Chinelo kirjoittaa siitä, millä tavoin voi sopeutua vieraaseen kulttuuriin muuttaessaan ulkomaille. Hän puhuu myös siitä, miten kulttuurivaihto voi edistää esimerkiksi ympäristönsuojelua.
Finland; that’s definitely not a country I ever thought to explore. That is why I leaped at the opportunity when it found me. Before coming to Finland, I knew absolutely nothing about the country, language, food, culture, etc. I literally did not even know where it was located. I guess it would be funny to say now that after 4 weeks, I more or less know how to get around, I can communicate fairly well with the kids in my house, and I’ve traveled to over 5 cities, on different sides of the country. I never seriously considered traveling abroad until after participating in AFS activities and now I feel like I can take on the world (pun intended).
The biggest key to living comfortably in a new environment is to adapt to the different culture. Adaptation is not necessarily abandoning your culture and beliefs for another but simply finding a way to bring your culture and beliefs and the culture and beliefs of the new society together. A great way to do this is by becoming an active citizen. I love the term active citizen because it implies that you are not just an inhabitant of an area but you are an influencer. To be an influencer, you don’t need to have a platform or be known by thousands of people. You simply have to contribute to society one way or another. It could be as easy as contributing to Finland’s “Green” efforts by recycling in the proper bins, discarding trash properly or even biking instead of walking. Finland is doing a really well right now as far as keeping the country clean and the citizens happy so as a foreigner, the least we can do is support their efforts.
Finland and the U.S. have similar ideas when it comes to keeping the environment clean and healthy. However, there are some standards that the U.S. can adopt from Finland to make the environment cleaner and the citizens more happy. One way to share these standards between the countries is by having exchange programs like this because, for example, some people would never know what it is like to enjoy going to school unless they go to one where most kids look forward to going there every day. Also, it would be better and more efficient to implement ideas in the U.S. when the people proposing them have experience in what they are proposing.
I believe that everyone should travel abroad at least once in their life because it really opens up your eyes to life beyond. Many places might be similar, but little changes such as the ones I described can make a big difference in the way of life in different places. I love Finland so far and I can’t wait to see what is in store for me next. I will definitely be back; hopefully to travel to the North and visit some schools.
Text and pictures: Chinelo