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Finland, Fun, Freedom and Friends

Finland, Fun, Freedom and Friends

Posted Tue 30th Aug 2022 at 13:38
by Zach Clarke


My experience on the Erasmus TS Exchange trip

Where on earth do I start? I saw a post for a group leader to join the UK group who were going to Finland and I just knew I had to apply.

For so long I have always felt that I didn’t fit in. I try to live by the Dr Seuss quote ‘Why fit in when you were born to stand out’, but sometimes I just want to fit in. I can find it challenging to go places with a group as I never know what my tics are going to do. Then there are the stares, the whispering, the explanations, the isolation and the worry. Finland for me meant a chance to support and be with people who are the same as me, people who have and understand Tourettes. On this trip everything changed, we all fitted in and everyone was invited to join in so no one was left out. The feeling of isolation and worry melted away. I felt a sense of freedom that I don’t always feel in public. And the whispering…well maybe others were still doing it, but we certainly weren’t quiet!!

Was I apprehensive about going? Yes, I suppose I was a little, but I had no need to be. We had all been chatting online for the weeks running up to the trip. This gave us a chance to get to know a bit about each other. When we met at the airport I felt an instant connection with the group. We all had something in common. We all understood and accepted each other. It was as though we had already met before. Friendships started forming immediately.

I knew being around others who have Tourettes might make my tics increase, and it did!  But this time it was different. I wasn’t worried about them, I was able to embrace them and just let them out loud and proud without having to explain what was happening as there was so much acceptance, support and understanding.

On this trip we laughed, we cried, we supported each other, we swam in the lake, we went ice skating, we experienced cultural evenings and took part in lots of fun activities, we shared funny tales, we saw the Northern Lights (they were amazing), but most importantly, we had the opportunity to take part in a fantastic trip and to experience a week spending time with new friends who understand what it’s like living with Tourettes. Absolutely priceless!

Should you go? YES!! If you get an opportunity to attend a trip with Tourettes Action, whether it be for a week, a weekend or a day, I would totally recommend that you don’t hesitate to say yes. Enjoy every minute of it and make new friends and memories. It is so empowering and will give you a new found confidence.

Would I go again? 100% I would!! I truly hope I am fortunate enough to get the opportunity to go again and offer support and friendship to others. Thank you so much to our wonderful hosts in Finland and to Tourettes Action for making it happen.

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