One Amazing Month in Finland

Hi Everyone!

After a few awesome days in London, I travelled with my good Finnish friends (Evie and Jasmin) to Helsinki. The three of us stayed in Helsinki for two nights before making our way up to jyväskylä (My friend Evie’s Uni town). In Helsinki we looked at the Christmas markets and went to a Zoo. Many of the animals were hiding because of the cold weather. Therefore, I was unable to see any bears 😦

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Jyväskylä

Jyväskylä is a nice little city. Evie, Jasmin and I stayed at Evie’s home for a few days. We did a Finnish tradition of making a gingerbread house. It was a lot of fun to make. However, our time together had to end as Jasmin travelled back to Helsinki to be with her family for Christmas, while Evie and I travelled further north to stay with her family in Oulu.

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Oulu

Oulu was approximately around the middle of Finland. I spent about three weeks there with Evie and her family. They were all really kind and helped me to have a proper Finnish cultural experience. I was lucky to try many Finnish Christmas traditions and foods, such as eating rice porridge on Christmas morning. The Finnish celebrate Christmas on the 24th of December.

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On the first weekend after Christmas, Evie and some of her family and I travelled to Iso Syöte. Iso Syöte is a ski resort about two hours away from Oulu. The temperatue was the coldest I have ever experienced! It was -25 degrees when we were skiing!! The skiing was a lot of fun! I just had to remember to cover my nose to prevent it from falling off from the cold haha

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Another new experience in Oulu was doing ice-fishing, where we walked out over a river! Yes we were standing in the middle of a river that was connected to the sea!

Middle of a frozen lake

Middle of a frozen river

Joe 😀

Chester, Manchester and London

Hi Everyone,

After I came back from Prague, I sadly realised that I had only a few more weeks in the Chester before I was travelling to Finland. I spent my time completing my assessments and spending time with the many friends I had made at the University.

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One of my final weekends, I went with a few international friends to the Manchester Christmas Markets. The markets were really busy, which made it really hard to move around and look at all the shops. However, the decorations were really good!
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During my last weekend in Chester, two of my friends from Finland came and stayed with me in Chester. I met these two girls in Australia at Bathurst Campus. It was really good to see them both again. I acted like a tour guide and took them both around Chester.

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My home :)

My home 🙂

 

At the end of the weekend, my Finnish friends and I headed off to London for a few days. We found London really BIG!! It was a lot of fun exploring the city and seeing many of the tourist attractions, such as London Bridge and Big Ben. It is also worth going for a walk around these areas at night, because the attractions and city changes with all the lighting. We were also really lucky in London because of the warm sunny weather.

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Hope you enjoy the photos!

Joe 😀

Prague

Hi 😀

Three weekends after I visited my friends in Switzerland, I traveled to Prague with my friends Mal and Christina (the two girls I traveled with to Ireland and Portugal). Prague is definitely one of my favourite places to visit!! The city’s beauty and history is absolutely incredible!! Thinking about this place now, if I was able to do a third exchange program, I would try and do it here!

Our first day in Prague was spent looking around the outside of the palace and the cathedral which is situated within the palace’s “village”. The cathedral is one of the most stunning aspects of the city. It is that tall that it is quite hard to get a good photo of it when you standing outside it.

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The actual palace

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the rear of the Cathedral

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The second day started by doing a free walking tour. We met our tour guide called “Ashley”, who was Australian who has moved to Prague. After talking with Ashley, I found out that his study town was Bathurst.. Yes he went to Charles Sturt Bathurst Campus! (Small World haha). Ashley was the best tour guide I have had this entire exchange, not only because he studied in Bathurst and was Australia, but because he had really good humour! We found all his stories of the city and history fascinating and funny. I really enjoyed this tour.
At the end of the tour we went and looked at the Christmas markets. The markets were also amazing! With really good food (cheap as well!).

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The next day in Prague was spent looking at all the souvenir shops. There were quite a lot in Prague. I spent hours looking for the best deals for presents for myself and my family. During the time shopping we went back to the Christmas markets because the food was really good! 😀
In the evening, Christina and I climbed the Astronomical Clock. The view was amazing! I took a lot of photos when I was up there.

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I final day was spent back at the Christmas markets, and doing a little bit of shopping. We then had to leave the city around lunch time to catch a train to Brno (a few hours away) to get our flight back to England.

Joe 😀

 

Switzerland

Hi Friends!!

On Friday 14th of November I went to Switzerland for a long weekend to visit two of my good friends that I made in my first exchange in Canada. The flight was a morning flight which was meant to leave London Stanstead Airport around 7am. However, the flight was delayed a few hours. The main problem was that there was not public transport from Chester to the Airport that would arrive in the early hours of the morning, so I had to sleep in the airport on the Thursday night. Yes my second time sleeping at a airport!! I was luckier this time as I had a few more hours of sleep 🙂

I flew to Basel Airport. When I arrived I was meant to be picked up by my friend who lives in Switzerland. My other friend had class in Germany before he would meet as in Switzerland. I went quickly through the airport (because the plane was late) to find my friend. I walked out into the welcome area, except he wasn’t there? I then went to the car park and he was not there? At this stage I was getting a bit worried, so I decided to use my phone to call him. “Kevin where are you?”
“I’m at the welcome area”
“No your not”
“Yes I am”
“Okay??? I’ll ring you back”
I looked around the car park and noticed a big fence that seemed to cut directly through the middle of the airport car park. I followed the fence and it turned into a wall and ran straight through the middle of the airport buildings. Inside in the welcome area (Kevin was not there) the wall continued. I looked through one of the windows in the wall, and I could see a welcome area on the other side. There was Kevin!! I ran through several doors and found myself shaking my good friend’s hand. “Where were you?” He asked. “Just behind that wall?” I said
“Oh that’s the French side of the airport” he said.

Turns out the airport has a Switz and French side. I can now say that I have visited France for a short time haha.
Basically, that day I learnt not to rush too much and miss the signs, like the sign that said “Welcome to France” hahaha

In Switzerland, Kevin and I first traveled to Creux de Van to climb the mountain. Straight away after reaching the top I knew that Switzerland was going to be a favourite country 🙂

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That night we met up with our German friend who we call “Boo” and talked till late at night.

The next day we headed to Lucerne to look around the city. The city was really beautiful with its wooden bridges and stone lion. During the night we did a Canadian tradition and watch a ice-hockey game in Zurich.

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The last day in Switzerland was spent going to the Rheinfall. This is the largest waterfall in Europe! It was very impressive!! We then traveled a mountain near where Kevin lives to look out at the Switz Alps 😀
Lastly, we traveled to Basel so that Boo could catch a train home and so that I could get my flight back to the UK.

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The time with my good friends Boo and Kevin was beyond words!! I am so thankful to Kevin and his family for having me stay with them and trying Switz food. Yummy! I am really glad I have friends across the world. I would not have seen as many of the sights I saw in Switzerland without these friends 😀

Hope to see the guys again soon!

Joe 😀

 

Portugal :D

Hi!!

During the second week of Development week. My friends and I traveled to Faro, Portugal. The sun and the 20 degrees that we arrived in was a welcome change compared to rainy England. The first day in Faro was spent walking around the town and eating from the local bakery. Afterwards, we went to the roof of the hostel and had a few beers as we watched the sunset together.

The next day we went on a boat tour of the nature reserve and saw many different birds that nested in the area. This tour took us the edge of the bay so we were able to look out at the sea 🙂

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The third day in Portugal was spent travelling to Lagos, Portugal. Once we arrived we walked around the city, looking at the many different shops and tasting Portuguese food. Yum yum! The second day in Lagos was probably one of the best days on my exchange over here. We decided to do a kayak tour around the cliffs of the city. These cliffs have hidden passages that allow you to kayak through them. Some of these passages lead to a small beach in the middle of the cliff. It was really an incredible experience!!

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This was our last day in Lagos. The next day we headed to Lisbon.

Lisbon is a really nice city! I really enjoyed the many people I met there, and all the cheap markets. Most of the people we met there were Americans and Brazilians who stayed at our hostel. They were all really nice, and we all had a great dinner together. My last day in Portugal was the day after arriving in Lisbon. I really wished that I could have stayed a few more days in Lisbon. However, I needed to return to Chester for classes. This last day was spent doing a free tour of the city to learn some history, and then packing my bags to head to the airport. Overall, the whole Portuguese experience was incredible!!!

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Joe 😀

Where I am now

Hello there!

After a hectic few months of travelling and studying at the same time, I can now say that I have come to a relaxing stage of my journey. I am currently writing this blog from Oulu, Finland. I am staying with my good friend Evie who was an exchange student at CSU Bathurst campus. We became really good friends and she welcomed me by allowing me to stay with her and her family in Finland around Christmas. So here I am beside a Christmas tree, looking out at the large amount of snow outside. It is currently -7 degrees. My Canadian clothing has become really useful! However, before I talk about Finland I should tell you what has been happening these last few months.

My last post was of a trip I took to Cardiff, Wales. After that little journey we had a week at Chester University called development week. A week for catching up with your studies. However, my international friends and I came to look at the week as a travelling week haha. Two Americans, another Aussie and I decided to travel to Ireland and then Portugal. Christina (American) and Mallery (Aussie) went to Ireland a day earlier while Mitch and I traveled there the next day. Mitch and I had to catch a early morning flight from Liverpool to Dublin. With the last train arriving at midnight it meant we had to sleep at the airport. WORST IDEA!! The sleep was terrible with a man who knew how to snore through our ear pugs and a homeless man trying to evade the many police officers in the airport.

Once we arrived in Dublin we made our way to find our Hostel and the girls. All of us then went on a free walking tour (not actually free as the guide expects tips. However, still worth every Euro!). We found the history or Dublin really interesting the people and incredibly welcoming, “cead mile failte” (One hundred thousand welcomes). That night the guys went to bed earlier because of the big bus trip we had planned for the next day.

 

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Second Day in Ireland

We rose early for a free breakfast in our Hostel and then made our way to where we were meant to meet the bus for our tour. This tour first took as to a truck station that has been named after President Barack Obama. To my surprise they had TIM HORTONS (A Canadian fast casual restaurant that I fell in love with in Canada). I ran inside to discover they did not have my favourite Canadian coffee, a french vanilla 😦 However, the rest of the tour was fantastic, we saw the Cliffs of Moher, many castles, other beautiful scenery!!

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The day ended by travelling north to Belfast.

Third Day in Ireland

This day was my favourite day! We decided to do another tour! This time to the Giants Causeway!!! 😀 The Giants Causeway is a special rock formation that has taken millions of years to occur. I could try and describe it. However, pictures can only show you how amazing this place is!

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The Giant’s Causeway

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The gang :)

The gang 🙂

On the forth day we did a Black Cab Tour (Yes another tour!) and then returned to Dublin to catch our flight to Faro, Portugal the next day.

Portugal will be my next post.

Have a Merry Christmas 🙂

Hope to talk to you soon

Joe 😀

Cardiff, Wales

Hi there!!

It has been a very very busy past few week since my last post. I know that everybody says that, and that they only find a little bit of time to keep blogging. However, I am glad I have been really busy with travels and studying. I promise though I will keep posting about all the major things I do, even if they are a few weeks late.

Going back a few weeks to the 23rd October. I had an exam in Cardiff that was sent from my home university. It was a law exam and so I spent a lot of time hiding in my room studying. As a reward I decided to spend a few extra days in Cardiff, because that was where my exam was located. These two days were a lot of fun!! I decided to see my first ever castle (YES my first). The castle was Cardiff castle.

Cardiff Castle

The castle is about 2000 years old! It was first built as a fort by the Romans. Remains of one of the Roman walls is still able to be seen. Several years later after the conquest by the Normans, the castle was built over the site of the Roman fort. It then got passed to different families throughout the years before being given as a gift to the city.

The day was a bit wet. However, I still managed to take many photos 😀

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The remains of the Roman Wall

The remains of the Roman Wall

After visiting the Castle, I then had to go to the Doctor Who Exhibition!!
I am a fan of the show, and I have a good friend who is probably the biggest fan. I knew that if I went I would have to get him a present 😀

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The next post I will make is of my International Trip to North Wales.
Cya later
Joe 😀