This is why I want to visit Finland

A few months ago I applied for The Finnish Foreign Correspondents’ Programme, which included an essay explaining the reasons why I wanted to visit Finland. Here it goes:

I have always been attracted to Scandinavian countries. Starting from the coldish yet nice weather to the culture, these countries have been in my to-visit list for several years now. However, there have been two main problems stopping me from visiting them: Firstly, Northern Europe is quite expensive for those of us who live in the South, and secondly the language barrier; even if most of the northerners speak English very well, I have always felt ashamed and uneasy not knowing the mother tongue of the country I am visiting.

I spent my childhood surrounded by Lego pieces, and now Ikea’s furniture keep the them safe in my basement. I use Opera to browse the web while my hi-fi is playing Billie the Vision and The Dancers or Håkan Hellström. Only until I feel it is movie time: Elling or one of Von Trier’s bold films are among my favorites. Finland must be a most interesting country, due to the encounter among Nordic, Soviet and European cultures. However, this is probably the Scandinavian country I know the least.

I believe Finland has to be a great country for cycling, an outdoor activity that I love: beautiful landscapes and a ground flat enough to cycle for a few hours without getting too tired. Scandinavia is very well known for its original and attractive design (hence the Australian music band Architecture in Helsinki), and since architecture is also important to me, I bet I will like the cityscape aswell. You can see a selection of my photographic work, which I believe it shows what I said above, here.

As a journalist student living in a country where different languages are spoken, I would like to research on the presence of minor languages and social groups in the Finnish communication networks, both public and private ones. I have read that Finnish is not the only official language in the country, but it is the most spoken one. So I wonder how much space is left for both Swedish and Saami languages, what kind of media bilingual or trilingual people consume, what media options do Saami speaking people have, and if there are any bilingual newspapers in Finland.

I am Basque and I do not think neither the French nor the Spanish Government do enough to preserve their minority languages. I would like to see how governments from more developed countries deal with similar realities in which different languages coexist.

Apart from my interest on the languages in media, I would love to have the chance to see what topics are broadcast about in Finland and compare them to the ones in the Basque and Spanish press. I think this could be a key to understand Finland’s low corruption level or, at least, the perception people have about its corruption.

I trully believe media communication is the base to build up a better society with low unemployment rates, social policies, and solid educational and health services. Investigating how news corporations behave in mature countries could help us lead the change Basque and Spanish companies need to help educate a decadent society. I know I could be totally wrong, neither Finland nor the rest of Nordic countries are probably as good as I believe or as good as media shows to southern Europeans. But I think that in order to grow up we always have to look up to and take ideas from countries that are doing better.

Every journey changes and open our mind at the same time; let me find out how wrong I am and how much of the stuff I want to believe in is right. I want to learn more about the country that came up with Linux and the sauna; the country with the freest press in the world.

I didn’t make it. This is the answer I got:

You are not the selected candidate from Spain this year. We thank you for your interest in Finland and wish you all the best. With your excellent qualifications you will no doubt be very successful.

I find funny the way they go «With your excellent qualifications you will no doubt be very successful». I don’t know wether they’re having a laugh or not, but I can tell if everybody thinks the same way, I won’t find a job ever!


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