Jou everyone and no one!
I’m back in Finland and read the instructions given to keep this blog and noticed that actually the guestions we had to answer are really interesting. I have to admit that I didn’t get to known with them a lot when I was writing. As a sum up I really want to answer almost all of them straight and clear without you having to read the answers from between the lines. Some I will skip like the preparations, because I described them already so clear in the beginning.
Lets start with getting to know with Utrecht. I actually really think that everyone should see effort in going to different places and events. It’s only 5 months, so go to walk around and see nice places you want to visit and actually GO there and don’t just plan. I did that and I think I know Utrecht better than Jyväskylä. 5 months compared to 1,5 years. This tells that my stay was intensive, doing a lot and traveling a lot.
Living in Utrecht; I loved the city. It’s less international if you compare to Amsterdam so you really feel like being in the NL. Everyone talks fluent English so that makes the living easy. I did have some troubles with ING, which is a big bank. It was slow and unhandy, so I would recommend you to try another bank than ING.
Studying in Utrecht (Social Development Work); Studying was super ruff. I did learn a LOT and I’m really thankful for the teachers in that sense. I do feel like now I know a lot about the developing worlds and how it might be possible to actually do change and what kind of mistakes we already have done. That’s obviously important that we won’t keep making the same mistakes. I did do some multicultural studies in Finland and even did an internship with refugees, but I only learned about how to integrate them to Finland. It didn’t make me understand the background where the refugees come from. Yeah, for sure we did talk about wars, not existing freedom of speech, rapes and so on, but not really about the history and complexity of the countries. I have to admit that I didn’t even know what colonizing means before I came to Utrecht. I didn’t know how much we’re still ruling the third world countries. It’s crazy and sad.
Example of cultures getting together; This part is almost too easy. There would be many many examples I could tell you, but since we had this course “Fieldwork” and decided to organize a benefit party for refugees, I will tell you about that. We had a group of 4 girls and wanted to help refugees who are in a hopeless situation in the NL. They don’t have an asylum so they’re not legal. No right to work, privacy, safety etc, you name it. There was a group of 60 refugees who were living in a church in den Haag. We wanted to offer them a nice evening and raise money for them. The awesome thing about the event was that we gathered so many different people to the same place to support the same case. We had the benefit in Agnes chuch so we got some of the christians of the church there. We had activists who were already helping the refugees or just got interested in their situation (imagine, a group of activists in a church! ;)). Then we ofcourse had the refugees, musicians who were supporting the issue and also other people who I cannot put into any of these groups. What really melted my heart was that two of the refugees sang in their own language in a christian church and the refugees started dancing their own traditional dance. It felt like many different cultures melted in together and this is actually what we need. Let’s do things together instead of being prejudiced. The power lies in the group and we should never underestimate that. We are too often just in the safe own circles when actually cooperating is so damn important.
Integrating to the Dutch culture; I have to admit that I expected a bit too much considering to the language. I really wanted to learn the language perfectly. I did learn quite much and now I can communicate basic things in Dutch which is cool, but in my head I thought I would talk a lot better Dutch in the end. This goal was hard to reach since the Dutch actually like to talk English and they’re all damn good in it even if they say they’re not. I also set as a goal that I would get also Dutch friends instead of being all the time in an international group. I managed to do this although I did have to put a lot of effort in it. Too often when the Dutch hear that you’re leaving in 5 months, they seem to loose interest. Maybe those people weren’t the right for me. I’m really happy of the friends I got. I got to known with different cultures and also the Dutch one. Kisses to all of you! Xx
I do have to admit that the Dutch nightlife I didn’t like. The music is something I just don’t get into. Also the clubs are too small and packed. But if you like techno… it’s for you! The small coffee places I loved though and I really recommend you to visit those. For example café Olivier is worth of seeing.
Competences I developed in the NL; My English skills have developed a lot and I react easier at the moment in English. Some words are hard to find in Finnish or I say strange things like “ottaa suihku” (take a shower) instead of “mennä suihkuun” (go to shower) as you say in Finnish. I also learned a lot about myself. When you get displaced from the familiar people and places, you really see a ruff, very naked picture of yourself and that’s really confronting. I didn’t know that I actually don’t like to work that much in big groups. I prefer intensive one on one contact or small groups. When it goes over 6 people, my behaviour changes if it’s not a professional thing. As a worker or performer I’m comfortable and good also in big groups. All the things we studied about the developing countries also opened my eyes a lot and made me look more critical about projects which I used to look up as perfect projects. This went even on a stage that I felt like I never want to do anything because it’s going to go wrong any way in some point. Now I do realize that since I’m critical, I will pay more attention on the places where it’s needed and I can still make a change even if not everything goes exactly like it should. Also because there is multiple people involved also there is multiple truths and multiple feelings.
Leaving the NL and arriving Finland; I was really feeling bad before leaving. I didn’t want to go. I had all these awesome new people around me. On the other hand I was way too busy the last weeks with school and I just wanted to get over those and get home to my family and nature. The last month was horrible and wonderful. I would never change this experience. Not with any price. It’s impossible to try explain all the things which happened. It’s impossible to picture how I feel or felt. And as a cliche; nothing has changed when you come back. Feels weird to hear people telling that actually nothing has happened. They watched maybe a new tv-serie or heard new gossips. These are also nice things ofcourse, but it just makes me think that I really want to do as much as possible in my life. I really hope I won’t get stuck now that I got to taste how it is to live like you only have few months to spend.
I really value my friends here as well and I realize how I should see more effort on my friendships as well. Those and your family are the people you will rely on and keep you up when everything else falls down.
When you go; Experience in exchange.