International Coordinator, Mirja Onduso and Communicator, Andruta Ilie started organizing a series of Finnish activities at TAMK for international students who study or do their exchange at Tampere University of Applied Sciences. The aim of this project is to introduce students to the Finnish lifestyle while connecting with each other and developing friendships.

Finland has always been considered one of the world’s healthiest countries. Could it be the pure and raw nature, the quality of life here or the fact that Finns are very active and love their sports? I believe the answer comprises all of those aspects. It’s very common to see people jogging or cycling on the streets no matter the hour. Not to mention how passionate they are about fitness and staying in shape. Their attitude via living a healthy lifestyle is contagious and works as a good motivating factor when you are willing to implement some positive changes to your daily activities.

Tampereen Kiipeilykeskus is a rock climbing and bouldering venue located at a reasonable distance from the city centre. Big enough to host several groups of people, it provides diverse climbing walls and all the equipment needed. Our international students were up for the challenge, especially that some of them have never tried it before. Together, we walked all the way from the city centre to our destination in order to warm up. There, we were offered a warm welcome and explained the safety measurements and how to use the equipment provided. So off we went climbing to test our mental and physical strength.

We reached the top many times, but we also fell on the mats and laughed about it. We checked that we are safe before each and every climbing attempt because we understand what a big difference it makes to go on your journey feeling secure. It gives you a great peace of mind.

What impressed me the most though, apart from the enthusiasm shown by the students and their willingness to push their limits, was their team attitude and the way they supported each other in reaching their climbing goals. Our last part of the session was bouldering one of the walls and stand on top of it. It wasn’t an easy task with not many grips to hold on to and a bit difficult in the end. Our most agile climbers went first to lead the way, followed by the rest of the group. Some of us struggled on our way up, but we received a firm hand to hold and a ton of encouragement to help us. Eventually, we all made it there and we shared a big group hug and congratulated each other for doing our best. It was a truly unforgettable experience!

"It was so much fun to climb and boulder with the group. It's fun to watch how people climb differently and then figure out how you are going to do it yourself. It certainly was difficult at some points, but the challenge is part of the fun. The group itself was very fun to be with, all friendly people who I could share a laugh with." says Daan Krijnen, exchange student from the Netherlands.

"A few years ago I also tried wall climbing, but I could never go further than 1 meter above the ground. So this time, I also believed that I couldn't do it and didn't want to go because if would be a waste of money. Luckily, my friend did wanted to go, so I decided to come anyway and just watch him climb. My inner tree-climbing child couldn't resist those walls and started climbing. And suddenly, I was at the top. That was an amazing feeling. The climb reminded me of a short life lesson. Take it step by step, don't look too far ahead or it might scare you and don't look back, because you've already past that stage. Just take little steps and you'll reach your goal. 

It was amazing to see what I could do, but also what others could do and the most important thing, what we could all do together. Reaching the top all alone feels great, but it feels way better to reach it with the rest." says Ryanne van Vliet, exchange student from the Netherlands.

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Text: Andruta Ilie
Photos: Johan Nguyen & Daan Krijnen

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