’t seem so frighteningly overwhelming after all. Kampii, Forum, and Stockmann malls were no longer intimidating. In fact, having Jonna alongside me made it seem like we were two best friends hanging out on any average day. It seemed very natural. We even went to a zoo museum called Luonnontieteen museo and a Finnish amusement park, Linnanmäki! She even translated for me!
Soon I forgot all about the strange foreign country of Finland. I began to think about America, how we were different from the Finnish people but also how two people from contrasting countries can come together in friendship.
In Finland I not only found an unfamiliar culture, but I also found a foreign friendship.
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