That is the report of Brandon, our Chairman, after coming back from a training course in Virrat, Finland, in March 2nd – 7th 2018. It was an eventful journey, but it was worth it!
So I’ve just returned from Finland where I was taking part in a transnational cooperation activity which was funded and organised by Erasmus+ and Ecorys UK. The reason for going on this course was to become a Europeer, which originated in Germany and is a tag associated to someone who’s taken part in a European project funded by Erasmus + with the aim of getting other young people involved in the programme. I’ve taken part in roughly 14 projects since 2010 and this is my first since 2015.
I was travelling from Norwich – Amsterdam, then from Schipol to Helsinki. The Kingdom was experiencing some bad weather in the week leading up to the project, causing problems and actually throwing the whole trip into doubt which was evident when Norwich Airport (my starting point) had to cancel numerous flights due to heavy snow. Luckily the flight was not cancelled but slightly delayed, but my flight from Amsterdam to Helsinki was cancelled before I had even reached Norwich, so the solution was that I would instead fly from Amsterdam to Billund(Denmark) then to Helsinki. Once I arrived off of the convenient 30 minute flight to the lowlands I found out that also my flight to Denmark had been cancelled, so KLM then booked me on a flight at 19.05 to Helsinki, which sounds alright but not when you have been up since 4am and at the time it was 08.30 in the morning and then a 11 hour wait in the airport faced me. It was really annoying but I dealt with the situation well by exploring the airport which is bigger than some villages or towns.
I eventually boarded my plane to Helsinki and the flight to the Scandinavian capital took around 2 and a half hours. I arrived at 22.45 at the airport to find that my suitcase had actually ended up in Denmark even though my flight was cancelled, so it wasn’t a nice additive to the day. I then took the 30 minute train from the airport to the city centre to go to the hostel I had booked last minute because it wasn’t possible to go to my final destination that night. It was a new level of cold that I experienced when I got there as it was -17, I had no hat so I wasn’t fully prepared for my ears hurting so much. The hostel had given me two codes to get in, and had almost promised to leave a key and instructions for the room, but when I arrived there was no envelope left for me and the desk was closed with no emergency contact, so you can imagine that was just the worst end to the day possible, bad luck Barry pretty much. Fortunately a kind man offered for me to stay in his room as I was basically sat outside at 1am in a depressed crumpled heap in the hallway. Very kind of him but I had to get up early to continue my journey so I only slept for a few hours. Quite obviously I was quite grumpy in the morning so I went to reception and seeked information, it was basically just ” we don’t know how it happened” and “sorry sorry sorry” so I just had to accept it and be on my way. I was meant to have arrived 24 hours before so I then had to take a 2 hour train from Helsinki central to Parkano 150 miles away. Once there a taxi then took me for a further hour to the Martinnen Youth centre which is where I would be staying and training for the time I was there. We stayed in 4 bedroom log cabins sharing communal rooms and sharing a private sauna which is a big thing in Finland apparently.
I’m going to make this point now but I had a real lack of information about my suitcase during my time there so I had no idea where it was and when it was coming, the sad news is that I didn’t actually get my suitcase until half way through the 5th day which was less than 24 hours before we make the journey home Disappointing wasn’t the word but I dealt with the situation and tried my best to get on with it, although they told, me the day before it came that it could be between one and three days before it arrives, so it could arrive after I leave so I had to take action and buy new clothes as wearing the same clothes from four days depressed me a lot and basically affected my contribution to the course which was way less than I’m capable of.
We were there to learn how to be a Europeer which was going to be complicated, massively in depth with detail and would require concentration. We discussed various techniques and strategies to get people involved with the youth in action programme, each day, which was done with various workshops and people being split into groups. I won’t talk too much about the specifics of what we did in each brainstorming session as it’s only relevant to me. For example we all shared what European experiences we have had with each other and asked people questions to get more insight into things like youth exchanges, training courses and European Voluntary Service.
A lot of what we did will be clear to see in the pictures, right near the end of our workshops we had to come together in small groups and implement ideas about how to get young people involved with the Erasmus programme, and then present it all to the rest of the group. My idea was a cultural dinner evening which I wasn’t able to implement very well so I ended up lacking in a lot of detail as to what we can talk about and present to the class, but with the help of people of other cultures in Norwich I’m going to implement the idea and test to see if there’s something good in my idea. It’s not just this though there are other topics but there are three things that you need to try and justify in the planning of an idea. Why? What? How? You need to explain what you motivation is, what you are going to do and how you’re going to do it. Motivation isn’t a problem for me as I’ve taken part in so many projects and met people from many cultures and I know for a fact that is changed my life, and it definitely will change someone else’s. Your eyes get opened to so many things when people come together for a project as you can feel the togetherness and the strength of the emotion, it’s truly an eye opening and unforgettable experience.
I’m lucky enough to have met so many people from so many places in the UK and abroad, visiting countries such as The Netherlands, Poland, Belarus, Czech Republic and now Finland. I want other young people to be able to experience this and be able to take advantage of the opportunities that I’ve been lucky enough to have in the last 8 years. This can be disadvantaged people from all backgrounds aged 16-25 and even younger for domestic projects. I want young people to feel the happiness that I’ve felt before after and during a project because I dont feel the programme is advertised enough and if there is enough opportunity for people to do it. I’m going to organise a cultural evening in Norwich at a youth centre to give younger people in the area the chance to taste other cultures at home. This is planning for the future anyway.
The food was amazing, apart from the fact im somebody who doesnt eat seafood of any kind, manager to eat a fish shoup unknowingly, which made me feel extremely sick.The facilities were amazing, the staff at the youth centre were amazing, but especially to Annti the youth worker who knows the site very well and had an amazing personality, Hilma from the Finnish national agency who helped me a lot to arrive in Finland and organised transport for me, Paavi who was one of the two trainers on the course who helped to support me and all of the participants during the project and especially who helped when when I was in a desperate situation with my clothes and just immediately stopped what she was doing in her fre time to take me to a shop, and also to Sabrina the other trainer who worked tirelessly each day to gather information and teach people at how it is to be a Europeer, with an incredible amount of detail in her second language with confidence, and also caring and being there for people when it mattered.
I hadn’t had the best of times because of the nightmare travel situation and my suitcase not being there so I struggled to get going on the course but the last two days were perfect, especially when we did an activity where by people in a harness jumped off of a bridge in subzero temperatures and swung above the ground. I’m definitely wiser and motivated after taking part in the course because it’s really reminded, me about what’s important which is ,you love of helping people. I’m currently writing this personal report on the flight home from Helsinki to Amsterdam, we’re about to land and I’m just reflecting on the amazing experience I’ve had over the last few days. I’ve still got to fly to Norwich after this and drive home, sleep then back to work tomorrow which is sad but normal life must resume. I’ve met some amazing people that will stay in my mind for years to come, and I can assure they will as this isn’t the first time I’ve met amazing people. Feel free to watch some of the videos I’ve added here as it will give you more insight into what exactly it was like.
Thank you so so much, shout out to Erasmus+ and the European Union for making a difference to people’s lives 🔝🔝✅✔🔥
Kiiitos paljon, kokemukseni Suomessa oli ikimuistoinen!