Future Leaders -blogi
The first week in Finland (Kyle)
It has been a week since our departure from the United States. The long plane ride here was eased by a few free movies and a book I carried. I, like a few others, did not sleep much on the trip here, so I was in a state of mild delirium for the rest of the day. Somehow, I managed to not pass out on that Thursday. Maybe it was the excitement of a new country or maybe just the nature of my jet lag, but I knew I needed to spend the time I have here, in Finland, doing as much as I can.
Instead of resting during the couple of hours that we had before the orientation officially started, I decided to begin the trip off with a literal splash. At first, Shalom, who was the one other student with me, and I were hesitant to actually jump into the water since the reason we walked to the small beach was to take a quick glimpse before lunch began. Then, the pristine water combined with the clean air of Finland, which contrasted with the murky water of the Chesapeake Bay and the industrial air of the suburbs between Washington D.C. and Baltimore, allured us in. The chilly wind blowing in our faces and the freezing water flowing over our ankles triggered a flow of adrenaline, and soon we were submerged in the icy water. My drowsiness from the long plane ride dispersed immediately. I was ready to go forward and be immersed into the culture of Finland.
In the coming days, I realized Finland is much like the United States. Unlike jumping in a cold lake, living in Finland has not been much of a shock. With the exception of a couple major cultural differences, it was mostly the subtle differences that distinguished these two western cultures. Our interconnected world has impacted both Finnish and American cultures. American media is common in Finnish households, and Finnish software and architecture can be easily found in American lives. A connected world is a better place. It is our responsibilities as leaders to gain a global perspective and make connections with people to unite our diverse world especially, now, in our current period of political change occurring throughout the world. We are here to demolish barriers and to change the world one moment and one connection at a time.
Even in our globalized world, Finland, like other countries, maintains its own unique character. A person can write volumes on the unique aspects of Finnish life, but I will only share one for the sake of this blog. Children are very independent and mature compared to their American counterparts at their age. The first night after dinner, young 10 year old Lumi and 8 year old Mike planned a visit to the store for ice cream. Then, they asked with their mother if I would like to join. That was the first instance I noticed this sort of independence and self initiative. The relative maturity in their speech at their age baffled me. Another instance was on the following Monday when 10 year old Nico was showing me around town. He seemed to know where everything was located even as we biked further away from the house at a distance of up to a couple of miles. I have never seen this kind of independence in the United States with children their age. Overall, Finland has many small differences from the United States that can be depicted by an endless series of anecdotes such as the one given. Living with an incredible family has been a great way to experience Finnish culture. (Sidenote: cars don’t try to run you over in Finland)
It has been an amazing first week with the family, AFS, and my peers. Let’s cherish our time here and cheers to a great rest of the trip.
Text and pictures: Kyle