The Ferlach Journal
February 1st-7th, 2009
We were all very tired when we arrived at the airport of Klagenfurt, Austria, at 10 p.m. Our trip had started at 4 o'clock at Oulu Airport and we had flown to Klagenfurt with two short stops in Helsinki and Munich. However, after being warmly welcomed by our host families, our tiredness was forgotten. We immediately started to get to know them better and then followed them to the houses which would be our homes for the week.
We, English teacher Juha Pukari and students Niina Sassi, Johanna Kantola, , Nina Koistinen, Tim Wegerhoff and Avi Meir , were the Comenius group from Iin Lukio. Together we visited Ferlach in Austria in the first week in February. Comenius is an education project programme of the European Union aimed at better cooperation between schools in Europe. Our project is financed by the European Union and it is called European Own place. See www.iinlukio.fi for more information.
Every day started for us at 7.30 at the Unesco Hauptschule in Ferlach. There are 300 students aged 10-14 years attending the school. We spent the first four lessons with our host sister or host brother in their classes and experienced the Austrian kind of school, which is quite different from the Finnish one. After this we had one lesson when we could write our diary followed by the daily lunch at school. In the afternoons we always had a special daily program which we spent together with our hosts and the two other Comenius groups from Slovenia and Hungary which were visiting Austria at the same time.
Here are some personal impressions from the trip:
Monday February 2nd
I woke up at 6 o'clock and school started at 7:40. The first lesson was math. The students were very nice and they talked a lot. The second lesson was history. My "host sister" Nina, teacher and Nina's friend Julia told me about Ferlach. One thing was that Austria consists of nine provinces, one of which is called Carinthia and the capital city of Carinthia is Klagenfurt. (The distance between Ferlach and Klagenfurt is 16 km.) I got a lot of information about Austria and I learned many words in German. I also met students from Slovenia and Hungary. They were friendly.
In the afternoon the program was 'Fun in the Snow'. We took a bus to Bodental valley near Ferlach. We had a chance to try walking with snow shoes, go cross-country skiing, sit in a horse-drawn sleigh or try snow-rafting. Afterwards we could warm us up with hot tea in a restaurant near-by. At the end of the day, we got medals for our performance.
The week started nicely and mother Sonja and daughter Nina were really sociable. In the evening a couple of us, hosts and guests, went to a pizzeria. There were four different languages at the same table. It was interesting!
Tuesday February 3rd
My second day in Austria started at 6 o'clock in the morning when I got up. At 7 o'clock I was going by bus with my host sister to our school where the first lesson, Religious Education, started at 7.30. Because the end of the actual semester was very near we watched "Bruce Almighty" with our teacher. This movie tells the story about a man (played by Jim Carrey) who is given almighty powers to teach him how difficult it is to run the world.
After this we headed for Mathematics where the teacher told us something about how to calculate the volume of pyramids, cylinders, cones and so on.
After this boys and girls were separated and the girls were taught in knitting and the boys in woodwork. In woodwork we had to build a simple pinball and because all the boys had already started their project before I continued the pinball of a boy who was sick. A German lesson followed woodworks. There we learned what foreign words stand for in normal language.
After this the school organized a special welcome ceremony for us. In this welcome ceremony students showed us different dances and some other students played very traditional Austrian music on an accordion. Then we introduced ourselves to the Austrian students as well as the Slovenian and Hungarian group. We also presented our presents to the school.
After this ceremony it was lunch time and we ate rice with a meat sauce followed by our afternoon program where we made a sight-seeing tour through Klagenfurt. After this we were able to go shopping at "City-Arkaden", a very big shopping centre in the middle of Klagenfurt. We also learned something about the legends about the origin of Klagenfurt and the near Wörthersee Lake. For instance, there used to be a big dragon called Lindwurm living in the area...
Wednesday February 4th
The weather was nice and the sun was shining. In the morning we had different lessons, like math, P.E and biology. After school we made some noodles together and it was fun even though they didn't taste very good.
Afterwards my host Steffie showed me some places in Ferlach, like the bank and some shops and restaurants. Ferlach isn't a very big place. In the evening we ate minced meat and mashed potatoes and it was delicious. Then we watched the movie Mamma Mia with Finnish subtitles. We met some new people and they all were very nice.
Thursday February 5th
I woke up at 6.30 like every day. I had bread and coffee for breakfast. School started at 7.40 as usual. We walked to school and it was snowing. In school we had chemistry and we carried out a couple of very exciting experiments. Later we went to the centre of Ferlach to see the local sights. First we went to see the church which was very beautiful. Then we went to the town centre to see some notable statues and points of interest. In the end we had time to shop. Then we went back to school to eat. Ferlach is a beautiful place.
After lunch we gathered in a classroom to paint some wooden cups, which is a traditional thing in Austria. The teacher told us about these wooden cups and advised us how to paint one. It was nice do something with our hands instead of just watching. Painting was very pedantic but a lot of fun. We left for home at about 5 p.m.
I was very tired after the day and in home we just watched TV and took it easy. I went to bed at eleven o'clock in a happy mood.
Friday February 6th
School began at 7.40. We had some classes and I was feeling very sick. The teacher took me to the teachers' lounge where I slept for 1-2 hours. I woke up and headed for the lunch room to eat.
In the afternoon we had an African dance and music event. It was a lot of fun. We played drums and did some dance scenes from Africa: Carlos was from eastern Africa and Elvis came from western Africa. We had African tribal-style shirts on and hats with Ethiopian flag colours on them.
After the African event, the last day of school was over for us and we headed for the shopping mall with Niina, Jossu and our hosts Packie, Karina and Nina. Afterwards we headed for my host's home to spend the last evening together. We ate pizza and all kinds of other things and watched a movie. Then everybody left and I started to pack. There wasn't much to pack. I just closed the zipper of my bag. Then I took a shower and went to bed. The next day we were already leaving for home.
On Saturday morning we finally had to say goodbye to our host families and we also shed some tears. All in all, it was a very nice trip. We gained new friends and cultural experiences lasting for a lifetime. In May, another group of five students and one teacher are travelling to Hungary in connection to the Comenius project. I'm sure that they, too, will have a memorable trip.