Experience from Tampere BEST course

It was the first time I travelled somewhere outside my country all alone, so it’s understandable I was little bit nervous at first. But as it soon showed, there was no reason for any worries.

I arrived to Tampere 2 days before the start of the course but it was no problem for the organizers. I was the first participant there and one of the organizers accommodated me in the student apartment which we lived in for the most of the course. There were 3 large rooms – one of them for all the boys and two others for all the girls. I understand that someone can be horrified when he hears about sharing room with 10 strange people but trust me, they stopped being strangers really soon and it was all for the good of bonding together.

Right the next day there were other participants and the same night we tasted first drops of the legendary BEST spirit on a pre-party in a flat of one of the organizers which brought first casulties and took away shoes of a French guy.

It was the last night when we could afford longer sleep; then it was sunday, which meant the arrival of all the participants and the official beginning. We had BBQ and played a lot of get to know games.

Monday morning we visited the local university for the first time, it was quite close to the place we slept. We created teams of three and in the next 2 weeks we had a task to create web application through specific java based interface which everyone really loved hating. The programming part was usually every morning when everyone was “fresh” after the previous night.

During Monday night there was the first (and certainly not last) sauna party. The next night was all about International Evening, where every country prepared their famous food and drinks. A friend from Brno and I made potato pancakes, mainly as a supplement to the great czech beer.

The next two days (outside of the academical program) we were for example learning finnish, playing outdoor games or getting to know the city of Tampere during both day and night.

We took a longer break from coding during the weekend, when we went to a cottage in the woods. Things like sauna, party and swimming in the lake were obvious matters, moreover we played so called “killing game”, in which you have to get rid of the other players by various means. I had to wear a bra or convince someone to wear a turban.

The next week we returned to morning coding, afternoon games and night parties, very often with sauna included. We also learned a traditional finnish dance, did a little bit of sporting (climbing a tree, archery, knife throwing, axe throwing) or went to a trip to another cottage in the woods with another sauna.

There was no pub crawling (going from pub to pub and doing tasks) due to the higher prices in pubs but one party was a great Crawling next to the student flats. Another party was thematic, its name was C-Party and we could only wear stuff that begins with C. Party prepared by participants turned to cantus, which is hard to describe, it’s a event with a lot of singing, drinking and punishments with usually more drinking involved…

Last day at the university we presented our apps and I think that with given conditions everyone did a great job, even though some of the participants weren’t even studying computer science related fields.

Farewell party began with a formal night called sitsit, which is similar to the cantus – there’s a lot of drinking and singing, but there are no punishments and everyone wears fancy dress. The party continued in the city and after that the only thing left was to return home.

All in all, the course gave me a lot of experiences. It definitely helped me for improving english communication skills, everyone (even the ones less skilled in English) started talking a lot during first days and there was no problem in communication. In the academical part I tried for the first time leading a team and also developped programming knowledge. But first and foremost I made a lot of really great friends across the whole Europe – one month right after the course half of us met in Belgium and we plan more reunions in the future.