Integration

Moving into another country may sound like an exciting idea. Like an ultimate adventure! And it is, up to the point when harsh reality bites you in the butt. Yes, you heard me. I promise you, if you do choose to move somewhere far away from your origins, the day will come when you feel lonely, forgotten, rejected, amongst tons of other negative feelings. And you think you’ve made a big mistake.

For me it has been almost seven years now, living in the faraway land. Only I’ve actually moved back and forth twice. I’ve always loved adventure, so when the first chance came, I was naturally (without much thinking!) running on full throttle. Who cares that I had just gotten married, was pregnant and couldn’t really speak a word of German. It was an adventure – and I was loving it.

Some wise men (or women?) say that the process of integration can be divided into four stages: honeymoon, culture shock, acceptance and adjustment. The length of these stages vary and the person can jump back and forth in between the stages. Yes, people and their reasons and origins vary. Some are forced to move, some others are just seeking adventure. Or are unhappy with their current surroundings. And some come from very different cultures. Mine was not actually that different at all. Anyway, there’s no schedule for integration process.

My first honeymoon period was rather short. Having a baby might have had something to do with it… and very, very soon I entered into a stage of cultural shock. Trying to navigate as a new mother without necessary language skills, in another country with another habits… to raise a child was… well, let’s just say it was challenging. Not to mention these health care professionals who probably meant well, but… whatever question I had, I used to get  the dismissive answer starting with ”in this country we do it like this…” and I didn’t care rat’s ass how they did it in this country, as a newly baked mommy I just wanted a solution that worked. I was pissed. Getting irritated of numerous things, thinking everyone else was an idiot. The classical symptoms of culture shock.

However, my culture shock lasted probably one and a half years until we moved to countryside, far away from the city life in blockhouse… And I was right back to honeymoon stage again. The little Swiss village, the stunning views, the nature, the everything. Country girl such as myself was loving it. And then… I moved back to Finland. Just to find out that I wanted back to my honeymoon adventure. So seven months later off I went again. In the ship between Finland and Germany I was feeling weird and started to think I might have a stowaway with me. My feelings proved right: I was pregnant. This time I managed without culture shock, I went pretty smoothly from honeymoon to acceptance. And to another baby bubble, which was more soft and pink this time.

Until the baby bubble was over and I landed right back to culture shock. Bumpy ride, eh…?  So far I’ve never quite reached the stage of adjustment, and who knows, maybe I’ll be jumping somewhere in between for the rest of my life… but I am working on it. We’ll see if the day once comes… Anyway, my path has been rich with experiences, full of life and wonderful people here and there. This might be a cliché but looking back, I wouldn’t change a day. So if you feel the urge to go, I would say go. But acknowledge this: there will be days when you feel sorry for yourself. There will be days when you need to be able to laugh at everything. Sarcastic, but laugh. And there will be days of pure joy.

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