We started the day with an introduction of the school and the general area. The Belgian exchange students were then showed the school. After the tour we worked in groups, discussing identity and tried to find similarities and differencies between us. Next up was lunch, the Belgians were very shocked to hear that the school luch is free for us students.
We were then divided into teams who each took their own unique oath to see 5 different landmarks, and take a photo with it. Some of us also took a short walk on the ice :)
In the evening we gathered at Venn, to enjoy ourselves and get to know each other better. The locale was very nice, and I believe that everyone really enjoyed the evening. There were also some quite intense card games going on.
The Belgian exchange students arrived in Vaasa on Saturday (12.01) evening. We all went to the airport to pick up the person who we're going to be staying at our house. We we're a group of both nervous and exited students waiting for them to arrive. After picking them up we all went our separate ways. Later in the evening almost all of the group got together and hung out for a while.
During the day on Sunday we had some free-time with our exchange students. Many people took this as an oppurtunity to go skiing, ice-skating, walking on the ice, hiking, and other things you can do in Finland in wintertime. Later in the afternoon a big part of the group met up at Sweet Vaasa to spend some time together and experience one of Vaasa's most popular cafés. After that we went to the school to have some ice-breakers.
After the ice-breakers we got some food, and later we gathered for a movienight.
A peaceful July night, at a local harbour in Gerby, Vaasa.
Does your geographical location define your identity, and how?
We all understand that people differ from others depending on where they live. The culture, religion and national politics along with mores and standards, all shape whom we become.
An obvious certainty is that not only does the country that you live in shape you but also in which city you live in. Do you live in an urban part of your country or a rural? This has a big impact on you.
I have lived my whole life in Finland, so I can only speak from the perspective of living here and answer the questions regarding the effect our nation has had on me.
Most of the laws in Finland are shaped from the beliefs of Christianity. Many of them have changed over the course of history. Thus, even though most Finnish people tend to say that they don't believe in a god, we still unconsciously abide by the Christian mores and standards. These mores and standards that have developed within our society have been passed on from generation to generation.
Finland was for a long time a part of Sweden, for over 600 years, until conflicts in 1808-1809 landed the future of the at-the-time none existent geographical area which today is Finland, in the hands of the Russian Empire. In the beginning, it was rather peaceful, and we were allowed to keep speaking Swedish (which still is the second most spoken language in Finland), we were allowed to keep using the currency that was used in Sweden at the time, the Swedish riksdaler. But after WWI broke out Russia started to take away more and more of the autonomy that hands had been shaken on in 1809. This has consequently led to a big influence on the Finnish people, something that is still with us today. The fear of Russia that is.
One of the things that Finland is known and for which most of us are very proud of is our educational system. Everyone has the same basic education, no private schools or schools that have an attending fee. Every single student has the same opportunity to become something great if they want to, and we all have the same possibilities regardless of the economic status or any other outside factor that could possibly be a problem in other countries. This makes it possible for all of us to strive and dream of becoming whatever we want and gives us the possibility to do so as well.
Something else that defines you is the culture that your language brings with it. If you are a speaker of a minority language you may feel secluded and realise that you have your own little society in with you live or that makes you, you. You may feel more at home with the others who speak your language and this subsequent society may completely shape you differently apart from the rest of the nation.
But is there still a general brush stroke on all of the people in a country. Why are we so different in different parts of the world? There is a lot to factor in, and it is absolutely absurd to think that it is possible to cover all of it in a single blog post. So that is why I leave you with a few questions so that you can think about this yourself, and understand it from your own perspective.
Open questions, no right or wrong answers:
Casper Rosenlöf - Vaasa, Finland
It is nothing new or special that Finland is known for its asocial inhabitants. The cold harsh climate accompanied by its seemingly emotionless population might deter outsiders who are looking for a place to travel to. As an inhabitant of Finland, my perception of being social surely has to be different to citizens of other countries.
Most people that have researched or read about Finland have probably heard of the apparent extreme measures we take to ensure our personal space, this includes putting our bags on the seat next to us in the bus, standing meters apart waiting for the bus and having at least a meter and a half of talking distance. Now most of these can surely be applied to a lot of people, but from my own experience I can safely say that most younger individuals don't mind this, after all most of us are so obsessed with our phones we might not even notice your presence.
The ever so growing globalization and cultural diversity has had its impact on the youth of Finland. I feel like the antisocial stereotype is slowly dying away (at least in the western coast of Finland), and the acceptance of many different cultural approaches to social behavior really has started to chip away at this defining trait.
But don't get me wrong, we aren't suddenly becoming a social nation. The asocial trait is most probably going to be deeply rooted in us for at least another few years, but it should be a lot easier for outsiders to adapt to the newer generations of Finland. I personally hope the increase in cultural diversity will open up the hard shell that is our tendency to be asocial.
Arttu Rintamäki, Vasa Övningsskola (2nd year student)
This blog post has been temporarily removed by the administrator, due to copyright issues.
There are a lot of things that affect our identity. In this post I am going to focus on the different factors. The first ones are society, your nation and culture. They all are factors that depends on where you live. For example it will effect you if you live in a big city or on the countryside with near access to nature.
More factors that affect your identity are your relationships, family and friends. All these are people you surround yourself with and they have a big impact on your identity. But also your sexuality, gender and religion are important factors.
And the last ones that also affect even though you might not think of these straight away are personality, beliefs, fears and our looks. You can actually say that everything we interact with or experience have an effect on our identity.
Mette Malka, Vasa, Finland
The image you have of yourself is different than everybody else's image of you. Every single event in your life has led to who you are now, how your outlook on life is and what your view on yourself is. The fascinating thing is that only you truly know every aspect of your identity. The truth is that everyone sees you differently, every single person you meet will have a different vision of you. People only make an image of you based in what they know. Shocking right? Not really, everyone probably knew this already, but it’s good to be reminded.
Some people stay for a lifetime and some only stay for a minute. In the time they spend with you they create an image of who you are. The longer they stay, the more accurate the image. But you never really know exactly what people think of you or what image they have created of you. The people whose been in your life the longest probably know the most about you, but they might still view you as someone you would never view yourself.
I often think that everyone sees me the same way as I see myself. But I have realised that they don’t. I want people to know that I’m a good person and I want them to have a good image of me. But I, and everyone else must remember that you can’t please everyone and should not feel obligated to either.
It might be hard to think like this because some people might view you as someone you are not. However, we all just must accept that friends, lovers, teachers, parents, neighbours and enemies all will have a different view on who we are. But I think some people might even know you better than yourself.
Isn’t it weird to think that maybe no one will ever see your identity the way it really is?
Amelia Kvist, Vasa, Finland
Identity is a complex thing. From birth to death our identities develop and change. However, something that never changes with our identities is the way they’re written on papers and cards proving our existence.
I am a Swedish-speaking Finn, which means my mother tongue is Swedish. Finns are divided into three different groups Samis, Swedish-speaking Finns and Finns who speak Finnish as a mother tongue. This is also a reason why I don’t like referring to myself as a Finn since it’s so close to the Swedish word finne which refers to the last category. I much rather call myself a Finnish person or just say I am from Finland even though I know that a Finn is simply a person from Finland.
Now I know I know it probably sounds like Finland is a very split country with people who doesn’t want anything to do with each other, but we are all from Finland and that is my nationality, that is what shapes me and my identity.
Elin Kjellman, Vasa övningsskola (2nd year student)
Food in Finland
The food culture we have in Finland is quite interesting, compared to other countries. Here we have food like pea soup, cabbage rolls, mämmi (Finnish Easter pudding) and potato salad. Other countries might think we have a weird food culture, but the truth is that we eat the same food like in most other countries.
The food we have here in Finland is really good, i would say. It depends on where you are in Finland maybe, but the food is cheap on some places, and more expensive on others. Here in Vasa, we have stores like Minimani, who have -60% on some products after 9 o’clock. That’s very good, because you can get some really good food for a good price.
I really like the food we have here in Finland, because it’s such a variation! Here in our school VÖS, there’s almost always good food, and I think that is very important for both teachers and students. You can choose between ‘ordinary’ food, and vegetarian food, so if you want, you can eat both!
How is the food in your country?
Does your country have some kind of special food culture?
Eddie Hiekkanen Vasa, Finland