This month, two groups of students received funding from the Erasmus+ programme to participate in placements in Lillehammer, Norway. Eight Sports and PT students are visiting our partners Gausdal Videregående Skole, while twelve Childcare students have just travelled out to take part in work experience at the Birkeneineren Frilufsbaranehage nursery school.
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The students and staff have been keeping a journal of their stay which we are pleased to share with you...
The day started with an early departure from Cowes on the Red Jet which went really smoothly. We had a fantastic driver to the airport, dropped us off at Gatwick South. We checked in and went straight through security with no delays and pretty much boarded our very luxurious plane, where we had plenty of room and space as the flight was originally from JFK landing at Gatwick, before continuing to Oslo. The view from the plane was beautiful, there were fantastic views of snow covered landscapes and it was all very picturesque.
We were very lucky in the fact that the people of Norway were very helpful and let us jump on a train an hour early, which was a very smooth and beautiful ride through the Norwegian countryside, seeing all of the frozen lakes and hills surrounding the train line.
We arrived in Lillehammer at approximately 6 o’clock, where it was fresh and cold with such clean and beautiful surroundings.
Roar from Gausdal Videregående Skole secondary school, our Norwegian hosts met us from the train and took us to our apartments which are built in typical Norwegian chalet style. We did have some fun and excitement getting the cases up the slippery slope and into our apartments. More fun was when we drop the bags off and had to go back down very slippery slope to local pizzeria where we had some well-needed food. Although we also discovered how expensive Norway is!
The day ended with an early night as we were all tired from getting up early, a full day of travel and walking back up to the apartment. This is no mean feat when we had to contend with very slippery ice.
We were all up bright and early at 06.30 (some brighter than others) ready for our first school day. It was a clear and lovely morning and we woke up to fantastic scenery.
The apartments are right next to ski jumps used in the 1994 Winter Olympics, close up they are huge!! Television perspective doesn’t show the magnitude of them. We will be climbing to the top later in the week .
We caught the bus to the Gausdal Videregående Skole, which is about 20 mins outside of Lillehammer. It has around 300 students and has some amazing facilities with two very large sports halls, a football pitch, a running track, a gym and an ice rink. Media suites and an esports facility were also impressive.
The school provided porridge for breakfast with sugar and cinnamon, and the students were really impressed by the dining area and student area where they got to know and meet the Norwegian students. After an introduction to the school by Roar, the students had an early lunch, 11.00 here as they finish school earlier.
At 12.00 the students took part in a gymnastics session. The lesson was fantastic, the students warmed up by playing dodge ball. If you were hit with the ball you had to do 5 press ups, 5 sit ups or 5 burpees. The main lesson they got to use an aero strip, a great piece of kit! This enabled them to do all kinds of aerobatic movement, some of them being able to backflip and do front somersaults. It was very impressive. Some of them finished on the mini trampolines into the crash pit. Again truly impressive!
After school we came home on the bus the scenic route and walked through the Main Street to get shopping and a football. Just outside of the apartment is a great 4g pitch. Snowball fights and fun in the snow was had before dinner, which is spaghetti bolognese, garlic bread and cake.
The school day starts at 08.00 so we all had to be up by 6.00 to leave by 06.45 and on the bus by 07.15. It was -10 when we left the apartment this morning, but it is a lovely dry, crisp cold. The snow on the ground sparkles like glitter at that time in the morning.
The school is based on the values of Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics. There are only a few schools that have this link to him based on sport and the values of the Olympic Games. Despite being called a secondary school it is the equivalent of our college but with fewer students. It is such a positive place and the ideas and experience that we are gaining are amazing. The students have 10 hours of physical activity a week. Five of these are in their own chosen sport and the others in sport in general. They have to also study other lessons such as Norwegian, Religious Education, German, English and History. Lessons are around 45 mins. The students are here Monday - Friday and school ends at 2.15pm. Many students have activities in the evening such as handball. Fridays in the winter are taken up with skiing (alpine and cross country).
The first lesson of the day is called training management. This is a great concept! It is led by the students who get given an area and a session to run. Todays were football, floor hockey, frisbee and volleyball. The floor hockey started with warming up runs then using their dribbling skills followed by a game of protecting your own ball whilst trying to knock other people’s balls out of the area. If that happened then you’d have to leave the area and complete a plank for a minute of two. This was then followed by a type of British bulldog but with your own balls and sticks and having to move from one side to the other.
The student presented their Isle of Wight PowerPoint to two Norwegian classes and held a Q&A session. Although they were obviously a little nervous they all did really well and answered lots of questions (mostly about football).
The students were invited to go with the whole school to Gausdal Kulturhus to see a Norwegian band called Torá, a Norwegian Grammy-nominated blues-inspired pop/rock band fronted by guitar heroine Tora Dahle Aagård, who is receiving worldwide praise and is followed by 160K guitar aficionados from all over the world.
Today was an excellent day. After getting up early, on a foggy morning, the students started their normal daily commute to school. There was a 30% chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) however unfortunately we were unable to see this although it was seen in other parts of Norway.
The students today had a full packed itinerary. The students joined in the top-level sport's recreational sports session with year 3. This happens every Wednesday morning and it is where students train in a variety of sports, most of them for when they compete. The options they had were football, handball, dance e-sport, basic training, and different ball games. The students joined the handball session and started with warm-up exercises, which worked on flexibility and core muscle strength. It was quite gymnastic orientated. However different they are to the UK the students tried their hardest in these exercises and did very well. It was an exceptionally good growth opportunity for the students as they can embrace what they have learnt and put it into their training sessions or to help with their own training.
After the warmup they took part in drills where they practice, they were fed the ball and they had to run and aim the ball at the goalkeeper. After these drills the students took part in core body strengthening. By this time, they were certainly tired and ready for their lunch.
The afternoon was fun. The students had their first Norwegian lesson with Roar pronounced (Roooooahhh). Norwegian is an extremely hard language to learn and has many different sounds and vowels and three extra vowels just to make it more interesting! Roar Is a very charismatic character and he is the man that organised the visit for us. He has been teaching English, German and Norwegian for many years. He included a lot of history into how the Norwegian language originated and then taught the students how to say hello, ask people's names and ask general information. Once they had this information, he took them to his Norwegian class where he had informed his own students that they were not allowed to speak English to our students and that our students had to try out their Norwegian. When they had gone through their questions they were allowed to mingle and ask questions to the other students, this time in English!
Today was a cultural day, where the students went to Maihauagen open air museum. This is museum was the concept of Anders Sandvig, who was the only dentist from Oslo to Trondheim and moved to Lillehammer due to lung disease. His life expectancy was low, however due to the good living in Lillehammer he lived well into his 80’s. He believed that it was important that the culture of the old villages was preserved for future generations. So the museum showcases various buildings which were the homes of farmers, craftsmen and local officials and it shows the culture and the way of life of the old farming community.
We then went to the Museum of the Olympics. Lillehammer was the host in 1994, which is the basis for the town today and the infrastructure, jobs and way of life are a direct result of the Olympics, some good and some bad. However, it was fantastic to see the different Medals. This afternoon, we had a history of Norway. Tonight, we are having chicken curry and going to see the ice hockey game.
God kveld og hilsen fra Lillehammer
Today has been the most amazing day! It snowed all night and cleared this morning revealing clear skys and bright sunshine. Even though the temperatures are in the minuses, it truly was a great day to be alive. Yesterday we went to the ski resort of Hafjell is which is located 15km outside of Lillehammer. The Hafjell ski resort opened in 1988 for the Olympic Games in Lillehammer (1994) where it still boasts an amazing alpine down hill ski course and had an imprint of and person with the Olympic torch etched into the mountain. There are 44 km of slopes available and 18 lifts. The ski area is between 195 and 1,059m.
Yesterday's conditions were tough for the novice skier! The snow fell and the wind blew and visibility was very limited however, all students gave it a really good try with many of them having to conquer their fears and worries. The main way up the mountain is by gondola and then by 6 man chairlift. By the time we got up to the top the visibility had disappeared even further and it was very windy and cold. Some of the Norwegian students and teachers came with us to give us some help. We came off the mountain about 15.00 had some very good hot chocolate to warm up and returned to the chalet.
Today, students had the option to go skiing again. Six wanted to and the other two happy were to go up the mountain by foot and they entertained themselves looking at the beautiful view and walking some of the area. We caught the bus to the ski location. It's a lovely scenic drive. The weather today could not have been more perfect! With fresh snow and beautiful sun the scenery was stunning. The students who could ski went off to explore the area now that they could see where we were going. The resort is very safe and enabled the students to explore whilst being close enough if they needed anything.
So after a much needed rest day yesterday and another Ice Hockey game last night, we were up early this morning to get the bus to school at 07.15. The first class gave the students the opportunity to play badminton followed by the option of a basic training session, use of the gym or a handball session. Following this we were ready for lunch which we purchased from the school canteen, pasta, chicken, salads etc. The afternoon enabled the students to polish up their Norwegian in a language class with some students they have been making friends with over their time here.
After classes finished we then caught the bus back to Lillehammer and the students had some free time to shop, relax and some chose to watch a film. Tonight Morgan is making us all Chilli Cone Carne, and the boys need to work on a presentation that they will be presenting to the whole school tomorrow!
Another early start this morning as we were once again on the 07.15 bus for school. We are used to the scenic route now!
The first class saw the students have the opportunity to ice skate outdoors. The students were then able to observe some practical assessments.
After lunch things got very interesting as the students were cast out of their comfort zones, taking part in a hip hop dance class (which the staff also enjoyed!).
The students then did a fantastic job of carrying out a presentation to the whole school, talking about the Island, the college and their trip so far!
Tonight we have had hot dogs and have been to see another ice hockey match.