Emden once more
Once upon a time there were 15 Community Educator students from Humak and two lectures. They all had the same mission: To participate in a study trip organized by Humak. Our host school in Germany was the University of Applied Sciences Emden/Leer.
We started our trip one early April morning at Helsinki Vantaa Airport and took a flight to Hamburg. When we arrived in Germany it was still morning, so we had a whole day ahead of us.
Seaman´s mission in Hamburg
Our first place to visit was Finnish Seaman`s mission in Hamburg. We felt ourselves really welcomed there by Valtteri Salmi the director of the seaman`s mission. It was a very interesting place for a visit, and might be a good place for professional training, if someone is interested in?
After saying goodbyes to Valtteri we continued our journey to Emden by train. Like in every good road trip we had a little excitement with German train system and culture. Finally, we arrived as last passengers to Emden`s train station. There were Students with Finland signs waiting for us!
Our days in Emden
These young students took such a good care of us “oldies” during the whole visit. They had arranged visits for us in different places like; Youth Center Alte Post, NGO Outlaw (child and youth work) and on the North Sea coast located Social center Nasareth.
One day we split in to the smaller groups and had dinner in students’ homes. Last evening, we had evaluation and pizza party. Our hosts took care of our transportation (cars and bicycles) and most importantly they didn´t let us to get lost! We had always guides with us or at least they asked if we needed one.
Was it worth to go?
YES, for sure. It was a busy week, but everybody learned so much. To travel and get to know another culture expand your views and ways to think. We are looking forward to meet our Student colleagues soon again!
Text: Krista Lampolahti & Saija-Riikka Louhelainen
The program starts to run to its end. But before everyone started to head back home, we had a final trip to lapland. This time out, we had to plan the majority of the trip by ourselves. This turned out to be a bit of a challenge, but we were excited to have one final trip all together.
Monday and thuesday were hiking days! They were a bit different then our previous trip to Pallas national park. We didn’t needed tents for this trip, we had a nice little accommodation in Hannakuru. This made hiking so much lichter and therefore easier. Also doing the entire walk off road made the whole experience so much more special and intense.
On top of that you had the cold, the cold made sure that we really had an unique experience. Due to the cold the lakes were frozen and we could walk over them. It was even so cold that our drinking bottles froze while we were walking, but we didn’t really mind about that. It was nice to have a cold drink from time to time.
Overall it was an experience that we will refer to as magic from this point on.
After our hike it was time to go fat biking on Wednesday. After a short explanation of the bikes and gear, we divided us in 3 groups according to experience level. In the morning we started up with a tour around the town and some nice riding on the frozen lake. After that we picked up the pace and started to go off road and even doing a nice downhill part. After lunch some others joined our group and led by Kai we again found some nice tracks. We followed a single trail next to the lake and found a challenging hill to climb. It was a tough one, but the fun part is that when you go up you always have to go down again. Go pro mounted on my chest we rode down that hill. After that we took some nice trails and headed back to town.
On Thursday we had an independent day, and some of us chose to go fat biking again. We started of easy again, and took a similar route of the afternoon with Kai. We followed the single trail and back to the big hill. This time we filmed the downhill from 3 different points of view. After that we took more shots with Ruben’s drone on the lake and met up with others who were ice skating. After lunch more people got on the saddle again. Roel and Chris went to look for some more challenging sections and found this nice hill to climb. Although once we started we realised that there was no ending to this hill. Bucking through it we reached the top and turned around to descend. We found it so nice we decided to go do it again. But climbing again we cursed ourselves for it. After going down again we did it one more time before we started to go down on the other side of the mountain. The track we thought to take turned out to be a cross-country trail so there was no real path. Still we went for it and bumping over rocks and swamps we found our way back to town with a nice day burned in our memory forever.
On Thursday we had our independand day. A lot of people wanted to Ice skate on the Akaslompolo lake. We rented ice skates at a rental shop and for a lot of the students it was a suprise that we also got poles with them. The students from Belgium and the Nederlands were used to ice figure skate, but now we had ice skates attached to our boots.
We went all together on the lake and the first 15 minutes it was a challange to move on the ice. After a couple of trails and errors everyone managed to ice skate. Ice skating with poles was something that everyone needed to get use to it, but it was a verry fun experience
Ruben, Chris, Noor, Paulien
The last three weeks we had the schools on the move project. So, a lot of our time went to this project. For this project, we were divided in two groups. One group had to organise two activity days for twelve years old children from the school Maaniitu. The second group had to organise two activity days for the sixteenth years old ‘teenagers’, they were from another school, called Kuoppanummi. The goal of this project was to organise activity days, were we can exercise our leadership skills, how to make games, how to make a project plan and how to work in a group. Every group had to organise one day activities on their school and one day in Kiljava. In this blog message, we will tell you more about this project. We will first talk about the schools in the move project in Kuoppanummi. After that we will talk about the other school, Maaniitu.
For the schools on the move project in Kuoppanummi, we were with eight in a group, namely, Sjeel, Lieke, Meike, Azzurra, Paulina, Chris, Ruben and Laura. Sjeel was the coordinator of the group. We divided our group in two work groups, the activity group and the organisation group. Which person in which group was depended on our strengths. So, everyone had to put their strengths on a paper and after this we made the two groups. Meike, Sjeel and Laura were members of the organisation group. They did mostly the project plan, script, timetables and safety plan. Lieke, Azzurra, Paulina, Chris and Ruben were members of the activity group. They thought about activities, made the lesson plans and made a background story for the day. We had a lot of meetings, some of them were in the whole group and others were in the smaller groups (activity and organisation) and some of them went really good and others took a little bit more time. After the first meetings and a lot of preparations, we had a good idea about how the first day would look like.
Our first activity day was the first of November. The idea was about the different cultures of everyone in our group. The children had to earn there ticket so that they could go to Kiljava next week. They could do this by earning puzzle pieces with every game. In the end of the day they had to make the puzzle, which formed a ticket. During the day, we divided the children in four groups. Each group had their own group leader. The group leader was the whole day with that group. Each group did four games before lunch and two games after lunch. Before lunch we had a ball game, a traditional Italian game, two is too less, three is too many and the trust game. After lunch, there was a special basketball game and the low ropes. Each game was standing for a different country. So, the instructor of each game, started every game with a short story about the country and the game. This was our first activity day. In my opinion, it went really well. Sometimes, there were some difficulties with the time management, some games were too short, but with some improvisation we found some extra games.
During the preparation, we did some things a little bit different for the second activity day. We had not so much time for the preparations, so we decided that we have no background story this time because it is not really important for children of this age. The school had already asked for activities like an escape room and box climbing. This made the planning a little bit easier. They also wanted to have a lunch outside with the campfires. During the preparations, we had to think about how we can do all this. We searched for two other activities. This time, we were really good prepared and also really motivated so there was a better vibe in the group. On the seventh of November, the second activity day, the children arrived in the morning in Kiljava. We divided them again in four groups and every group had again a group leader. We had five activities during the day, included lunch because not everyone had lunch at the same time. This was for the simple reason that the lunch was at the campfire and there is not so much place over there. The other activities were archery, an escape room, a guardian game and box climbing. The children were really enthusiastic during the day because we did some activities that a lot of them had never done before. We can say that the day went really well. There were some little problems but we could always find a solution for it. I think that I can speak for the whole group, when I say that we really liked this project, and especially the second activity day.
As far as concerning the Maaniittu school, the target group was the 6th grade kids (11,12 years old). We had activity in November the 6th and the 13th. We had 2 weeks of planning and meetings. Our group was made by 9 people, 2 democratic leaders and 3 smalls groups. The leaders were Roel and Isa, Caymen worked with the leaders, and the others groups were: Paulien and Sara, Noor worked with Marc and Nomedia with Sanne. We have chosen together the main theme on the two days: Three Crazy Professors (Isa Roel and Caymen) built a time machine and they travelled in time; in fact the first day theme was the Past and the kids needed to help them to go to their present again because something went wrong during the time travelling and the second day they “Travel back to the Future”. Each executive group had their independent meetings with the task to decided their games and activities and try to fit them in the main story. Each small group had also the task to made a proper and detailed project plan and think about the risk analysis during their activity and how to prevent injuries. The leaders had the task to think about and lead the intro warm up games and the final game. The “Professor” group had also the supervisor task during the days. We were in touch with our teacher Sini only through our leaders, they had meetings with her and she gave feedback in that way. The leaders had also an e-mail conversation with the teachers of the school, and the responsibility to create a timetables for both days. We try to put it into practice what we learned about play and games during the first day in Maaniittu school and used adventure and outdoor activities during the second day here in Kiljarva Campus.
For the first day we had an introduction video that told the kids the story about the Crazy Professors and super funny warm up games; after that the 46 kids were divided in 3 groups, using another game in order to mix them. Each team had one hour of activity, and at the end of the activity the kids received a “triangle” and they had to put all of them together in the “Time Machine” at the end of the day. Sara and Paulien have chosen the Ancient Rome theme for the first day, they thought more about problem solving and cooperation game, both outdoor and indoor, Marc and Noor were the Vikings, active and fun games, and Nomedia and Sanne used trust and communications games. All groups thought a lot about decorations, costumes and make up, in order to let feel the kids more involved in the story. The first day was a success, teachers, us and the kids were satisfied and happy!!
The preparation for the second day included the same team, timetable and agenda used for the preparation of the first day but we had some difficulties. Some of us unfortunately got sick and some of us went away for the weekend and other felt a bit the time pressure. We felt a bit stressed and we didn’t practice much our games.. but at the end, at the 13th, everything was ready: Sara’s and Paulien’s “Spaceship Escape Room”, Marc and Noor prepared active games about Aliens and Robots and Sanne and Nomedia a survial treasure hunt.We didn’t had time for a intro video but we went to the bus stop to welcome the kids with a march and we prepare some warm up and divided games.We tried to keep a good atmosphere even if there were some conflicts in the group. At the end of the day everybody was again relaxed and proud about our hard work, and we succeeded in our goals!!
On these two days of sport the teachers believed in us, in our abilities and they left us complete autonomy. They showed us in advance the rooms usable for the project, they gave us explanations on the number of students and they were always available in case of problems … There was a lot of collaboration. We were divided into two groups. We have collaborated within our group but we had moments in which we have been called to collaborate together (As for example in the day in Kiljava Opisto in which only one group of 8 people would not have been able without the indispensable help of the whole other group). We, students-instructors, even if we were divided into two teams, we worked and collaborated with the common purpose of concluding in the best way these 4 days of “school on the move”. In this project we had the opportunity to personally test the results of our work. After the first project, we did not waste time in starting the second which was very much better thanks to the previous experience. On the second day of activity the kids were happy to see each other again and excited to start the day. This was very satisfying for us! We worked hard and everything went well but we are aware we have much to improve, especially in the organizational question.
Our main goals: stay together, get involved, fun, movement and… improvement!
Written by: Sara Cignetti, Azzurra Einaudi and Laura Verstraete
Holidays in Finland
We had our autumn holidays in Finland and what is the best thing to do when you have holidays. Traveling off course! So that’s what we did. This blog will be written by Isabell from Germany, Sanne, Lieke and Meike from The Netherlands. Everyone has written something about their experience during the holidays. Isabell and Sanne went to Sweden to spend their holidays there and Lieke went to Estonia (Talinn) and Meike went to Russia (Sint-Petersburg).
Off to Sweden!
After having had adventures in Finland for six weeks, we were ready for something new. So we decided to leave this lovely country and take the ferry to Sweden! The boat trip was amazing. We sailed through the stunning islands on the coast at sunrise and through the archipelago of Åland during the afternoon.
Although we expected Sweden to be very much like Finland, we soon found that both the countries are quite different. Not only was nature in Sweden (slightly) different from that in Finland, the people turned out to be different too. Only when we arrived in Stockholm, we realized that Helsinki and Finland in general have quite a special atmosphere. Only after we left the country, we found out that Fins are in general quieter than Swedes, Germans, Dutchies or other Europeans. We met a man on the ferry who told us that the history of Finland has something to do with this. We have not researched it yet, but it is definitely food for thought!
We stayed in Stockholm for two nights. Although the city was nice, we were longing to go to the countryside again, so we did. We decided that we wanted to go to Fulufjället National Park, a park which we chose because its landscape is so different from the Finnish scenery. We thought we could hitchhike there, since hitchhiking in Finland works very well. After we had waited for five hours in Stockholm, however, we realized that the Swedes might be a bit less open for it than the Fins. We decided to take a train out of the city and try it again. Although we did get a few rides this time, we did not reach the park by night, as we had hoped. So we picked out a stunning spot along the highway and we camped there, with the beautiful background noises of passing cars.
The next day, we took the bus to the National park. Or so we thought; the nearest bus stop was 30 kilometres from the park though. So we walked. And walked. And walked. We, again, found a beautiful place to camp, this time on a parking place next to the road. Luckily, an employee from Fulufjället National Park gave us a ride to the park the next day, and we finally reached our destination!
The park was absolutely amazing. We will not even try to describe it with words, we will just illustrate it with a few of the pictures we took.
The whole journey was an adventure education experience for us and we learned a lot from it. Hitchhiking, for example, taught us to be patient and to control our emotions. Because our trip had some unexpected turns, we also learned to accept it if not everything happens according to the plan. We learned much by doing, and we even practiced our camping and hiking skills! It was a lot of fun!
Off to Russia!
My name is Meike and I’m from The Netherlands. During my Erasmus in Finland I went to Russia to spend my days off. I chose for Russia because I will never get the change to go there. From Finland it’s so much easier to go there without visa troubles. I booked my trip to Sint Petersburg with the organization TimeTravels. This organization organize trips specially for students. So that was for us, Erasmus students, a really nice opportunity to go. So now I will tell you something about my experience!
We left Finland by boat, it was a really big cruise ship. The boat was called Princess Anastasia. I never been on a cruise ship so I was a bit nervous. I couldn’t expect how it would be to sleep on a boat and how to party on a boat. Yes, we could party on the boat. There were different places on the boat where you could eat, drink or party. After a nice show on the boat, there was time to party!
The next day we had to wake up early because we had to leave the boat on time. We were ready to go off the boat but we had to wait very very long. We arrive in Russia. They are really strict at the borders, so it took a really long time that we could go over the borders. There was a long line in front of the passport control. After 5 hours in total we finely arrive Saint-Petersburg.
After a short tour through Saint-Petersburg we arrived at the hostel. The hostel was totally new. I never slept in a hostel like that. Big kitchen, big rooms, big bathrooms witch we only had to share with 4 and WIFI on every room.
When we arrived at the hostel we had to prepare for the ballet. With a small group we went to the ballet, Swanlake. I think it was impressive. I never been to ballet in the Netherlands but because Russia is well known about their good dancers, I really want to visit it. It was worth it!
So after a nice sleep in the hostel, we woke up early because we wanted to join the free walking tour. During the tour we got a lot of information about the history of Russia and we saw almost the whole center of Saint-Petersburg. Even when the sun was shining my hand and feet were really cold and they were turning blue. That was the sign to go inside. After a nice (cheap) lunch, we continue exploring the city on our own. We visit some highlights in the city and off course we took a look at the souvenirs.
After walking for the whole day it was time to eat. We went to the hard rock café, it was placed next to the hostel. We ate a lot of spareribs and drank a few cocktails and off course we could go away without drinking a shot of vodka. That was the beginning of a party night in Saint-Petersburg. In the hostel we continued drinking nice drinks and afterwards we went to the club. The club was open for only all the students who were traveling with TimeTravel. That was a really big group!
The next day we woke up early too because we had to check-out. This day we were travelling back to Helsinki but first we visit the Hermitage museum. This is a really big museum placed in the Winter Palace. In the museum you saw a lot of gold, Russia is well known about their gold buildings and architects. And afterward is was already time to travel back. We arrived at the cruise again, but this time the party was not that big anymore. Everybody was tired of the trip and some students had to travel further to Talinn by boat. So they needed their sleep. So when we arrived in Helsinki the holiday was over.
Back to school again!
Off to Talinn!
Everyone went their own way during the autumn holidays. What did we have wild ideas and cool destinations on the schedule.
So many of us went to visit the neighboring country Estonia. The capital Tallinn is from Helsinki only two hours by boat. Tallinn has an old city center where you feel like you have entered a time machine. You think you are in medieval spheres. Wonderful to immerse yourself for a day or even more.
The city has a lot of history, during a guided walk we have heard a lot of information about the city. This was very interesting! Because did you know that Estonia was in the hands of: Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Russia?! And besides that there are many interesting and beautiful facts told. The city has had a city wall for a long time and parts of it have been preserved and transformed into a museum. At one of the many viewpoints you almost feel like a prince or princess who can be admired to his or her city. The magical colors of autumn and the last rays of the sun have certainly helped with this image, but even without it it’s pretty nice 😉
Besides the beautiful views, beautiful buildings and the medieval feeling. Tallinn is also worth a visit for cozy eateries where they also serve delicious food! All in all Tallinn is a cozy and nice city to be and definitely a must!
Once back on campus, we were flooded with holiday stories! Delicious. We are on half of our education, which means that our Finnish adventure will be over again in 6 weeks. Time flies! Fortunately, we still have a lot of beautiful things the prospect. Starting with the schools on the move project that we started last week! You will read more about that in the next blog!!
Foto made by Laura Verstraete
Foto made by Laura Verstraete
So the last weeks were very exciting. We went to Pallas National Park for a hike. Also we got more classes at the campus whose where very interesting.
In those two last weeks our adventure experience had grown considerably, first we went on our hiking trip to Pallas and we stayed there 4 days. If we have to describe our hiking trip in one word, we’d say that it’s a rollercoaster, we experienced as a group all tips of emotions, but at the end everyone enjoyed all parts of it. The first day, before our hiking trip, we ate a reindeer soup, which it gave us enough energy to walk the first 6km to Nammalakuru: meeting point where we were camping that night. As we were walking we enjoyed the first beautiful views of the national park, and we learned to write our names in the books that we found in each hut. After putting our tents in Nammalakuru, we started the workshops. Thanks to those, we learned how to cut the wood with a knife and an axe without hurting our self, and last but not least we learned all man rights which it teaches how to behave and respect the nature. Now we are able to cut the woods independently without the help of our instructors.
The second day of our hiking trip, all tents group were divided in different groups, that way we had the chance to be with other people. Before we started hiking we did some warmups, everyone had to came up with a physical exercise, then we chose a leader and a backup. Everyone had the chance to be a leader and a backup during the hike, we changed roles every time that we stopped to take a break. The tasks that the leader had to do were guiding the group during a while, decide when and where the group should stop to have lunch or water, and make sure if the other members of the group are okay. We walked 14km, and we hiked in Lumikero that was 680 meters high. We arrived to Hanakulu and after we accommodated our gear in the huts, we went to a traditional sauna, were we had a lake closer to it. The sauna was really small, and we had to shear it with other women, to make some space some of us went to swim in the lake and then come back running, because it was freezing. After the boys came back from the Sauna, we had a meeting with our instructors inside the hut. In the meeting we had a reflection, about how the day went, and what kind of mental, social and physical struggles we had during the day, everyone had the chance to explain and express their own experience. After the meeting we had some free time, but we were very tired that everyone went early to sleep.
The third day of our hiking trip, we started with a relaxing activity, everyone had to walk in silence the first kilometre, and we had to keep at least 15 meters between each other, so we managed to be completely alone and in contact with the nature. One of the challenges and also hazard that we had that day was the weather, it was really cold, and every time that we advanced in our hike the rain and the fog was getting heavier. At the end of the day some of us had some wet gear, but we managed well. Before our reflection meeting we went to the reindeer fenches and we learned some information about them, and that they were a sign of wealth, so we guess that the farmers that owned them are rich. We went back to the hut, we started a fire and all of us sited around it, while we were having our last reflection.
The last day we made our hiking trip independently, the instructors indicated us which way we should follow and where we were meeting to have lunch, this time all together. The meeting place was a hut next to a beautiful lake. We rested there until it was time to hike to the main street to get in the bus that was taking us to Akaslompolo. We made some knife and groceries shopping, and after that we all had pizza for dinner.
The week after the hike it was time for the reflection. Everyone off us had to write their own reflection on paper and had it done by Friday. On Monday we had an independent study day, so we could work on the reflection.
On Tuesday we had our reflection lesson from Sini. She explained why reflection was so important and told us how we could make it our own. We got also an assignment in groups to make a reflection in different styles. Each group did make an other sort of reflection. There was a PowerPoint presentation, slide show, poem, mime and a drawing. It was very interesting how everybody made the reflection. Below you can see some of the work.
A showcase made by Azzura, Sara and Isabell:
We started our Hiking adventure all together
The intense emotions we felt will stay in our hearts forever
Pallas and its beautiful nature looked like a dream
Especially during Rykima the colours were supreme
With each challenge we overcame
We did become stronger in the confidence game
We advent to a more pure state of mind
Hiking is the best way to unwind
It has a way to make you feel lighthearted
Unless someone in the hut intensely farted
A trip like this can get real frustrating
But at the same time illuminating
the exciting feeling we get
is something we’ll never forget
Luckily nobody brought a gun
that would ruin the fun
We learned to calm our mind
But now it’s time to leave the forest behind
On my heart Pallas left a stain
I want to do it all over again
– Ruben, Noor, Caymen & Chris –
Slideshow made by Sjeel, Paulina and Meike.
A pictures of the mime, made by Lieke, Marc, Paulien, Nomedia
When we got home from the hike our postbox was full of cards! Was very nice to read all the nice letters from home. Also all the letters are nice to decorate our rooms, so it feels I little bit more like home.
The first two days after Pallas were cozy. We had the chance to get some sleep – whose we really needed after three nights in tents and two nights in a train and to start our reflection. The new week started with an Opening Day organized by Finnish students of Humak. We got the chance to get in touch with other people in little games and to give an overview of us in a presentation, whose was rounded by a video.
VIDEO LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQirr7f5Qo0
We spend the next days out- and inside with learning how to safe ourselves and our buddies when we’re going indoor climbing, which gear we need to do that and how to build a low rope park. We think everybody’s special highlight was the box climbing. Sjeel, Sara and Marc climbed up 20 crates!
With the start of the weekend, we got the task to write an essay about the history of Adventure Education, which felt like the start for the theoretical base for us. This came out also this week. After a lot of sports and being outdoors, we had a whole week of lectures about leadership and group management and got group tasks. However, that didn’t mean to sit a whole day in a classroom and being bored because one of it is to organize independent hiking and paddling trips, where safety is our best friend again 😉
Our free time after the hike and lessons was well spend. Some people went to Helsinki for the weekend. They went clubbing and the next day they went to the trampoline park, which was really awesome! Also people went for day trips to Helsinki to visit the beautiful island Soumenlinna, or just went to some museums. Nomedia went to the city museum of Helsinki, she advises others to go there also! A bunch of people did go for a afternoon climbing and they had a lot of fun!
We are very exciting what is coming the next few weeks. And also we are looking forward to the vacation. People planned lots of things like trips to home, Sint Petersburg, Tallin, Riga and of course Pallas.
Written by: Sjeel, Paulina and Nomedia.
We all came from different places and had different journeys. Getting here was interesting, but we made it. Roel’s first night was spent on a boat while both Marc and Caymen took a long bus directly to campus. Arriving with all our luggage was difficult at first, but we were all eager to begin the adventure that awaited us.
All of us arrived a week early in order to get accustom to our surroundings. At first the buildings maze like structure confused us, but we soon were able to navigate it with ease. The campus offered many amenities, one of our favourites being disc golf, a game in which Roel often emerged the victor. There are many natural spots we enjoyed as well, such as the lake Sääksjärvi. Here we are able to swim to our hearts content, even though the water is frigid. The people also made our time here great. Wednesday karaoke has been a blast so far and we hope it continues to be. Spending time on campus is truly enjoyable and we look forward to making more memories here.
Of course, Finland is much larger than the campus, so we have tried to see as much of it as we can. From day trips to the stores in Helsinki to day hiking trips there has been so much to experience. We have explored Helsinki, where Marc was able to find his beloved Spanish sausages. Here we also saw Lapsipalatsi square and many other sights the city had to behold. The islands were also a place of great interest and we were astonished by their beauty. Our trips were not just contained to urban areas, we also took a day hike to Kuhakoski rapids. The trip was long, but amazing. We experienced different terrain and had a wonderful time.
First of all, Sini share with us more information about the university and the surroundings. The first week, we start subject that name is play and games. On the reflections, the students share a lot of ideas of the objectives for this subject. We talk about warm up, communication, trust, safety, cooperate with each other. At the end of the first week, we started to practice kayak in the pool. The Erasmus students are excited for try it and do the wet exits. On the afternoon, we can get the kayak on the lake. On this second week, we have trust with the kayaks and we can do wet exits on the lake. We can get the kayaks when we want to use it. During this week, we talk about the planing of the Pallas trip too. Sini shows us all the clothes and food, we have to take it. The week ends on the forest, when we learn do tents and tarps.
When we arrived at the campus we were greeted by one of the tutors, that was Mika. Mika helps the students to find their way on the Nurmijarvi campus, answers all the questions the students have, drives people to the supermarket, tells a lot of Finnish jokes. He is probably the reason why everyone felt at home so quickly. The joker.
We lived on the 6th floor and 7th floor. The floors under us were hotel rooms. The area around the hotel and the building was quite big and there were many options for things to do. We could go to the Gym anytime we wanted to and the pool and the sauna were open from Monday to Friday. Downstairs on the 3rd floor we had a pool table and usually once a week there was a karaoke night for all hotel guests. In winter time we went on the lake and did a few activities on the lake, such ice swimming, ice fishing, cross country skiing…
As soon as the ice on the lake began to melt, we went swimming in the lake and took a boat to go around. We all had our rooms on the 6th floor. We were 16 Erasmus students and 3 Finnish students and we all shared a small kitchen together and the living room. It was really crowded from time to time and especially in the beginning, but we worked it out pretty well. We also organized some basic rules for the living together and a cleaning plan, which was necessary!
For class we had to go down to the 2nd floor, it started at 9am, so we didn’t even have to leave the building. Lunch was always at 11 in the cafeteria: we had to get used to this because it is so early. But the lunch was quite good and there was always a fresh salad and also a vegetarian or vegan option. You could also tell them if you have special diets.
We had to get used to the living together but it was really nice that there was always somebody to talk to. If we didn’t want to talk to anybody, we just went to our rooms and closed the doors. We respected our personal space and our belongings. We watched TV Shows together, had meals together, we had parties together and we shared many laughs together.
The area around campus offers a variety of possibilities if you are interested in different outdoor activities that are connected to nature. It is possible to borrow the equipment from the school if you don’t have your own. For example in winter time, when the lake was frozen, we borrowed some ice skates and wild nature skis from school and used them in the weekend to do some winter sports. We had a lot of fun, especially when our families were visiting us, who never tried something like this before.
The school also arranged some activities. For example in the school there was another course for people who were studying to become nature guides. One man had to do his exam and had to lead our international group. This was a good chance for him and us: one Saturday morning we went together with the group, met him and we all did some snowshoeing in the forest. It was a new and really fun experience for most of us. Snowshoes are used to walk on top of the deep snow, without falling in the snow. It looks like a duck’s leg. You can also use them to go down a hill. After that we all went to do some ice fishing together with the tour guide and made a fire outside to barbecue some sausages. It was a really fun day for all of us, filled with lot of new and different activities.
In general there are a lot of cross-country ski roads passing our campus area and it is very easy to go out of the house and do some winter sports. Nowadays, when the snow has melted, the roads become wonderful walking roads, where you can walk for hours and hours enjoying the wonderful nature during that time. In Finland forests are sometimes so wild that you might not meet anyone for hours when you’re walking. The forests are so beautiful and green and seem almost magical. If you are lucky, you will find another lake inside the forest, because Finland is a country with a lot of lakes. But even if you don`t meet people during your walk in forest you can still see a lot of cottages, because in Finland people like to come and spend their weekends there in the silence and peace.
The lake also gives a lot of sport opportunities in summer. You can have a nice rest in the sand next to the lake, you can go swimming or just enjoy the beautiful view.
Other nice options are disc golf and orienteering roads. For orienteering the main point and start is next to the campus: you can download the map in your mobile phone and after you can go to different points in the forest. You will register all these points with your mobile phone and then you will see where is the next point. You can run and try to do this as fast as possible and afterwards compare your time with others online. It is a really fun and exciting way to get to know the area better and also spend some nice time in this wonderful nature.
Sauna and ice swimming
On the 27th of February, when the local temperature was minus 27 degrees, the Erasmus group had the opportunity to use the sauna by the lake. Put more than ten women, some of which were still not comfortable with the blatant nudity, together in quite a small sauna and you will surely have a good time.
There was a cosy and relaxed atmosphere in the sauna. Whenever someone wanted to leave about 5 people had to move positions, but this added a humorous aspect to the experience.
It turned out that this was not our only challenge of the day: we also had the opportunity to go ice swimming, a very popular sport amongst the Finnish people. In the end to my surprise almost everyone ended up jumping the water.
Most of us only stayed under for a couple of seconds, but one Finnish student even decided to wash himself with some snow.
Reactions from home were mostly along the lines of: “You didn’t stay in there for a very long time, did you?” Next time, folks.
Below you can find a photo of the ice swimming experience.
Besides of sitting in the class rooms, we did also a little excursion in the adventure education. On a nice and sunny day in May we took the canoes and did a paddling trip around the lake Sääksjärvi . First our instructor did an exercise with the group to find out on what kind of stress level we were. After this she explained everything important to us and then we took the canoes and did a practice run to improve our skills and to familiarize us with the group and the methods to turn, to stop and to move forwards and backwards. After the lunchbreak we took the canoes again and we started paddling to the little island. We did a break around the island and then moved on to a little lake next to the big one. We had to paddle through a really small and narrow canal to reach the smaller one.
After all it was a great experience and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. More expressions are in the video below.
We had the most wonderful time on campus! Thank you for the amazing experiences!
Jessica, Svenja, Taisi, Iris
Hello Helsinki visitor. I would like to invite you to read our blog in which we suggest you some of the most popular tourist attractions in the capital of Finland. We tried to collect some places which could be interesting for you and hope you will spend a nice time in the third largest city in the Nordic countries.
The Design Museum
By many people, Helsinki is known as a City of Design. In 2014 the city received the UNESCO title City of Design. You can’t leave Helsinki without taking a look at the Design District. Many galleries, design shops and museums are located in this area of the city, with the Design Museum as one of the highlights. The museum gives you an introduction in the history of design, even as contemporary design. The focus is on Finnish design, but there is also design from other countries housed in the museum. To check the current exhibitions, check the website: http://www.designmuseum.fi/en/. After visiting the museum, take some time to talk about what you just saw, drink a nice cup of coffee and let yourself inspire by each other.
The following website will give you an overview of everything which is worth to visit in the Design District: https://designdistrict.fi/en/map/?filter=all.
The Cable Factory
The Cable Factory is the cultural centre of Helsinki. From 1940 until the ‘80s the building was used by Nokia to make cables. Nowadays it houses three museums: the Hotel and Restaurant Museum, the Finnish Museum of Photography and the Theatre Museum. Besides there is a book store, a restaurant, eleven galleries, art schools, artists bands, dance theatres and companies active in the creative industry. This makes it a perfect place for a relaxing cultural Sunday or just an easy way to see all kind of different cultural places without much travelling time.
More information about The Cable Factory can be found on their website: https://www.kaapelitehdas.fi/en/info.
pictures from : http://austria-forum.org/af/Geography/Europe/Finland/Pictures/Helsinki/Cable_Factory
and : http://www.yukiokumura.com/works/ss/helsinki.html
Close to the Rock Church, a small bookshop is hidden so well that you would almost cross it without giving it any attention. It is the perfect bookshop to visit as an Erasmus group, because you can find books from all over the world. Finnish, Swedish, Spanish, Italian, Hungarian, German, French… The chance is big that every student will find a book in her/his mother tongue. Beside the wide range of international books, the bookshop is already worth it to visit because of the friendly and hospitable owner, the old-fashioned design and the cosy ambiance. Take a book, buy a tea and set yourself in a chair to read in whatever language you want!
Visit the website by this link: http://www.arkadiabookshop.fi/.
pictures from : http://www.arkadiabookshop.fi/photos/
The Winter Garden
No metter in which season you are visiting Helsinki, the Winter Garden is always a good choice. If you are interested in exotic plants and you need a place to relax, inside the garden you can enjoy your coffee or tea on the benches. In case you need guided tours should be negotiated in advance. In summer and autumn time you can also visit the Rose Garden in front of the Winter Garden.
If you need more informations about the opening hours or the guided tours visit the website below: https://www.hel.fi/helsinki/en/culture/leisure/experience/winter-garden
In case if you are interested in ordinary sightseeing and you like churches than you should definitely visit the biggest one in Helsinki. This church is the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran cathedral of Helsinki. It was built from 1830-1852 and before it was known as St Nicholas’ Church until the independence of Finland in 1917. The church is built in neoclassical style with Greek cross plan. It can be easily found, it is only few minutes by walk from the city centre. This is one of the most most popular tourist atteactions in Helsinki, so do not skip it and enjoy the view from the top of the stairs in front of the church. For more informations about opening hours and history of the church use the website as a help:
The Rock Church
When you read its name first time, maybe you think it is the church of rock music and Elvis Presley is the God. But actually it is a beautiful Lutheran church near to the city centre. Its Finnish name is Temppeliaukio Church. The church was designed by architects and brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen and opened in 1969 and it is built directly into solid rock. That’s why it is one of the most interesting church what I have ever seen. You have to pay 3 Euros to enter, but defenetly worth it. The athmospher inside is impressive. The walls are rock, not the usual paintad wall. If you want to visit a special church then you have to go there.
You can read more information about the Rock Church on this website: https://www.myhelsinki.fi/en/see-and-do/sights/temppeliaukio-rock-church
If you ask me, this is the most beautiful and pleasureable place in Helsinki. Suomenlinna is a romantic island with a sea forthress. Its construction began in the mid-18th century, when Finland was still part of Sweden. You can reach it easily by public transport ferry from Market Square. It is a whole day programme, and if you listen to me, you have to see the sunset there. You are sitting on one of the rocks and enjoy the impressive view and athmosphere. I recommend you to go there weekday because in weekends it is probably crowded.
How can you reach there and how much is it? What can you see there? You find these infos on this website: https://www.myhelsinki.fi/en/see-and-do/sights/suomenlinna-sea-fortress
These are only a few interesting places and it is an absolutely subjective recommendation, however we tried to suggest to you the places where everyone might have fun. Of course, there are more popular tourist attractions beside we mentioned abow. All in all, We hope, our short collection was useful for you and we wish you a good time in Helsinki.
Janneke, Manuela, Annamária and Paul
National Parks in Finland
Around 65% of Finland’s total land mass is covered in forest, it’s no surprise the Fins have a strong connection to nature. It’s hardly possible to find a Fin who doesn’t appreciate the beautiful environment. This high percentage of forests means that there is around 4,2 hectares of forest (an estimated 13000) for EVERY Fin!
The forest has something magical. The first day we were here as Erasmus students we could not stop looking out of the window. All this nature! At home we live in the countryside, but we had never seen anything like this! The forest keeps going on and on…
To conserve this unique landscape and nature of the country, Metsähallitus (Administration of Forests) established the national parks all over the country.
These parks are large areas of nature conservation. They ensure that Finnish ecosystems and biotopes are maintained and give people the opportunity to go out and experience nature. They offer marked hiking routes, trails and sites to build campfires. For the longer hikes there are even shelters and huts that nature lovers can use free of charge.
Since the first national park was founded in 1938 (Pyhätunturi) there have been added 39 more. The total combined space of national parks nowadays makes up for 9.892km² or 2.5% of Finland. An estimate of 1.7 million people visits the national parks annually. Which is not bad for a country that only has 5.5 inhabitants.
When you take a time to look at every national park in Finland we can observe a real diversity and a big developed biodiversity. By the way, we can separate it in 3 big categories:
· Little Terrestrials Parks: In major cases locate in the South of the country, these parks have the mission of protecting a wild zone reduced by the urban areas of or cultivated areas. That category regroups a swamp, a geological curiosity or a non-exploited forest. Between 10 and 60 km2, the size still not that big. E.g.: Liesjärvi National Park.
· Riparian or Sailors parks: These parks are essentially a group of islands without inhabitants, they covered really little surfaces. That’s not officially free national parks, but the inconvenient for visiting it is the needing of have and use a boat –which can be payable-. E.g.: Linnansaari National Park.
· Lapland Parks or Koillismaa: These are by far the most visited, even if their gigantic surface relativizes attendance. They practically all have an area much larger than 100 km², or even 1000 km² (The aggregate area of only UKK, Pallas-Yllästunturi and Lemmenjoki parks represents 6 420 km², or 79% of the total area of the parks.
Did you know that in Finland there is something called Everyman’s right? Probably a lot of people heard about it, but what is it?
As we already mentioned the core of the Finnish culture is about having a close relationship with nature. The concept of Eveyman’s Rights means that you can walk freely in the forest. But is it just that? No!
- Walk, cycle or ski in outside areas, except private gardens and land which is in a certain use, for example fields or other cultivated areas.
- Spend a short period in areas where access is allowed, for example to put up a tent. But respect people’s privacy and don’t put it up too close to someone’s home.
- Collect mushrooms, berries and flowers
- Catch fishes with a rod and line. In winter you can do it through a hole in the ice à ice fishing
- Walk on the ice during winter and go boating when the ice is melted.
You may not:
- Harm the environment or bother other people or animals or birds while breeding season
- Harm the trees or cut them down
- Pick up moss, soil, lichen or wood
- Leave your litter in the nature.
- Use a motor vehicle off road without the permission of the landowner
- Go fishing and hunting without appropriate permits
- Violate the sphere of privacy of people’s homes
The Everymen’s rights give the same possibilities to everyone, it doesn’t matter who you are and where you come from. And it’s great because spending time in the nature contributes to a sense of well-being and it slows down our life which is too often too stressful. And the most important thing! It teaches us to value the small things in life – and that’s something which we forget more and more in our society.
Experiencing the everyman’s right in Nuuksio national park
In 50 minutes by car from our campus, we were in an incredible conserved area away from the city. Nuuksio National Park, a forest and lake paradise just 30 minutes away from the capital of Helsinki.
We went on a weekday, so no one was there. We hiked trough beautiful paths during 10 kilometers. The time past so fast because we were enjoying the views and the company so much. We had
lunch in a small island in one of the lakes that had a fireplace. We started the fire and grilled our sausages just like Fins do. Have you tried it? They were very tasty!! It was a very good experience, highly recommended!
Joren, Löic, Lukas and Mariona.