Meaning of FAMILY! Differences between South America and Northern Europe

Many people know that the Latinos live with their parents until they are a bit older (~35 or until they get married) and it’s normal to have grandparents or uncles and aunts living in the same house. It’s quite different when comparing it to Finland, where most of the people leave home when they are 18-19 years old. For example, I myself left home when I was 17 to study in another city. And when our parents/grandparents get old, we might put them in care homes, where someone else will look after them.

Living in Peru really helped me to understand the difference between these two cultures. It made me understand how individualistic Finnish people are. For example, when I told people in Peru about the care homes, people asked me if I didn’t love my family and how could I do something like that because to them it sounded so cruel. Whereas, in Finland, I don’t think my mum would even want to live with me when she gets old as she wouldn’t want to bother me and she would want to have her own space as well. And this definitely doesn’t mean that I love her any less.

I know there are many aspects that are influencing this, like religion, but I think one even bigger influencer is the support from the government. In Peru, people cannot move away from their parents’ place when they start their studies as it would be financially impossible, whereas in Finland the education is free and the government gives us money to pay our rent and some other living costs like food. How crazy is that? Of course, because of these schemes, we have better opportunities to leave our homes earlier. But is this a good thing?

The dark side

Recently I have a read a lot of stories about young people who are lonely. They just don’t have any friends or other social networks. We have the same problem with elderly people. It is common that elderly people don’t have people to interact with, due to their families living too far away or their busy work and life schedules. Or like many grandmothers, whos friends might have passed away it can get quite lonely. This is a huge problem for us and it creates depression and a predisposition for other mental illnesses. This problem doesn’t exist in Latin America (or at least not on the same scale). They have large social networks and always someone from the family around to talk to and to share joys and sorrows, which is quite amazing.


Moving away from your parents does make you more independent, you learn to take responsibility for your own actions, you learn how to cook, to do laundry and take care of your own finances. Whereas I noticed that this is something that Peruvians learn a bit later (depending on their background of course). I worked with students where most of them had a maid at home, which is common in Peru as it’s not expensive to have one. Sometimes the maid came around a few times a week, sometimes she lived with the family. They normally cooked, did laundry and cleaned the house. This probably allowed the kids to be kids for longer, which is a good thing, but it didn’t encourage them to be independent.

People are more social in Peru, it’s normal to talk to a stranger in the park or someone on the streets. At least to wish good morning or good afternoon. I already miss that… Now when I am walking the streets, I just want to greet people, but I know people would think I am crazy. I also have this need to give everyone kisses on the cheek. I used to hate them when I first moved to Peru, but I learned to love them and I thought it was a great way to break the ice when meeting new people and when leaving it was a warm and personal way to say goodbye. Now when I am just waving from the corned and saying goodbye, I do miss that human touch and the love I got from my Peruvian friends!

Both of these ways have their pros and cons and I am grateful that I have had an opportunity to experience them both. It’s also important to understand that there are no right or wrong ways to interact, raise your children or treat your elderly. There are just different ways to do them and we can always learn from each other and respect the differences we have.

What does family mean to you?

* These are all my own observations and they are not based on any researched data

United Kingdom

Lot of learning in short time!

One month has passed in UK and I can say I have enjoyed of every moment! I have found amazing new friends, started new hobby (gymnastics) and the work I do is so much fun!

This month has also helped me to understand my business goals better. What do I really want to do and how? I want to specialise and to become master of team learning and team coaching! 

The challenge is how I make a product or service out of that and how do I sell it to people? And how people are even going to find me?

I took my first step toward that few days ago when I bought my own domain name, so now I can start to create my own website, I am so excited of that!

And I am also so lucky that I get to train my skills as a team coach in Northumbia University at the moment, it´s also great to be part of the process, because everything is new in here and they are literally creating the degree as we go forward with this! So I am also learning how to adapt something like this to new environments like to other University´s or Company´s!

I also need more theory to reach my goals and actually I have found the passion to read again, I noticed that I need some action going on be able to read and to be able to put the knowledge right in the action! So at the moment I am working on with Visual Teams from David Sibbet and Innovate or Die from Jack Collis! And they are both very inspiring books, so I can recommend those to everyone!

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Do we value friends enough?

Friends are like other family to us and this summer I have realized that they are even more important to me them I have thought. Whole last spring I traveled around the world and when I came back few months ago my friend was opening her house to me and here I have been leaving since. But I am still not leaving here permanently so I am kind of “homeless”, but it has been great, I have stayed in my other friends places, in my brothers place and also visited a lot more in my dad´s and mom´s places. And what makes it so great? I have been able to see my friends and family so much more then I would normally do and not only seeing but really spending time with them.

In few weeks I might be leaving to UK and it has woke me up, because the situation will be so different in there. I won´t know almost anyone there, there wont be my friends or family and actually I don´t even know where I will live there. I am not worried that I would not survive, just thinking how lonely it can be in beginning. I will miss everyone so much and I really hope my friends and family will come to visit me in there and I can then offer them a place to stay!

“Friendship is hardest thing in the world to explain. It´s not something you learn in school. But if you haven´t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven´t learned anything.”Laura´s good bye party

This picture is from yesterday when we had surprise good bye party to one of our friend who is leaving to study in UK for four years!