Nadežda: On the early morning of April 20th our trip to Portugal started. But only in the late evening we were there. Everyone was tired, but happy, that finally we had reached the destination. On the first day I liked the city of Lisbon.
On April 21st we visited the oceanarium. And I was amazed at how beautiful it was. In the evening we went to Constancia, where we lived for a week. I liked Constancia too. It is a small very beautiful town, where people are very friendly. I'm glad, that I was in this place and met many interesting people. This is a great experience for us, for me.
Anna: 22.04.2019 during the day we had very interesting activities where all participants of this project were present. We improved the knowledge about each other. I think it was the best day when we had very good communication. And also we could see how Portugal people celebrate Easter.
Zane: on April 23 the weather in Portugal wasn't that good. It was cold and raining. But we weren't afraid, because we spent good time there. We went to school, where the girl Margarida, who is my exchange student, is learning. I was shocked, when I got to know that they are having 0 to 20 grade system at school. After school I had a chance to go to the swimming practice together with Margarida. I really enjoyed the time I spent in Portugal!
Viktorija K.: On April 24 we had an opportunity to participate in an activity that was dedicated to exploration of the history and surroundings of Constancia. It was very interesting to find out more about a place in which we lived for a week; however our general impression was ruined a bit by the changing weather. Later we had an opportunity to visit a planetarium where we saw a presentation about the change of states of stars and planets and we could experiment with given materials. Also it was very interesting to be in cosmonauts’ shoes because we had an opportunity to try out ''cosmonauts circle''.
Līga: The day of April 25 began very early for our group, as we travelled by bus to the Portuguese capital Lisbon. As we entered the city, we saw very interesting and beautiful architectural examples. The Portuguese friends took us to a place where the whole of Lisbon had a wonderful view, and then there were constant photographs to keep this landscape from returning. We also looked at the palace of Sao Jorge, which is also one of the emblems of Lisbon. We also visited the most beautiful monastery and looked at the whole part of town, Belem. We also saw yellow trams, one of the symbols for Lisbon. Throughout the day, many steps had been taken to see more and more. On this journey, I gained a wide variety of feelings, because we also looked at the various things ranging from the city to the countryside. We learned to cope with some difficulties - weather conditions and adaption to life in a small village.
Viktorija G.: This day we started very actively. At 10.00 a.m., participants of the project had gathered near the Tagus River to make a canoe trip. Unlike other days, the sun spoiled us, finally getting the long-awaited tan. As we sailed, we stopped at Constance's ruins, stepping up to the top of the castle, we could see a wonderful sight. After several hours of canoeing, we were expected to have lunch in a small village near Constance; the lunch was very tasty and substantial. After lunch, we went to the houses of our hosts. The evening was a closing event and a dinner prepared by the students of Constance's oldest classes. Local instrumentalists and singers contributed to the musical design.
I liked this adventure and I was fascinated by this day, with unforgettable impressions and knowledge. I learned more about canoes and music traditions in Portugal.
Luize: We met Portuguese traditions this week, everyday life, and enjoyed natural diversity. For the week we enjoyed their traditional and typical dishes, visited museums, churches. We also managed to attend and participate in the festival, which took place in Constancia, where we could get to know the lives of young people and their activities. In the last days of the project, we could see that we were well friended and met a lot of young pupils outside our country. This week was exciting, interesting, yet there we are able to assess the benefits of our country.
On wednedsday morning the Belgians got the chance to attend some lessons. Some people I talked to where surprised by the fact that we call our teachers by their first name, and they also thought that our lessons seemed more "relaxed" than theirs.
In the afternoon we got split into groups, and we were all given our own task or place to visit. Some groups visited art museums, one group visited the library, one group learned a bit more about Finnish design by visiting the store of Marimekko...
We were tasked with taking photos and then making this into a presentation of sorts.
In the evening we all went bowling :)
We started the day per usual in the auditorium. We had a challenge for today, to know the name of everyone in our group, and some were quizzed on it. Everybody knew most names, but there were a couple hiccups :)
Our first workshop was focused on drama, we learned the importance of body language, practiced small talk, got to ask each other a lot of questions, among other things.
The Belgian exchange students now got to spectate part of a training session the Finnish 2nd Graders have for "The Dance of the Eldest", an event which takes place every year, centered (as the name indicates) on dancing and celebrating that they are now the oldest students.
Here the Belgian exchange students got to enjoy a real treat, Finnish Sauna and winter bathing. With the Water a cozy + 0.5°C and the air a sweltering -5°C they still took it in stride. They really enjoyed themselves and got a lot of pictures taken
In the evening we went to Öjberget, a local winter sports center, where you can do snowboarding, downhill and cross-country skiing and sledding. We started with sledding,
We started the day with an introduction of the school and the general area. The Belgian exchange students were then showed the school. After the tour we worked in groups, discussing identity and tried to find similarities and differencies between us. Next up was lunch, the Belgians were very shocked to hear that the school luch is free for us students.
We were then divided into teams who each took their own unique oath to see 5 different landmarks, and take a photo with it. Some of us also took a short walk on the ice :)
In the evening we gathered at Venn, to enjoy ourselves and get to know each other better. The locale was very nice, and I believe that everyone really enjoyed the evening. There were also some quite intense card games going on.
The Belgian exchange students arrived in Vaasa on Saturday (12.01) evening. We all went to the airport to pick up the person who we're going to be staying at our house. We we're a group of both nervous and exited students waiting for them to arrive. After picking them up we all went our separate ways. Later in the evening almost all of the group got together and hung out for a while.
During the day on Sunday we had some free-time with our exchange students. Many people took this as an oppurtunity to go skiing, ice-skating, walking on the ice, hiking, and other things you can do in Finland in wintertime. Later in the afternoon a big part of the group met up at Sweet Vaasa to spend some time together and experience one of Vaasa's most popular cafés. After that we went to the school to have some ice-breakers.
After the ice-breakers we got some food, and later we gathered for a movienight.
A peaceful July night, at a local harbour in Gerby, Vaasa.
Does your geographical location define your identity, and how?
We all understand that people differ from others depending on where they live. The culture, religion and national politics along with mores and standards, all shape whom we become.
An obvious certainty is that not only does the country that you live in shape you but also in which city you live in. Do you live in an urban part of your country or a rural? This has a big impact on you.
I have lived my whole life in Finland, so I can only speak from the perspective of living here and answer the questions regarding the effect our nation has had on me.
Most of the laws in Finland are shaped from the beliefs of Christianity. Many of them have changed over the course of history. Thus, even though most Finnish people tend to say that they don't believe in a god, we still unconsciously abide by the Christian mores and standards. These mores and standards that have developed within our society have been passed on from generation to generation.
Finland was for a long time a part of Sweden, for over 600 years, until conflicts in 1808-1809 landed the future of the at-the-time none existent geographical area which today is Finland, in the hands of the Russian Empire. In the beginning, it was rather peaceful, and we were allowed to keep speaking Swedish (which still is the second most spoken language in Finland), we were allowed to keep using the currency that was used in Sweden at the time, the Swedish riksdaler. But after WWI broke out Russia started to take away more and more of the autonomy that hands had been shaken on in 1809. This has consequently led to a big influence on the Finnish people, something that is still with us today. The fear of Russia that is.
One of the things that Finland is known and for which most of us are very proud of is our educational system. Everyone has the same basic education, no private schools or schools that have an attending fee. Every single student has the same opportunity to become something great if they want to, and we all have the same possibilities regardless of the economic status or any other outside factor that could possibly be a problem in other countries. This makes it possible for all of us to strive and dream of becoming whatever we want and gives us the possibility to do so as well.
Something else that defines you is the culture that your language brings with it. If you are a speaker of a minority language you may feel secluded and realise that you have your own little society in with you live or that makes you, you. You may feel more at home with the others who speak your language and this subsequent society may completely shape you differently apart from the rest of the nation.
But is there still a general brush stroke on all of the people in a country. Why are we so different in different parts of the world? There is a lot to factor in, and it is absolutely absurd to think that it is possible to cover all of it in a single blog post. So that is why I leave you with a few questions so that you can think about this yourself, and understand it from your own perspective.
Open questions, no right or wrong answers:
Casper Rosenlöf - Vaasa, Finland
It is nothing new or special that Finland is known for its asocial inhabitants. The cold harsh climate accompanied by its seemingly emotionless population might deter outsiders who are looking for a place to travel to. As an inhabitant of Finland, my perception of being social surely has to be different to citizens of other countries.
Most people that have researched or read about Finland have probably heard of the apparent extreme measures we take to ensure our personal space, this includes putting our bags on the seat next to us in the bus, standing meters apart waiting for the bus and having at least a meter and a half of talking distance. Now most of these can surely be applied to a lot of people, but from my own experience I can safely say that most younger individuals don't mind this, after all most of us are so obsessed with our phones we might not even notice your presence.
The ever so growing globalization and cultural diversity has had its impact on the youth of Finland. I feel like the antisocial stereotype is slowly dying away (at least in the western coast of Finland), and the acceptance of many different cultural approaches to social behavior really has started to chip away at this defining trait.
But don't get me wrong, we aren't suddenly becoming a social nation. The asocial trait is most probably going to be deeply rooted in us for at least another few years, but it should be a lot easier for outsiders to adapt to the newer generations of Finland. I personally hope the increase in cultural diversity will open up the hard shell that is our tendency to be asocial.
Arttu Rintamäki, Vasa Övningsskola (2nd year student)
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There are a lot of things that affect our identity. In this post I am going to focus on the different factors. The first ones are society, your nation and culture. They all are factors that depends on where you live. For example it will effect you if you live in a big city or on the countryside with near access to nature.
More factors that affect your identity are your relationships, family and friends. All these are people you surround yourself with and they have a big impact on your identity. But also your sexuality, gender and religion are important factors.
And the last ones that also affect even though you might not think of these straight away are personality, beliefs, fears and our looks. You can actually say that everything we interact with or experience have an effect on our identity.
Mette Malka, Vasa, Finland