The following accounts are written by the participating students, enjoy!
On Wednesday, November 14, we got together at Helsinki airport at 10 am. The team consisted of 18 students and 4 teachers. We had a bit of spare time to hang around at the airport. From Arlanda we took a bus to Rudbeckianska high school where we had a mere 15 minutes to eat lunch before dressing up for the upcoming photoshoot. After the photoshoot one of the students showed us around the school and we were escorted to our hotel where we left our luggage before going back to the school to take part in the opening ceremony.
The opening ceremony was a very formal event where we got to hear speeches by some of the leading figures of Rudbeckianska as well as some stunning musical performances the students of Rudbeckianska had prepared for us. After the opening ceremony we went back to the hotel to relax and prepare for the upcoming competition.
Our Thursday morning, November 15, started with a beautiful breakfast with a wide variety of choices. The exciting competition started at 9.00am and it took the full 4 hours from many of us. The questions were hard, as usual, but still we found them very interesting and even fascinating.
After the competition, it was time to loosen up, so we split up and a half of the group went to a place called the Prison Island. There the teams earned points by performing tasks. We also got to try to accomplish the task of the same room again if we wanted. The other half went to a waterpark called Kokpunkten. There were lots of swimming pools, hot tubs and slides, also some pretty extreme ones. We have to admit, it was pretty relaxing after the long test.
In the evening, we dressed up to our best clothes and went to fine dining with the other contestants. We sat in tables with people from different countries, which was very nice. Our common interest in science was a wonderful icebreaker and a conversation topic. In addition, the food was extremely tasty and the music was played by a live band, which sounded amazing.
The last day of the 31st International Science Olympiad was kicked off by the day’s main event: the closing ceremony. During the festivities we enjoyed many musical performances with the highlight being the accordion cover of one of Vivaldi’s most famous compositions. After these brilliant acts it was time for the award ceremony. However, the tensions weren’t high, as everyone soon realized the Latvians would clean the table from all trophies. Luckily our school’s reputation was saved by two 3rd places in maths in form 10 (Mr Aaro Niini) and 12 (Mr Anton Aaltio).
After the ceremony we had a bit of free time during which we checked out of our hotel and ate a bit of lunch. Then it was time to head back home. Some of us had given their all during the three-day event and simply had to give in and take a nap during the excruciatingly dull bus trip to the airport. The time at the airport, though, went by in a flash and before we knew it we were landing at Helsinki International Airport.
Overall, our trip to Västerås was simply the best. We, however, were not better than all the rest. But all of us gave it their best shot – and nothing else matters.