The first two weeks built a foundation of what to expect from the studies. They were filled with practical information, administrative details, information on support networks available to us, group exercises, lightness through games and the ever-growing excitement when talking about our first expedition that was ahead.
Angelica Salahub & Tove Eriksson
The beginning of a longer adventure awaited as the studies of the Bachelor’s degree in Adventure and Outdoor Education commenced in the beautiful nature at Kiljava, Nurmijärvi
The environment carries the power of serenity: a dense forest area surrounding the campus, a lake view from the school windows, the sun shining through the woods. This offers a great balance for what is yet to unfold.
The sun shining through the woods at Kiljava Campus. (Photo: Angelica Salahub)
We were a new group ready to start our studies, but it wasn’t like all the other years because we were impacted by CoVid-19. Some of us joined classes while some of us had to quarantine at the beginning of the semester and join the classes remotely. The eagerness, excitement and sense of newness almost completely disguised the existence of CoVid, should it not have been for the empty seats in class, waiting for the entire group to be united.
The first two weeks built a foundation of what to expect from the studies. They were filled with practical information, administrative details, information on support networks available to us, group exercises, lightness through games and the ever-growing excitement when talking about our first expedition that was ahead. We often found ourselves switching between webinars and activities promoting teamwork and trust out in the nature.
An important aspect of our chosen field is teamwork and understanding the importance of mental, physical and social safety. Our class has many cultural backgrounds, personalities, and different individuals coming together with the shared understanding that a basis of our studies is to re-enforce communities, strengthen teamwork, grow as individuals as well as grow as a team. We would again and again be reminded of this in exercises where there was not only one correct solution, but only a journey of teamwork and communication with many possible solutions.
A circle of trust (Photo: Jussi Muittari)
In the playful games that were meant for strengthening the group spirit, trust was expected to be built quite quickly. We were given various individual, pair and group exercises, which would prove to show our personalities and our inclinations to behave in a certain way. We were lucky to not have any outright arguments, but only simmering frustrations in the moments of unsuccessful team efforts. Yet, more than anything else, these exercises gave us the opportunity to get to know each other on a much deeper level than a conversation over a cup of coffee could ever do. We built trust through physical activities and communication.
As new students we were given responsibility to find solutions ourselves when engaging in fun activities outdoors, from remembering each other’s names to imaginary scenarios to work through together: Helping one another cross a slackline, familiarizing ourselves with the school environment and splendid nature, learning new skills in lectures.
Crossing a slackline through problem-solving and teamwork. (Photo: Jussi Hynninen)
We were reminded that life is about learning, exploring and even failing. With a mindset of trial and error, teamwork and maintaining a mentally, physically and socially safe environment, we can learn so much more than we ever can on our own. We can learn about each other, about ourselves and even gain new practical skills we may not even have been aware we were lacking.
A clear view ahead: from the campus window. (Photo: Angelica Salahub)
Ultimately, the whirlwind of the first two weeks of our studies offered us a precious insight into what the future holds for us, and we can only look forward to the future adventures that await us as team and as individuals!