Sunday, May 31, 2015

Picturesque Chester !!!! (Bourtsoukli Foreign Language School)

Thursday 23rd  April
We arrived in Chester in the afternoon and since we had some free time we decided to stroll around the city.We soon realised how beautiful and picturesque Chester is and we really enjoyed our walk.Around 8:00 pm we met with the English group at a lovely pub called Telfords. We had a delicious meal and were very happy to see all our friends again!

Friday 24th April

Early in the morning along with our British and Belgian colleagues we set off for Liverpool.We saw and visited historical buildings and had the chance to experience the vibe of the city upclose.After our walk it was time for lunch at the Philharmonic.Fish and chips,a cosy atmosphere and lots of laughs was all that we needed to get energized and continue the day.But still something was missing.....

Our Spanish friends of course! After we met them downtown, students split into groups, teachers satyed together and we continued our tour through Liverpool.We took photos and exchanged views on the city.
Time for another break and what a better place to be than ''The Cavern''. A live band playing Beatles music,drinks, a vibrant party atmosphere but still something didn't feel right....Our Finnish friends weren't there! But as soon as we walked into the Cavern ....there they were! At last, we were all together! We sang, danced and had a great time.The day wasn't over yet and another surprise was waiting for us.Dinner at Camp and Furnace.

It was a multifaced venue with upbeat music and there was a food festival taking place.Cuisines from all over the world (Carribean,Chinese,Lebanese. etc) offered us an array of choices to choose from.The food was very nice indeed. We chatted, listend to the music and relaxed.It was the perfect ending for a busy day.

Saturday 25th April

Saturday morning and it was time to visit the University.Marta welcomed us with a speech and a video about Chester.Students once again split into groups and participated in workshops.We, the teachers, had a tour around the premises and our meeting.Many important things were discussed since we are that close to the end of the program and we were all thrilled to hear that everyone wishes to continue our cooperation.
Enough work done! So it was time to grab a bite and explore Chester a bit more...

Mouth watering snacks and sandwiches at Bishop Lloyd's Palace and then a walk around Chester.Amazing pictures were imprinted in our minds...

We got back to the University for some coffee and traditional scones and it was time for the students to shine.Each group presented what they liked more about Chester. They were all great and received a big applause.The presentations highlighted once again how precious this program is.

Back to our hotel to get some rest because the night was going to be long as well.We had dinner at the indian restaurant Barton Rouge .Nice decor,warm atmosphere and delicious food. We all had the time to chat with each other and get to know each other better.Afterwards some of us continued to a pub to dance the night away.

Sunday 26th April

Time to fly back home.Another unforgettable mobility came to an end.We would like to thank deeply Marta and her students for making our visit truly memorable!Cheers! See you soon everybody!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Lapua team's Communitek Mobility 5, Chester

Dear partners, friends, in Chester, Cornellà, Amay and Tripoli,

Another fantastic mobility in Chester is done, thank you Marta and the whole team! In addition to our productive meeting and the students' fantastic activities we had a great time and saw a great number of interesting and beautiful things.

 I am lucky to have such good-humored students and colleagues, we did not let our spirits go down even though we had to spend our first travel night at the Holiday Inn in Vantaa. Finnair offered us each a hotel room and a chicken and salad dinner. We would rather have spent that evening in a pub in Chester!

The strong winds in Finland blew us to Dublin the day after, instead of Manchester. We had time to jump in the bus, admire the city through the windows and get some lunch in Temple Bar.

We finally arrived in Manchester at 3 pm and met our driver from BusyBus, Frank, who took us to Liverpool to meet the rest of the Communitek crowd. Grant came to meet us at the bus stop and guided our thirsty souls into the famous Cavern, what a lovely, noisy start to our adventures in the UK! We thoroughly enjoyed having some beer and singing along with the band playing Beatles. Cheers!

The evening meal in Liverpool at the Camp & Furnace was also an experience. It is always a treat to go out somewhere a bit livelier and bigger than our dear Lapua :)

Patrick and his charming wife Angela kindly walked us to the railway station when our exhausted group felt like we really wanted to see what our beds looked like. Anes, a student, great guy, guided us to the hotel and we all probably fell asleep as soon as we closed our eyes. What a day!

In the morning, and after a full English breakfast, Anes was there again to show us the way to the university. We got a chance to admire the beautiful, historical city of Chester - so many beautiful old buildings, and lots of flowers everywhere. 
View from our hotel window. Pub, pub and pub :)

It was a thrill to enter the nice auditorium and see the whole big crowd there. Marta treated us to a nice welcome speech and a video about Chester, and soon the students were put to work in their own groups, together with the wonderful hosts who acted as group leaders, animators, trainers, language teachers, tourist guides and everything else throughout the visit. They are such lovely and talented people, and committed to this project although they study Spanish. In Spain it will be their turn to be the students then, now they have been more like teachers, in Finland and in Chester. And awesome teachers, too!

Teachers of course had their meeting, too. This mobility is the one before the last in the project, but the good news is that many of us would like to find a way to continue. 

We walked to town for a delicious sandwich lunch in a historical building, and the afternoon was then spent looking around Chester, students in their own groups with their guides - I think they even managed to find time for some shopping somewhere in between the historical tour and completing their mission: they were supposed to tell the whole group about their visit afterwards.

All the students, from Spain, Greece and Finland, got to tell what they had learned about Chester. The group leaders had helped them prepare their little speeches and it was easy to see that everyone was really enjoying working together like this, although some may have been a bit nervous about speaking in front of such a large group of people. Our students loved the activities of the day and the exchange with the other participants. Great day!
Greeks and Finns enjoying each others' company: Siukku, Nicky, Minna and Sandy

The evening meal at an Indian restaurant was really tasty and the atmosphere in the restaurant was warm and friendly, all participants took the opportunity to speak English with each other and thoroughly enjoyed it all. One of us commented that he had rarely been in a place where everyone seemed to be in such a good mood all the time. Chester really gave us the best experience we could wish for, a warm, friendly, relaxed, enjoyable time. Thank you again, Chester team!

Many went on to continue the night at another club or pub, but some of us were too plain exhausted after all the traveling and sightseeing so we wanted to call it a night. We asked the barman to call a taxi and waited, and waited, and waited... we were just sitting there and joking about it, too tired to think perhaps, and the taxis never showed up. Small-town girls as we are, we are used to waiting five minutes, not more... In the end our Spanish friends showed up again and told us that the railway station was just two steps away, with taxis waiting in front of it, and so it was. Phew, time for bed.

Some participants went to Liverpool, others to London, we Finns headed on a bus tour of North Wales. Through some magic the weather forecast was wrong and the day was gorgeously sunny, lucky us! (Or did the bus driver really do his magic and change the weather like he claimed...) I had found these BusyBus tours on the Internet, it turned out to be really fun (at least once, haha). The driver Peter kept us well entertained telling jokes, giving us tasks and asking questions later about everything - really great practice for English students again. 

And the views! We were speechless. Our stops included Llandudno, a gorgeous Victorian sea resort, then Conwy with its castle, Britain's smallest house and mmmm... at last we got our fish&chips, too! Bought them at a small shop and ate down by the seaside, real treat. The bus continued then to the mountains where we took a short walk - in such a peaceful and beautiful setting that Mika started planning to get a summerhouse there. I am sharing more photos on Google+, here's just a few. 

Marta gave some suggestions on whatsapp about where to eat the last night, and we wanted to try the Architect. Well, we did not find it but found and Italian restaurant called Convivio, it was very pretty inside and the food was very good, too. After dinner we did some last minute shopping at a Tesco Express around the corner, whisky, biscuits and chocolate... End of mobility, our return trip on Monday was quite uneventful, but our group was constantly talking about the trip and what a great mobility it was, and how great it was to meet all you nice people. It is very likely that some of us will return to the area someday, to enjoy a longer stay. See you soon! 

Thank you Chester team and Communitek for this unforgettable trip! From the left: Mika, Henna, Tiina, Minna, Ritva, Seija and Siukku

Tiina and the Lapua team

Team Lapua in Chester Mobility

After an unfortunate missing of the connecting flight and one lousy lunch in Dublin, we managed to get to Liverpool just in time to join you all at The Cavern. It felt absolutely wonderful, we made it!
We left grey Finland behind us and landed on the green, blooming treasure island.

We know now that Chester is a place with interesting history and warm-hearted, lively atmosphere.
During our stay we walked a lot: every place seemed to be just seven minutes away. Maybe we were a bit on the slow side, because it always took at least twice the time. We certainly found some new muscles and returned home in better shape.

Special thanks to all the English students who acted as group leaders. Our tasks were appropriately challenging, we particularly liked the one about favourite words. Working together was supporting and we learned interesting things about each other.
Thank you for organizing everything and taking care of us, we felt we really were welcomed among friends.
Now we can enjoy second spring back in Finland. We are overwhelmed by the warm memories you have on Lapua Mobility. It´s nice to hear that our little town has given you something special.

We want to thank this project for the great opportunities to use language, the supporting atmosphere among the whole group, and of course meeting new people and making friends. We feel that Communitek has melted our hearts as well as distances.

On behalf of Finnish students,

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Welcome to Chester!!!!

Welcome to Chester!
It was amazing to welcome everyone to Chester – the Spaniards, Greeks, Belgians and Finnish – all ready to explore our wonderful part of the UK. I hadn’t had the chance to meet any of the other students or teachers before their trip to Chester, but I was so excited from all I had heard from my classmates and Marta about their previous trips.

Although everyone arrived at different times, and not everyone was able to join all the trips and activities, it struck me from the beginning how open and easy conversation was with the whole group. It was clear to see from everyone’s face the excitement to rekindle friendships already started, and to make new ones. On the Thursday evening we were looking forward to heading to dinner with the Greek contingent of our group, and while we all enjoyed delicious (albeit a little spicy!) food, conversation flowed. Not only was it great to get to know some of our international group but also to continue friendships made within our own class.

Friday brought the staggered arrival of the rest of our international friends. We all met in Liverpool to explore the city and the culture while chatting non-stop. We divided into smaller groups that we were to work with throughout the trip. The English students were split into pairs to act as tour guides while exploring the city. It was a brilliant opportunity to get to know some of our large group on a more personal basis; from our group experience there were many shared giggles as we explored; sometimes at our communication barriers or pronunciation but mainly at shared stories and first impressions. For what was a fairly sunny say by English standards saw the Spaniards wrapped up in coats from head to toe while others walked around in shorts and t-shirts! After a day exploring, and a few drinks at The Cavern, we headed to Camp and Furnace for a relaxed dinner. The variety of food on offer (and the quality) meant that there was something for everyone….some of us even tried more than one meal! Even though it was fairly loud, the atmosphere of our group was already so relaxed with each other – people were chatting in various languages and switching between groups as if it was the simplest thing in the world! I have to say after a drink or two, switching between languages gets a little complicated for me… J

Saturday brought us all to the University of Chester for some activities. We were welcomed by Marta who gave a great speech about Chester and explained what the plan for the day was. We divided into the same groups as before and started thinking about our favourite words. We had to choose our favourite word and explain why, as well as writing two fakes. The rest of the group had to guess which one was the real word and why we thought it was that one. It was super interesting to see that no-one in our small group chose the same word, however some of the reasons behind them were similar; perhaps it was the sound of it that we liked, or that it evoked a certain memory or emotion. Our group had so much fun, helping each other when stuck but also learning new things about each other. At the end of the day everyone’s words from each group was put up on the projector – and not one word was the same! Out of 40 plus people, every word was unique and meant something to each of us – just one tiny example that language is individual to everyone – even their second or third language.

Saturday afternoon started with a yummy lunch at the Bishops Palace before a tour of Chester in our groups. By this time, I think that everyone’s confidence had grown and people were happy to push themselves in what they were trying to say, although everyone had such a high level of English it was hard to believe not everyone had been studying most of their lives. The day finished with a presentation from each group about the trip. It was clear to see that by this point, everyone’s personality was shining through and there was complete relaxation and enjoyment in each other’s company.

Dinner that night was a fantastic end to what I can only describe as a brilliant weekend. The room was alive with chatter and laughter, and I know on my table that we were still finding out new things about each other, as well as demolishing all the fantastic food! The end of brilliant weekend just had to be topped off with some dancing at a local bar – enjoyed by all from the amount of smiles that I could see!

One thing that I think is special to our group is the complete diversity that is evident – not only in where we are from and the languages we speak, but also in every aspect of our lives. There is a complete mix of ages, backgrounds and life experiences but this only makes each of us more interesting to get to know and provided endless topics to chat about. It was also really interesting to see the different approaches to the trip and what different people wanted to gain from it – language and experience being the main two, but also just learning about different places and people. Language allows communication to melt distances between people and to facilitate the understanding of someone else’s culture and life. With a group as diverse as ours where there are five different native languages, to be able to come together and share experiences through the learning of different languages is, to me, really impressive and exciting!

Impressions from Heidi Douglas