Erasmus Project, Trip to Finland
Last week 4 students and 2 teachers from the Joyce Frankland Academy, Newport visited Tornio, Finland for the 5th stage of the Erasmus project How to live study and work in another EU country.
Arriving in a snowstorm late Sunday evening the party from Newport was met at Kemi airport by their exchange partners and teachers from Tornio High School who then transferred them to their destinations. An early start on Monday saw the students from Newport joined by students from schools from Estonia, Netherlands, Italy, Poland, Sicily, Spain and the Basque Country for seminars and lectures which included details about the Arctic region as regards its economic and job prospects as well as its potential as a tourist destination. It was also a good time for students and teachers to get to know each other and share stories about their lives.
On Tuesday students and teachers enjoyed visiting Kemi and inspecting one of its great tourist attractions the Snow hotel which exists for only 6 months of the year but attracts many visitors to it. This was followed with some students and teachers (including Mr Hesketh and Miss Falloon who accompanied the students) participating in ice swimming where they plunged into a specially prepared part of the River Tornio to swim in temperatures of 4c. Watched by a crowd including the local TV station all agreed that it was extremely cold but worthwhile. The party of students and teachers then moved on to another part of the frozen River Tornio to take part in other ice activities which included sledging, skiing and ice fishing where Mr Hesketh caught the only fish within 5 minutes of starting his spell on the ice.
On Wednesday the party traveled further north to Lapland in the Arctic Circle where they visited the university city of Rovaniemi. Here they learned about the courses this university offered to foreign students as well as visiting the museum attached to the university which gave visitors an insight into the extreme environment in which people live in this region during the winter. Furthermore, students watched a stimulation of the northern lights which unfortunately could not be seen due to the cloud cover. Later the party visited the home of the real Santa Claus as well as having a sleigh ride with reindeers.
The next day students visited the vocational college in Tornio and were shown details about the vocational courses on offer as well as meeting and talking to students on these courses. In the afternoon all members of the exchange visited the largest employer in Tornio Outokumpu steel works which employs 2300. Students learned not only about the importance of this firm to the region but also of its value to the Finnish economy as a major exporter. However perhaps the highlight of this part of the trip was seeing how ice breakers kept the frozen sea lanes open for the ships which transport Ferro chromium steel from the factory to other parts of the world.
On the final day Finnish students through their specially prepared presentations informed the other students from Europe on what the Finnish education system was like. This was followed by presentations on how to apply for jobs in Finland as well as on how to write up your CV.
All agreed this was a fantastic experience of visiting a country in which the temperatures during the week ranged from -6c to -21c. Despite the snow and the cold students and teachers as well as the people of Tornio go through their lives as normal which was a great eye opener for students from the countries participating where such extreme conditions do not exist.