Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Life in Lieksan Lukio

For the last 3 and a half months (or maybe more) I have been attending Lieksan Lukio. 

The school and the structure of the school day differ slightly from my life at St Mary’s.

In Finland there are 5 school terms which run back to back. It is now the 5th and in two weeks summer holidays will begin. I came to Lieksan Lukio at the beginning of the 4th term.

I have been living really close to school so in the winter I would walk everyday (Even when it was colder then -20). It is the spring now and I have a bike I can ride every day to and from school. While walking is pleasant cycling is much better. School starts every day at 8am and I am generally out the door at quarter to.

Lots of Finnish kids also ride there bikes but in Lieksa Mopeds and Scooters are really popular. Out the front of the school there are lots of bikes parked and out the back there are all the Mopeds and Scooters.

At the moment I am taking English, German, Religion, Music and Sport. I also take Home Economics in the Junior High School.  But last term I studied English, German, Philosophy, History and Art as well as Sport.

In this post I will navigate you through a day in my life at my new school. That day will be Monday.

After parking my bike, I generally head across the pavement and into the school building. I will then check my schedule. On Mondays I start with German.  I have two German courses this term, one with the 1st graders (they are 16 turning 17) and one with the second graders (who are all my age-I am in this year group technically). On Monday morning it is year 1 German. When I have other classes like Religion or English first up I will wait somewhere outside, but German is in a separate wing of the main building so I usually need to head there strait away when I get to school. Being fashionably late is not acceptable in Finland and I have learnt to be punctual, but I always arrive to school dead on beginning time.

In both my German classes I sit in the back corners, but on opposite sides of the room in year 1 and year 2 German. The German teacher Niina is fantastic and I think that overall German teacher must be some of the best teachers, because my Australia German teacher was so good too.
A view from my desk in Year 2 German of my seat in Year 1 German

In the Finnish school system there is one book per course and a course last one term. There is nowhere near the amount of handouts that we were given in Australia, everything you need to know for the exam is in the one book-there are exams at the end of each term.
My German Course Book, normally there is not so many lollies. This photo was taken at Penkarrit, (it shows a small portion of what I actually got that day)

All the first and last classes of the day are doubles and last for an hour and a half.  After that there is a half hour break. I usually will spend this in the lobby of the school. There are couches, but I am normally on or near the window seat and chat to some of my friends.

In Finland it is a bit cold so people wear Jackets to school. There is jacket leaving stations all over the school, the one in the corridor between the Lobby and the Dining room is the most popular. I have never left my coat there though because it is to crowded.
The Jacket-Drop-Station

Or I can go to Sumpila-but I will talk about that later.

My next class is English. In Finland everyone has a home-class who they have all there classes with. I am in 2B but I now only have one class with them. I am in 2A for English now because the 2B lessons are at the same time as Home Economics. It is interesting to be in a different class though and to talk to more people.  

I usually do very well in English, which is nice. I have however been faced with some difficult word test which despite being given entirely in English were difficult and I broke my perfect average.

I have found that most teachers in Finland do not check your homework or if people have done it, except for my English teacher, who checks homework and of you have not done it you need to tell him your excuse in English. If I don’t do it I have to tell him in Finnish (this has only happened once). Initially I thought I would rehearse my excuses and make them get progressively more absurd as the term went on. I would learn useful Finnish this way but my teacher might not like it so I decided against that plan.  

After my English class I have double free. During this time I am free to do what ever I want, Finnish High School Students can go to and from school campus as they please. I though this would mean that people would skip all the time, but if you are absent from too many classes you are expelled from the school and need to wait till the beginning of the next school year to re-commence your studies. I like to spend my frees in the Sumpila.

Sumpila is the common room and the heart of the school. I like going there because there is always someone to talk to and it is one place in the school where I can get to know my classmates. Everyone is always really relaxed in Sumpila, there is always music playing and someone watching a humerous video on you-tube. 

There are comfy couches to sit on and if you want you can buy cheap chocolate and drink free coffee. One of the couches, which is the lowest on the pecking order was previously owned buy the town hospital, but they didn’t want it any more so they gave it to school.

The walls in Sumpila are decorated by the students and the room has a really nice atmosphere. The newest addition to the walls is a poster from the newspaper of Finland’s National Ice Hockey team who won the World Ice Hockey Championships last weekend!

After my frees on Monday I have Music, and this is the best class in Lieksan Lukio. The name of the course ruffly translates into the Music Course where you make a band. So we sing and learn to play basic, piano, drums and guitar. Some students play these instruments seriously, so the sound when we do play songs through is pretty decent. I have learnt to play piano cords and have started learning the guitar. The teacher is really nice and lent me a guitar for the summer. I was too uncoordinated to achieve musical greatness when playing the drums because when I had to beat 2 drums at once it was difficult and I would forget to play one.  We also listen to songs from different countries every lesson. It is the best class.

To finish of my Monday I have sports class. This term it has been really really good for two reasons. The first the weather is so good and the second that we have been playing Pesäpallo-Finnish baseball. And the whole year group plays it together (normally sports class is segregated usually). Pesäpallo is a lovely sport and I love it.

I first learnt to play in Friday Sports an additional sports course I have taken. When I began to play I had no idea what was going on as the sport differs a lot from American baseball (and I don’t know the rules for that). I still am vague on what I am supposed to be doing during the game but I am learning. When It was my first turn to hit and I had run to the first base, I didn’t know when I needed to run to second, so my teacher holds up a spare bat and says “Sophie when I drop the bat, you need to run”

I play it now 4 times a week, 3 times in school and on Monday evenings with my friend (who is a really good figure skater) and the other skating ladies in Lieksa.

Last Monday sports was a bit different. I was the teacher and I taught my friends how to play Footy. It was a success and I think they really liked it. I had a lot of fun too and I was thankful to have had frees on Monday because I needed to google the rules. We had to improvise a bit using a square field, a rugby ball and frisbies in the places where the goals would be.  This was one of my favourite single lessons in my time in Lukio. 
And do you see that Australian Football is being played by Finns wearing Finland's colours


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