At the end of September eight of us were blessed to be able to spend a week in the stunning surroundings of Norway as part of the international exchange programme Erasmus. This was the third leg of our programme which involves schools from Norway, Finland and Germany, and was an opportunity for us to continue the work together were we have been focusing on ‘Fair play, sport and healthy eating’.

On arrival our students were promptly whisked away to their homestay’s where students they had met when St Gregory’s hosted the other schools, returned the favour. After an evening to settle in we promptly began the week in the host school where they begin the day at 8.05am. If our students weren’t awake they soon were once the school fire alarm went off at 8.07am! We were shown around the school, took part in their life skills sessions based on ‘courage’ and learnt the new game – serveball (a blend of volleyball and netball).

To pick up a common theme we trudged into school the next day, sodden and windswept but accepting of the Norwegian ‘let’s just get on with it’ mentality. Horse riding, learning to use a lasso, bucket carrying competitions and stilt walking made up the majority of the day, followed by a scenic walk littered with tastes of Norwegian culture and cuisine.

Our next two days involved a fair amount of travelling around the region on coaches, ferries, passenger boats and the occasional bit of walking. Wherever we went it rained, but never far from shot was the beauty of water – whether it be a fjord reflecting the vastness of mountain ranges, waterfalls cascading down every crevice on high or snow peaks in the distance. We explored, we shopped, swam and sampled soup on an open beach fire. One of the highlights of the week was getting a tour of the salmon farm where we were able to see first hand the remarkable process of farming some five million salmon in one place at any one time.

One of our students Rosie, speaks positively about the activities on these days:

“At the salmon farm we learnt about how salmon grow and how bio-filters work. We had a vegetarian, vegan and a pescatarian amongst us so we had a few interesting debates along the way! One of the best days involved a long coach journey all the way to a town called Kristiansund, about 100 km away from Kyrksæterøra. We had to take a ferry to get there because it was on an island off the coast of the mainland. When we got off the coach, we went on a little walk to a tower overlooking the town and out to sea – it was an amazing view. We then walked around the town for a bit, went to a shopping centre before enjoying a big swimming pool that had lots of different areas (and involved lots of jumping, diving and flipping into).”

“The final day brought a return to the local school, and at the request of students they took part in the tournament in mixed country teams. Undoubtedly giving us a better chance of winning a trophy again as a team from Germany! The tournament was played in a spirit of fair play and respect, becoming increasingly competitive as students got used to a new sport. We were delighted to have two of our students among the winning team and re-enacted the disappearance of another famous trophy back in 1966 – with this one finding its way into our Bristol Airport bound luggage! The final event of the trip was a celebration evening where our young people showcased a dramatised version of Benjamin Zephaniah’s poem ‘The British: serves 60 million’.”

Our students were impeccably behaved and were great ambassadors for St Gregory’s and the UK. We hope they enjoyed getting a taste of a culture that differs in so many ways to ours, yet champions the same values.

Mr M Robinson
Lay Chaplain