March 10, 2006

musings on becoming american

A friend I hadnt heard from for a few years sent me an email out of the blue asking me how I was doing. When I told him I had been living in Chicago for almost two years now working on my PhD, his first question was whether I'd become American. My first reaction was of course not, but now, maybe because I should really be working on one of my final papers for this quarter, I find myself wondering over this. Maybe I have become more American than I have realized, I have definitely changed in many ways since I moved away from Finland. But does it mean that I am less Finnish and more American now then I was before, or is it perhaps the other way round? We just read about Bourdieu's ideas of the habitus in our systems class, and I think he is right in many ways. But then again how do you define what constitutes American or Finnish habitus? On the one hand I still find eating donuts for breakfast strange and feel myself clumsy at small talk, but on the other hand I carry my laptop around with me everywhere, tend to eat sandwiches instead of a hot meal for lunch, and just this week bought myself a large travel mug so I can carry my coffee or tea around with me, just to name a few things that seemed to me as very American, or at least not Finnish, when I first moved here. Also, as you have probably noticed it is the New York Times instead the Finnish Helsingin Sanomat I tend to follow, and the language I choose to write in is English, but still I am sure to mention my Finnishness to anybody even a slight bit interested in the fact, but maybe even that is not so non-American considering how many of my "American" friends also emphasize their European roots...


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