Apr 122014
 

gor 2 classeIt was at last  our turn!  We, Clarissa, Federica and Serena, went to  Górowo for the Comenius meeting which focused on employment.

Our trip to Poland was very tiring but the stay in Gorowo was amazing. In fact we had a wonderful welcoming from our twins and their families.

gor 2 classegor 2 classegor 2 classegor 2 classe

We spent four days there but we learned a lot about employment and … unemployment in the countries of the other Comenius students: we showed our powerpoint presentations and one day we worked together in groups to make gadgets for ill people. We also visited some important work places, such as the Russian border, the barracks of the firefighters and the office of a local newspaper.

In our free time we went to see Olsztyn Castle and we could go ice-skating and shopping.

The best part of the trip was meeting and making friends with all the people involved coming from different European counties. We had the opportunity to improve our English talking about everything and we taught each other typical dances and songs.

The last evening together we made a barbecue and had so much fun!

Of course when we left, we were all crying!

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Apr 122014
 

Palermo- Achim –Palermo
We travelled from Palermo to Bremen and then to Achim on 27 Nov 2013 for the big meeting on volunteering. On our first day at Cato Bontjes van Beek Gymnasium we explained to all our school partners, students and teachers all the volunteering activities we have been doing at school to help raise money for charity organizations and other needy people such as refugees. We mentioned the Comenius football match that was played last spring to contribute to the fundraising activity in this project and how a bake sale was planned for the school community for the 13th of December, the day of Santa Lucia. We also illustrated the commitment a group of fellow students have with the church of Santa Chiara in the city centre and the children of migrant families, coming mostly from Africa who live in the neighbourhood.
The greatest thing we did in Germany was the Christmas market! Everybody brought something from home and sold it for charity.
The German school also organized several interesting activities: we visited the historic city of Bremen, the Mercedes-Benz factory, and the Klimahaus in Bremenhaven. This attraction is a sort of science museum where you can see the whole world just walking through different rooms where particular habitats are recreated according to their climates.
In our spare time we could do several activities with our host families: some of us went to Hamburg, in fact. And one evening we all had a pizza together.
All in all it was a a great experience to meet again, learn about the German lifestyle in a German family, practice our English and visit amazing places.

Apr 062014
 

I hadn’t liked English since my first year at elementary school. I thought it was a boring subject and I wasn’t interested in it.The situation didn’t change until I was 10,when I went to London for the first time. I don’t know what exactly happened, probably that beautiful city, these wonderful people and that amazing culture, but I started to like English! When I came back I started to study English in a serious way, and I was so excited to get in touch with that new world! I absolutely wanted to go back to London.
Now I’m 16, and my love for English the world grows more and more. That’s why, when my English teacher suggested I should try the Comenius selection, last year, I was so happy. So I had the possibility to travel and go to a foreign country to improve my English.
Soon came the 12th September 2012: it was time to leave, and I was really looking forward to it!
It was a long travel to go to Stratford, but it was really worth it. Finally, in the evening on the 12th September, I was in Stratford, a lovely and typical English town: small and nice houses with green gardens around and lots of parks.
The taxi took us from Birmingham Airport to Stratford high school. I literally got crazy when I heard the little old English driver speaking a typical British English, since it is quite difficult nowadays because of ‘American contamination’.
We arrived at school and it looked like it was a different world: it was a giant building well equipped , with a wonderful gym, open playgrounds and a canteen. But, most of all, I was impressed by the English school system: every student can choose which classes to attend and which not. They have different subjects, also including vocational study classes.
So, we arrived at school and there was my hosting family waiting for me. They were so nice! My new family was made up of Rebecca, the mom, Chaise, my twin, and Natty, a sweet she-dog.
They took me in and tried to make me feel as comfortable as if I were at home. Rebecca tried to cook Italian food for me, Chaise gave me her room, but at the same time they tried to make me get in touch with English everyday life , and they were brilliant on that. I spent three days in Stratford, not so many, but I visited the main tourist sites, like Shakespeare’s house, Anne Hathaway’s cottage, the Shakespeare centre, the Swan theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the clock tower , situated in the middle of the main square.
I really loved staying in Stratford, it is a little and quite town that offers so many facilities easily reachable, even better than a big and chaotic city.
During the mornings I spent in Stratford, I went to school with Chaise and we worked with all the other guys who were taking part in the Comenius project: there were two English guys from Truro, two Spanish, two German, two Finnish, two Polish, and, of course, many English guys from Stratford. They all were lovely! We didn’t have the possibility to know each other very well or to spend lot of time together, but something began in these three days. We had the possibility to get in touch with different cultures and different ways of thinking, and, according to me, it was an important enrichment for everyone. We worked together to organize the Comenius activities to do in the other cities part of the project.
2012-09-14 14.54.42
This meeting lasted just three days, but on that 15th September we left Stratford knowing that we all were part of a big new European family. It was a sad and painful moment when I had to say goodbye, but I’m still keeping in touch with everyone I met in Stratford. That’s why I’m pretty sure I can say it was one of the best experiences in my whole life!
I’ve lived it as the best opportunity ever to speak English with native people and to improve it: at the beginning I made some mistakes, but the frequent input of native speakers helped me to become more fluent in few days.
Thanks to the Comenius project I lived a fantastic and useful experience, which combined together language, culture and free time.
Of course three days were not enough, but they were really meaningful to shape my cultural enrichment.
That is why I suggest a similar experience to everyone, to grow up both culturally and psychologically.
As for me, I hope I’ll go to England again in order to discover other wonderful places like Stratford and go on learning English.
I wish everyone could find a European family to love and to grow up with.
Giuliana Spinella
Liceo Vittorio Emanuele II
Palermo

Apr 052014
 

Hi! We are Martina and Roberto. We are the students from Palermo, together with Gaia and Riccardo, who travelled to Tampere in January 2013. When we arrived at Tampere Airport in the evening,  our twins Helka and Olli were waiting for us and we were all excited! The families were very friendly as well.

The next day we went to school. It is a beautiful school although the building isn’t new. We met other Finnish students and teachers and the headmistress welcomed all the Comenius group.Then we had a short and interesting history lesson about Finland. After an Englishman who teaches English at this school talked about Finnish people and his experience of living in Finland. It was very funny! We had lunch in the canteen with our friends.

Then a professor from Tampere University talked to us about courses in English that are open even to students coming from other countries. That can be very useful for us in the near future!

After that, we went sightseeing and spent the evening at home with our families. We were happy to stay indoors because it was very cold outside! Some of us tried the sauna, another new experience for us!

The next day every school group made posters about the school system in their countries and then had to present them to everybody.  After  lunch we took to coach to Kuru College of Forestry,  situated in fact in a forest. A teacher there informed us about what students learn there and how they are trained.

It was around -26 degrees! And we went on a short walk in the wood with a guide. Luckily there was a centre in the nature reserve where we went to see a documentary and buy some souvenirs and of course find some warmth! After the teachers of the Finnish school took us to a beautiful frozen lake. It was awesome with the sun setting! Nearby we had some tea and cake.

The following day was Saturday and we spent the morning in two interesting museums in town. One was inside an old textile factory and in fact it was full of information about the industrial past of the city. The second had several exhibitions. Very interesting the one about the war.

We had a free afternoon but the real highlight was the farewell party organized inside the school. There was a great buffet and then we saw videos and funny sketches in the school theatre. Riccardo showed off on the piano! And after games and lots of fun  with the fabulous guys of Tampere and all the others. It was a fantastic way of ending a short but intense international meeting.

Apr 042014
 

2012-09-14 13.48.28Hi!  My name is Emilio. That’s me next to Giuliana.

It was a fantastic experience for me to take part in the first meeting, first of all
because I hadn’t ever been to England before, and then because I had the
opportunity of meeting very nice people (both students and teachers) and
exchanging ideas  with them all. The principal part of our work in
the two days of meeting was to prepare the planning of what to do in Malaga
(the Spanish city involved in the project), and the best ideas were to clean
Malaga’s beach of the rubbish and to play a beachvolley match. Unfortunately,
the meeting was just for two days, but I had a real good time in Stratford and
I think it was an unforgettable experience.

Apr 012014
 

Wednesday, 12th of September

Our day started with a bus drive from Tampere to Helsinki followed by a flight to Birmingham via Munich, Germany. The long journey took up nearly the whole day, from the early morning all the way to the evening. We arrived at the school and met our host  families for the first time at  6pm. having already witnessed the scenery of English rural areas between Birmingham and Stratford. During the evening we chatted with our hosts and exchanged the unique feature of our cultures. The host families received various Finnish products, such as the world famous Fazer chocolate and the timeless vases of Alvar Aalto.

Thursday, 13th September

We headed for the school after eating an English breakfast. Stratfor-upon-Avon school seemed enormous from a Finnish perspective – with its 2,500 students it is way bigger than any Finnish schooö. We also met the other foreign guests for the first time. Representatives from Spanish, Italian, German, Polish and British schools had arrived the previous night just like us. We got to share stories from Finland with our fellow visitors.

The main quest for the guests was to initiate the planning process for a sports event that was to be held in Malaga, Spain, a few months later. The purpose of the event was to raise money for charity and train participants’ collaboration and leadership skills.

Both of us toured around the main sights of Stratford in the afternoon. The most notable sight was the birthplace of William Shakespeare, and the other spots also had something to do with the author. Along the “The Birthplace”, the homes of Anne Hathaway and Mary Arden as well as the Stratford-upon-Avon church nest known for the tomb of Shakespeare were included in the tour. To complete the English cultural experience, the dinner of the day was ordered from a genuine “fish and chips” restaurant.

Friday, 14th September

Friday morning was spent finishing the plans for the sports event and preparing a presentation containing useful tips for the foreigners visiting Tampere and their hosts. In the meantime, contact information was collected so that we could keep in touch with each other after the Stratford meeting.

The Finns parted for the Friday evening. Juuso spent the evening at school as his host partook in a sports leadership course involving coaching and playing. Giuliana, an Italian girls was also there with her host, which made further discussions possible. Maisa visited Warwick, a nearby town, with her host family, The time was well spent adoring the medieval castle and enjoying Indian food.

Saturday, 15th  September

Saturday was dedicated to travelling as it was fairly accurately Wednesday reversed. Farewells to hosts were left in the the yard of a local hotel. As we came back home, British souvenirs, including lots of Shakespeare items were spread. The contact information gathered on Friday was immediately used as we both started online conversations with the European students we had met in Stratford.

DSCN0068By: Juuso Järviniemi & Maisa Borg

Mar 312014
 

We made our way to the airport on Wednesday the 6th of March, also known as yet another cold winter day in Tampere. Naturally we were very excited to escape the pesky minus degrees, and so were eagerly awaiting the trip. Our first flight took us to Stansted airport, where we had six hours to kill before our next flight. Being an eager set of travellers, we jumped into a cab and drove to a little village called Bishops Stortford, located around half an hour away from the airport. We visited a lovely tea shop and enjoyed a traditional English lunch before we took a train back to the airport. It was definitely a privilege to catch a glimpse of England before we arrived at our final destination.

When finally setting foot on Spanish ground, it was nearly midnight and we felt exhausted after the long and tedious journey. However, excitement soon caught up with us as we reunited with our Spanish friends who previously visited Tampere. The excitement didn’t die down as we glued our noses to the car windows on the drive to our new temporary homes. It was as if all the fatigue had been drawn out of us and replaced with eager anticipation about the following days.

Thursday morning we woke up to pouring rain; so much for the long-awaited sunshine.  After all, we certainly deserved some vitamin D after four months of utter darkness… Nevertheless, we made our way to school where we met up with all the people from the other countries. It was great fun talking to new people and everyone was very enthusiastic and open. We spent most of the morning in the assembly hall, listening to different presentations on employment that the Spanish had prepared. We also got the chance to play a game of role playing that involved employers and employees.  Lunch was eaten after school at 3pm  something we found unusual. The students, most likely with the help of their parents, had prepared us a buffet consisting of typical Spanish foods. It can be presumed no one left with an empty stomach. After lunch, we spent some time on the beach, playing games and getting acquainted. Someone brought the Spanish flag with them, which we attached to a branch and planted in the sand; where it remained until a game of capture the flag began. 

Friday morning we woke up bright and early in order to catch the bus to El Morlaco park. In Finland, if the program says ‘bus to … at 8’, the bus actually leaves at 8, leaving any latecomers behind. This was not the case in Spain. We arrived at 8.05, only managing to enter the bus several minutes later. Latecomers were patiently waited for and certainly not scolded. We agreed this was quite obviously more pleasant than the Finnish version.

In El Morlaco we were split into pairs, offered a map, and given an alarmingly long speech on how to read said map. At the chance of sounding arrogant, us Finns did quite well, orienteering through the unfamiliar park. However, this may be because orienteering is an essential part of Finnish P.E. classes, so none of us were particularly new to the sport. The best part of the activity was probably getting to know our partners and the momentarily scorching sun (it became shy soon afterwards). Like the day before, we played some games on the beach, and this time the sun even graced us with its presence for a while. In the evening, we walked to the center and through the main street, seeing some of Malaga’s many attractions. An experience that was surely bizarre, was eating a Burger King burger on the lap of a statue portraying H. C. Andrersen, while the others sat around it. After having our interesting dinner, we proceeded to take a stroll by the port, illuminated by twinkling street lights. Although we were moving at a pace akin to that of a snail, we enjoyed ourselves immensely. There were some fun, interactive playground equipment for children (and immature adults) that we decided to try out as we unleashed our inner children.  We even sprinted through a fountain.

For Saturday, ‘enjoying Malaga with your twin’ was on the schedule. This meant all but one pair spent the day roaming through Malaga, visiting a castle, a church, and a Roman amphitheater. The pair not present was one of us, who made a visit to Granada and Alhambra instead. Alhambra was astounding and the polar opposite of any type of palace or fortress found in Finland. The walls were decorated with intricate designs, reflecting years of hard labor and talent. Come evening, we were all reunited at one of our hosts’ place for a ‘party’. A game of truth or dare was played, a Harlem Shake was recorded, and tearful goodbyes were said to those leaving early the next morning. At 1 am we finally trudged our ways back home, exhausted but happy.

The last day, there was no official program but we saw some more of Malaga’s jewels. It was especially nice to see a view of the whole city while standing on the walls of the Gibralfaro castle. We also visited the Picasso museum, viewing unique Cubist paintings.

At 8, us Finns were to assemble at the ‘aeropuerto’ – the hilarious version of the English word airport. Embarrassingly enough, some of us supposedly tough Finns shed tears while hugging our equally tearful Spanish friends. It certainly was upsetting to be robbed from our new families and friendships, but fortunately we live in the 21st century where technology is easily available.

When we arrived in London, we immediately left to hit the hay. It was challenging to drag ourselves out of bed at 5 am the next morning, but us troopers pulled it off. It helped that we slept at the airport and on the flight back. The sleep did not guard us from the depression that hit once we landed though. Snow covered every surface and the air was bitingly cold, unlike the climate of Spain. Even the group of excited (and loud…) British students in front of us for passport check seemed dull. On the bright side, it was nice to sleep in our own beds once we made it home.

All in all, it was a memorable trip. The activities were fun, the food was simply amazing, and the Spanish were overwhelmingly welcoming and open. As well as acquiring a secondary family in Spain, we gained memories to cherish for a lifetime.

– Linnea & Majken

Ps. It was hard to pack a suitcase of merely 10kg for four days. We’re girls, we need to bring excess clothing, regardless of whether we wear them or not.Pps. We miss the Spanish hams and churros.

Working on our task

Mar 312014
 

Here you can read how Sofía, Quino and Dani lived their experience at Gorowo.ypef

Quino

I shall explain you a little bit about our amazing experience in Górowo Iławeckie, a small village near the Polish border. I spent such a wonderful and enriching trip with my mates Sofía and Daniel and my teachers Angela and Eloísa.
On Tuesday, we had to travel from Malaga to London, we stayed there for a night, and on Wednesday then we had to catch a plane from London to Gdánsk, an important coastal city. Finally, we landed in Gdánsk at the lunchtime, and we had to take a two-hour bus to Gorowo. At last, we arrived to Gorowo at 6 pm, which is their dinnertime, so Daniel and I went with our twins to a pizza restaurant.
On Thursday, I met up with the whole Comenius group in the highschool early in the morning to do some sightseeing around the school, which is greatly large, and around the village. Then I could notice that there in Poland there is a lot of admiration for Pope John Paul II.
In the afternoon, we went to Bezledy, which is one of the European border points with Russia, and we had the opportunity to manage some weapons, as the sniper rifle you can see here. We also went to Bartszyce, which is like the provincial city, to visit the fire department and the local newspaper. At night, we went out with the entire Comenius group to a disco and afterwards we walked around the village.
On Friday, we met at Barka, which is like a public building for social and cultural events, and we had to show our slideshows about employing and volunteering in our cities. Thereafter, we were doing some handicraft and workshop, as the same time as some of us were playing table tennis and even dancing. We had such a wonderful and funny time there, because we could get to know among us. At last, at night, I went to Daniel’s house to spend some time and afterwards we met up with the whole Comenius group in a typical Polish restaurant, where we could even make a party.
In the last day together, on Saturday, everybody went to Olzstyn, the capital city of the district, wich was an important region in medieval times, and we visited the Olsztyn Castle, where Nicholas Copernicus lived, and the Old Town, which was impressive. Thereafter we could go shopping and do some ice-skating. In the evening, we went to a farewell party outdoors, and we had the most wonderful time of the week, listening to some music, dancing, making loads of photos and talking around the fire.
On Sunday, I was awake so early in the morning, like 4 am, to take the bus to Gdánsk. It was bitterly cold, like -4º, so in the bus everyone was sleeping and dreaming. We arrived in Gdánsk at the morning, and there we spent our last time with the Comenius people. After the farewell, we were travelling from Poland to Spain the entire day, so we landed in Malaga around 10 pm.
From my point of view, the chance of travelling to Górowo has been blissful. Even if at the beginning of the trip I was quite nervous wondering what would I do there, the mighty kindness and welcoming of the Polish people made me enjoy the days I stayed there.
Even having met many people from several cultures and languages, I could get through and get along with everyone, meeting people with many common interests. I had such a great, amazing time with the entire Comenius group, singing, dancing and doing loads of things with them.

Sofía

My travel to Poland was amazing with Quino and Dani.
We sleept a little but it was worthy. I though that Poland was different, and the difference was a great surprise for me. My twin,Ewa, is a fantastic girl. She and her family took me in so good.
I was impresed by their frozen lake and their contrast between the cold outside and the heat inside the houses.I really like these landscape.
The first night we went to their park and the supermarket. I met a lot of people from other countries.We started dancing this night,with Spanish songs,Italian songs and Polish songs.I went to bed so early because I was so tired.
The second day we went to their highschool. There we could met another people and we visited their highschool. Then we visited to the firemen station and to the local newspapper. At night,we went to ate pizza in a pub.
The third day we went to Barka to explain our presentation and made handcraft.We danced too.These night we ate pizza again and dance again.This was a exciting night.
The fourth day we went to other town. We made sightseeing. Then we spent a funny time ice-skating.
The night of the fourth day was the best night for me.We celebrated our depart with a barbecue.We danced,talked,played,made a lot of photos… and we cried because we didn’t want to say goodbye.
Last day,we had to got up early to went to the airport. We were all less Italian girls. I huged everybody but especially Ewa.I miss her so much.
I really this travel because we were together all the time. We were always dancing and laughing ,we were happy.
My sourvenirs from this travel are the experience,English, as a way of comunication, and The unforgettable time together.

Dani

When we heard we had to travel from Malaga to London, from London to Gdansk, and finally, from  Gdansk to Górowo, and that we had to travel during a good many of hours, we were surprised! Why travelling during lots of hours to visit a country which is not so well-known between people in Spain?
The answer to the question “why Poland?” is the following: it’s different.
The first day, I was so confused, and asking myself “How have I finished here? Why I’m here? Why is everything so different? Why it’s not just like Malaga?”.
But I realized that being different is not a blockage, it’s not an obstacle, it’s an opportunity to say “yes, I visited an unknown country, and I’m proud of it!”, it’s an opportunity to know more things about the habits in the north of Europe, the way of behaving of the people (we thought people’s behaving will be different, but they are so nice, so greatful!), and so on.
I liked so much Górowo because it’s a smallvillage with huge houses, with lots of gardens… I believe Górowo is like a way of represent the nature.
And I think everybody will ask themselves “and, what about the cold climate?”. And I have an answer to this! You only have to take a big jacket and enjoy of having a walk around Górowo: the Town Hall (where there were burnt witches 500 years ago), the ukrainian church (it was destroyed by Nazi people, but ukrainian rebuilt it and now it forms part of Europe history), the frozen lake (so beautiful!)…
But we didn’t stay in Górowo all the time. We visited Olsztyn and Bartoszyce (I think this two towns are written in this way!), the borders between Russia and Poland, a shopping center (cheaper than in Malaga!), an ice-skating floor…
I think they were several magic days. I learnt so much about polish culture, polish habits, polish music (strange, but I love polish music!)… And if somebody say me if I want to visit it again, I will smile, and I will say “yes, I will get back there”.

Mar 272014
 

Our mobility in Poland already started in the bus from the airport in Gdansk to Górowo. Seeing all the little villages from the bus was interesting. When having arrived at the school we were picked up by our lovely host families. We enjoyed a delicious dinner and met outside with all Comenius people to take a look around the pretty city of Górowo. The next day we met in the school and visited some interesting places in Górowo.

 

 

Later that evening we met to have a nice slice of pizza and some interesting conversations. We also went to the impressive border between Poland and Russia.