First day of the International Wilderness Guide program started today!
Arrived at the college on Saturday evening and settled into the huge yellow house where all of us will be staying for the next 10 months when not on expeditions. Went for a run on Sunday through the surrounding woods of pine and birch, got a little over excited at the sight of 2 red squirrels, a rare sight in the UK, but, as my Finnish coursemates told me (in a much less excited voice than me), a pretty common sight in Finland.
We had a walk around the college and went swimming in the nearest lake – Yläisjärvi. Which apparently by Finnish standards is a dirty pond… if this is the case the other lakes must be flippin incredible! It was an absolute beaute of a lake.
So yeah, the course started today. There’s an emphasis on the course being ‘International’ in the program guide, which is shown from the selection of students. There’s 11 guys and 2 girls – two Deutschlanders, one Dutch, six Finnishmen, 1 Finnette, an English, a Frenchman, and an Irish lady! <insert joke here> A good spread I would say.
Everyone introduced themselves and the course was outlined. Over the year we will be learning about the birds, animals, fish, plants, mosses, trees, berries, mushrooms, spores and minerals in the area – with tests throughout. As well as orienteering, hunting, skiing, snow mobiling, learning knife and nature knowledge, proposing a business plan that highlights our potential ideas for using the skills we are acquiring, 120 hours of work placement in a desired workplace… and on top of this, and the most exciting bits of all, many expeditions to Russia, Lapland and Finland.
The one expedition I can’t stop thinking about is the Bear ski. This is where we spend 9 – 12 days skiing through Lapland in early May, completely alone!…. Things are going to get interesting!