Sunday started with the Finnish group gathering at Verstas in the morning, all packed and ready to go, and the Irish group checking out of the hotel. The bus came to pick up the Verstas group at 10am, and continued to pick up the Irish group from the hotel. One of the Finnish participants were late, but the bus waited in front of the hotel – the participant got there by a rental scooter with everybody cheering to her when getting on the bus! It was a funny and spirits-lifting way to start the day. We started the bus, and head off to spend the day at the Finnish National Park Seitseminen. After spending the day outdoors, we continued our trip to the youth centre Marttinen at Virrat, where we will spend the rest of the exchange week. There we got some dinner and SAUNA later in the evening!
Verstas had organised a cooking hut for the group from Kirkas-Soljanen area, at the Seitseminen national park. First things first – the group went for a hike around the nature trail. After the hike, all gathered around the cooking hut, to prepare some traditional camping food by the fire. We had all kinds of vegetables, cheeses, pre-cooked potatoes and onions and wrap them in a tinfoil make a little bundle to heat up in the fireplace in the middle of the hut. We also had some sausages, and a big traditional coffeepot to make coffee by the fire.
- “It was a beautiful place! The food was a really nice idea. I felt like part of the group because we were all together while eating our food. I connected with some Finnish and some Irish people today. It was nice to see the lakes and read about them.”
- “Hiking in the forest together and making food, helping each other – I really feel like I am a part of this group, and it’s awesome, since I hadn’t had that feeling when growing up and getting through school! I think I connect more and more everyday, and it gets easier for having good experiences!”
- “I felt being a part of the group. Whenever I was walking next to someone, we were talking. I got to know some of the Irish youth a bit better. I connected and talked with a new person today, and it made me feel good. Usually people don’t start talking to me, but she did.”
- “I enjoyed hiking since I love to exercise. Also I got to take some good photos and enjoy the scenery. We took our time to observe the nature around us. It was overall a unique and breathtaking experience. I also learned about Finland’s national parks and how well respected they are. I learned that there are around 40 national parks in the country!”
- “I learned at the national park, is a very spiritual and sacred place!”
- “At first, I was really tired and annoyed by all the noise and hassle… But at the time we got back from the hike and got cooking, I felt a lot better. I felt being a part of the group while talking to others, and others coming to me to chat. I was tired, but it made me feel wanted, accepted and respected.”
- “The forest walk was amazing! A great way to get fresh air. Staying in silence, listening to the nature around us – very beneficial to the group! I connected to the nature, and learned how beautiful the Finnish forest side is!”
- “The forest was beautiful. I am really happy because the food was amazing! I felt being a part of the group, I had fun. I connected, got new friends today in the group.”