Last August, I wrote a post called “The Traffic Years,” telling you that my life had changed. We no longer had any toddlers in the house and I felt, for the first time in years, that I had some breathing room. In other words, I could justify returning to blogging.

As promised, I did return to writing once we moved to Reggio Emilia, Italy, but my comeback was short-lived. I wrote two blog posts in November and then published nothing. Until now.

I can’t really explain what happened, except to say life got in the way. And life always beats out blogging.

On the Move

Moving our family to Italy was crazy. Returning to Finland and then relocating to the United States at the end of 2021 was even crazier.

The move was unplanned, but it was something we needed to do (for reasons beyond the scope of this blog). For years, my wife and I had discussed the idea of moving back to the United States. We just didn’t think it would happen so soon.

Relocating across the pond was never going to be perfect. And it certainly wasn’t ideal when we relocated in December 2021. The whole thing felt like Mission Impossible.

My wife Johanna and I had about one week to do three things:

  • pack up our stuff and clean out our rental in Italy
  • drive back to Finland with our three children (and dog) in our stuffed mini van
  • and then fly over to the U.S. (after a wild weekend of figuring out what to bring with us)

My stress level had never been higher.

My Error

It was a smooth trip, with the exception of one big mistake. I confused the departure time of our ferry, the one that would get us from Travemünde, Germany to Helsinki, Finland.

I read that our boat would leave at 2:45, so I assumed that it would depart in the afternoon. Well, I realized my error around 5:30 am. I checked the schedule on my iPhone and, sure enough, I had mixed it up. We missed our ferry and it cost us about 500 bucks.

In the end, it all worked out. On the next ferry to Helsinki the following day, they had one cabin available for our dog and the five of us. At 2:45 am.

Life in the U.S.

Thankfully, we survived the craziness of that week and the United States has been our home now for 9 months. Honestly, I still can’t believe it. Once a week or so, I’ll turn to my wife and say something like, “What are we doing here?”

That might sound like complaining, but it’s not. We lived in Europe for 8.5 years and then, unexpectedly, we moved to the States in the span of a week. So, lots to process in a short period of time.

The good news is that, instead of making another transcontinental move in 2022, we’ve decided to stay put. The U.S. will be our home for at least the 2022-2023 school year, and we’re at peace with that.

You might be wondering if I’m teaching in the States this school year. I hold a master’s degree in elementary education and I spent six years teaching in Finland. Why wouldn’t I return to an American school, right?

In the next blog post, I’ll tell you what I’m doing here and why.


Tim Walker is an American teacher, writer, and speaker living in Connecticut. He is the author of Teach Like Finland: 33 Simple Strategies for Joyful Classrooms and he created two online courses: The Finnish Education Insider and The Joyful Reader.

Subscribe to the Teachlands blog and follow Teachlands on Instagram and Facebook. And register for Tim’s free webinar about Finnish education here!

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  1. Tami on September 24, 2022 at 10:16 pm

    I’m a US teacher and would love an opportunity to learn from Finland. Do you know anything about Fulbright opportunities? Or do you have other recommendations?

    • Tim Walker on September 24, 2022 at 10:31 pm

      Hey, Tami! Yes, there’s a Finland Fulbright program and I’ve heard great things. I’ve met a bunch of Fulbright scholars from the U.S. and they’ve seemed to have really enjoyed the Finland program. Within my new course The Finnish Education Insider, I’m putting together a lesson on opportunities to teach in Finland, including how to land a job. If you’re interested, you can learn more about the course here. Hope that helps!

      • Kerry Brown on September 25, 2022 at 6:11 am

        I’d love to learn about that, too: there would be nothing like teaching in Finland to really understand it. I fear my child is too old now to do the bouncing back and forth, but I’m always considering it. Thanks!!

        • Tim Walker on September 26, 2022 at 5:07 pm

          You’re welcome, Kerry! Nice to hear from you. Hope you’re well!

  2. Angela on September 24, 2022 at 10:21 pm

    Welcome back! To blogging AND to the U.S. Life definitely should take priority over blogging ~ but I’m certainly interested to hear more of your story now that you’re able to tell us.

    • Tim Walker on September 24, 2022 at 10:26 pm

      Thank you so much, Angela! Yes, life definitely took priority. I’m looking forward to sharing more soon. Hope you’re well!

      • Leigh Ann on September 25, 2022 at 7:12 pm

        Hello! Great to read of your incredible journeys. Wow- congrats on managing unexpected adventures. I look forward to reading more. May this year be the sweetest yet.

        • Tim Walker on September 26, 2022 at 5:10 pm

          Thank you! Very kind of you, Leigh Ann.

  3. Sonja Schmidt on September 24, 2022 at 10:49 pm

    Welcome back to this side of the pond, Tim. And to blogging – I look forward to what you come up with as you do life. As an artist, teacher, and parent of a bi-continental family, I can relate to your experiences – thank you for your refreshing honesty.

  4. Marci Bailey on September 24, 2022 at 10:55 pm

    I’m a retired US first grade teacher. I love Finland! We had a Finnish exchange student when I was in high school (1969) and I’ve been back to visit a few times. She was a teacher in Helsinki! I feel like Finland does it right! I dream of the US trying some of their methods. Oh! And welcome back!

  5. Jane Jacobs on September 25, 2022 at 1:28 am

    Hi Tim,

    Will you work in a Waldorf school next? Hawaii has Waldorf schools! Preschool to Grade 12.
    Welcome back to North America! I’m looking forward to your next story!! Jane Jacobs, Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.

    • Tim Walker on September 25, 2022 at 1:49 am

      Hey, Jane! Thank you for the welcome! Waldorf schools are fascinating, but I haven’t planned on teaching at one. Hawaii does sound nice though…

  6. Sue on September 25, 2022 at 2:56 am

    I’m curious about what aspects of education you think could realistically translate to schools in the US. Country size, culture, valuing of education, etc seem so different. Welcome back, for however long you’re here! What a time to be in education- anywhere!

    • Tim Walker on September 26, 2022 at 5:06 pm

      Thanks, Sue! We’re definitely going to be unpacking that topic on this blog. In the meantime, you might be interested in checking out my book Teach Like Finland, which essentially seeks to answer the question that you raised.

  7. Vanessa Dias-Carter on September 25, 2022 at 6:54 am

    Wow! Big changes! Good luck with life in the US!!

    • Tim Walker on September 26, 2022 at 5:08 pm

      Thank you very much, Vanessa! We’re here for at least this school year.

  8. Kellyn on September 25, 2022 at 10:10 am

    Welcome back Tim. I was just telling my college students about your blog and adventure to Italy for Reggio. Glad your back in my neck of the woods. Remember meeting your mom a few years back. She was beaming with pride for you.

    • Tim Walker on September 26, 2022 at 5:09 pm

      Thank you, Kellyn! I can remember my mom telling me about you. Hope you’re well!

  9. Kenny George on September 25, 2022 at 10:22 am

    Welcome back Tim, and welcome to the Bookbag Tours Team! I am looking forward to you leading a trip to Reggio and back to Finland.




    • Tim Walker on September 26, 2022 at 4:56 pm

      Thanks, Kenny! I’m excited too! Had a blast during the BookBag Tours trip to Reggio this past summer. Excited to do both Reggio and Finland next summer! 🙂

  10. Emma Rubio Padilla on September 25, 2022 at 1:45 pm

    Hello Tim,
    Can’t wait to hear part two to this story and welcome back to the US. Glad everything worked out after all the craziness of the move.

    • Tim Walker on September 26, 2022 at 5:09 pm

      Hi, Emma! Thank you so much!

  11. Brittany on September 25, 2022 at 8:35 pm

    Welcome back, Tim! Wow, that’s definitely a lot to process in such a short time. Did you experience reverse culture shock? I know the feeling all too well after my experiences teaching abroad. Can’t wait to hear more about what you’ll be doing now that things have settled a bit for you and your family.

    • Tim Walker on September 26, 2022 at 5:11 pm

      Thanks, Brittany! It has been a lot to process 🙂 Yes, I have experienced reverse culture shock. As you know, it’s a real thing.

  12. marissa maningat on September 26, 2022 at 12:11 am

    looking forward to the next episode🙂

    • Tim Walker on September 26, 2022 at 5:12 pm

      Thank you very much, Marissa!

  13. Jen Santana on September 26, 2022 at 1:17 am

    Hola Tim! I’m the local founder at a Helsinki International School (HEI Schools) in the US. So happy to hear you are back on this side of the pond! Are you open to being a speaker/guest lecturer at our school? Our book is what inspired me to open a school with the Finnish curriculum in Nashville!! We have the book on permanent display in our school lobby!

    • Tim Walker on September 26, 2022 at 5:14 pm

      Hey, Jen! Great to hear from you. And thanks for your welcome!

      I’d love to visit your school. I’ll reach out to you later today. 🙂

  14. Jen on September 26, 2022 at 1:20 am

    Yikes, just re-read my comment. I meant to type Your book, not our book. Sorry!

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