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