Next Challenge – Becoming Fluent in Finnish

Moi moi. (Hello in Finnish) My next challenge is going down a slightly different route. For the next six months I am stepping away from physical challenges and I am going to try something different – to become as fluent as possible in Finnish.

Why Finnish? My answer is, why not? I am going to be working there for the next 6 months, so I thought it was a good opportunity to learn the language. I nearly didn’t do it. Finnish is meant to be a really tough language to learn, and my over riding fear was ‘What if I fail?’. What if I fail! Seriously, why does the thought of failing hold you back so much? It’s like your body would rather just carry on in its comfort zone than trying something new.

I have lived in Finland for a year before, and felt like I had started to understand their culture, but at the same time I felt I was only scratching the surface. I feel like learning the language will help me to explore Finland in a new light, and get to know its people from a different perspective.

I have never been much of a language-y person. I mean I did French GCSE, but left feeling confused, and incredibly un-confident at speaking the language. I have spoken to my Dad about learning a language a few times, and he texted me the other day saying:

“Remember you were going to learn a new language – you could get a Finnish tape.”

I replied saying it was a good idea, bu the only thing holding me back was the fear of not being able to learn it. To which he replied.

“Remember the famous saying. There’s nothing to fear except fear itself. Don’t expect miracles, its obviously a very tough language – give it a go.”

So that’s what I am going to do. And even though I am still a bit worried I wont be able to grasp it, I am going to give it my best shot and see what happens.

End Goal

I feel like having an ‘end goal’ will help to see how much I have learnt over the next 6 months. So, I am going to perform a speech/song/poem and also write a blog post in Finnish.

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I have been recommended this book by a friend who is learning Arabic. Let the learning commence.

Swimming 137 miles down the River Thames

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It has been over two months since I clambered down a ladder into a small river at Lechlade, setting of on a 137 mile swim down the River Thames, finishing 15 days later at Putney Bridge. The physical reminders and sore muscles have long since subsided, but the memories and emotions forged during countless days in the water will stay with me forever. It seems like a hazy mad hatter alice in wonderland dream and I can’t quite believe I even attempted it.

WHY?

I’ve been asked this numerous times. I undertook this trip as the thought of doing such a thing terrified the crap out of me. I wrote about my fears in a previous post here. I remember hearing about David Walliam’s inspirational Thames swim several years ago, and I was completely in awe the someone could swim that far, especially in the murky depths of the Thames. But subconsciously I think a seed had been sown and around 3 years later I decided to take on my own swim down the Thames. It was shortly after I had run the Pennine Way and I was looking for next year’s challenge. My right knee was in absolute pieces so the thought of doing a running challenge was out of the question. I’d been mulling over the idea of swimming a river from source to mouth for a while, so whilst writing a sponsorship email I decided in the space of about 5 minutes I would attempt to swim the Thames the following year. I then emailed 2 more people asking for advice, and once you’ve emailed or told 3 people or more, it becomes official.

I also undertook the swim with the hope of raising £5000 for The Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Helen & Douglas House. We ended up raising £3200 in the end, which I am really happy with. I chose Helen and Douglas house, as they are a local hospice that supports children with life shortening conditions. I chose The Cystic Fibrosis Trust as a family friend’s daughter has CF, and I know how hard the illness can be.

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Knowing that what you’re doing can potentially help someone with a life threatening disease made the harder days of the swim pale in comparison to what they have to go through on a daily basis.

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