Over Finland: nightless night, coffee, and bears. Over Russia: beautiful ladies, Putinistan, and terrible drivers. And over the Arctic Ocean: polar bears. This is the world we live in, according to ourselves and foreigners to our country. A world of stereotypes and perceptions – many of which we struggle to ignore.
Where I come from is Finland. Indeed, nightless nights, but also cold, dark winters, introverts, silence in conversation, very little physical touching or hugging, and definitely very little expression of emotions. For Americans, “I love you” is an everyday word, quickly dropped to a life partner or daughter or friend when passing out of the door. In Finland, “I love you” is like a fabled unicorn. A phrase so rare it is a legend. Even on television, “I love you” is always translated in Finnish to “you are dear (to me)”. Because it is too intense, too monumental to be used.
But I digress. How did I get to “I love you” from a map of stereotypical perceptions of countries? Not sure. Yet please note that above I said “I come from Finland”, not “I feel like a Finn”. I wonder if anyone truly identifies with the stereotype of one’s country people?
(Tartu University Museum, Tartu, Estonia; December 2017)