I’m Sissi, a woman fascinated by people and their lives a.k.a. cultures — not only national cultures, but also subcultures within nations. I love meeting strangers, and that’s where Strangerless steps in.
This blog is about unexpected encounters, people and cultural differences. It’s about getting to know places from within while on the move (at the moment I’m cycling from Argentina to Mexico) and about observing culture-bound thought patterns even when still. Sometimes there’s no movement at all, as all we have to do is open up our minds, eyes and hearts to see the people around us, even at home. So, enjoy the ride wherever you are!
From Necessity into Passion
Since my early childhood years I’ve been on a constant path towards a culturally complex life. Due to my father’s international career, I’ve found myself communicating in Finnish and body language with Dutch friends at the age of four, learning to distinguish an North American from a Chinese at the age of five and receiving unexpected cheek kisses from a Portuguese boy at the age of six (both me and the boy were traumatized by this incident, which lead to my poor sister getting no cheek kisses at all).
When I was eight, my family moved to the USA, with me knowing only one word in English: lipstick. That and monkey bars were the starting point into my making new friends at school. Seven years later we moved to Austria, where my German level was more or less at the level of Das Auto (thank you, mother) upon my arrival at the Wirtschaftskundlichesbundesrealgymnasium (and people say Finnish has long words). All through high school I spent my summers waitressing in Italy (history repeating itself, I applied for an Italian speaking job with no previous knowledge of the language), which is where I also stayed to study after high school (and where I returned to live for a couple of years later on). Then I moved to Poland (after studying languages in Finland for a while) first for work, then to do a BA in Social and Cultural Sciences at the Polish-German border (specializing in media studies and sociolinguistics. In fact, I’m be convinced that media and languages are two things that shape our minds more than we think). From there, I returned to Finland to complete a MA in Intercultural Encounters and Comparative Religion. For those of you interested in academics, my BA thesis was about Apartheid and Wittgenstein (oral part) and about the conflict between religious freedom and freedom of expression (written part). My MA thesis was about the representation of the Finnish Roma minority in school books.
Before, during and after university, I’ve tirelessly put into praxis my love for intercultural encounters. When traveling, this has been done through hitchhiking, urban hitchhiking, couchsurfing, spontaneous work-aways (leading to having a lovely family in Spain and opening a massage studio in Mozambique) and cycling. When working, I’ve strived for sharing intercultural knowledge through the media (e.g. as scriptwriter for a tv series on Couchsurfing, as programmer for a documentary film festival, as videojournalist for an Italian news agency, as cameraman for a documentary film and as journalist for various magazines), by writing regularly about hiv in Finland and by designing and giving courses on intercultural communication. Since January 2017, I’m also the co-owner and co-founder of the Finnish online travel magazine for women, Seikkailijattaret.
I love exploring cultures and teaching about them, learning languages and observing and interpreting people-related phenomena. I adore extreme sports (rock climbing, paragliding, diving…) and dance. Lately, I have also become interested in digital anthropology and intercultural communication on the internet.
And then I have this blog called Strangerless. This is where I share what I see, think and experience. For more information, articles and interviews, please click here.
Why I wish everyone lived strangerlessly:
Because people are what makes life inspiring and eventful.
Because the unknown creates fear creates hate.
Because strangers are amazing.
Looking forward to meeting you at some point, dear Stranger.