What my Exchange to US Gave Me? TOP5 things

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I’m glad to say that I’ve had greater experiences in US of A than I ever could imagine. Obviously I learned language and reached my study goals. However there are huge punch of more valuable things it has given. Here is a list of most important five. Shortly: if you think should you go, go! Thoughts below are written just after my exchange but I had forget to publish them then, so here you go now.

  1. Independency and self-confidency

I know I can deal with problems, meeting, phone calls, being lost and whatever happens. I have done official stuff like filed my taxes, get my visas and done language exams. I have solved problems from shower drain that doesn’t drain to how to use different IT systems of my exchange university.

  1. Language skills you actually need for life

I have to note the language skills just because they are not anything like the skills your elementary and high school – or even uni, have given abroad. To be honest I didn’t understand some American ways to ask “how are you” when I came here. Of course you’ll always face situations where you think “oh my gosh, I have no freaking idea what (s)he means!” but instead of having them ten times every day I face them just couple times a week nowadays. It’s however quite funny how I realize that I really have to work to understand some British documentary series I’ve been watching from YouTube lately. I love American English and it’s nowadays like my second native language. I have weird accent but at least I understand all and speak pretty well.

  1. State of Mind / Attitude

This makes me happy and sad at the same time. My whole way to think has changed radically during my stays in US. People usually talk about “New York State of Mind” but I can also feel US State of Mind. It’s all the motivation, positivity; it will be fine – let’s hang out culture. In NYC you should add more ambitions to that. I’m little scared to go back to Finland now. I don’t ever want to lose this attitude and I think that might cause me cultural shock and some issues in Finland. I’m clad that I’m more comfortable with myself nowadays – I’m even more positive and ambitious with my future. I’ve always tried to be smily, polite, talkative and positive person however I can now feel it inside me. I’ll miss all the “hey, what’s up?” moments and random conversations with new people. It’s so easy to fit in and find friends here!

  1. Direction of My Life

Haha, sounds quite deep but it’s kind of true. I still don’t know 100% sure where I’m in 20 years but at least my plans, passions, skills and possibilities are more clear. I know better how I want to look, in what kind of place I would love to live, what I’m so good at that I should do it more and what things are just better to leave as a hobbies. I for example love dancing and gym but after studying dancing quite professionally for this semester I realized it’s not that big passion or skill for me that I could work as a dancer for long term. I would love to keep dancing not-too-serious as a hobby and it would be fine to work with something related though. Photography, photoediting surgery and business instead are areas I should keep improving. Also my passion to technology, writing, media & communication and fashion might be skills worth improving. It’s great to know that you’re going right way! The feeling is amazing and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have ever reached this without this unique experience.

  1. Getting in American culture, history and life as a whole

I used to hate all kind of history. It was boring to read it from books. I never remembered names of so called important people. I knew the president of States but that was about all. But go and see American historical movies in movie theaters in US with locals, or study it in interactive lesson – or just do research for blog (and to understand funny decorations that Americans tend to have for every special day). Nowadays I remember when is independence day and how it’s celebrated, why we have martin luther king’s day, etc. and I found this all interesting! And of course there is no better way to understand the culture than live it and have interesting conversations with locals.

I’m super happy that I got and took this experience. I would love to it all again (and never end)! I feel kind of empty knowing there won’t be my American friends, foods, schedules, campus life, or anything anymore.

At the moment I feel that I can break all the barriers are made all my dreams come true. Hardest part for me reaching my dreams is being patient but I will reach them all. I thought I could never say this out loud but at the moment I feel that I’d love to come American one day. And maybe American and only American. I think it will take years to graduate, get verified to be M.D., get citizenship or even residency. However at the moment I feel that it’s what I really want to. My heart belongs here.

Nowadays I know and admit that many things don’t work in this country. There really are a lot of people that cannot reach healthcare, homeless issues, horrible winter issues, some things tend to happen super slowly, technology doesn’t sometimes work as well as in Europe and advertising is sometimes really weird and even hazard in my point of view – and I think I don’t even have to mention all the bureaucracy, etc. The list of things doesn’t work too well is long but living here I’ve realized that I can deal with all those issues and be more happy, more free and more in my dreams. Instead of just seeing the romantic picture of States in my mind it’s nowadays realistic but positive view in my head.

I think I’ll come back to States for short stays during my studies – like traveling, summer working and internships, maybe even for another exchange. I will let you guys know when I have decided something for sure.

USA <3 4EVER, SEE YOU SOON! 🙂

14 comments

  1. Great post. Loved to read about your experiences. I agree so much about the American state of mind. I love how open and positive Americans are, especially compared to us cold, realistic Scandinavians.

  2. Nora, your entire stay sounds so exciting & eventful! 😀
    And Wow, Looks like you changed so much as a person. Life-changing journey, as they say. Travelling has that effect; we become more open-minded and see things for how they actually are.
    The fields you are now more interested in working all sound good, it’s really hard to make that decision, I’m glad that you came to a conclusion.
    I wholeheartedly agree that being independent has become very important in todays world 🙂 You have to know how everything works.
    And It’s so good to know that you wish to come back again and again. Thanks for sharing your experience <3

  3. Great! I lived three years in California and learned a lot from it. There are positives and negatives, but I became liberated while in there. I think what you refer as being positive is what I call being really gung-ho with a lot of things, like, just go and do it instead of contemplating. Yolo, I am not sure, but at least you have only verifiable proof that you have one life, so why not push your envelope a little harder. Of course you can come back home with a bloody nose, in Finland that makes you a bad person. Finnish people have so much schadenfreude. And once you are a failure, you are always a failure. In my books there is only one kind of failed person: one that has never exited his or her comfort zone. OK, I am real pinko, communist hippie, so I have reason to hate Mr. Sarasvuo. However, I had no schadenfreude over his failed company when he wrote about it. He took a risk, he failed, but nevertheless he gave it his best shot. That is all that counts, really, in my books. I dunno, I think I think like American here more than a Finn. So, my view of being an American is that you give your best shot and no matter what the consequences are, you cannot be a failure.

    1. Thanks for a really great comment and thoughts Stacy! I agree that in Finland people think it’s better not to try if you’re not sure you won’t fail. There is no support for willingness to learn or doing your own unique thing. For example blogging or acting are not seen as “real careers” in Finland cuz they don’t require certain degree and cuz anyone can do those, which means your success and salary are not secured in a way they would as an engineer or a doctor. I would consider my thoughts more American than Finnish but I’m somewhere between. I still kind of value the secure that degrees etc can offer but I won’t stop doing other things and taking risks to able to live my way. 🙂

  4. I can relate to pretty much everything you wrote. My life would be SO different right now if I didn’t leave for Australia to study 7 years ago! I haven’t been to US yet, apart from Hawaii, but it’s on my list! I wouldn’t even mind living there for a while if we got the chance.

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