I feel good after my trip to Finland. I have more energy, I feel happier, more like myself. I feel better and it makes me realise how important it is to go back and recharge my Finnish batteries. How important it is to be able to see my family and to speak my language.
Speaking a foreign language for 80 percent of the time gets to you after a while. Some thoughts are more difficult to think, some feelings come up in different ways, some things get muddled and some things stay on the surface because English will always be the second language.
There has been some research done into the emotional impact of speaking a foreign language. Apparently it makes the speaker more rational (which will only be a good thing for me) and making financial decisions is supposedly easier. Also…
For many multilinguals, swearing in a foreign language doesn’t evoke the same anxiety (or bring the same emotional release) as using a native language. Decreased emotionality in a foreign language spans the gamut of emotions, from saying “I love you,” to hearing childhood reprimands, to uttering morally grave lies, or being influenced by persuasive messages in advertising, writes the Smithsonian.
I find it a lot easier to swear in English than in Swedish. I actually tend to swear in English when I speak Swedish, I find it equally difficult to lie in both languages though. According to the research quoted in the blog, people answer surveys differently depending on language.
Chinese international students studying in North America agreed with traditional Chinese values more when answering a survey in Chinese; they had higher self-esteem scores when completing a self-esteem questionnaire in English. The full extent of these effects of languages on responses are still being investigated.
Talking Swedish for a while, with my family who speak Swedish in the same way I do, means I get to relax, there are no barriers. It means recharging, properly. I wonder if everyone who has moved abroad feels the same way.
I spent most of my teenage years and early 20s dreaming about leaving Finland and going abroad. Now that I’m here, in a foreign country I can never fully understand or integrate into, I find myself missing home. It’s natural, but I didn’t expect it to be such a physical thing.
London is a very accepting place and there are many people like me here, but I still find myself needing my own culture every now and then. It’s not about idolising the home country, what I miss doesn’t even necessarily have anything to do with the actual place. And I don’t miss many specific things, only my family, friends, the summerhouse and, of course, the rye bread. I still don’t know if I want to move back, I love living in the UK, this is where my home is and where work is, but I need to go back.
I wonder how the people who emigrated from Finland in the 1800s and early 1900s felt. How did they manage to hold on to their sense of identity, knowing that they would probably never go home again? How did they deal with the homesickness, waking up on a muggy winter morning and missing real cold. Did their bodies ache for long summer nights when the sun never sets? It’s funny how some things just seem to be programmed into you from a young age, this is your language, this is what weather is supposed to be like, this is how the air is supposed to smell. You don’t really realise it’s there until you start missing it.
Image via Visit Finland.