PDP – The M. P. Point of View

Reflections and comments on the Personal Development Plan course

Group Development: A look at the LBI15S

We had been given the following task: To observe our group, LBI15S, and to determine at which stage of group development it is currently, and how can the aforementioned be observed. I will be using the 5-Stage Group Development Model to illustrate the progress of LBI15S. The stages are as follows:

  1. Forming
  2. Storming
  3. Norming
  4. Performing
  5. Adjourning

In my personal opinion, the LBI15S is in a transitional stage between steps 2 and 3, with occasional hints of stage 1. I base this on the observation that even though the group usually manages to complete the tasks given, and  on the surface, the members behave politely for the most part, there is a rebellious attitude in the air. This manifests as tardiness, absence without proper explanation, failure to pay attention to task instructions or the lecture at hand, the existence of sub-groups and visible hesitation to socialize outside them. More of my thoughts on tardiness etc. can be read here.

Only time will tell if/when we achieve stage 3 and the further ones. Hopefully sooner than later.


Culture shock and how to deal with one: Part 2

So, the honeymoon is over. What you at first viewed as new and interesting has become annoying, even oppressive. You feel like an alien, lost, confused, lonely.

But do not worry, for there is hope.

Today I’ll discuss how to overcome one’s culture shock, via providing a brief list of self-help options.

  • Have a friend you can talk to. If you are alone in a foreign environment, having a good friend you can be open and honest with is a tremendous help. Ideally, they should be able to provide constructive feedback also, but for starters, just having someone to talk to helps.
  • Stay away from harmful substances. As tempting as “easy escapes” like these seem, they do nothing but worsen your situation. They may even make you violent, and getting arrested for assault surely will not make your integration easier.
  • Stay active. Make sure you do not imprison yourself in your room. Go out at least once a day, to take out the trash, have a short walk, go to the local grocery store, anything. Strike up a conversation with the locals, about the weather for example. Cheesy? Yes. Effective in helping you feel less like an alien? YES. At least give it a shot. Who knows, you might make a friend.

Culture shock and how to deal with one: Part 1

In this first part, let’s overview briefly: What is, exactly, a culture shock?

Simply put, it is when a person is, due to whatever circumstances, integrated into a culture unknown and foreign to them, and is faced with the task of learning about their new surroundings, and adapting.

First stage is the euphoria from all the novelty. One looks around, wide-eyed– everything is new, shiny, different, interesting. One spends their days exploring, taking in all the new sights, things and customs. This stage is commomly refered to as the Honeymoon Stage.

Alas, what goes up, must come down.

The second stage is the Crash Stage. And the sweeter the first stage, the harder the second stage. What one first viewed as exciting, becomes irritating, maybe even threatening. It is often at this stage that people turn to sometimes harmful methods like drinking and drugs in order to “escape”, and can even become aggressive and violent.

In my next post I will provide insight and tips on how to cope with the Crash, so stay tuned.

On classmates, punctuality and overall diligence and trustworthiness

Today in class I witnessed a sad yet all too common a phenomena, when those who did not participate last time were completely out of the loop.

Having something like sickness happen is normal. You can’t get mad at people for being sick.

What you CAN get mad at them for, is their irresponsible approach to the aforementioned situation.

It could, of course, be that being 26, I have ceased to understand the way a younger person’s mind and value systems work. But to be honest, I could never really understand it. Not in middle or high school, not now. If you are late/absent and fail to produce a valid reason, it’s rude, no matter how one looks at it.

At the beginning of the semester we were introduced to the CARE principles. It’s rather saddening to see how few of all the people who sat there nodding when they were being told, actually follow them.

Why is it so hard to look at the clock and time tables? Is it really too much to apologize when you come late, at the very least, and offer an explanation? And if you miss a lesson, ask your classmates for an update? I do believe the teachers, who are here for us, deserve at least that much.

And overall, it is good practice for the future. The corporate world is rather ruthless in this aspect. If this was a company and not an educational establishment, all of them would have gotten fired already.

Thoughts on studying abroad

As stated in the first blog post, during many of our PDP lessons, we’ve had exchange students, double-degree students, and most recenly, a former graduate who now lives and works in China, holding presentations for us, sharing their experiences and feelings on studying, working and living abroad.

The overall experience has been pretty stimulating. I’ve spent good whiles visualizing working and living abroad, after these presentations. Not just the fluffy daydream part, mind you– I’ve reflected on cultural differences and various conflicts those could cause, I’ve given thought to the living question, funding, consular processes etc. Also, languages.

As it stands, I think my biggest obstacle in going to study abroad wouldn’t even be the money, provided I do my research well and land an affordable place to live, especially if it’s in a European country, but the fact that I’d have to give up my apartment in Kajaani. I couldn’t pay for two apartments, and that would also give birth to the following problem: Will I have anywhere to return to?

Food for thought, indeed.

The 41 Questions Personality test


Again, agreed for the most part, and not much to add. I do strive to be a responsible person. (Interestingly enough, this test classified me as ISTJ. Actually, I’m an INTJ.)

The Big Five personality test

Test Result

So, did the Big Five Test, and for the most part, I agree with the results. I am an introvert, but it doesn’t mean I am a complete shut-in. I do have a pretty lively imagination, and I am open to new ideas and approaches. However I do think I’m more agreeable than what the score suggests.

A PDP SWOT-self-analysis


  • Confident in my own abilities yet aware of my limits
  • Artistic skills
  • Realistic, analytical approach to tasks and situations
  • I strive to be honest and fair, and work hard
  • Good at “getting points across”


  • At times too impatient with people
  • Dislike of social situations (weakness because it makes group work difficult)


  • With practice I (hopefully) can learn patience with people
  • My good language base can open many doors in future
  • The vocational qualification in data processing (datanomi) may help me specialize


  • May end up causing bad damage in social relationships due to strong opinions
  • May withdraw from a project or task I could excel at due to aversion to socializing

PDP – My introduction and initial thoughts

This blog was born as a result of an assignment given to me on a course called Personal Development Planning.

So, long story short: My name is Marika Polla, and I started my studies of International Business at Kajaani University of Applied Sciences roughly a month ago. I come from a small town called Hyvinkaa, so Kajaani has been rather easy for me to adapt to.

My initial thoughts, both on the university itself and this course, really haven’t matched with the reality. Sometimes it’s a good thing and sometimes not, but what I can generally conclude is that at least I haven’t been bored. I expected the university to be far more formal. My mistake of not considering what their motto, “Finland’s Most Proactive”, would mean in practice.

Respectively, my expectations of the PDP course greatly differed from the reality. I was thinking we’d be listening to excerpts from books writen by famous gurus and trying to “find ourselves”. The reality is far more down-to-earth and practical. Learning style tests, presentations by exchange- and double degree students, and info-sessions by the local student unions, all make us think about our future. Beats the heck out of some existential lecture. 🙂

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