Memories from students

Claire Hu,  Lycée Henri Bergson, Paris - France

"The departure: sunday

I’ve been to Finland for seven days with my classmate Alix. The sunday, we had to arrive at 8 am in front of Gare du Nord. We took the train in the direction of the airport. When we arrived, we had to wait until the plane arrives. For the lunch that we took in the plane , our teachers brought us sandwiches. We had to take two planes: the first one did Paris to the capital Helsinki and the second one did Helsinki to Joensuu. Around 6 pm, our host families waited for us. My host was Annu and Alix’s host was Ida. I went to Annu’s house and Alix to Ida’s house, the teacher slept at the hotel.



The morning we had to arrive at 9:00 am at the school but me and Annu went a little bit earlier because she had a dance rehearsal . And after, all the school had to come into the gym to saw their performance. Every foreigner and us had to introduce ourself in front of all the Finish students. After, we went into a classroom and some students presented us Finland and Joensuu.

At 11 am, we visited the school and then we ate at the cafeteria. After the lunch, we played some games in the snow until 2 pm. So after the games we had to go to the city center to do another « game » called orienteering in town and it’s Alix’s team who won. At the end of the day we went to the bowling with the other erasmus student dans their finish hosts.



We went to a whole day to Koli . It’s a national park with an amazing landscape. We walked to the top of the mountain with snowshoes and we took many photos. We ate the picnic that the family made for us and grilled sausages. This day we almost spent all day there. And the best part of this journey was the sledged ridding. The huskies were so cute ! Towards evening a student invited us to his house and we went there . We played, talked and ate snacks, it was great !



We were at school to do two workshop. The group has been divided in two: the first group had to do handicraft when the second group is doing the woodwork and vice versa. For the handicraft workshop we made Brazilian bracelet . People say that these bracelet represents friendship and when we had to put it around our wrist we have to make a wish. For the wish to come true, the bracelet must break with the wear of time. At the woodwork workshop, we made a butterknife .



To 8:30 am at 2 pm we had the sports day where the whole school participated at this event. We were able to choose between many sport like snowboarding, cross-country skiing, alpine ski or sledding… Me, Alix and my teachers choose to go skiing. It was my first time to go skiing and it was such a good sport, I really liked it ! After skiing we had to return at the high school and then we had a free time for shopping or go eating somewhere with our new friends. With my host and other student, we went to a botanical garden before to go the sauna. I saw many flowers and plants that you can only see at the summer or spring. So at 6 pm we had to go to the sauna. We put our swimsuits and ran to the sauna because it was really cold outside, but inside the sauna was really really hot, it was like 90° degrees. After we got hot enough and sweating enough, we had to run to the lake and dive in, or you can also swim a little bit if we wanted.


Friday :

The Friday morning we had to follow the lessons with our hosts. Annu had english and home conomic so we first went to the english class. Their classes are more quiet than french classes but the English teacher had rarely speak in english, she spoke Finnish all the time so I was a little bit disappointed because I couldn’t understand but it was also very interesting even so. After we had home economics and there we made french toast to the finish student who were in the home economics class. This recipe was really simple, we use brioche but I think it’s better with baguettes. For the lunch, we ate at school and then we had to visite an Art museum. At 6 pm, we go to another school to go to a farewell party. For the beginning, a group of young students showed us a traditional dance with traditional clothes. The director of the high school came to give us our « graduate » and when all the people received them we were able to eat. There was so many good things and we ate a lot. We also put music and we put « just dance » on a big screen and then we were able to show our talent for dance.



I woke up this morning a little bit tired from yesterday but not that much because I needed to keep this energy for this day. It’s the end, we had to return to our homeland: France. Our plane takes of at 11:35 am, the Hungarians people took the same plane and after we arrived to Helsinki we had to say good bye to them. For lunch we ate burgers and then we waited to our flight. We arrived in France at almost 7 pm. "

Alix Henrich, Lycée Henri Bergson, Paris - France

"We arrived on the sunday evening and had the opportunity to talk with our host family and exchange the differencies between Finland and France.


The monday morning there was a presentation: some finnish students performed a dance they made in front of the whole school and the exchange students told their names and where they were from. The local students showed us their school and then we had lunch. The afternoon we had to orient ourselves in groups in town with our host. The ones with the most points received a key chain that shines in the dark. Then later in the evening we went bowling in town.


The next day we went to Koli mount where we snowshoed on the morning and then had lunch. We either could bring sandwiches from home or eat sausages from the big barbecue, or even do both. On this afternoon, we went dog sledding with huskies. You could either pilot the sled or sit in it. Tuesday night we organized a night at a finnish boys' house with some of the hosts and the exchange students. We played games and ate a lot haha. 


On the wednesday, we had two groups: one started by making friendship bracelets, in the color of our country's flag and then exchange it with our host, and the other was making a knife butter out of wood in the workshop. Both of these activities where really cool to do! The afternoon, we went to a pastries workshop where we made traditional pastries, called "Karjalan Piirakat Carelian Pastries". After that we ate them just after they got out of the ovens. We then had a free afternoon, so we went shopping or we could go home or do whatever we wanted.


The thursday was the Mustavaara trip with the whole school, where we could ski, do snow games or go snowshoeing again. We ate lunch there and went back to the school for 2 pm. We also had a free afternoon to do what we wanted to do and then on the night, we went to the sauna and ice swimming. The lake's water was so cold but it was an incredible experience !!


Friday was our last day. We followed our hosts lessons, but claire and I mainly went to the Home Economics class, which was amazing because we cooked and then ate what we did and because we don't have that kind of lessons in France made it amazing! After lunch we went to the Museum Onni, in the name of the biggest donnor of art pieces. The museum tour was really great, there was a lot of beautiful pieces. After that we had another free time before going to the Farewell party at the newest Joensuu's school. With Claire, Annu, Heta, Ida and Ella, we went shooping and then eating dinner (yes at 3 in the afternoon) at a falafel's restaurant, which was really good. Friday night, like I said before, we had a party with the hosts and the foreign students. The cafeteria was huge and the buffet was awesome. The family made some traditional -or not- recipes and we could eat them so it was so tasty!! We put music -Bohemian Rapsody, like the rest of the week haha- and played or danced... I think it really was the best night out of all !

This trip was beyond amazing and I can't thank enough all the people that made it possible"

Ieva Norkuté, Lithuania

"I was in Finland to present my country. From this project I expected best practice in English and cold weather. But I experienced more! I found many new friends, saw the most beautiful place- Koli National Park, had the best sports day and tried the coldest ice swimming(it was crazy!!). Making butter knives and friendship bracelets was so interesting and easy to make. People I met in this project are the friendliest and now they are very good friends of mine.  I will never forget this amazing week! Erasmus+ is the best project to find new friends from different countries, and experience the most beautiful friendship with others. "