Trip to Lithuania

On Wednesday the 21st of March, at 12 o’clock Yiolandi, Eleftheria, Asilsu, Mrs. Angelides and I met at the English School where a taxi was waiting for us to take us to the airport. All of us were so excited since we knew that a new chapter was about to start in our lives. None of us had ever experienced anything similar before, but we knew that this trip would be something we would remember and treasure for the rest of our lives.

Our journey would be very tyring. It would take a total of 20 hours to get to our final destination, Lithuania. However, our excitement for the meeting in Lithuania, made our adrenaline rise at its maximum and we were full of energy! We were counting the minutes one by one till the time we arrived.

After 4 hours driving we arrived at Klaipeda, the third largest city ofLlithuania, feeling like zombies. Our host families were waiting for us and I am pleased to say that we became friends with my host, Samanta, from the first moment we met!  When we arrived at my host’s house my host family treated me as If I were a member of the family and made me feel at home. They were very kind and tried to make me feel as comfortable as possible. I gave them some traditional giftsI had brought from Cyprus for them and they loved them!

That night, even though I was very tired and I had only slept for about an hour in the plane, I was so anxious and excited about the day that was about to come, that I couldn’t actually rest my mind with some sleep. While in bed, I tried to visualize what the next day would be like.

I had been waiting for the sun to rise desperately. At 7.30 the alarm finally went on and my host got up. We both got ready and left the house. When we got out Samanta asked me if I preferred to walk or take the bus. I had no preference but Samanta looked at me dressed as a hot dog and realized that I was not used to such cold weather, so she suggested that it would be better if we took the bus! She told me that the bus was one of the most popular means of transport amongst youngsters. They could get anywhere they wanted at any time which was a proof for me, that Klaipeda was a safe town.

When we finally arrived at the school I couldn’t believe my eyes! The school reminded me of those schools we see in movies! All the school premises were in a single tall building with 4 floors and huge corridors. As we walked our way to the main hall people were looking at me as if I were an alien! The fact that the majority of the locals were blonde and I was a brunette made me stand out even more!

After a while, we were all gathered at the hall. As I looked around I noticed that for the first few minutes, we all stuck together with people of our countries. Even us, the girls from Cyprus were all sitting at a corner sharing the first impressions of our host families. I suppose everybody was waiting for everybody else to make the first move and break the ice. Nobody was brave enough though, and the ice only begun breaking when the welcoming show started. When a group of small kids started singing with their angel face and sweet voice, a happy atmosphere filled the room. As soon as the show finished it was scheduled that we take a walk in the old town of Klaipeda for some sightseeing. That would give us the opportunity to get to know each other better.  We then returned to the school and had lunch.

After lunch the first workshop started.  We were divided amongst random groups, and we were told to design different masks. During break a group of Lithuanian girls, with my host being one of them, approached me and tried to create a conversation. We immediately created very strong bonds between us and started talking about our lives and how they differed! We became really good friends and they told me that I should definitely visit their mall in the afternoon to play bowling and then do some shopping, which sounded a great idea!

When we got to the mall I was surprised to see that almost everybody from Comenius were there by coincidence! Patricija, one of the girls from Lithuania, told me that coming to the mall was very common and they used to go there every Saturday. We all played bowling together and, even though I came last, I had an amazing time! We returned home at around 10’o clock in the evening and I shared my first impressions with my host! We then watched a movie together and then went to bed!

On Friday the 23rd, we walked to school early in the morning. We knew that our day would be quite tiring because we’d have three workshops.  With our teams again, we were supposed to design a mask for one of the characters of the magic touch and then design our own clothes made out of paper just to get an idea on how each character would look like. We had finished before we even realized it, because as they say, time passes really fast when you are having fun! The teachers then announced us the colors of each character and then a draw was held to decide which mask each country would do! We finished our workshop quite early so that we could go get ready for disco night which would be at 18.00!

The time had finally come and all the students, dressed in nice clothes, started gathering at the hall which was now turned into a disco room! There was also a huge buffet which consisted of all the Lithuanian traditional plates, made by the parents! After we ate the delicious food, Mr. Karolis called each country one by one to perform the traditional dance we had prepared! I think that all of us enjoyed the Lithuanian dance the most, since after they showed us the dance moves, we all joined them and created a big circle holding hands! After the performances we closed the lights and turned the hall into a club! We danced till we dropped and went home at 11.00 feeling exhausted!

After a nice relaxing sleep, we woke up the next day and got ready for our last day. According to the program we would have a trip to the ‘Curonian Spit’ which was a strip of land which jutted into the sea, and we had to take the ferry to get there. The area was very green and the scenery was spectacular. We took plenty of pictures and I will never forget how much fun I had that day. We couldn’t stop laughing with the girls and we’d always find something to talk about.

At around 13.00 o’clock we sat at a restaurant to eat and we then had some free time to walk around the square. At 14.30 we left and went to walk through a forest where we saw plenty of wooden sculptures. Time had passed very quickly and it was now 18.00, time for us to leave. We were all very upset because we knew that the next day we’d all leave and that was our last time all together, united. Mr. Karolis saw just how connected we were with each other and he decided to do something special for us. He thought that it would be better to say our goodbye in a more special way, so he took us to a beach a few meters away. We all all took hands and made a big circle. Each one of us said a few words about this opportunity that we were given to join this project, and tears started rolling down our eyes. We then made a huge ‘family hug’ and said ‘Goodbye Comenius’ out loud. As we were heading towards the bus, we realized that it wasn’t just us who were sad about leaving! God also seemed to be quite upset, since after our last goodbye it started raining!

At night there was this party on ice and our hosts decided to take us there to enjoy our last night. Coming from Cyprus, we were not as good as all the others at ice skating but with the help of our hosts we at least managed not to fall! There was loud music playing and we all enjoyed ourselves! We returned home at around 23.00 o’clock to get some sleep because our flight would be early in the morning.

It was then time for us to say the tough goodbye for the last time. We knew that most of us might not see each other never again which made it even harder. Even though we had only known each other for 4 days we yet felt as if we had known each other for our entire life. We had become so close to each other, shared so many secrets, that saying goodbye to them could have been one of the toughest and hardest things I had even done in my life. I couldn’t stop crying and when the taxi had arrived I didn’t want to get in. After Mrs. Angelides reminded us that we had to go though, we all got into the taxi crying and I promised to myself that I will one day return to visit my friends again. Comenius was one of the best experiences in my life and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Our trip was way better than the best case scenarios I had imagined. Thanks to Comenius, I realized that we all live in our little bubble and we are often ignorant of how other’s people’s lives may differ from the ones we know. So Comenius opened my eyes and showed me that there is a huge wild world out there, waiting for us to explore it! THANK YOU COMENIUS!

Ioanna Droussiotou

Advertisements
Posted in Articles | Leave a comment

Åland islands

The Cypriot team arrived to the Åland islands on Wednesday the 19th of September 2012. The Ålandish teacher came to the port and welcomed us. The first meeting with our hosts took place at the school. My host, Kevin, was there searching for me and when we found each other we went straight to his house. For dinner we had some tea, accompanied by local cheese.

On Thursday morning, we woke up, had our breakfast and began biking towards the bus station. From there we took the bus and went to the school. Firstly we were given a tour around the school and after we were welcomed by the school’s headmistress. Once we finished our workshops, we made our way back home. We played a bit on the computer and then ate our dinner prepared by Kevin and his mother. Our meal consisted of pasta and a magnificent sauce made of green tomatoes!! At nightime, we went to a place where there was a tower and climbed all the way to the top floor to gaze the breath taking view. In that area Kevin’s brother owns a restaurant so we were kindly offered an ice cream.

On Friday morning we stayed at the school until the end of the workshops. Afterwards, all of the Comenius students and teachers went to Marienhamn, the only town of the islands. There we had the chance to visit the parliament of Åland. During the guided tour, we were informed that the islands used to be under the rule of Sweden and later on of the Russian empire. Although today an autonomous region of Finland, the only official language of the islands is Swedish. The Åland islands have their own flag which looks like the Swedish one but has an additional red cross in the middle. Kevin grabbed the opportunity and took me also to some lovely local shops, where I bought my beloved souvenir, a miniature “Pommern”.The Pommern is a ship found in Marienhamn, which in the past, used to make trips from England, all the way to Australia.

Saturday was unfortunately my last day at Åland but the hosts made sure that it would be a memorable one. Under the leadership of Mr.Karsten we went on a cycling tour and had the chance to visit Vardo, another island of the 6000 that comprise the Åland islands. There I had the chance to visit a local church and compare the differences between the Lutheran churches and the Orthodox ones.

On that afternoon Kevin and I went to a farm in order for me to have a taste of the Harvest festival. It was great fun and a good chance to buy local products such as honey and chocolates. My Åland adventure finished on Sunday when it was time to leave. On the ferry I and my friends had the chance to eat a very rich, and truly ‘royal’ breakfast. Thank you Åland, with no doubts it was the best trip ever!

Michalis Fieros

Posted in Articles | Leave a comment

Farewell Party

Who could have ever thought that the Comenius meeting in Cyprus would end so quickly? But what a better way to end an event which filled our hearts with lovely memories, than with a farewell party! Just after the trip to the Curium there was music and food waiting for everybody in the art room!  We were all really sad that it would be our last night together as a team and we knew that we should make that night a night to remember. In the back of our minds, though, we knew that there would be many more!

Even though we had only known each other for a few days we felt like we had known each other for years. So there was nothing holding us back from dancing and enjoying ourselves. The music was really inviting and sooner or later everyone gathered ‘round and started dancing, turning the art room into a party room!

Then we all took each other’s shoulders and started going around in a row one behind the other. Even some teachers joined us and the row was slowly becoming bigger and bigger, filling the entire room. But things got even better when the Italians selected a song (we no speak Americano) and started showing everybody their amazing dancing moves. Fortunately they were quite easy to follow and it only took seconds for all of us to start learning their dance. So by the end of the song all of us were dancing as one.

We enjoyed the delicious homemade desserts made by the parents, chatted with each other and took plenty of photos. When the party was about to end we hugged our friends and we wished them to have a safe trip. We couldn’t hide our unhappiness though, since we knew that we might not see some of our friends ever again.

Comenius in Cyprus was an unforgettable experience .Together we shared moments that will remain in our hearts forever. Thanks to Comenius we got the opportunity to meet people from other countries and get to know them better. We learned about other countries’ cultures and we took an idea of a student’s everyday life. Thank you Comenius!

Ioanna Droussiotou

Posted in Articles | Leave a comment

Attendance to lessons

Along with the workshops and trips that had been taking place during the Comenius meeting in Cyprus, every student being hosted had the chance to obtain another unique and unforgettable experience; Attending lessons at The English School, together with the student hosting them during the Comenius week.

From Thursday the 12th to Tuesday the 17th of January, many students from Lithuania, Poland, Italy, Finland and Germany were at school, aiming to have a taste of how school and daily life is like in Cyprus. Most seemed to enjoy classes; with a little help from their hosts who made sure they were in a year group with other students of their age, so that they felt comfortable in the hands of fellow students which volunteered to acclimate the visitors in the unknown to them school. Students met new people and had a major role in every new learning experience they attended, willing to learn more about Cyprus, new lessons and things they did not study in their county, the Greek language, and improving their English.

On the whole, the visitors left smiling and satisfied with the warmth and hospitality they had been offered at The English School, promising they would visit us again soon. It was a pleasure for all of us to attend school with them.

 

Yiolanti Maou

Posted in Articles | Leave a comment

Visit to Curium

It was on Monday afternoon our last day together. We were all tired from the weekend’s intense activities, and school day since early in the morning. Yet, we had enough time to create further friendships with our friends from abroad, and were thrilled to visit the ancient site of Curium with them! On our way we went, on a one and a fifteen minutes bus ride. Seemingly a slightly tiring trip, but proved to be the best way to bond even further with each other! Having passed the town of Limassol, and heading towards the ancient Curium site the view which was unfolding ahead of us was truly beautiful. Green fields meeting with the bright blue sea and the clear blue sky in the far distance. The wind was icy cold. The Curium site was large with what was left of Roman baths and houses. The immense blue sea that could be seen beyond the cliff was breathtaking, and tempted lots of students to take souvenir pictures. Moving on we went down to the amphitheatre’s steps and took amazing group photos with both students and teachers! Truly, we all had spent our afternoon pleasantly, yet it was getting dark and quite colder so it was time to leave. Being tired by our return to school in the evening at 18:00 was no excuse for not having great fun at the party shortly later on in the evening! It was an amazing day enjoyed by all! Xenia Kantouna

Posted in Articles | Leave a comment

First Art Workshop

Day one, and even though it’s our first day together, familiarity is in the air: Students walking up and down the Science Building, shaking hands, getting to know each other better. My guest, Kornelija, is as thrilled as I am, she can’t wait to meet the others! Excited voices echo in the Building… and it’s finally time for our first workshop. Our team gathers in the Art Room, waiting for the first activity: making masks! Even though most of us didn’t take art lessons, or weren’t as good in drawing, we all had the spark of the artist deep inside us, so I have to mention that every single mask was a masterpiece.

Each one of us had to choose a character from our fairytale, The Magic Touch, and represent that character with a unique design on a mask. The room came alive, and the awkwardness between the students disappeared. We laughed constantly as we were creating our masks. Lots of fancy materials like ribbons, veils and pastels, combined to create amazing masks. People from Lithuania, Cyprus, Italy, the Aland Islands, Germany and Poland were all together having fun. Difficulties in communication were inevitable, but even though we all spoke different languages, we could all speak the language of art!

We shared ideas, laughed with each other (some masks were really funny), and the time had gone so fast! Our art teacher, Ms. Syrimis went around the room and admired our creations. I must say, she looked really pleased with our work.

It was a unique experience to see children from other countries working together so well from the first meeting! But that is the point of the Comenius program, isn’t it? Friendship 🙂

Marina Economidou

Posted in Articles | Leave a comment

Interview with Marina about her trip to Poland

Interview with Marina Economidou:

1. Marina, you have travelled to Poland with some friends for the Comenius project. Can you explain us what is the Comenius project?

Marina: The Comenius project is a 2-year project in which students from 7 different countries, including Cyprus, have a chance to share their culture and knowledge in order to create and act out a fairytale. This project’s purpose is to bring students from different places together, in order to make new friendships and discover that our only difference is the distance that keeps us apart!

2. How were you selected to take the trip to Poland?

Marina: I was recommended by our English teacher, along with 2 other students: Kleopatra and Nadia. I wasn’t really expecting it though!

3. What exactly happened in Poland?

Marina: Well, before we went to Poland, we had to prepare and present a traditional Cyprus fairytale. When we went there, we had the chance to present it in front of the other students, who had also prepared their fairytale! I must say, that even though each fairytale was different, there were many fairytales that had some common elements. After this process, there was a raffle, in which each country got a number. That number was the order in which the countries would write a part of the fairytale. Outside school, in Poland, our hosts guided us around their small picturesque village, Nieszawa, and took us wherever we wished! It was so fun being with them, even though we’ve never met them before, because we got to know each other really well, and became really good friends! I also have to admit that meeting people from other countries was an amazing experience for me, because we had many common interests and I really enjoyed spending time with them!

4. What have you learned about the culture of our partner countries?

Marina: Each country is unique in its own way! I really learned a lot of things from Poland. For example, they have an incredibly amazing musician called Chopin, whose museum we have visited on the last day! He wrote some amazing pieces which we had the chance to hear and enjoy at his house. Also, I learned that people living in a village know each other really well! All the children in our neighborhood, used to call us to go out with them and play football in the afternoon. Polish people are really friendly and outgoing! They will really get along with you!

5. Do you suggest participation to the Comenius project?

Marina: Of course I do! It’s an amazing experience that everyone should have the chance to live! It’s not only a way to learn new things, or practice your English, but also a way to become a very sociable person, make new friends and see new ways of life. It’s a really good chance to communicate too! I can still remember all those jokes we told to each other, all the humorous situations we got in and the hours sitting in the bus talking to others about random things!

6. Where did you stay in Poland?

Marina: When we were in Poland, we stayed at Veronica’s house (my hostess). I’m saying “we” because I was not the only one in the house. Dörte, a German girl, was also staying with us. Veronica’s mother was really warm and welcoming to us, and always offered us everything they had so we had a pleasant stay. She always prepared traditional Polish dishes for us to experience the Polish culture and at the end of our stay they gave us many presents. Veronica was really friendly and kindly gave me her bed to sleep in. At our free time, she always put on the laptop music I like, and always asked us what we’d like to have for lunch! Her family was so nice and hospitable! They even trusted me to cook traditional Cyprus sausages and “halloumi” for them, without burning the house down into ashes!

7. What can you tell me about the Polish children?

Marina: Polish children are the most open-hearted and outgoing children I have ever met. They enjoy going out and playing in the fields even though it might be raining! They will call you to hang out with them even though they’ve just met you, and they’ll really have fun with you! They really enjoy every moment! Through my experiences, I have to say that they are really kind and hospitable, as I’ve mentioned before, because not only they offer you their room, they also do what you like to do! They are polite and kind!

8. You told me that Polish people adore dogs. How did you found out about that?

Marina: I found that out during our walks in Nieszawa! Every step we took, you could hear dogs barking in the streets! One day, Veronica’s brother came for a visit. We all sat around the table and started having lunch. Then, I saw Bartek (Veronica’s brother), throwing food under the table. I was really curious to see what he was doing, when I heard a growling sound coming from under my chair. I looked down and saw a hungry dog, waiting for food! We all burst into a hysterical laugh when Veronica’s mother almost tripped on the dog while carrying a hot bowl of soup! It was a really humorous story to tell! They don’t only love dogs, they have other pets too! One morning, we woke up and saw a chicken running in the backyard. Also, a neighbor of ours had a cow (!) in a field nearby! By Ioanna Louka & Michalis Fieros

Posted in Interviews | Leave a comment