“Travelling — it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller,” Ibn Battuta once said.
That’s what happened to 29 Dubai Gem students and four teachers who embarked on a journey to the panoramic country of Finland.
It all began on All Fools’ Day (thank God we weren’t fooled), when we all boarded a flight to Helsinki. After arrival, the bus journey to the Scandic Park Hotel, took us through stunning scenery that was a feast to our eyes.
The next day, we started early on with a stimulating visit to the Heureka Science Centre, where we enjoyed fascinating exhibitions that showcased captivating experiments and activities such as cycling backwards on a threadlike line. Following that was a short tour of the city and engrossing visits to the Rock Church, Senate Square and Helsinki Cathedral; we were taken souvenir and candy shopping and then had a mini snowball fight at a park. We later boarded the authentic Finnish train that took us to Rovaniemi on an overnight journey.
On April 3, we were welcomed to the cold weather at Lapland, our next destination, also known as Santa Claus village. Trailing within Santa Claus’ headquarters, we met not only with Santa Claus, but his elves as well. We had a lot of adventure with a Christmas spirit and fun with the ‘heavenly snow.’ Later, we reached the camp in Oivanki, which would be our home for the following week. We were introduced to a recreational place, where we spent our evening playing football, air hockey and billiards.
The next day, we had a blissful time skiing while it was snowing. We later went to visit a farm of Huskies; we had the opportunity to ride on huskies driven sledges(6 huskies in pairs). Back in the camp, we had an opportunity to experience a sauna session. The memorable day ended with a competitive yet cordial card game between students and teachers. The highlight of the day was our ride on the huskies driven sledges.
On April 5 was the exhilarating snowshoe expedition, which was our next destination; after breakfast, it was a short bus ride and we reached a snowy hill, where our hiking would commence. We were given a quick briefing about the expedition and instructions to put on the snowshoes.We soon set off to make our own paths through the vast expanses of snow. It went smoothly, and we had a great time. Halfway through, we had to go up a steep incline which made our climb difficult. The scenery at the top made the strenuous hike worthwhile. It was simply breath-taking. The bus ride back was particularly eventful with some loud music being played; a result of our pent-up adrenaline.
The following day, we split into two groups; the first one learned the essential wilderness survival skills such as making a fire, building a safe place to stay in the snow, making hot chocolate with basic utensils and ending the training with delicious pancakes. Simultaneously, the other group went ice fishing where the students drilled holes for themselves in the ice and used fishing rods to catch fish in a tranquil atmosphere. The two groups then swapped these activities with each other.The night ended with a farewell party under disco lights, with pizza.
On the last day, we visited the reindeer farm, where we met the enchanting creatures, had rides and fed them as well. We met the natives, who gave detailed information on reindeers. We feasted on traditional cookies and hot berry tea offered by the natives. Finally, we went on our last bus ride to the airport, where we bid goodbyes to our friendly guides Panu and Rita.
Apart from having fun, we also learned being responsible, accountable for our actions, time management and teamwork.
We had returned home, but our hearts remained in the frosty landscapes of Finland. The experience was wonderful and we have many beautiful memories to be cherished for the rest of our days.
A trip to remember, indeed!
Olivia Thomas [Year 10] Laksh Agarwal [Year 10]
Student Reporter Student Reporter