When I was born, there were not many immigrants living in Finland. When I went to school, almost everyone was of Finnish origin. People were not that accustomed to different looking people with different backgrounds, cultures or religions especially in the community where I lived.
In junior high school, I started to get to know people from different cultures. I have always been interested in people and especially people of different backgrounds. I think my childhood family was quite tolerant and open to new things. My childhood dream was to travel around the world and get to know new people and places. I have met and become friends with many people of different backgrounds but my dream about travelling around the world has not yet come true, perhaps one day.
My family is multicultural. It is a great asset to combine two languages and cultures. There are many good things about multicultural families, but also their own challenges. Relatives may live far away and people may feel rootless.
In multicultural marriages, there may be disagreements over issues such as values; what is acceptable and what is not. Differences in values can lead to misunderstandings. Also parenting, relatives, friends, gender roles and intimate issues can cause controversy in marriages in general, but especially in multicultural marriages. (Alitolppa-Niitamo, Söderling, & Fågel, 2005, 30-31).
Because of my family situation, I started thinking about what makes a person feel at home. Integration into a new place will certainly take a long time and will vary between people. For myself, when I moved to a new place, it has taken quite a while for me to call it my home. And I only moved inside my home country. For people who are moving from a completely different environment to a new place, calling a place home is sure to take a long time.
When moving to a completely foreign country, a foreign culture, and not understanding the language, you need a lot of support for integration. Family and loved ones help a lot in the adaptation. Family gives strength and a sense of security.
“The family can act as the most important resource for immigrant integration when it remains sufficiently intact and functional despite major and rapid changes in migration. The family can work at its best to its members as a buffer for rapid change, as an emotional support and as a mirror of identity. Like for other children, children with an immigrant background, family is the most important development environment.” (Alitolppa-Niitamo et al., 2005, 44-45).
Alitolppa-Niitamo, A., Söderling, I. & Fågel S. (toim.) Väestöliitto. 2005. Olemme Muuttaneet, Näkökulmia maahanmuuttoon, perheiden kotoutumiseen ja ammatillisen työn käytäntöihin. Helsinki: Väestöntutkimuslaitos ja Kotipuu.