Chapter 4 – Learning new things

I am back and I proudly survived the autumn break week here in the School, alone!

Well, actually not completely alone! I shared the dormitory with two students from Tanzania. Two guys who are going to be teachers soon in their own country and who were here to learn about the Finnish education programme for Special Needs Students. It was nice to know about Tanzania e and talk about their studies and about their opinion on Education. It had also been a productive week for me, since I wrote the introduction to my final project for my Master in Psychology. Now I’m waiting for the comment of my supervisor.

During that week the School was closed so I  volunteered in the place where asylum seekers from Asia and Africa live here in Pieksämäki. They are young and full of energies. It’s not sure for them to have a future in Finland (or in Europe), most of them are still waiting for the response of the European institutions about their refugees status. Meanwhile they can attend classes of Finnish language and now, after few months, they can speak a very good Finnish.  I really hope the best for them!

While I’m writing outside is snowing. It’s getting colder here, no more positive numbers in our thermometer. Yesterday walking by the lake we noticed that it was already frozen. And it’s the first time I can see a lake this big frozen!

Frozen lake in Pieksamaki

Yes, it’s finally true, Winter is really coming! The Sun goes down around 15.30 and at 17.00 practically is night. But thanks to the snow is still quite clear even without the Sun! That’s great! I really hope that there will be snow in Winter, to contrast the darkness!

So almost three months are passed since my arrival in Finland and I start feeling more like home. I have my daily routine and even if sometime is not so exciting It’s easier now to find something to do. Indeed the tasks as volunteer are not so many… I really like to work in the morning, during classes! But in the evening can be quite boring!

I’m going to tell you about my work later!

Bye for now.

Chapter 2 – Pieksämäki I’m here

Ok, the training camp could not be forever, I knew it!

But it is still hard to say goodbye to people you like. I left the Camp in Antaverkka wih a little bit of sadness and I reached Pieksämäki by train (remember the important train station there). Every Finn I met during the camp told me about Pieksämäki as a small village in the middle of nothing. So, I expected the worst! And…

… damn! It was cold and rainy that day! Do you know that kind of shower rain which is very annoying? I would say it was not a very good first impression for me considering also the premises.

The School was a desert, because most of the students were leaving for the weekend. So, you can imagine how it is to be in a big and empty place after being for ten days continuously surrounded by a lot of people.


Seurakuntaopisto, my volunteering work place

It was probably my real first cultural shock, even if seeing pasta cooked by Finns is a kind of a shock for an Italian guy (or I guess so, at least it was for me), but that was different, I really felt in that moment to be far away from home, from my friends and from my family. In addition to this, don’t expect Finns to be too extrovert or too smiling. I mean, of course not all Finns are the same (let’s go beyond stereotypes), and you always can find a person that is warming and nice, but I think it is part of the Finnish habit not to behave immediately so friendly. This doesn’t mean that Finns are not nice, they are but in a way that is different from the one of my homecountry and at the beginning this was so hard to understand.

And the language!!! You probably heard that Finnish is one of the most difficult tongue to learn. Well, they are right! Finnish it’s a very difficult language! So, I really hoped to meet people who could speak English. Yet, on my arrival in Pieksämäki very few people in the School spoke English with me. Most of them were just too shy to do it even of they knew the language. For others was just not possible, for example for some students with Special Needs. I have always been proud about the fact that I can listen to people and chat with them easily I can do this using my mother tongue and I could do this in my previous jobs. I was so frustrated because of this “communication-wall”.

So, it was hard at the beginning, but how I wrote before Finns can be nice and friendly in a different way and I will let you know about this in a new post.


Chapter 1 – Arrival in Finland

Well, I am not sure how to start writing about this experience in Finland. But I want to try!

Let’s say before starting that I am not an ethnology expert studying the habits and traditions of different cultures. I can talk about Finland referring to my own experience, so everything I say it’s just my opinion and it’s not the Truth about Finland. This is my own way to see things around me! But now, let’s start…

I arrived in Finland on  August the 15th and after almost two months here I am totally out of my honeymoon period so I can be more objective, or at least I think so.

I applied for an EVS Project in a School in Finland since I wanted to see myself the Education System of this northern country. Indeed, Finland Education System is considered one of the best in the World, the students here reach incredible results spending very few hours at school. Unexpectedly, I have been selected and now I am here in Seurakuntaopisto (this is the name of the school) in the little town of Pieksämäki.

But now, a step back! Because before my arrival in Pieksämäki I have to tell you about my arrival in Antaverkka, near Tampere, one of the main cities in Finland.

I landed in Helsinki the 15th of August and I spent my first night there. The very next day I reached the others volunteers nearby the Train Station of Helsinki, we were all ready for our on-arrival camp: ten days of training about Finnish culture and Finnish language but, most of all, ten days of fun. Even if we didn’t know it yet.


On my arrival at the Camp I was very quiet, trying to keep a low profile, thinking something like”Who are all these people?”, “Why are they staring at me?”… I hope you can understand me, this is my first time abroad not as a tourist and completely alone. Yet I had no chance to keep a low profile. As soon as we arrived at the camp the staff made us break the ice with some funny activities and interesting workshops. Well, in a couple of days we were already starting to get along to each other.

During the Camp I met wonderful people from all over the World: Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Honduras, Japan, Taiwan, Spain, India… It was amazing talking with them and sharing opinions and ideas. I learnt a lot during these informal moments together just chatting.

But I have also to mention the workshops prepared for us by the Antaverkka’s Staff. I can sum them up in the motto “learn by doing” and their have been very useful to “survive” in the Finnish everyday life.

La minaccia dello stereotipo

Dopo aver scoperto che pensare agli anziani può far camminare più lentamente passiamo alle altre conseguenze che può avere l’assimilazione comportamentale, quando lo stereotipo assimilato è negativo.

Uno stereotipo negativo comune è quello secondo cui le donne sono meno brave degli uomini in matematica. In questo caso l’effetto di minaccia dello stereotipo (Steele, 1997) può tradursi in una prestazione peggiore, portando le donne a comportarsi in accordo con quello stereotipo, cioè ad avere risultati più bassi in un test di matematica rispetto ai loro colleghi uomini.

In altre parole la consapevolezza di un simile stereotipo negativo associato alla propria categoria di appartenenza può condurre una donna ad adeguarsi allo stereotipo e ad avere veramente dei risultati peggiori in matematica! Vi sembra improbabile? Eppure è così! Soprattutto quando l’identità di genere è resa rilevante (ad esempio un professore che fa continuamente confronti tra maschi e femmine nella sua classe).

Dunque, un’altra buona ragione per non credere troppo ai luoghi comuni!

A presto

Le rappresentazioni sociali (Moscovici, 1961)

Serge Moscovici sostenne che sono oggetto di studio della psicologia sociale:

– il conflitto tra la persona e la società

– la formazioni e la regolazione dei fenomeni simbolici della cognizione e della comunicazione

Proprio partendo da questi presupposti che individuano l’interdipendenza tra il soggetto come individuo e il soggetto sociale, Moscovici introduce la nozione di RAPPRESENTAZIONE SOCIALE, con cui “intendiamo una serie di concetti, asserti e spiegazioni che nascono dalla vita di tutti i giorni nel corso delle comunicazioni interpersonali”.

Le rappresentazioni si creano dunque nello scambio verbale interpersonale, sono idee condivisi su svariati temi, poi trasformate in conoscenza popolare e si fondano su due processi principali: l’ancoraggio, che permette di agganciare contenuti nuovi al proprio background valoriale, e l’oggettivazione, che da consistenza alle idee traducendole in immagini.

Le rappresentazioni sociali hanno tre funzioni:

– cognitiva, rendendo familiare ci che è estraneo (ancoraggio)

– comunicativa, favoriscono gli scambi interpersonali in quanto fungono da codice condiviso

– normativa, in quanto aiutano la costruzione dell’identità degli individui forzandoli entro certi gruppi o modelli.

In definitiva, le rappresentazioni sociali includono le conoscenze possedute e trasmesse sulle relazioni causali.