I took this GetFinternationl course to get to know our exchange students and to get new points of view how to teach and learn about different cultures. Overall the course matched my needs, since all the activities engaged us to do team work in teams with people from all around. Team working in international teams wasn’t new to me, but it is always rewarding and fun.
Different cultures have always been very present in my life and I have grown in a multicultural environment. I have always had neighbours from other nationalities, I have been interested in different cultures and points of view, and I have always loved to travel. I have done my Primary School in an international school and have always had friends and teachers from all over the world. When in High School, I spent an exchange year in Costa Rica, adapted myself in their culture and met some of the most amazing people in my life. All I have learned through these experiences have affected me in a way and have taught me multiple things about different cultures. This is why I don’t feel like I have learned any mind-blowing new features of different cultures during this course. Of course it reminded me once more how wonderfully diverse our world is and how differently people see things.
And repetition is never a bad thing. I enjoyed myself on the course, even though the things we were talking about weren’t new to me. I think everyone should take some time for themselves every once in a while and think about their own culture and what it means to them. What is culture, how to define it, what does it mean to different people, how people see different things in life; it is always good to think about it and try putting it to words. Especially for a person like many of us with a multicultural background the topics are so clear that it is even hard to start defining them in words. This course helped me to remind how to do that, and I hope this blog text will now encourage You to do the same.
Text and photos: Jenni Laulajainen
You don’t always have to be move from another country to experience cultural differences or point them out. I did know it theoretically beforehand, but was surprised how I really in practice experienced this when moving to another city. I have lived my whole life in Helsinki and Vantaa, so the capital area of Finland, before last Autumn I moved to Turku for my studies. I knew some things would differ, like the way of speaking and maybe some small details on how to act in certain situations, but never would have I known what kind of differences I could face just by moving about 120 kilometers away from where I grew up.
I think culture is not just defined by our nationality, but also by other things. The Finnish culture is something that lies within every Finn somehow, but I see culture also as a very personal thing: it is within us. Everything around us; the environment, the people, the routines, they all have an effect on our own personal culture, which can differ from the national culture you also possess. You could think of culture as bits and pieces or pebbles and pearls, you’ve collected on your way as life has gone by. You’ve picked up those pieces you find important and interesting.
Moving to Turku made me not only see the aspects of the Finnish culture better, but also made me understand where my bits and pieces have come from and which parts have I gotten from my Helsinki-life. In the capital area people tend to talk less. In Turku people tend to care more about cycling rules and wearing a helmet. In Helsinki you could take the bus around the clock anywhere you want. In Turku you can talk to your neighbours without being weirdly looked at. Both cities have their own type of ”silent rules” which you only discover by discovering the culture of the people in those cities.
Adjusting to Turku was not hard for me and I enjoy my life here, but I have to admit there have been points when I hear myself thinking why Turku-people do or think something the way they do. Or why have I always wanted to do my thing the Helsinki-way, when there are several other ways to do it? This the richness of cultures and mixing them: you get to get a hold of the best parts and let go of the bad ideas and routines. I think everyone could make some great points of view if they just stepped outside their comfort zone and lived somewhere else for a while. And like I have seen and told, it doesn’t have to be more than 100 kilometers away. Thank you Turku for teaching me this!
Text and photo: Jenni Laulajainen
The Fish Market: something very traditional, something very common and something absolutely very finnish. The Fish Markets are held all over Finland but most commonly on cities nearby the coastline. Turku is one of the cities which arrange different kinds of fish markets many times all around the year. Normally the market stalls are put up by the River Aura on both sides and last for the whole weekend. The market stalls are something for all to look at. A couple of weeks ago there was a Fish Market with an archipelago theme held in Turku by the riverside.
I personally love the atmosphere of these markets. Many times you don’t need to plan going to the market; you just go when it’s there. You can wander around for hours just enjoying yourself and discovering all the lovely goods there are to offer. The fresh air, the happy sales men and women, the lovely fresh food and handmade crafts…a perfect combination!
The Archipelago-themed market was held on a nice weekend with a good weather, which made it really nice to walk around. I visited the stalls on Saturday and Sunday, not really looking for anything special but just enjoying myself. This is something very common for people to do in Finland; just go walking around the markets, maybe grab a nice bite of fish at one stall and a homemade bread or bun on another. The whole day goes by fast just by doing nothing, and at the same time taking some fresh air.
I love fresh fish cooked with love and this is exactly what you find from the markets and what many people are after. The smell of a good fish on a stall is just irresistable: can’t deny it! So what I did, and what I suggest everyone to try at least once, is to take some time for yourself, wander around a finnish fish market and buy yourself a good portion of fish cooked with love. You won’t regret it!
Text and photos: Jenni Laulajainen