Erasmus+ Helsinki 2020
I applied for the Erasmus+ programme as it is a great opportunity to spend time living and working in another country. It was based in Finland a country I have never been to but had a huge interest in, so I applied as soon as the application was open. I filled out the necessary paperwork, followed by an interview to show my interest in the programme. I was told a few weeks later I had got accepted and was so happy as there was only 4 places available.
My placement was in Helsinki airport in a company called Jamie’s Deli. It is owned by the famous English chef Jamie Oliver and I was ecstatic to be part of such a huge company. The business was a café/Deli and there were about 6 to 7 staff on daily including myself. I worked four days a week from 10 to 5 pm.
I also learned received barista training which is something I always wanted to do as this is great experience to have while travelling in the future. I worked with staff from many different countries including Indonesia, Somalia, Mexico, Finland, England and Thailand. I learned a lot working with them about their cultures and work history travelling the world.
The placement was really interesting as it was based in an airport. We received an airport tour and learned so much about the airport industry. The work placement was extremely beneficial for me for my future as it is an amazing section to have on my CV starting out in my new career and I learned a lot about myself and what I want in the future.
When I received the great news about being accepted on my trip, I start my preparation. As I was going to a cold climate, I had to pack for the winter weather. We also wanted to take some trips so I packed for the snow also. We took a flight to Helsinki which took about 3 and a half hours. When we got there, we took the train direct to the city centre taking 40 minutes. We arrived at our accommodation which was a 15-minute walk from the train station and conveniently located in the city centre. This is the train we took to and from work as well. We got prepaid tickets for the duration of the trip with one payment and unlimited travel. Our accommodation was a one-bedroom apartment for two people sharing. It was clean modern and in the most perfect location. In the city centre but on a quiet street.
I looked up different trips and activities I wanted to take part in while I was away. Myself and the 3 other Erasmus students booked a trip to Lapland for 2 nights on our days off from work. We got reasonable priced flights direct from Helsinki to Lapland which only took 2 hours to fly to. We stayed in a shared accommodation in the popular town of Levi and our accommodation was only a 5-minute walk to the slopes. While we were in Lapland, we went skiing on one of the days which was cheap. We also went on a Northern Lights tour that same evening which involved campsite stories, drinks and we roasted sausages on the fire and learned the basics of building and igloo! Although the night was too cloudy to experience the Northern lights the trip was well worth the money! We also went on a 10 km husky ride while there. This was a once in a lifetime trip and enjoyed every second of it. We got to feed reindeers and get some great pictures on this tour.
On the first weekend off from work I travelled alone to Estonia to the capital Tallinn. I booked a ferry direct there which took 2 hours. The ferry was duty free and had huge entertainment on it. When I got to Tallinn I checked into my hotel. I booked a luxury hotel as it is extremely cheap in Estonia compared to Finland, so I treated myself. The oldtown where I stayed is a medieval town with so much history. I participated in the free walking tour and learned so much about this beautiful city. I also enjoyed some of the local food including delicious elk soup.
While we were in Helsinki, we went to an Ice Hockey game. This was very new to us all and we had a great night. The stadium was only one stop away on the train and the atmosphere was amazing. We also took part in the free walking tour of Helsinki and visited the local attractions. During our time there we all sampled the local food such as reindeer and we went out for cocktails and sampled the local beer. It is such a quirky city with so many coffee shops. We took part in a couple of traditional finish saunas which included the popular one called Allas Sea pool. This was an amazing experience and they also have a heated pool outside and a pool with normal outdoor temperature (Although we only used the hot one!)
On the first morning in Helsinki we were guided by our host to Luksia College who we were partnered with for our Erasmus programme. We learned all about the education in Finland and we received a tour of the college. They gave us a lot of information regarding our upcoming stay in Finland and gave us great tips on what activities to take part in. Each of us gave a presentation on our collage at home and our local area. The collage was amazing, and we really enjoyed the day there. During our trip our host was really helpful. She kept in touch with us in a WhatsApp group and provided us with all the help we needed while living in Helsinki. On our last day in Finland we all met up for the last time. Our host brought us for coffee, and we had a nice reflection of our stay. We then visited a couple of museums in Helsinki and went for lunch. We gave our host some nice gifts from our country and thanked her so much for our experience.