"Kiitos" to Finland!

AMAZING RACE” IN FINLAND

Students from Finland, Lithuania, Spain and Croatia worked together in order to finish a series of peculiar outdoor tasks. Then they talked about the emotions that had emerged during those activities.

The participants of the “Amazing Race” in a forest in Haalsi
Photography: Erasmus Team

As the year 2020 began, the “Amazing Race“, an Erasmus+ project initiated in September 2018, slowly came to its end. Its goal was the improvement of awareness about social, mental, physical and emotional health in highschool students, and included the participation of four countries: Finland, Lithuania, Spain and Croatia. The project included a week long transnational learning activity (mobility) in each of the countries with an exciting race as the highlight.

Photography: Croatian Erasmus Team

A group of nine students from Prva Gimnazija Varaždin in Croatia participated in the fourth and the last mobility that took place in Finland from January 14th to January 21st, 2020. The mobility was hosted by the Liedon Lukio pper secondary school in Lieto and its focus was mainly placed on emotional health.

After a long bus ride and two flights, we finally arrived in Turku, a town not far away from Helsinki, where we were picked up by our host families. The next day all of us met up in the school and were ready to start the week with ice breakers. In this activity we literally had to break small blocks of ice in order to get clues as to which assignments we had. The following day we had the chance to meet other students from the school and participated in a cultural evening where we saw and tried out some typical Lithuanian and Spanish dances, were given wool socks that were made by Finns and presented our own country. On Friday, we did a bit of volunteer work with seniors and finished the day with a scavenger hunt in Turku.

The highlight of the whole mobility, the Amazing Race, took place in Haalsi, on January 18. Haalsi is a complex of several wooden buildings built next to a beautiful forest, about a hundred meters from the coast of the Baltic sea. We arrived there at around 11 am and, after a good lunch, only one task was at hand before the race could begin – building a tent. Divided into two big groups, everyone raced to be the first ones to build their tent because the winners had a thirty minute advantage in the Amazing race.

Campfire to grill fish
Photography: Erasmus Team

The race itself lasted for about four hours. During that time, the groups of five or six students had to successfully perform eight tasks that were scattered all over the area. One of the tasks was to try to find seven ropes hidden in a huge forest while being chased by two guards. If we were to have been caught, we had to carry a brick for the rest of the race. Another task was to prepare a fish with a wooden plank in which we had to drill holes and attach the fish to it using sticks before baking it on the fire. The most interesting and extreme task was probably „the Finish Baptism“ because, after spending about fifteen minutes in a sauna, at least two members of each group had to take a swim in the Baltic sea. A fun, and pretty unpractical addition to the whole race was that, because of the short day length, the biggest part of it happened in the dark.

The follow-up of this mesmerizing experience happened in the common room where everyone got the chance to reflect on the emotions they felt during the whole race and think about what they had learned from it.

I realised that unfamiliar situations such as this one aren’t something to be feared of, but rather, something that should be enjoyed and accepted. I am happy I was given the opportunity to get such a good insight into another culture.

The experience of meeting so many people from different parts of Europe must have been the biggest takeaway from this whole project. I was surprised by how shocking it actually was to become familiar with so many ostensiby different mentalities, and yet, to realise how, in fact, we did not have such different world views after all. Having to communicate with so many strangers was indeed the hardest part of the project. However, as a result, I realised that unfamiliar situations such as this one aren’t something to be feared of, but rather, something that should be enjoyed and accepted. I am happy I was given the opportunity to get such a good insight into another culture and do things that I  probably never would have done under normal circumstances. This project is an experience I would suggest to anyone with a wish to get into a friendly contact with an unfamiliar culture while having an incredible and unforgettable adventure.

And to all the Finns I met on this adventure, kiitos!

Written by Marta Martinčević

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