“Sometimes we feel we straddle more of two cultures; at other times, that we fall between two stools.”
Salman Rushdie perfectly described how it feels to have this diasporic feeling, home away from home concepts and the cultural shock. As we attended the class of intercultural incompetence we learnt the specific categories of our feelings that we were going through and would feel in few weeks if we stayed. As we were told by our principle Mr. Rabi Narayan Kar and our teacher in charge Miss Kusha Tiwari that we have been selected for the student exchange programme we were overwhelmed. As excited as we could be, we still tried hard to contain it. We were elated to experience the different education system here, the weather would be a great relief was what we knew and apart from this it would be all a big surprise. We landed after a seven hour flight, fresh air was all around unlike Delhi which is way too air polluted. The first night is still prominent in our head as we could not sleep properly, maybe because silence was deafening as we are not accustomed to so much silence. Delhi is a metropolitan city and once we step out of our homes all we see is tall buildings, huge industrial spaces and busy roads but here in Kouvola we realised how nature can connect to one’s soul. Even though differences between Asia and Europe prevails yet what we felt is the sense of curiosity in each individual to know and learn more about new cultures and nationalities.
We would love to appreciate the well maintained library that had a galaxy of e-book resources. What we miss the most about India is its spicy delicacies that are not available here, Indians are quite passionate about good food and we personally loved the Rye bread and pork meat balls served to us during lunch time. What we felt pretty amazing is the way things are time particular here, even the bus timings are strict and so we had to give up the laid back attitude. Our classes were held on time and the teachers – student interactions help to make things be easily understood. The classes are pretty technology friendly here which is another thing coming around in our home institution. In addition the thing that personally is still hard to adapt to is the quietness of night. It is difficult to sleep at night as back in Delhi we are used too to the sound of
traffic on the road nearby. Coming to the roads, it is quite a site to relish the people of almost all ages on the bicycles and the way the cars wait for you patiently to cross the road. The people here are warm yet introvert and they do not generally indulge in other’s lives as far as we have noticed. We also felt a little nervous about us being loud while talking or laughing because we saw everyone around to be so polite, soft spoken and they did not laugh aloud. We read a book yesterday about Finland’s history, that gave us a brief idea about Finnish culture, history and etiquettes, and there we too got an idea about people here being too quite in the day time but totally different in pubs during night time.
We had difficulty in a few thing and Ari Lindeman came to our rescue at all the times. We have abundant of experiences and the best one is of our visit and shopping in the Supermarket. We were given specific budget per week, and that crazy excitement of buying what we want, calculating and comparing prices, those little problems of not understanding things written in Finnish and later asking people around about the meaning was fun. Since in Delhi mostly stuff is done by our mothers and apart from that whenever we step out to buy anything, home through a car or rickshaw but here it became a problem as we carried all the heavy bags to home on foot. We did get accustomed to the walking, enjoyed the cold and the lifestyle here. We are really happy that we are getting to share it with you in Insider, thanks to Hugh Clack for giving us this opportunity. The Euphoria stage prolonged for weeks with lots of fascination to do things by ourselves in a foreign land, acknowledging and appreciating the dissimilarities and also neglecting the fragments that reminded us of home. We felt proud to adjust the first time experience of managing the cultural shock. We are sure to feel a certain ache while going back to our country, the mix feeling of being happy to go back but sad for leaving a place that was starting to become one. The new encounters, the lessons learnt, the memories and the unfathomable thoughts. A plethora of imagination, definitely!
by: Shreeya Upadhyay & Aditi Thakur