Narratives from North and South Europe

Narratives from North and South Europe

Thursday, 6 October 2016

The Cultural Experience of International Students: Narratives from North and South Europe

These days, young people are travelling more than ever before. Studying abroad is a growing and institutionalized practice, (e.g. Erasmus program). But to find out what they’re really getting out of this travelling, we have to get them to tell their stories and explore the meanings of their experience within the broader context of their lives. The results of this study can usefully orient EU policymakers in sustaining young people in their transitional challenges – becoming adults, Europeans and citizens of a globalized world – as well as fostering ongoing education in cultural diversity. Using a mixed-method and interdisciplinary approach, this study investigates the meanings given by a group of international students to their educational, cultural and overall life experience abroad in Helsinki and Florence
Through analysis of in-depth interviews, autobiographical-autoethnographical essays, ethnographical observations and focus groups I will address topics connected with self-construction processes in another culture: family of origin and its economic, social and cultural capital; perception of European social and cultural identity and sense of belonging to a “Cosmopolitan Generation”; fundamental cultural objects shaping the idea of Finland (North Europe) / Italy (South Europe) and Europe in general; interaction with locals and involvement in the host culture; key life passages during students’ stay abroad. The narrative approach yields a clear, in-depth and comprehensive vision of what students abroad are actually doing and what they think about it
UH International Master Students
The aim of the research project is to select a group of international students in Helsinki and in Florence who are willing to: (1) be interviewed following a template divided into three sections addressing the basic phases of travel: departure–transition–arrival. The full transcription of the interview will be given to the participant and becomes the draft of the (2) autobiography-autoethnography where one can revise, change, add, edit and delete at will. The participant is also free to develop other topics and/or to decide to develop certain themes of the template in greater or lesser depth, since it is his/her story. It will be made clear that it is entirely up to the participant to decide what to write and what not to write. Afterword (3) I will organize a focus group session where we can discuss together themes emerged from your narratives 

That’s all!
All international students who are interested in taking part in the research project study, or having more info, can contact me by email ( and find out more about me by visiting this blog. All the participants will be provided with an informed consent form as well as a detailed information sheet.
Pierluca Birindelli

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