One of the great things about studying at the University of Lapland is that they offer workshops in Ice Sculpting. This was one module I was really excited to take, obviously the workshop is really popular; where else offers Ice Sculpting workshops?! I signed up as soon as the course went live to secure my place! There was one scheduled design workshop before the 4-day ice-sculpting workshop at Ruka Ski Resort! In the design workshop I was informed that we would be designing and creating an ice play area on a frozen lake at the resort – it sounded so fun! We were introduced to the equipment we would be using the following week, as well as watching videos of previous ice sculpted projects, I was very inspired and felt a little daunted. The class was split into three groups to design our play area. I began designing something where the children could climb up and then into a cave area. My design was chosen to be constructed at the resort, as well as a slide and a submarine that was designed by other students. It was exciting to know that something I designed would become real, and completely made from ice!

On a cold (-22 degree) Monday morning we were up early ready to take the mini bus to the ski resort, it was about two hours north from Rovaniemi. The further north we travelled, the more snow that stuck to the trees. It was beautiful. When we arrived I was in awe with the view, the resort was quite high up meaning you could see all the trees below, it was a refreshing change of scenery from Rovaniemi. We all quickly unpacked in our shared apartments where I had the opportunity to spend time with classmates who I had not met before. We were also excited with our own sauna in our apartment. It was no surprise that every apartment had it’s own sauna, it is Finland at the end of the day. The group met back up for complimentary lunch and then we were off to the frozen lake where we would plan out our sculptures.

The first day was surreal, we gaged where we would create each piece, and had the forklift place quite a few ice blocks in the areas. Most of us were stood around shy and hesitant about where to start, as none of us had ever ice sculpted before. Our teacher Antti and his helper Vertti kind of left us to it. That evening we relaxed and bonded in the sauna with gossip, it was nice to make friends with students who arrived this semester.

The following days everyone seemed to have picked up the ice sculpting technique after being briefly instructed on how to use the equipment on the second day. Before I knew it I was chain-sawing ice blocks in half to make stairs, chiseling ice to create shapes in the ice walls and using a special ice sculpting drill to create intricate patterns in the ice. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and was proud that I got over my initial fear and really got stuck in into the construction process. I learnt a lot about working with ice and how water is used as glue, it was so interesting. As we were working at a ski resort we were allowed to rent ski and snowboarding gear for free. I had never attempted snow sports before so I really wanted to try it out. I chose to ski, thinking it would be easier as I had two sticks to support myself, but I was wrong. It was very difficult but thankfully Antti offered to help me out. I hope to practice more at the ski resort near my student accommodation, who knows, it could become a new hobby.

The final day was a rush to finish all three sculptures, everyone was working together to make sure everything was sorted, and the families surrounding the lake were itching to be allowed into our ice play area. When the red tape was lifted at 5pm on Thursday all the children ran and started playing on our sculptures straight away. It was so satisfying to get an instant positive reaction. I can say that this workshop is probably one of my favorite experiences from Erasmus so far. I enjoyed making new friends and learning new skills. Now I can say I have ice sculpted in Lapland which sounds pretty cool if I do say so myself.