Well, Taking advantage of the problems I had with my last post and taking into account Aulis’s suggestions, this time I’ll try to write about a little bit more academic stuff.
Studying and living with people from other countries and traveling abroad is a totally new experience for me and it has been a little bit weird, but nice and productive in all senses. Something that has surprised me is the different backgrounds that my classmates have: journalism, international business and geography are some of the previous studies that they have completed before. And it surprises me because in Colombia it is a lot more common to find people from the same background after bachelor degree programs (in Master and PhD levels).
I believe this situation has encouraged some interesting discussions during our classes and other extracurricular activities. For instance, as a multicultural group we have spent some time discussing about our cultures and we have found some differences and similarities between us, especially during our Social Interaction Skills Course, on which all of us agreed its pertinence for our new relationships and experiences.
As we learned during this course, similarities are important to achieve group cohesion: sharing interests, behaviors and feeling identified with the people that study or live with, is crucial to feel comfortable and feel you make part of the group. In our group, I have seen we have found some similarities between us, which is really good. However, to achieve cohesion, I believe it is important to learn how to tolerate differences too, especially in a multicultural group where we can find plenty of them.
The use of the language, behaviors, beliefs, interests and so on can differ (a lot) from one person to another and sometimes we forget it despite we know that we come from different countries, cultures and backgrounds. A lot of mis- and non-understandings surely are happening and sometimes we do not even notice them or we just stand in our position without thinking in the way others are looking to the same situation.
This multicultural experience has reminded me the way I looked at foreign people in my country when I was younger, they had a weird aspect, spoke weird and sometimes they seemed even stupid. And now, I think about me and other foreigners here in Finland, and probably we could be in the same situation. For this reason, I have realized that using the language in a real context is not easy, not just because sometimes you don’t find the words or you can’t say something you need, but because you can’t express your personality, feelings and even behaviors as the same way you are used too. For this reason, other people can look at you in a very different way as you really are.
Nevertheless, I think spoken or written language are not the only means of communication we have. Body language (not signs) and other kind of manifestations are very useful while we learn how to use the language to express ourselves. And I think if we want, we can make of this experience the best or the worst experience for us and other people.
Finally, I would like to say that I am sure that this “international experience” definitely is going to generate a huge learning for me, in the professional and personal aspect and I expect that after two years I have a broad knowledge about the world and some friends to visit in a few years more.