The last adventure – Ruka!!!

Ruka, Lapland. Snow falling softly, gentle down on the ground and forming a smooth, thick bed of fluffy substance. The first thing you want to do when you see it is dive into it and crawl around. What do we have to do to make a winter trip in Lapland with 18 international students happen? We must all work together and divide the tasks for the trip and planning of the trip.

The adventure started with the preparations. We got an overview what and when each activity was going to happen during the week. We discussed about the roles within the group and then every student got a task. There were ‘day-leaders’, ‘kitchen masters’, ‘accommodation queens’ and more. We had an overall leader, and this time this was one of our students. Our teachers were only local guides when we would arrive in Ruka. We had to organise everything with the least help as possible.

Not only the day planning is important. Some of the challenges were waiting for us in the snow in Ruka. Before we went, we learned about hypothermia and frostbites, and not only theoretical. Like always in this course, the method of learning by doing was used. We practised how to secure somebody who has hypothermia in our classroom. We can already say, we were lucky and nobody had to be secured during the Ruka trip. But still it is important to know about these methods when someone will be in danger. After all the preparations and packing, the trip to Ruka could start.

It was Sunday morning around 9 o’clock when all our students and their luggage was in the bus off to Riihimaki. It was a long and tiring journey up North: Bus, train, train… 3 o’clock it is getting darker… Train, bus, 4 o’clock pitch black… Stop for some food… bus. Finally, we arrived at the cottages 2 hours later than planned. We prepared the beds, talked a bit and fell asleep to be energetic the next day, for our first day of winter sporting.

Ruka
Adventure sports, Ruka 2017

The first day we went snowshoe hiking. The leaders of the day decided to walk 8 km in total and have lunch in a nice hut next to the mountains top. We had two groups of 9 people. The ‘faster’ group and the ‘slower’ group, which meant one would go first and arrive at the hut and start the fire and the second would wait and walk slower to get to the hut. We got our equipment at the Ruka rental shop and started hiking. Nobody forgot the compass or map, so we were able to train our orienteering. Everybody who wanted to lead the group through the snow was welcome to do it. In our group, the day leader said: “We don’t want to do an easy way so there will be some challenge.” Therefore, we had to find our own way  without following a certain path. We trained to use the baring on the compass and it worked all well. Heading for the lake, that would be in the middle of our way to the hut, we found it. It was already frozen so we were able to walk over it our leader said. But next to the lake there was a swampy part which was not fully frozen, and it made “gggrchhhhh” sounds and one of our group members got her feet wet, up to her knee. This was a somewhat critical situation, since we had to find the hut and fire to warm us fast now. Cold temperature and wet feet are something you really have to take serious because it can get very ugly. If we wouldn’t have had spare socks with us, the chance of a frostbite would have been very high. Luckily, we were prepared and we could walk further to find the hut.

We walked up the white and fairy tale looking hill in front of us, but it was not always easy to find the right way. It was exhausting to walk through the swampy area.  And the snow was high and difficult to hike through. To walk in the front needed a lot more energy than to walk in the back because the path was already made by the people in front of you. But we reached the hut and enjoyed the lunch before we climbed to the top of the ‘mountain’. (Actually, Finland doesn’t have any real mountains, since a mountain has to be above 1 km and the hill in Ruka is 500 metres. Just a nice fact.) From the top, we had an amazing view over the area. We were almost able to see Russia, but the clouds averted this. After this beautiful viewpoint, we walked back to the village and then again, we had a little stop close to the end and reflected the day. Back home we cooked dinner, went to the sauna and fell washed-out but happy into a deep sleep.

Ruka

Without too much sleep, the next day started. This day the activity was going to be cross-country skiing. Almost nobody did it before. For the students who were used to stand on Alpine skis, it was very difficult, because it is completely different from downhill skiing. Everybody got it in the end and managed to ride the long thin skis down the trail. When there was a “big” slope which we had to ride down from, nearly everybody fell, but all came back without injuring. We had a lot of fun.

On the third day, we again had a new challenge. This day, everyone could choose between learning to ski or snowboard, and two of our students could get intermediate training because they already were able to ski or snowboard. There was a big difference in the level of experience, but there was a lesson fit for everyone because the more advanced skier and snowboarder could teach the other group members together with the instructor. They started on the baby slope, but at the end of the day they already went of the blue and sometimes red slopes. Even though the snowboarders fell dozens of times, they also picked it up really fast and joined the skiers on the slopes. We had a lot of fun helping each other and improving our techniques but also just playing in the snow together.

 

Erasmus students, Ruka
Way too fast the fourth and last day started. For this day, we could choose ourselves what we wanted to do. Almost half of us went for a sled ride with husky dogs. Truly, this was a once in a lifetime experience. The rest continued their snowboarding or skiing fun and we all had a great time in the snowy Lapland. In the afternoon, we were all together on the slopes either skiing or snowboarding. We had just as much fun as the day before and it was a nice and fun way to end the course together.

Last but not least, we were invited to a secret place for a meeting with the teachers somewhere close to the huts. With a little drawn map we navigated us to the spot and got a snack and a warm drink. This was the final reflection of the trip and a goodbye to the teachers who were going to stay in Lapland.

We drove home in the busses, trains and busses again, all worn out, sore from the sporting but content. Someday some of us will be the overall leaders for these trips and plan everything alone or with someone else. We learn a lot!

Schools on the Move

For our study we need to do a project, Schools on the Move, with different targed groups. There were tree targed groups (childeren, young adults and adults) that did two different days given by the students. There were 8 instructors for 60 childeren, 6 instructors for 40 young adults and 4 instructors for 20 adults. We had one week to prepair the first days and one week to prepair the second day. We write a short text about the different targed groups.

Children

We worked in a group of 8 instructors with 60 children of 12 years old. We set some goals for the activity days as gaining communication skills, social skills and team work skills. All the different activities prepared for them made them work on those goals.

Our planning was well made and we didn’t have many struggles with it,

everyone took responsibility for the time, the rotation of the groups, their own game and the atmosphere.

The first day appeared more difficult than the second day, as we didn’t know yet how the kids characters were and how they would behave, aswell as their teachers. Also the structure of our activities and routine was not clear then.

Eventhough we thought trough nearly everything, we had to learn and experience that it is not possible to think of everything and you have to be prepared for unexpected things to happen. The language barrier e.g. was a big challenge for us which we didn’t expect to encounter. We also improved ourselves learning about all the new activities and ways to teach kids, in our future work-life we will definitely take these experiences with us.

To me the Schools on The Move project was a  great working experience. Working with so many different people and cultures with diferents ways of thinking and also put in practice our new gained knowledge with Finnish children I enjoyed!

Adventure sports
Adventure sports Sini Lahti map

Young adults

The second target group was mixed up from two HUMAK courses from another campus, Kauniainen. The students of age between 18 and 40 study either Sign Language or Cultural Management. As both courses started their studies together but got study wise separated shortly after, the goals of the two activity days were to bring them back in contact build trust and gain communication skills.

After receiving all the needed information to create a group forming and teambuilding event, the group of Adventure Sports students developed the first activity day for the 40 expected students at the campus in Kauniainen. The activities and exercises mainly took part outside.

which worked out perfectly, thanks to the weather, showing itself off from its best side.  Even though the number of students appeared smaller than expected the ones who participated clearly enjoyed the day!

For the second day, the group of instructors had to face some unexpected challenges. The group of participants had shrunken to its smallest due to the distance the students would have had to travel to participate. Luckily a few Adventure course students who had a day off, jumped in and volunteered to participate aside the Kauniainen students. The second day turned out to be as successful as the first and besides fun and a good atmosphere, the groups took some new gained friendships with them.

Balloons
Adventure Sports Sini Lahti Balloons

Adults

Four of us organized the activity days for Wilderness Guides from Kiljava Institute. A group of 20 people with ages from mid twenty till sixty years old. The group was studying together for three months now, learning mostly technical wilderness guide skills. During their studies, they didn’t really get into teamwork, roles in the group and getting to know each other in different situations. Of course, these were perfect goals for the activity days!

The two days both had teambuilding and having fun as a goal, but the days had different themes. The first day was all about ‘trust’. During the day the activities builded up from easier trusting games, both indoors and outdoors, to more challenging activities such as catching and lifting each other, leading and following while being blindfolded. The atmosphere was good and the group obviously had quite some trust in each other and gained even more during the day.

The theme of the second day was the ‘roles in the group’. More problem-solving, working together with the whole group and reflecting on the roles in the group. Even though less people showed up (only 8 from the 20 – the group was unfortunately really busy with their own projects), the schedule was a little adjusted and the group had some nice challenges they managed really well. Saving a treasure from an acid lake, building a tower with marshmallows and spaghetti, conquering a low rope parcours for example but also trying not to laugh when somebody pretends to be a cat right in front of your face – yes, there was also room for a lot of fun. And that’s also what the group realized; that it was so much fun to do activities like this together and that they would really like to to this more often. Mission accomplished!

 

Learning new Adventure Sports skills

How to read the signs on the map
Adeventure Sports Course 2017

Yes! We started with the Adventure Sports Course

In the first week, we already learned a lot. This was also necessary because the second week we would already go on a hike trip in Lapland.

In this first week, we tried out the trangias at the beach next to the school and prepared a meal. Another day we put up the tents and the tarps in the forest, so we would know how to do it when we were hiking. We learned how and what to pack in our backpacks, what necessary clothes are and how you put on different layers. We needed to make a food plan. In this food plan, we thought about the right amounts of food to bring, so we don’t have too much or too little food. Finally, we learned how to read the signs on the map, for example how far the walk is from point A to point B.

We started the second week

We packet our tents and necessary material for the hike and we left to the train station.  After a long long long way up to the north, we finally arrived to Kemi.  From there, the journey was still three hours, until arrival at Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park.  After arriving, we knew how to put on the backpacks the right way, and we started orienteering ourselves with the map and compass.

When we arrived to Hietajarvi, the first camping spot, we had to show our skills mounting the tents and tarps. We learned new practical skills, like chopping wood, using the knives for getting the fire started, pooping in the wild without harming the nature and learning about the National Park and “every men’s rights”. In the mean while we had nice company of A LOT of mosquitos. Even though they told us, you don’t need your insect repellant 😉

The second day started with some group dynamic exercises, which included some nice massages. It is always useful if you are an instructor and want a cohesive group, gaining trust in each other and want to get everyone in a good mood to start with a good exercise. Later we had a workshop for orienteering skills, it was about how to situate yourself on the map via your surroundings, and not to only trust the marked paths but also to double check on the map.

During this day, we experienced how it is to be a leader and to be the last man of the group. We have seen and felt the importance of supporting all the group members, adapting to others group members and taking care of each other. There was space for experimenting with new (leadership) behavior and finding your role in the group.

After a very nice walk through the beautiful nature of Finish Lapland and seeing reindeers we arrived at our second destination. We were all happy with the sauna and we could sleep in a warm hut. What a treat! This evening we got more responsibilities and made our own schedule for the next day, were we had to calculate a good wake up time, time for cleaning the hut and getting yourself ready for the hike and enough time for the hike.

The third day we went across rivers helping each other and climbing Tappuri’s mountain. We had to discuss what’s the easiest way to climb to the top and to go down. The last part of the hike trip we walked without an instructor and we needed to use and show our new technical skills and leadership skills.

The fourth and final day of our hiking trip was the most independent day. We walked 8 km alone within groups of 5 people, were one was the leader. We had to cross a river, using our learnt abilities for helping the others and working together in a group.

Exchange students Kayaking
Next adventure sports kayaking

After we came back from the amazing hike trip, we had a couple of days off to reload our self with new energies for the next adventure sport kayaking.

Kayaking

The first kayak session was plant in the pool where we started to train the wet exit. We were excited but not everybody was comfortable to capsize the kayak. Many of us never did this before, so it was awesome to see people getting out of their comfort zone. Everybody succeeded the wet exit and we had a lot of fun. In the afternoon went for a canoe paddle training to get familiar with the lake and getting use to paddling.

The rest of the week we gain a lot of skills in kayaking. Think about basic techniques like paddling straight, making turns, making a float and paddling backwards. After that we also practiced how to move your kayak sideways, how to stop, sweep move ect. We also needed to practice the wet exit in the lake! Nobody know why exactly but some people where so excited about this exercise that they started to practice earlier than planned. It was great that they knew how they could get out of the kayak so it turned out to be fun!

Then the rest of the group also needed to get their clothes wet and we all trained the wet exit in the cold water. How did we get warm again? SAUNA for everybody!!!

Adventure Education 2017
AdEd Climbing and low ropes 2017 Exchange students

Climbing & Low ropes

This last week we have been busy with climbing. Comparing to the hiking on the ground and kayaking in the water we are now working on getting skills with highs. We got to partner up with somebody and started with the basics of belaying outside on the school ground.

The next day we went together with the finish students to the wall climb hall at Helsinki. For some of us it was new, so we started with a step by step method and the people that already knew about the climbing where helping to teach the others. We learned that climbing is built on trust and believing in you self. Furthermore, it is very important that you stick to the safety rules and focus all the time on your belaying and climber.  The feeling of falling down and the experience of climbing to the roof is an emotional and strong skill, and useful in adventure education. After the morning, we had been working on our own at different types of climbing; there was top rope climbing, bouldering and a wall with self-belaying.  It was a successful experience and most of us plan to do it again.

Another form to climb is working with slack lines and low ropes. We have been challenged by different low rope exercises that mean that we need cooperation, communication and trust in each other. Then we had to build our own low rope parkour where we figured out that we could create a fun and save climbing area by our self. We learned different forms to hang the low ropes in the tree. This is very valuable to our skills and teaching knowledge.

The last weeks we learned a lot. It’s very motivating to learn and practice this methods and new skills so we can take them home to our countries and introduce them over there.

 

 

 

Start of the Studies and Pallas Hike

Humak Nurmijärvi campus

WEEK 1: ARRIVING TO CAMPUS

During the week before school started all Erasmus students arrived at Kiljavan Opisto campus. Day after day the group got bigger and by the end of the week we were with 18 exchange students from different nationalities. It was really interesting to get to know all the different people and their own background stories. To get to know the environment where we were going to spend three months of our life’s we immediately started doing activities with the whole group in the weekend like hiking, cycling, sporting, etc. In the beginning it was really hard to live with everybody together on one floor and share everything, it was something that not everybody was familiar with so it took some time and planning to get used to it.

WEEK 2: START OF SCHOOL

Finally school started and we were all curious about it because we had heard a lot about the course and we could finally learn more about the next months and our study program. When entering the classroom both excited and a little bit nervous, the teachers made us feel really welcome from the very beginning. After we got the basic information about our studies and the use of online communication platforms the real classes could finally start.

We got to know that we were going on a hiking trip to Pallas National Park in Lapland the week after, that seemed so close for everybody that we all got a little bit stressed with the preparations. But later in the week the teachers helped us a lot with planning everything to the smallest details, for example we had to make a food plan for the whole week, got a list with all the equipment we needed and learned a lot about safety that could help us during the trip.

WEEK 3: PALLAS

Pallas in Autumn

On Monday the whole journey started and it turned out to be a long day and night. At first we had to do the final packing of our bags before we could leave with the bus to catch the train later on. Everybody left campus really prepared and looking forward to the week in the National Park. After a long train- and bus ride we continued the trip by foot. During the following days we walked circa 33 kilometers full of ups and downs. We ran into several kinds of problems, some a little bit bigger than the others, but we were always able to solve it as a group.

The trip was very captivating for all of us because we got to practice a lot of skills, got to know each other but also ourselves. Everybody experienced the trip in a different kind of way but it made us a better group. And even though we’ve learned a lot and it was a school trip, we still got the room to enjoy the amazing nature and it’s gifts like the snow and the reindeers!

After another long trip back home we enjoyed the small luxuries like a hot shower and our cozy beds a lot more.

 

 

The Post-Erasmus-Depression (dip)

When it all begun…

Going on an Erasmus adventure in Kiljava has been a great experience for all of us. We had the opportunities to experience the Finnish culture and to meet new people from all over Europe. We now know for sure that we will miss the Finnish traditions, such as eating cinnamon breads or going to the sauna totally naked on daily basis. A lot of our Erasmus students went first to our private gym or private swimming pool, to go chilling after that in the sauna. Your body feels totally great when you do that!

During our Erasmus programme, we had the opportunity to travel a lot. We travelled in Finland to Lapland and to neighbour countries, such as Russia and Estonia. We saw the northern lights, as well in Lapland as in Kiljava on our own roof! We could experience the joy of nature in our ‘garden’. It was a privilege for us that we could go walking around the lake, into the woods or on the beach at the moments that we wanted. But the best experience that we had this semester was that we made friends for the rest of our lives.

Of course, going on Erasmus has also a difficult part. At the end of the programme, we have to say goodbye to everyone and to the environment and we must go back home. These weeks are now our last few weeks, so after three months of Erasmus, we are making ourselves ready to go home again. The flights are already booked and the last days of school will start next week. After our last week of school, we will go back to our earlier life, which will feel very strange in the beginning. We will all go back to our families and back to our home countries and we have to leave our new life and our new friends behind. We must go back to reality. Going back to reality will not be easy and can cause a few problems, such as an Erasmus dip. But no worries, we provided a few solutions for these problems!!

The first thing that you should definitely do, is keep in touch with all your Erasmus friends. Just because you can’t walk into each other’s rooms or go to the gym or sauna together, doesn’t mean that you can’t stay in contact with each other. You can use all kinds of communication for this: Facebook chat, Skype, WhatsApp or even letters.

The second solution for the Erasmus dip is bringing your Erasmus memories back to your home country. You can for example put pictures or postcards from your favourite places in your room. Looking at this pictures and postcards will give you some happy moments during the lonely days.

The third solution is travelling. You have friends now from all over Europe! That’s a great chance for you to travel and to meet your friends’ hometowns. You can also invite your new friends in your own city and host them!

The next solution to get rid of your Erasmus dip is getting a new tattoo! Five out of twelve people here in Kiljava Opisto already have an Erasmus tattoo. This is a lifetime reminder on the wonderful time you’ve had during your Erasmus adventure. These tattoos are also nice to show each other when you planned your next reunion!

Next, you have to remember that you can always go back to the place where it all begun. Come back to Helsinki and to Kiljava Opisto, with your friends or alone, and experience the adventure all over again. You are now an expert in the Finnish culture and your friends will love to be guided in your ‘hometown’.

Our last solution is talking with people back home. Of course, you will feel lonely the first few days or the first few weeks, but when you tell all of your Erasmus stories to your friends back home, you can experience the best moments again. This is surely also a win-win-situation, because they will definitely hear all of your experiences!

As we already told you, the first weeks will be hard and difficult. Don’t be sad when you experience these difficulties. Think about the perfect moments that you experienced, the beautiful sunsets that you saw and the best friends that you made and you will feel soon happy again! We will miss you, but we will also meet again soon!

Enjoying our last weeks of Erasmus.

Lots of love and big kisses, Mieke and Tessy!

 

Trip to St Petersburg, Russia

26/04/2017 – 1/05/2017

Everybody got their passport? Check. Charger? Check. Phone? Check.

Finally the day had arrived that we could leave to St Petersburg, Russia. A trip we booked months ago with almost our whole Erasmus group. Everybody was so excited. And of course we where! Let’s go to Russia!

Like always when we book trips, first the bus to Helsinki. Right on schedule we arrived in Kamppi. Let’s make a last stop to buy some food and drinks for on the boat and change some money in to rubles. After a walk to the port and a search to the timetravel desk we get our boarding passes.  Finally we can enter our boat. Not just a normal ferry, a real cruise ship it is!

First thing we do is looking for our cabin. Way smaller than we expected, but clean and cosy. Just the way we like it! A bigger disappointment was hiding behind the curtains… no window, just a grey wall. We met our cabin mates and got installed. New friends from Denmark, check! Let’s go and see what else the boat got to offer. Found some restaurants and bars, a casino, duty free shop and went on deck. After we ate something, we changed, bought some drinks and are ready for the first (club)night on the boat!

The evening started with a dance show from Russian girls. Not something that we are used to, but so much fun to watch! Making friends on this student trip was not so hard. During the show we got to know some German and Italian guys. Let’s say this night was a bid shaky, but let’s blame that on the restless Gulf of Finland.

The next day we could enter Russia in the afternoon. We were a bid stressed about crossing the border, but after some time we all could enter Russia. What a relief! During the bus trip we got some information about the city and made some stops. After this, time to go to the hostel and prepare for the night cruise on rivers and canals.

After a hangover day and a lot of traveling, we were not so excited for again an excursion on a boat. Once we arrived it was whole different then we expected. Loud music, cruising on the canals and rivers and free cava, not at all what we expected! Very cold but so much fun on this trip. We saw St Petersburg from a whole different angle and the right company made it perfect.

The alarm clock rings very early this morning. Finding breakfast on the street is not that hard. The only thing is that you don’t know what you will eat or what it will cost. Nobody speaks English and they think that once you enter Russia, you must speak the language. Grumpy Russians is a good way to describe them. But, nothing to worry! We found food and are ready for our guided tour to the impressive Catherine’s palace. This palace is a 300m long place that shouts wealth! It’s an amazing and impressive place.

During the afternoon we got some free time and we went to the main street to drink some coffee. One good tip to survive St Petersburg, don’t ever cross a road if the light is red. The Russian traffic is just crazy! Chaotic, busy, dangerous and loud!

This evening we are going to get the whole Russian experience. Traditional evening, food, music and a whole show. Our expectations are high. Russian evening, Russian rules. Before the first meal you should take a shot of vodka. It open’s you stomach and makes it easier to eat more. Who are we to break Russian rules? First shot and meal are done. Second rule: The second shot has to follow fast after the first one. Okay, if they say so! After some shots and meals, the show could really start! Some musicians made our whole evening complete! After the dinner, Dimitri (our timetravel guide) assured us that in five years time, we where the most amusing group! Thumbs up for us! After dinner, we went to an underground strip club to go clubbing. The night was complete!

The next day was one without our new friends. They left to Moscow and we went to the Hermitage Museum. Biggest museum from the world and you could spend 8 years here.  For us, a couple of hours was just enough! Afterward we went to the Cathedrals of St Petersburg. Very cold and so much rain was not so nice, but again so much impressive things we saw!

Last day in Russia, packing our luggage and let’s go to the ship again. This trip is almost over, luckily, we have one last night on the boat remaining. Time to say goodbye to our guides and thank them for the wonderful trip! One thing is sure, we will come back!

Tomorrow we have to leave the boat at 7. That doesn’t stop us from making it a good last night! Again a show and some clubbing. We even met the captain of the boat and made some pictures with him. This night, and the whole trip where just perfect! This time, we must say goodbye to our new friends from Germany and Italy. Let’s hope to see them again…

Very tired and hangover we take the bus back to Kiljava, to home. Not so many weeks left before we all have to go home… Let’s make it a last good month!

A little aftermovie to give a better image of the whole trip!

Russian kisses,

Laura Schepers, Kiana Doms

 

Kontula Electronic

MOIKA!

The weekend of the 21th there was a Electronic festival going on in Kontula. During these days music was playing around the area, activities and other performances were there to entertain the people of Kontula. This project is mainly made for bringing the people together, to bring joy to the area and to encourage the positieve vibe in Kontula and in the people living there.

We all know that Kontula has a bad name in Helsinki that’s why the makers of this project want to make something that helps their name give a positieve connotation again. These assumptions are made on only the bad news from the area but there are also a lot of good things going on here. That’s why we wanted to write a blog about this event. We saw the joy in people’s eyes relive again. We didn’t witness any thing that could have been seen as a crime. People were just enjoying this moment, and enjoying their neighbours. It was very nice to see. The people in Kontula talk much to strangers, what I think is very nice. They are not narrow-minded at all.

We also thought that it fits quite good with social work. It doesn’t always have to be about discrimination, racism, or other cultural problems, but now it’s really about a city that gets a bad name and reputation. People all over Helsinki know this place and know that it has a bad connotation next to it. We think this event is a really good thing, because it gives colour to the darkness.

Music brings people together, that’s we know for sure.

MUSIC IN KONTULA

There was a lot going on these day’s in Kontula but the main thing was electronic music. There were some amazing artists playing on the festival, not only from Finland but also some great international musicians. It was nice to hear how during the day there was some music playing outside around the shopping centre. And it was also fantastic to see how people really reacted on that. They came together, talked to each other, dunk some beers,… You could see how people were having fun. There was a very happy atmosphere and a lot of people seemed to enjoy the event.

There was a good sound and we thought it was a nice warm up for the rest of the evening. At the bars later in the evening the music was really good and you could see that is was appreciated by the crowd. There was a lot of people and the bars were very full.

Then we went to another bar called Patajäkä, a smaller bar but really good atmosphere, people were dancing. There was a catchy vibe and nice songs. You saw people having talks with friends and strangers, what was really pleasant to see. We saw persons connecting with each other and also with us. What we truly thought was amazing. A lot of easy going but different people coming together to have a drink and to dance on the vibes.

We think that the bars were full of nice people. The prejudice that Finnish people drink a lot, is a bit true. That is really a sad thing we think, but also a bit funny. In my opinion it’s also a bit weird that so many people drink so much, and some start quite early as well in the day. I mean: it costs a lot of money, but still they don’t really care that much about it and spend it to that. Besides next to the drinking, it’s amazing what kind of an effect Electro music had in Kontula. Everybody enjoyed it. For me, if somebody is listening to Electro music, he or she is a bit alternative and therefore knows about the problems going on in the city, country or world. We thought that was a very pleasant thought that more people are aware of the bigger picture. Maybe one day the world will go into a nice place.

After that we went to see the two bands in the skate hall underneath our youth hosue. The first band called “Rainbowlicker” a Finnish band who gave a strong live performance. The music was very good both; the instrumental as the singing was really powerful. And we thought the venue was amazing, really a cool place to have a live concert! The sound and the acoustic in the place was also good. After that it was “Stylish Nonsense”, a band form Thailand, his turn to preform and put the skate hall on fire. We thought in the beginning it was a little weird but after a while we start to get the music more. The band doesn’t have his name stolen and we thought it represented the type of music they perform. Whatever that kind of music was, it was very experimental but I wound not call it actual nonsense. The mix between electronical music and alternative rock was something different and we heard that they never play a similar concert, we really could believe that.

 

Even something for the smaller kids

At Saturday there was more activities to do during the day. In the afternoon kids could come to the youth house in Kontula, were we did our internship, to be part of the kids disco. The party had a five year old DJ who was playing and it was amazing to see her! The children had a really good time and danced a lot on the music. Later on, they also could test how to be a DJ by playing some music themselves, and they made a little karaoke where everybody was signing along. It was so nice to see them have fun. A snack and a drink were provided!

We think it’s a very good idea that they do something for the smaller kids as well. Because everything is mostly for the youngsters or the adults. We thought a 5 year old DJ was also something very cool to do! Although we didn’t see her that much… She ate some popcorn and hide somewhere, that was really funny. Her father took over and did a very good job! We think he is very proud of his little girl.

 

Activities and workshops

Beside the fascinating and innovating music, there were a lot of activities where people could participate. These activities weren’t always about the music, it was also about talking to each other about philosophical things and about the Kontula area. And one activity had as a goal to realise that woman are still denigrating in society.

MAKING MUSIC

In the Youth house in Kontula there were some workshops who learned people how to make music from old toys who make some sound and from coding.

The first workshop that took place on Friday the 21th, was made by a collaboration between Mehackit and Codebus Africa. We have met Tommi Toivonen and Jukka Eerikäinen, who gave us a very nice explanation about the working of Mehackit and what they do. They use the programme Sonic Pi to learn the youth and adults how to make some music by using a specific code.. For this workshop they worked together with Codebus Africa. Codebus Africa is a 100-day project all around in Africa, as a celebration of the 100th years independence celebration.

I thought it was a bit weird that they learned kids how to make electro music in Africa. The organizers from this project even said that some children had never seen a computer before in their lives. I think that must have been amazing for this child to see it in his or her life, but at the other hand: is it really this that we need to learn them? Is it so that we have to learn them something that they can do for only 100 days, never to do again untill they have the money and circumstanes of having or owning an computer and be able to do something with the making of the music?

Both the workshops were really interesting. I mean, it’s a different way of making music. And the people just loved it in Kontula! We think it’s nice that using a code or an old toy can create some decent music. Although we found it a bit weird but we think this is essential for electronic music. Electronic music is just something totally different than jazz of blues, rock or metal. You really have to hear and feel it, to understand it. We really liked it!

SAUNA AND SPINNING ON THE KONTULA-SQUARE

In front of the Youth house there was a sauna where people could have a philosophical discussion about multiculturality, ‘How to be a good neighbour?’,  and love. The conversations were already going on while we arrived, so we didn’t take part of it. I really think this is too bad because we thought this was really a nice idea. Also with the morning yoga, sounded really inspiring! We also thought it was nice that they had an philosophical corner, it gives a little bit more consciousness in the area.

A bit further there was an activity that spread the awareness about the status of woman in society. There is a song playing, and we think that the text was being translated on a big scream. In front of the scream there were 3 exercises bikes, so that the people could ride, read and listen at the same time. I wonder if there was only this subject, or also other subjects. Because this would have been very nice to show some problems that are living around the city. If people can get aware of a problem, others might react on it and prevent it to happen again. Around the people who were biking, there were people just listening to the songs and getting aware. That was really nice to see! By doing this activity they try to keep the people informed about the problems living in society and in Kontula. We think that creating awareness is a good step in the direction.

We think the title was something like:’’ let’s pedal Finland back into shape.’’

We think it’s very good that there is something like this spinning thing. I mean, showing the problems of society in an project where the area wants to get a good name. That is really good! It’s good that people know what is playing in other people’s lives. If everybody unites, we can change the world!

While we were walking in Kontula, we saw a big map of Kontula. We thought that was a really good idea, because we wanted to see the Museum of Impossible Sounds and Visions. But had no idea where to find it. We looked at the schedule but we didn’t understand that much Finnish, so we were quite lost. That’s why we would maybe advice to give some information in English as well, so that other cultures can fully enjoy of this event.

URBAN TRANSFORMATION MUSEUM

That’s also why we were pleasantly surprised when we came in the Museum. First it wasn’t a museum like you would visualize yourself. After searching the place for quite some time, we arrived in a room where five people were talking to each other and a group of people listening.  We had no idea we entered a room where they had a discussion about ‘What will happen and is happening to Kontula?’. One of the speakers was from Belgium, so we were surprised by that as well! Their discussion was really interesting. It talked about the changes in Kontula, the similarities and differences in comparison to Helsinki and Kallio for example.

They are seeing some changes in Kontula, that maybe aren’t for the best. Like for example: the banks have already left the area and the post office will leave in one year, what will be the consequences of this for Kontula? I mean, if you want to make a complaint, you have to go the whole way to the police station. The people will have to be more mobile, and go further to get to their service needed. Or they could do it over the internet, but the older people could maybe not get there. Also they saw that it made it change into an area with (groceries)shops, restaurants and bars.

We didn’t stay until the end of this conversation, although this was a really nice event. It talked about problems and solutions for this place, with people talking who studied the Helsinki area. It was also in English, so we thought that was really go. If something is in English, other cultural (minority) citizens could’ve come there and really participate to make the city a tint again.  It was wear dreary so everybody could just attend to that. I think this is really a good thing in Kontula Electro, because besides the nice music, the friendly people and the good food; these moments really helps this area getting better.

VEGE FOOD

In the old post office, Whanda Postti, you could get some vegetarian food that was really good! We were so hungry and only find some hamburgers in the Helmi Grillin Terassi and thought no were else you could get some food. But lucky this charming place offered us a tasty meal! I was amazed by the tastes and was really full when done. We think that in Finland you can really see that some people eat vegetarian food or even eat vegan. In the shops there is a shell for vege- and vegan food. You even have some restaurants only for vegetarian meals.

We took some Mini-taco’s and the curry meal. It was really good! In the curry meal, there were a lot of beans. I never ate them that much in Belgium, because we don’t have much recepies with them; but here I eat them often, and we both really like them! Especially with a red sauce like tomato or something spicy.

We thought it was a really nice idea to make some event for that purpose and in an area like this. We think Kontula is an area where there are a lot of cultures together, and that is a very good thing. Multiversity is good so that we can learn to live together, appreciate the differences and have some fun together! What we maybe did think about, was maybe making an event in Kontula Area where you could find any type of music or food, linked to their culture. Also because we thought that there were a lot of Finnish people in the bars, and not that much different nationalities, although we know they are here.

Still we think that the goal has been achieved, and that it really was nice for all the inhabitants of Kontula to have a place like this. The event took place in the middle of the centre, so that the people living around it, doesn’t have any complaints about the loud music in the night for example. It was really a good place to bring the people together, and enjoy the music and activities!  We hope that in long term period, this really makes a change in the name of Kontula!

A cultural change?

We were thinking about maybe organizing some cultural event, next to the Kontula Electronic. The Electo-event is very good to get the people together, to get them to know each other a bit more and just to let the city live. Also it’s good for the bars and restaurants. But this is not so good for the city, because in the museum of impossible sounds and visions, we heard that it’s not so good that Kontula will be an urban place, maybe it should stay like a city. Most of the people of Kontula agree with this.

We think that there weren’t that much people with another cultural background getting to the event, and that maybe it hasn’t that one ingredient missing to get them also included. What could you do more for social inclusion?

Just like in our internship they try to include everybody by making some special food, like for example; during the kontula Electronic, there were some people in the Youth house making some Afghanistan food. Johannes thought it was really good.

So maybe there could be still some coming together with the people of Kontula, to see what they really need. And it’s important that the minorities of Kontula can participate. I think it must be hard to get the minority in the group and to give them a voice. But they really need it and actually it’s for the best for everybody!

 

 Johannes Vanneste & Deborah Boon

~Love and Unity is the key ~

 

 

The Northern Lights

What pictures come to your mind when you think about Finland? Maybe green forests, a lot of beautiful lakes, crazy Finns and the NORTHERN LIGHTS? Forests, lakes and Finns are easy to find here but to find the northern lights was more difficult than we thought. Probably nearly everybody has seen some fascinating pictures with the beautiful green and purple lights in the sky, but what is the reason for this beautiful spectacle of the nature? The bright dancing lights of the aurora are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere. The lights are seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. So Finland is one of the places to see them!

Now we want to tell you about our quest in search to see the sky enlighten colourful.

First, in the middle of February Samuel and Grégory went to Lapland to discover the beauty of nature. They tried to catch northern lights but it was too cloudy. Every time again they tried to see the spectacle outside, days after days they lost their patience to catch them. Apparently Rovaniemi has too much light pollution and the weather was really bad to see the northern lights at that time. Grégory and Samuel’s last day in Lapland were even more disappointing because they had heard that at the last night some people in the north were able to see it. When eventually Grégory and Samuel came back to Kiljava, explaining their experiences with some of the Finnish students, they’ve been told that there is a possibility to catch some of the northern lights here in Kiljava as well!

Later, in the middle of march 9 fellow students went to Rovaniemi again. They all had a lot of different plans on doing something in Kiljava, but one thing was in common – they wanted to see the northern lights! In the weeks before the trip they were all sure: they would see them! Some of them downloaded apps on their mobile phones explaining that the probability would be high on the weekend, so they planned to go. Assuming if the app said exactly that, then it must be true? In the days before the trip the weather forecast showed cloudy skies. Meaning that it isn’t good for seeing the lights. So for the first night, standing outside, on a frozen lake, with ‘sooo’ many clothes on, the only thing they could see, was… the sky. A normal black sky, that everyone can see everywhere during the night. Sometimes someone said “ahh look there!”, but it was nothing special. It was slightly disappointing but all hopes were focused on the last night of the trip. The weather forecast back then showed that the skies were about to be clear and so there was no reason to become desperate. They had a lot of hope on seeing the lights that last night.

At the last night it was -10 degrees, the sky was clear and they were full of hope but also in expectation to get disappointed. Maybe the positive thoughts in their minds felt also a little bit cold and because of that they weren’t that motivated to be outside for nothing again. So, the last try in Lapland started as followed: Tessy was standing there with her camera (she made all the beautiful pictures we used in this post), Brian used music on his mobile phone to add some sphere and some people started to dance a little bit to get warm. And yes, there was something green at the horizon, but really it was not much. “Really? That’s all? Should we be happy, because we’ve seen anything? Or is it okay to be disappointed?” Tessy made a lot of pictures, but the pictures showed more than you can see with your own eyes. They waited a while with the hope to see better results, but it stayed a really dim light at the horizon. After a while we went inside before we would become ice blocks. Somebody said, that in the next week the probability is high to see the lights in Kiljava, so there was some hope left to see them later.

 

A few days after the journey to Lapland, everyone back at home, Mieke sent in our WhatsApp goup: “We see the northern light now!!!”, Brian: “WAKE UP AND COME”, everybody was soo excited, you could hear the people running, everybody wanted to see them. All ran to the roof and there was something to see, but not so much as expected after this big excitement.

 

A day later it was exact the same. That night the whatsapp message was in dutch: “NOORDERLICHT!!! NOORDERLICHT!!!…” The people started running again and yes – it was the night with the nicest lights for us. Now you could see them definitely. The funny part is, because of excitement, Grégory jumped out of his room and totally forgot his keys inside. It was just after taking a shower, so he stood outside with only his towel. Really… freezing!! Finnish people laughed a lot when they saw Grégory standing at the reception, asking for the key of his door, with only his towel around his waist!

But the Northern lights are really beautiful, just be careful you don’t end up as Grégory…

 

Written by Grégory Voltz and Antonia Koch 🙂

 

 

Music of Finland

Many of us are music lovers, that’s why we want to take you on a trip through the different genres of music that are related to the history of Finland, or those who are widespread in Finnish culture.

Finnish Folk

Finnish folk music is influenced a lot by Karelian tunes. Basically Karelia is an area divided between Finland and Russia. Karelian music is regarded as the purest expression of Finnish music, less influenced by Germanic and other outside elements.

Karelian music in itself is strongly linked to the Kalevala which is a 19th-century work of epic poetry compiled from Karelian and Finnish oral folklore and mythology.
Most of the Karelian tunes are composed with the Kantele, which is a traditional plucked string instrument.

Finnish music is also influenced by the Sami people. They are the native people of Lapland, living between Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia. Their music is unique because they use the “Yoik”. It is a traditional form of singing, considered an art form. The sound of “Yoik” is comparable to the traditional chanting of some Native American cultures. It always has a link with a person, a place or the nature. These songs are most of the time highly spiritual and do not have lots of lyrics or rhymes and have no definite structure. They are all about a topic that the singer wants to sing about. In the Northern areas of Scandinavia and Russia, each person often has their own “Yoik”. Sometimes given at birth as a symbol of live.

example of the yoik

Sami folk music

Also, something really Finnish is the Humppa. This kind of music is related to jazz and very fast foxtrot, played two beats to a bar with instruments such as tuba or accordion. The humppa becomes also the name of the famous social dance in Finland. Humppa literally meaning the social dance. All these dances are strong based and have good rhythm to dance on. The dance itself has three forms, the one-step, the two-step and the “Nilkku”. The last one is based on slow/quick/slow rhythm.

Metal and Rock culture

A reason why some of us came to Finland was because of the love for metal and rock music, Finland is THE perfect country for that. A lot of famous metal bands are Finnish, and that kind of music here is quite widespread in the society. We realised that more often even people that don’t listen to metal music have a basic knowledge of it.

Generally, Finnish metal music is really emotionally deep, it gives us goose bumps.
We don’t know why metal music is so common here, but we talked with people in order to answer that question. They responded that maybe it’s because Finnish people are culturally shy, even if we don’t think so, and metal music allow them to let their feelings out in an easier way.

We went to Nosturi, which is a concert hall in Helsinki. There was a famous Finnish band playing, Korpiklaani. They sing mainly in Finnish language, using instruments such as the accordion or the violin. Their lyrics are about nature, alcohol and also spirituality. That’s because the lead singer lived for a few years among a Sami tribe in Lapland, so he was really close to nature, he used to try to communicate with the wolves by imitating their howling. Even now, he is part of another band, more folk music oriented, that uses the “Yoik” way of singing.

and many more concerts will follow 😀

 

Made by The Amazing Sam and The Terrific Brian

We do not own any of the showed video’s or songs that are used in this blog.

 

 

One day in Kiljava

Sun is up – the view from our living room 🙂

Our day start at 8:50 am respectively for those who can survive without coffee. Almost all the alarms start to sound now. So, you can hear how the people start to run to be on time in class. It is time to wake up, have breakfast, get dressed, brush your teeth, pick up the backpack. Maybe you can hear a lazy and tired ”Good morning”. But suddenly, you look at the clock and … 9:13 pm. OH NO!

 

Someone is shouting: “Guys! Hurry, in 2 minutes the class starts!”

 

Then you can hear people running down the aisles. We run down 4 floors to reach at time to class. And there we are! Our small group, with just 12 people in class. We don’t need to speak. Our faces say everything. We are soooo tired.

 

 

The class starts on time at 9:15 am. At 10:00 a.m. we have our first break. Sometimes we have another break at 10:30 am. You should know that Finnish people really love breaks. Really. At 11:00 am. we have lunch… Yes, you read it right. We have our lunch at 11:00 am. So, some of us -the lazy ones, not willing to cook- go to the cafeteria, and ate as much as they can. It is just 2,60 € per lunch and of course it should pay off, I mean Hello? We are poor students! The rest of us goes upstairs to eat kind of breakfast. I must admit it is nearly the same scenario than downstairs. they eat like if they hadn’t eaten in months. So, in the next two hours we almost can’t move because we are full of food. And we ask ourselves the same question everytime: “Why are we so hungry all the time?”

Hissi – the inner values count!

At 12:00 am, we must go back to class. We try not to fall asleep but sometimes it’s so hard. You feel the compassion and support in the face of all your classmates. You are just thinking about your bed, the sofa, Netflix, Fifa.. And another question is coming to your mind: “Why am I so tired all the time?” I really think that it is this country. But well, after three hours, and a looooot of breaks, the class is finally over! That means we go all together to the 6th floor again. Most of the time we take the elevator, which we lovingly call Hissi (it is just the Finnish translation of elevator.. but hey, we cannot be creative all the time) because obviously, we had a very busy day!! As soon as we arrive to our rooms the war starts! All the people want to enter the kitchen. All the people want to eat again! How is it possible? No idea and it doesn’t really matter.

 

Everything you need to get in shape.

If you haven’t died from a food coma, there might be some people which want to hit the gym. I know, it is hard to believe, but it is true! So, put on your sporty clothes and let’s go! But be careful. On the way to the gym people already got lost and were found two days later in the laundry room, confused and anxious. You need to know in advance that the building is like a labyrinth, if you don’t pay attention you might end up at some weird place. But fortunately, there are some signs, so if you aren’t advanced and not in a mood to go on an adventure, just follow them and they will lead you to the gym. Finally you arrived but.. OH NO! You forgot the gym key. Congratulations for that, now you can go all the way back. There is more than one time, where people cancelled their good resolution, because forgetting the key. To stay positive, it is a little workout though. But believe me, once you forgot it, you will never forget it ag ain. If you are not a gym person, you don’t have an excuse because there is also a possibility to swim. It means, if you are not distracted by green water, Kiljava offers the perfect chance to have a relaxing swim in its indoor swimming pool! You are still not convinced? Ok, then you should check out the sauna. Somehow it is like an obligation to go there, it would be even unpolite not to, because it is a typical Finnish thing. So, overcome your personal boarder, get naked

Did I promise to much? But Green is the colour of hope, right?

and enjoy the heat. Top secret: you can also wear a bikini if necessary, but you are here to try something new. So just go for it and like Bruno said: You are beautiful just the way you are! On your way back you look at your watch and realise: WOW, it is 9pm! If you learn one thing during your Erasmus exchange than that time flies. But it has also it good sides because “What time is iiit?” Fooooood time, yes! Just prepare your food and at this time of the day you will never be alone in the living room. Sit down, have a chat, watch a movie or just appreciate this magical atmosphere of a successful day.

 

So now, you might have a feeling how a day in Kiljava is. The people start to wake up, you can hear a lot of different accents, different languages, the sound of a guitar, the smell of some burnt food, laugh, screams. But suddenly you feel like home. All these crazy guys are your new family. Sometimes you would like to kill them. But they are so nice, special and perfect, that you can do nothing but love them.

Our little family <3

 

This amazing post is made by the strongest and most independent woman Ángela Córdoba Caballero and bunny-addict and nutella-banana-bread-lover Laura Hiestermann