Work Camp in Oulainen!!!!

I recently returned from my first work camp, it was held in the lovely city of Oulainen. But first things first, what exactly is a work camp? I will just put some video links here so you can get the general idea. : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPxxlb3zBFI&index=6&list=PLJCO4UALNgycmAtP7MLZdpwjEP-lwS9CXn

I had the luck to be a camp leader to 19 teenagers from all over Europe, from the following countries : Finland, Italy, Germany, Denmark, France, Turkey,Russia.  The camp took place in a small city named Oulainen 100 km from Oulu, the purpose of this camp was to prepare the festival named WeteraanimoottorikerhoWanhaWoima (http://www.wanhawoima.fi/). We cleaned the space there, prepared the grills, the tables, chairs, tents and divided the tasks so that everyone will know what to do during the three days festival.  It was hard work but building up the team spirit we made it and had lot’s of fun in the process. After work every day we had activities including : swamp football (!!!) that was created in Finland, Olympic games, relaxing time and games at the nuorisotalo (youth house), a day at the Amusement Park, fishing and barbecuing by the lake, visiting the famous Kalajoki beach.

During the three days festival around 20000 people attended, I worked at the main coffee place making and selling coffee, selling other beverages, sweets, ice creams etc, this gave me the opportunity to practice my Finnish language skills and my customer services. We were dressed with traditional Finnish outfits which was quite interesting 🙂  Also I had the opportunity to visit the festival and see the old machines and car and the different events that took place, it was so intriguing to see this kind of events.

Oulainen is a beautiful small city with 8000 residents , it has a beautiful river and the time I spent there will be unforgettable, I interacted with teenagers and we got along so well, also with the other camp leaders we had so much fun and new friendships were created, I would definitely go back one day to visit and who knows ?maybe next year I can go again as a camp leader 🙂 The bonding that we all had and the tears of goodbye on the last day will laways have a special place in my heart….

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River

 

 

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Juhannus paivä: Midsummer in Finland.

This weekend in Finland  we celebrated Midsummer,it’s all about bonfires, sauna and magical rituals. According Wikipedia Midsummer  also known as St John’s Day, or Litha,is the period of time centered upon the summer solstice , and more specifically the Northern European celebrations that accompany the actual solstice or take place on a day between June 19 and June 25 and the preceding evening. The exact dates vary between different cultures.The history of Midsummer celebrations date back to pagan times. In East-Finland, it was called “the celebration of Ukko” (Ukko was the Finnish god of thunder, the most important of the Finnish gods, because he created rain, the essential ingredient for a good harvest). According to an old belief, the short night of Midsummer tempted witches, fairies and elves to tease people or to show them their future happiness. This is why Midsummer has been linked to magic and many believes.

In Finland the typical way to spend midsummer is to go to a summer cottage in a forest preferably near a lake, so that’s exactly what I did. My friend Raita invited me to her summer cottage near Leppärvita. It was such a typical cottage, wood everywhere and traditional sauna. We had sauna and swim at the lake and again back to sauna, also boat ride in the lake, plus too many mosquitoes which bitten me a lot. Many Midsummer traditions from the past are still followed today, one of them the building of the “kokko”, a huge bonfire by the water. All over Finland, close to midnight on Midsummer Eve, the bonfires are ceremoniously lit. On Friday night we watched the bonfires and then we went for dancing.

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On Saturday we had the traditional midsummer grilling, sauna and relaxation time. We then gathered 7 kinds of flowers because according the tradition on midsummer night we place them under our pillows in the hope that our future husbands will be revealed to them in our dreams, that didn’t happen to me but I guess there is still hope :p In the afternoon we visited the famous Orthodox monastery Valamo. There I met my friend Alex that last year did his Erasmus in Thessaloniki, such a small world and so many random things happening all the time, he gave us a private tour of the place and told us about the history of the monastery. The surroundings were breathtaking.

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Midsummer is such a wonderful and magical celebration and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to experience it in Eastern Finland.

Back to the roots :p

On Friday I got the opportunity to visit my exchange city Turku last Friday. The reason behind this? I got accepted to a Master program and I went to register for it, plus I wanted to go to a Metal concert (yeah the main reason was that :p ) The sun was shining and Turku was just as beautiful as I have left it last summer when I visited it again. There I met with my friend Nikolina who I have met during my exchange period and now is also living in Finland (she is Croatian) and we went for lunch in the city, on our way to the center we passed by the Turku Cathedral and witnessed a ceremony about PHD students. They really do get swords!!!

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Unfortunately we didn’t stay long cause we were hungry :p The time passed and we had to get ready for the amazing concert in Klubi. 3 band were performing that night: Northern Incarnation (rising black metal band from Turku), Soulfallen (dark metal band from Jyväskylä) and my favourite Silentium (Gothic/Dark Metal)  were my friend Matti plays the bass and signs. All 3 bands performed perfectly and when the time for Silentium came I was overwhelmed by the singer’s voice (the woman and the guys as well). I was smiling the whole time, metal does make me happy 🙂 so I am definitely in the right country.

PS. :I took some photos but the lightning wasn’t so good so the quality is bad (sorry…) Nevertheless I had an amazing time. 🙂

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Maailma kylässä

I am so terrible at writing this blog, don’t know what I should write, so many things are happening constantly but now I have decided to share my experience of the  Maailma kylässä = The World Village Festival. It took place in Kaisaniemi Park and Railway Square in Helsinki. So what was this all about?

Since 1995, World Village Festival has been a free festival for the whole family. The event is open to all and a meeting place offering tastes of different cultures and surprises from all over the world.This year the festival visitors were 77000!!! The theme was development,the regional focus on this year’s programme was on Africa and the Middle East. The festival offers world views and possibilities, as well as music, circus, dance, theater, art and activities. It offers new perspectives on tolerant multiculturalism, development cooperation, global issues and expanding one’s possibilities for affecting everyday life. I was there as a volunteer for Allianssi Nuorisovaihto , my task was to inform people about our programmes and all our volunteer opportunities. I talked with so many people and many were interested, I was amazed by the glance of their eyes as they were learning that there is a way to try new things and broaden your horizons. Some actually thanked me 🙂 An opportunity was given to me to meet previous volunteers (EVS,Au Pair, Working Camps) they all had wonderful stories to share and I made some new friends.

At the festival we had the opportunity to try food from different areas of the world, Mexican, African,Turkish, Nepalese, unfortunately I didn’t see any Greek but I survived :p  I tried Turkish food cause it had some similarity with Greek one. Besides the food part many things were happening, the important(for me) one was the concerts, I really enjoyed the music of a Lebanese rock band named Mashrou’ Leila. It was such a fun weekend!!!!!!

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EVS Event at Kirjasto 10

On Saturday 9/05/2015 Allianssi Nuorisovaihto organized an event at Kirjasto 10 in Helsinki. The aim of this event is to bridge the gap between the EVS volunteers of previous years and the future EVS volunteers while informing them about EVS programme. This event happened during the European Youth Week. The theme of European Youth Week 2015 is encouraging and helping young people to take part in civil society and in the employment market. After contacting with the volunteers our panel was ready. The morning before the event at 11:00 we all met for a brunch at Killa ravintola, needless to say that the food was amazing and gave us energy and jot so we can be awake and active during the event. We all got to know each other and many of the volunteers had their EVS in Greece so they were asking questions about me, how I decided to come to Finland and we also exchange stories about Greece and different situations that they experienced.

At 13:00 the event started with our moderator Anni welcoming the audience and introducing me to them. Then I introduced my self and explained who I was and what I am doing in Allianssi, then I gave a presentation about EVS and about my project. After my presentation the panel discussion began, Anni was asking questions to the volunteers and each of them was answering while they were sharing their experiences and some funny incidents that happened to them during their volunteer period abroad. I was so happy that many of them loved my country and had an unforgettable experience there. The audience asked some questions that they were answered by the volunteers, during the panel discussion the info table was run by the volunteers and me ion order to give brochures and info material to anyone who was interested in EVS programme and answer their questions.

The event was advertised at the library’s webpage and I was the on the advertisement poster, I became famous in Helsinki hurray!!! :p

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Arrival.

Minun nimi on Ioanna,olen Kreikkalainen.

So yeahhh I am Ioanna and I come form Greece, I currently live in Finland for my EVS programme.

What is EVS? It’s European Volunteer Service where someone can go to another country and work in an organisation for total of 12 months. I am working in a youth organisation named Allianssi Nuorisovaihto and it’s located in my beloved Helsinki.

How did all started? I am in love with Finland, that’s am fact that almost everyone knows about me. It all begun since I was 11 when I first heard on the radio a song that I really liked, I listened it again and again and I started  to search for the song and the group. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gwO8-oqwFw  After this the bug was installed in my system, Finnish fever had taken over me, more music, bands came into my life so I thought hmmm this country makes good music what else is there? I was reading a lot about Finland, seeing photos, documentaries, everything that had something to do with Finland. On my surprise I discovered that one of my favourite cartoons was Finnish! Moomins!!! The love for this country kept growing every single day and I was advertising Finland to everyone, I wanted to visit it so badly. In high school I tried to create an exchange programme with one of my teachers in order to go to Finland for a short period, I send emails to teachers in Finland etc but the project didn’t go further cause I was the only one trying to make it happen. At my last year in high school the headmistress gathered the whole school and announced that from next year we are going to have an exchange also in Finland! I was shocked and the whole class turned on me to see my reaction…I wasn’t going to be in high school anymore!!!Bummer.

Years passed by and through the European exchange programme Erasmus I finally went to Finland and stayed 5 months in Turku. There I made friendships that last until now and I experienced the life in Finland where I realized that this is the country for me. Three years after my Erasmus I came back to Finland during winter time and summer time to visit friends. This year something unexpected happen… On a Thursday night I saw a notification on Facebook that someone comment under a post and put my name, it was for an EVS in Helsinki by the sending organisation ELIX, deadline Saturday. Next day I was writing the motivation letter and the application and I send it hoping for a miracle. After one week an email arrived saying that I was having a Skype interview, long story short I got the place!!!!! In a month I had to pack my stuff, say goodbye to my friends and start this beautiful adventure.