I am an Italian high school teacher, Tiziana Micheletti. I teach Spanish in several classes ad my students are generally sixteen, seventeen and eighteen years old. This year I took a sabbatical and I decided to spend seven weeks (January and Februrary 2019) in Finland to observe the Finnish educational system.
The inspiration came to me while reading a Europedirect weekly newsletter: there I found a project promoted by Europedirect Pohjois-Satakunta. The introduction to the project was a question: "Are you a teacher and you want to see how your european colleagues work?". From the first moment, it seemed a really interesting opportunity to me.
Thanks to the mediation and kindness of Krista Antila, leader of Europe Direct Pohjois-Satakunta, I could organize myself to go to Kankaanpää and be welcomed at Kankaanpään Yhteislyseo and Pohjanlinnan Koulu. In both schools I had the possibility to attend several classes. During my stay, I also had the opportunity to visit Karvia school, Ikaalinen school and Parkano school.
I had the opportunity of considering positive aspects and less positive aspects of the Finnish educational system. 
One positive aspect of the Finnish system is, for example, the fact of having a room for each teacher. In Italy, we have a room for every group of students and teacher must run from one room to another. The rooms are often on different floors of the same building and we have no breaks between one lesson and another.
A really good aspect about the Finnish system is that in Finnish schools there's always a fifteen minutes break after every lesson. In Italy we have just a ten minutes break, once in the morning, but the morning schedule is quite long: we start school at 8 and end it at 13.15 pm and sometimes we also have lessons in the afternoon. For this reason it is difficult for the teachers to keep pupils' motivation and attention to a high level.
Another important aspect of the Finnish system is the ventilating and air-conditioning system in the classrooms. Keeping the air clean through changing it constantly and regularly, help students tomaintain concentration and work well. In Italy most of the schools do not have this ventilating and air-conditioning system and changing the air in the room is just possible through opening the windows. 
That's why the quality of the air in the italian classrooms is not so good and sometimes pupils feel tired or ill.
A very important aspect is that in Finland the amount of homework is sustainable (between half an hour and an hour a day). Students feel comfortable with their homework, they feel that they can manage it without too much effort. 
On the contrary, in Italy, students confess that they often feel overwhelmed by the huge amount of homework, even at the primary school. They often feel stressed and depressed, sometimes they decide to quit sport and musical instruments, in order to be able to prepare themselves for school.
One last positive aspect of the Finnish system is the fact that students can choose the courses that they want to attend during the year. Courses usually last some weeks and, at the end of them, there is a final exam to make. In case of failure, students can attend the course and the exam again. In Italy students cannot choose the subjects, they all have the same mandatory subjects, usually around ten. Courses start in September and end in June. In case of bad marks concerning more than three subjects, the student must attend the whole year again.
This have a huge emotional impact on the students.  
Talking about less positive aspects of the Finnish system, I can say that, in general, during the foreign languages courses, Finnish language is used very often: grammar explanations are always given in Finnish (even at a high level) and translation, of sentences or entire texts and dialogues, is still widely used. Students generally do short exercises in couples or groups, but they rarely use the foreign language in the classroom to really communicate between them or with the teacher. In Italy, following the most recent teaching methods, we avoid using our mother-tongue and using translation during the foreign language lessons. We invite the student to talk, to express themselves in the foreign language, to be creative more than being executive. Nevertheless, I can say that Finnish students have a really high level in English and they can speak very fluently outside the classroom, because they are generally really motivated. Usually they watch English television series, read books in English and sometimes have a foreign friend to talk in English with, in Internet.
Another less positive aspect about my experience was the lack of empathy and curiosity towards my person as a teacher, in the schools I attended most of the time in KankaanpääUsually in Italy, in case of foreign visiting professor, the school teachers organize themselves to welcome the colleague and to spend some time together, outside the simple school time. Unfortunately, in seven weeks I did not have the opportunity to do anything with my Finnish colleagues. Just one person, the Spanish adults teacher, found some time to spend with me.
In general, I can say that everybody has been kind and positive to me, but no one showed special curiosity toward my culture, my country and our teaching system. I had some short pleasant moments of sociality in the teachers room of the school and I could do a short presentation about Italy in some classes, but that was all. I must confess that it has been quite deceiving. 
Usually, in the italian schools, foreign teachers visiting the country are considered like someone that have something interesting to tell, a real colleague. 
I think that empathy, solidarity and curiosity are important elements for a teaching system, so I hope that Finnish teachers can start considering this elements like essential skills for life.
In general I can say that this experience was enriching and unique. 
I had the opportunity to know better a country that I love. 
Tiziana Micheletti