So, to anyone that is reading this, we’ll have to start from scratch. What is Erasmus Inspired by Health exactly? It’s an international project sponsored by the EU. All together we have four schools in this project from Spain, Finland, Sweden and Austria that are all participating on this project that lasts for a year and a half. As the name says, main themes of this project circle around different aspects of health and what it means to live a stable, healthy life. Every country has its own main theme that vary from mental health to healthy nutrition. Every country has at least two teachers to be a part of it as well.
Our first project meeting with the students and teachers from Spain, Sweden and Austria was in the capital city of Finland, Helsinki (13.-17.11.2017). The theme of this meeting was healthy diets. Our purpose was to compare different kinds of views on healthy diets between these countries, have workshops and lectures, where we could have fun and learn new things about health, each others cultures and each other as people.
The project is host based, which means that the students don’t live in a hotel together or something like that, but they get their own host family for the week. So every Finnish student had one (or some two) student from the other countries staying at their home. This created a more close relationship between the countries and on the free time after school and after activities the students were free to do anything. This also created a more diverse week for everyone, since the choices of what you can do in Helsinki are limitless.
Throughout the week we had a lot of lectures and workshops all concerning the theme health and also how to work with other people from different countries with different languages.
At school, every morning (except for Thursday) we had a morning meeting with all the Finnish hosts and their guests and all the teachers. Every morning we had Finnish style porridge that our lovely lunch lady had prepared for us. This was also a part of the healthy living concept, a good balanced breakfast is the best way to start a day, as it is important for your metabolism too. Some days we had varying extras such as bread with different components, fruit or yoghurt. This was a really nice way to gather everyone up and have a good start to the day.
(The following pictures and events are not all in time order, some may vary)
We had lecturers from outside the school, as well as our own teachers. Some of the lectures were mandatory for everyone, but some were just for the international guests, since they were about Finnish history, the Finnish language etc.
(from the left) one of our lecturers on healthy diets and her mother and also our teacher Tarja Tolvanen.
Here the students were split into smaller groups and we did glossaries about nutrition and kitchen ware.
A lecture on nutrition and microbiome inside intestines (Leena Putkonen as the lecturer). Basically it was about how the food that we put in our bodies directly affects us throughout the whole body.
A short introduction on Finnish history by our history teacher Pekka Niemi.
For the non-Finnish people, our native language and literature teacher Angela Eriksson had a short class for the basics of Finnish and how the language works compared to others.
The whole week was not just about lectures though, we had a lot of other group activities! Cooking was also a huge theme of the week and it definitely showed. We had a lot of different kinds of cooking workshops.
A Finn, a Swede and a Spaniard making porridge could be a start of a joke, but in this case it was just our students making some cranberry porridge in our “preparing healthy snacks from ingredients from the nature” workshop.
Then we got to the best part of course, the eating!
Another day, another weird sounding Finnish food that actually tastes awesome. On today’s menu: Karelian pasties!
One of our student counselors Hanna Katajamäki is a master in the arts of the Karelian pasty, so she came to help us on what to do. Here we are listening to her while she shows us her way of doing them.
In the making…
Then just add some butter or even better, our traditional Finnish egg butter and voilá!
On Wednesday, after all the porridge, Karelian pasties and other traditional Finnish treats, we of course had to switch things up. We had our own Masterchef Erasmus plus Finnish version. All four countries divided into groups and had to plan a two dish meal, a main course and a dessert. We had two hours and 25€ to spend on planning, going to the store and cooking the actual food. We actually had a professional chef as one of the judges evaluating our dishes, he graduated our high school so he was of course willing to come and check out our foods and our project.
The Spaniards cooking their special omelette with some help from their teacher.
The Finnish ones making their vegan curry from pulled oats.
Our professional chef Marcos and his meaningful jacket.
Some of the Swedes preparing their chocolate cakes. (Also on the back there is a very important sign that says “your mother won’t do the dishes here”)
The Austrians also prepared a curry with rice and chicken.
When we were all done, we put all the foods on the judges’ table.
(From the left) As our judges we had one of our student counselors Antti Vesivalo, our dear principal Sari Tiitta and our professional chef Marcos Gois.
After the judges were done eating our dishes, they decided on a winner which this time was Spain! As you can see here, they were very pleased about their win.
We also had other activities outside of school!
We also went to visit LOOP which is this food waste restaurant. There we got to eat delicious food made from food waste.
We visited the factory of our most famous Finnish chocolate brand Fazer where we got to know about the history of the whole brand, where their ingredients come from and how they are produced. We also got to eat as much chocolate as we wanted … this one didn’t have that many health aspects I guess…
On Monday, we had Amazing race Helsinki. We had about five groups and the basic idea of the race was to find the correct places. Every group got little tips and by those they had to find the following places and answer to the questions there were. When they sent their answers to us Finns and if it was correct they got a new tip to the next place!
Of course there was Finnish chocolate as a price, which was a good motivator!
We started the race next to the National theater,
And ended the race next to the shopping centre called Kamppi!
Friday was our last day together, so we got some little speeches from the teachers and got to hear little bit about our visits to Austria, Spain and Sweden.
Our next meeting will be in April 2018 in Austria, Graz, and the theme of that meeting will be sports. We will focus on different kinds of exercises and just sports in general.
Our third project meeting will be in 2018 in November in Spain, Valencia. Their theme will be mental health and we will for example learn how to control and reduce our own stress. Our last project meeting will be in May 2019, in Sweden, Lund.
To wrap all this up, we would definitely say that this first meeting was a huge success. People left to their home countries with smiles on their faces and a good feeling about the future. Hopefully everyone enjoyed this as much as we did. It was a great experience and now we are looking forward to the next project meeting, Thank you to everyone who took part of this!
The last picture of all of us together in front of our school.
Text: Vilja Nurmelin & Heini Hietanen
Photos: Erasmus + KA2 team