All posts by Kirsi P Forss

Day Five: Symposium and the Closing Ceremony

We are sad to admit that it is over. The Symposium and the Closing Ceremony took place in the cosy sauna space Sivistys. Before the brunch there was possibility to go to sauna one more time and some of the people took the advantage of it. The sunny Friday felt like Sunday 🙂

CIMG2808The brunch included everything refreshing and the sofas were comfortable after the last night party. Life is so good sometimes!


During the symposium we heard the conclusions of every workshop. More about the workshops is available on this blog. Go and find out about all the cool things!

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And now those sunny seminar days in Helsinki are over. We were excited, we put all our effort on learning new things about geography, we had excursions around the city, we saw interesting lectures, we laughed and cried, we experienced a lot togehter. That I think, was also interaction in urban space.

Thank you so much for making this seminar happen. We enjoyed having you here!  There’s no doubt about it because it’s EGEA, but see you people again sometimes somewhere! 🙂


Day Four: The last sweating with the Workshops and a proper introduction to Finnish culture

Final day for the Workshops! Time to finish the conclusions and make a presentation for the Symposium.

CIMG2749Marek (Krakow) and Epp (Tallin) making a map presentation on their theme “Geography of Nightlife in big European cities”.

In between of hard work shopping MSc Eeva Kemppainen held a lecture and a workshop under the title “Follow the Thing”.  Eeva’s field is Commodity Geography and Culture Jamming.  After the lecture the participants made interesting subvertisements  and the results can be seen on Eeva’s Flickr


Of course no one can leave Finland before visiting sauna! The evening programm included sauna and swimming pool with traditional finnish food. The programm was very relaxing and laid back. Food, good geographer company, fireplace, sauna – what else would one need on a thursday evening?



CIMG2768The last bits of the macaroni casserole that is a traditional finnish dish made out of pasta, minced meat, egg and milk.



CIMG2757Salmiakki. Salty tasting finnish candy. Some hate it, some love it 😉


On the other hand it was also the last evening of the seminar. And for sure everyone took the most out of it!

Day Three: Working hard and getting International

Sunny day in Helsinki! While the seminar participants were working on the workshops the blogger saw inspiring things on the way to the campus…

ratikkaTram bench


After the lunch Dr Gareth Rice held the second lecture of the seminar. Dr Rice is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki at the Department of Geosciences and Geography.  He originally comes from Belfast, Ireland and today he spoke on theme “Interactions in a divided city: the Case of Belfast”.

Sadly, Belfast has been famous about the conflicts between the protestants and the catholics in the area. We heard about the backgrounds behind the situation, the conflicts and the divisions in the city. The conflicts have not been religious but a result mainly from disagreement between the loyalists and unionists and the rebublicans and Irish nationalists about the issue if Northern Ireland should be a part of the Great Britain or Ireland.

Nowadays Belfast is among the safest destinations but only a couple of decades ago it was described as one of the most dangerous places on the earth. There are still so called peace walls, actually 90 pieces, that are dividing the protestant and the catholic areas to give safety and peace in the city. A survey revealed that people in Belfast seem still to be a bit scared about removing the peace walls. According to Dr Rice the psychological space have to catch up the physical space before the people are ready.

Finally, Dr Rice concluded that the development has been positive and the full peace and consensus between the groups is possible, maybe not in the next few years but after a couple of decades. He also quoted Martti Ahtisaari, who has said that sustainable peace does not only mean no appearance of violence but equal opportunities and functions available in the society. Let’s hope for the best for Northern Ireland.


Dr Gareth Rice

In the evening we had some  international activity after the dinner.  We were playing games that of course had something to do with geography or interculturality. The participants had to find their own group by “speaking” the language they had drawn from a bowl. We heard somekind of mixtures of norwegian, swahili, italese, spanish and chinese.


There were five different tasks to  do: pantomime about geographic concepts, blind story writing, drawing countries, geoquiz and a excercise where the groups were informed which part of the body and how many of them were allowed to touch the floor.


The spanish group was consentrating on the geo-guesser. The quiz is very addicting. A randomly picked picture from Google Earth will show up and you will have to guess where it has been taken! For the interested here is the link


Meanwhile at the task number two people had to draw a country, the boarderline and anything they came up while thinking about that country.


After the playing we had a chance to try international cuisine. Even if we didn’t ask the participants to bring something from their home country, the table was full of interesting products from different places. Thank you so much people, it was interesting and very tasty!


Different kinds of drinks from beer, wine, liquer to vodka were seen. Georg from Georgia had brought Borjomi, the typical mineral water of his home country. There were also breads, chocolate, candies and different kinds of bisquits.

And finally of course, there is no EGEA party without “Schatje mag ik je foto”!


Notice the sofa on the background 😉

The other must during an EGEA evening is Moskau…


I think this picture descripes quite well what is it all about EGEA. Friendship, Geography, Traditions and great FUN!


Day Two: Happy Birthday EGEA!

Tuesday was the start day of the workshops.  After breakfast in Kumpula Campus it was time to get down to business.

As told before, we have five different workshops. The workshops will consist of different kinds of excursions and excercises and the conclusions will be presentated at the Symposium on Friday, on the final day of the Seminar. Conclusions will also be posted on this blog after the seminar.

Workshops and their leaders are:

Introduction to City Planning in Finland, workshopleader Efe Ogbeide
Geography of Night Life in Big European Cities, workshopleader Dimitri Komendenko
Geography of Fear, workshopleader Olga Hagström
Intercultural Encounters, workshopleader Inka Krüger
Cultural Mega-Projects in City Branding, workshopleaders Kati Hiltunen and Oxana Kozar

CIMG2695The Team “Cultural mega-projects in City Branding” went to the city centre for an excursion after the lunch

CIMG2696Lari needed a private-picture. By the way, nice to see  people from Turku here as well, eventhough they don’t have an entity (yet)!

In the evening we had a traditional finnish dinner, peasoup and pancake. This food is actually served every thursday but it tasted on tuesday as well.



While eating we had two smaller presentations. The first speaker was Timo Hämäläinen, an EGEA-Alumni. He was among the persons, who founded EGEA Helsinki in 2003. This planning geographer writes nowadays a blog about urban planning and that has become quite famous in Finland and also outside of Finland.  Even the Guardian listed this blog among the most interesting ones in the World about this theme! Timo is also active in different groups that are interested in urban planning. One of them is “Lisää kaupunkia Helsinkiin”, free translation would be something like “More urban environment to Helsinki”. The group members are mostly just normal people that want to make a change in their home city. They criticise the way Helsinki has been built during the last decades dividing the development in several suburban areas. The group has gained some interest also in the Department of City Planning in Helsinki. This is a good example of what we learned on Dr. Galanakis lecture: there could be some possibilities to make the people getting involved in the Urban Space.

Link to Timo’s blog:

Timo also gave us a nice advice on what we want to do in our future. He said that it is worth it to do the thing that feels the most interesting. Even if it doesn’t bring any succes story, at least it was fun. And if  it turns out to be a succes story, it will be a great feeling!


There were finnish pancakes for dessert. It tastes good with some rasberry or strawberry jam!

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 Tytti (picture) and Elisa were our happy cooks for this evening. So many people asked for the recipe of the pancakes that we thought it’s a brilliant idea to post it here 🙂

3              Eggs

4 dl          Milk

4 dl          Flour

1 tl           Baking powder

1 tl           Vanillasugar

0,5 dl      Sugar

75 g         Butter

Some Cardamon and Cinnamon

Mix the dry ingredients with each other. Melt the butter and let it cool down a bit. Mix all ingredients to make the batter. Bake in the oven on a baking sheet (200 Celcius degrees) for about 30 minutes. Enjoy with jam. Whipped cream doesn’t taste bad either with this.


During the dessert our CP Kati shared some info about the EGEA. There are many freshmen taking a part on our seminar so we thought it would be a nice idea to make them more excited about this network. Finally we got a reminder that it was the 27th birthday of EGEA!

H A P P Y       B I R T H D A Y        E G E A ! !

Day One: Welcome to Helsinki!


Finally it’s seminar-time! The organising has been going on since last autumn so we are more than excited to start the great seminar week. If you were unfortunate and couldn’t come to Helsinki, this blog will be a good channel also for you to follow what is happening here. The blog texts about each day will be published the next day.  Welcome to Helsinki!



The opening ceremony was held in the heart of Helsinki, at the building of the Student Union of the  University of Helsinki. This over 100-year-old building was a beautiful place to welcome everyone. Many happy reunions and new meetings were seen!

CIMG2654Olga and Inka are happy to be a part of the orga-team


ratvioRami Ratvio, PhD and a lecturer from the department of Geosciences and Geography, told about urban-related research at the department. We heard i.e. about how the unemployment has been evolving in Helsinki regionaly during the last years, suburban areas and where in Helsinki live those people who don’t want to tell where they live. Fascinating! Finally, he wished us to have a great seminar and seemed to envy us slightly when he told that there was nothing like this when he was studying. We are lucky indeed to have EGEA!

suskiThe seminar leader Suski was happy to hear people bubbling!

CIMG2665Before the first lecture we got to know each other a bit.  We have participants from almost all over Europe: Germany, Georgia, Austria, Russia, UK, Estonia, Denmark, Czhec Rebublic, Poland, Belgium, Netherlands, Romania and Finland.


CIMG2677 Michail Galanakis, doctor of Arts, held the first lecture of the Seminar on theme “Inclusive Urban Space”.  We heard interesting cases about Toronto and Helsinki. The main point of the lecture was interaction between people and different groups in urban environment.  Mr Galanakis also introduced us his urban experiment “Livingroom” that was organised in the main railwaystation of Helsinki. The idea of this project was to build a temporary livingroom in the middle of the railwaystation where all kind of people could spend time and interact with each other. It was a succes story. This lecture left many things in mind to think of: Do I really live in a bubble when I move around in the city?  Could I do something to integrate the immigrants and other exluded people? And also how confusing it is that some of the urban public spaces are not really public after all, for example the railway stations that actually are only for the passengers or consumers.

CIMG2683The back row is concentrating on the lecture

palloPerfect stress ball for a geographer

After the lecture it was time to introduce the workshops. There are five different workshops that will be introduced later on this blog.



wsAfter the official part many  groups were seen to enjoy the sunny Helsinki before the dinner. The evening programme included speed dating, everyone spoke with everyone for 2,5 minutes! It took about 1,5 hours but was a lot of fun. Now everyone knows everyone – at least a bit 😉

CIMG2693Getting ready for the speed dating!

Looking forward to the next seminar days. Hope you all have fun! 🙂