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Finland 2022 - the best week of my life!

Finland 2022 - the best week of my life!

Posted Tue 30th Aug 2022 at 13:29
by Abby Phillips


My experience on the Erasmus trip to Finland

Recently I went on the Tourette’s Exchange trip to Finland. A bunch of people with Tourette’s from the UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Norway and Finland all came together to meet at a place called Piispala. It was genuinely the best week of my life!

Before I went on the Tourette’s exchange trip, I thought the world sucked. I spent most days hoping that the ground would swallow me up or I would just stop existing. If a giant meteor had hit the planet and wiped out humanity I wouldn’t have cared.

My whole life I thought everyone and everything was out to get me. I spent my childhood being bullied for who I was, and I wasn’t able to stand up for myself. I was mad that I had Tourette’s. I’d been told by people that my Tourette’s was just bad behaviour or that having mental health issues was attention seeking or ‘just a fad’.

I was so nervous going on the trip, thinking I wouldn’t be able to talk to anyone. But everyone was so kind and genuine and even though we had just met I felt as if I had known them for years. I had no issue talking to people, things just felt right.

We had so much fun doing activities such as water sports, climbing, music workshop, and bubble football. We had culture evenings where each country had an opportunity to give a presentation about their country, play games and try different food. We had a BBQ by the lake and spent time together in a traditional Finish sauna. We sang together, danced together and shared our stories. A few of us even got to see the northern lights. We had gone to the lake to watch the meteor shower and just as we got up to leave, they appeared. It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.

One evening we played a game where we answered yes or no to different questions and statements people had written, by walking to the right side of the road for yes and the left side of the road for no. There were many things people had written such as ‘I feel supported by my family and friends’, ‘My Tourette’s causes me pain’ and ‘I have been excluded because of my Tourette’s.’

The majority of people had negative answers and it got very emotional. It’s the first time I’ve cried in front of anyone who isn’t family since I was a child. Tears of joy that I wasn’t alone but also sadness knowing others felt the same pain.

The trip changed my mind. I’m happy now that I have Tourette’s because through it, I have met the most amazing and wonderful people. I can see now that the world doesn’t suck when you are in the right place with the right people.

The trip has given me more confidence opening up to people and an appreciation for life that I didn’t have before.

To say it was the best week of my life is an understatement. I met so many different people who are incredibly amazing. To have a group of people where everybody fits in and not a single person is excluded for any reason is a dream come true for anybody with Tourette’s. I will hear the laughter we shared together for the rest of my life. And feel the tears we shared realising that we all understood what it was like to feel so alone.

We are no longer alone with our experiences. We are a family. And to share our love and friendship in the most beautiful place on the earth was so special.

Thank you to Tourette’s Action and Erasmus+ for the opportunity of a lifetime.

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