Ice skating with ESN

ESN consistently holds events for exchange students to go to, that allows them to get active and take part in activities that let them meet other exchange students but also interact more with Finnish culture. About two weeks ago I took part in an ESN event to go ice skating at a local arena.

Even though I didn’t have skates with me I was able to rent skates for €5 and entry was only €1, so it was an extremely affordable price for hours of ice skating.

After I got laced up and wobbled my way to the ice, I discovered it was this wonderful outdoor rink with stadium lights all around it. Although it took me awhile to get acclimated on the ice it was great to see most of the other exchange students were having a similar problem. As we (mostly) all skittered around the ice we were surrounded by Finnish families teaching their children to skate, some what appeared to be figure skaters who were practicing their incredible turns, and on the other side of the rink a game of pick up hockey being played.

Hannah1-pieni

At first we all just skated around the rink, practicing stopping, but once some more exchange students came and we all started skating pretty well some people organized games to play like (ice) tag and other games.  The games were a lot of fun to play – they reminded of when I was a kid. Eventually it started snowing which added to beauty of a night time skate. We ended up skating for a few hours, and when we were tired we could sit in the bench and watch the game of ice hockey being played 

and see the little kids practice their skating alongside us adults – whom they seemed to be better than most at skating!!

All in all it was a wonderful experience that allowed us to get out and get active while partaking in a truly Finnish custom of ice skating. But also it allowed us to interact within the Finnish community and meet some nice Finnish people.

Text and photo: Hannah Rombough

ESN Lapland trip 2013

Two weeks ago I went with ESN Uni Turku (Erasmus Student Network) to Levi in Lapland. This was the trip every exchange student was looking forward to. We first arrived in Rovaniemi, the official hometown of the real Santa Claus. After standing 20 minutes in the queue, it was time to meet Santa Claus in real life and they took a picture of us with Santa. But he’s a smart businessman too, because for one digital picture you’ve got to pay 49 euros! Maybe bad Santa does exist.

After that we arrived in Levi and we could enter our beautiful cottages. They were all well equipped and every cottage had an own sauna. The next morning we went cross-country skiing. I had never done it before in my life and it was an exhausting experience. We did the trip of 16 kilometers, and for me it was hell. Luckily I was surrounded by a beautiful landscape but after the trip I was whacked.

But I could comfort myself with the thought that there was a karaoke party that night organized by ESN. The party was really nice because there were only exchange students and everybody danced and singed all night long.

The next day we had to get up for the Husky Safari. We arrived there and the dogs were already excited. Unfortunately the trip was only 1 kilometer so we were back very quick. But nevertheless it was again an amazing experience to see how much fun the dogs had by running in the snow. The woman from the Safari told us that some dogs run more than 250 kilometers a day!LarsClaessens1

On Saturday there was the Snowmobile Safari that was the activity I was looking forward to from the beginning of the trip. In the beginning we were taught how to drive the snowmobile. Good thing to know: if you’ve crashed the snowmobile you’ve had to pay 850 euros insurance, so everyone was warned! It was a trip of 30 kilometers in the beautiful nature of Lapland and I can recommend everyone to this once in his or her life. It was so nice to drift in the snow.

The next morning the bus was waiting to take us back to Turku. And everybody was exhausted but satisfied.

This trip was one of the most beautiful trips I have ever done in my entire life. I can recommend everyone to visit this beautiful place on earth!

Text and photo: Lars Claessens