Study Visit to Estonia

Are you 18 to 30 years old and looking for an experience abroad that could give you knowledge about youth organizations, non-formal educational methods, social and cultural activities, inspiration for future opportunities abroad, fun and new friends? Our study trip to Tallinn offers all of this and much more.
– The trip will take place on 13-17.11.2018.
– Cost: 45€ for StepEurope members, 60€ for not members.

IMPORTANT: If you want to become a member you are still on time and it costs only 5€ until December!!! Follow this link:

Application form and more information here:

Sustainable shopping for a sustainable life

Last Saturday we had a great event here in Logomo for the promotion of a “Sustainable and local shopping” in Turku. More than 20 interested and attentive people came to listen the experiences and work of the local businesses we invited.

Unfortunately not all our guests could join the event: winter is at the door and flu is already starting to force us to change our plans!! So representants of Leipomo Gryn couldn’t join because of a bad cold. Anyway I still recommend you to pass by Forum Kortteli, have a coffee and croissant (both absolutely “luomu”) and ask if for that day they might have baked “Emmer”: the bread made with the ancient (older than 200 years) and local (from Naantali area) wheat flour, the bread with the same taste of our grandparents’ bread, the bread of life.

GBut our program was anyway rich and intensive. We started inviting the “StepEurope gardening project” representants to introduce the last summer project and explain the main goals and aims of our experience. Growing our own food was a concrete example of sustainable lifestyle and our way to get closer with the nature.

The Reko groups were mentioned as well as a real and practical opportunity of supporting local products and farms and at the same time avoid the over packaged industrial and unhealthy food that you can get from a regular supermarket. I will add here the links for the 4 Reko facebook groups you can find in the Turku area. Have a look at the partners and all the offers they have every week!

REKO Turku (in Länsikeskus), REKO Turku – Åbo “Täl pual jokke” (in Huittamo), REKO Turku Puutori, uusia tuulia (in Puutori), REKO Kaarina – S:t Karins (in Kaarina).

Shams Falafel was one of our guests and it was thoughtful and powerful to hear their story, their purpose and their aim as a business. Their ethical values about the food, they are 100% organic and vegan, are a reflection of their company’s values, not directly aimed on making money and growing, but rather on giving the opportunity of a real and worthy job to the asylum seekers: the magic makers of Falafel of the Sun (Shams means sun in Arabic). It was touching for me hearing that thanks to the income from the work in Shams Falafel, one of the worker will be able to achieve the family reunion from his country of origin.

In addition to this wonderful story we could taste a huge amount of their amazing falafel and hummus, that they brought for us. They are definitely the Falafel of the Sun!!! Thank you!!!

Lastly, Vihreä Ilo, the company of Virpi Hirvensalo, took the stage and told us her experience as a blogger and DIY-cosmetic workshop instructor.She is an amazing and super active woman and mum, with a deep interest and knowledge on herbs and a strong willing of applying this knowledge to her practical life. For this reason she started to study plants, their using in beauty and healthy and how to make cosmetic products from exclusively natural ingredients. Well, you cannot buy any products from her (not yet!) but you can “buy” the know-how for starting to making those prodicts yourself! And your life will really turn more sustainable: stopping to buy cosmetics full of chemicals and preservatives, wrapped in unsustainable and unnecessary packages, produced by multinational corporations that don’t have in their priorities environment, healthy of the consumers and benefits for the workers employed.

Dulcis in fundo, she gifted, as examples of what she teaches, bath salt balls and lip balm. Everything rigorously organic, sustainable and self-made! 

If you are interesting on trying one of her workshop, StepEurope will invite Virpi for DIY scrubs and salt baths workshop the 30.10.2018. Welcome!!

So, already in our small Turku we have quite many options for making our life more sustainable also through our shopping choices.

“Buying is a moral act” said a person much more wiser than me, it means that also through purchasing any kind of goods we will inevitably produce consequences: let’s do that those consequences will be positive and admirable for the planet, the whole humanity and the next generation.

Lisa – Work-try out

International opportunity: a reality in your hands!

“The world is your oyster” My old English teacher, a huge admirer of idioms, made us repeat at class. I wasn’t sure how I felt about oysters, I was already a vegetarian back then, but the message of world open and available to me made a lasting effect. An effect of slight nausea, a mix of excitement blended with worry of how to start broadening my world outside the middle sized town I lived in.

Let me break down some assumptions I had,  about what does an international person, citizen of the world, look like. Brave, rich and born fluent with all the over 6000 languages of the world.

I didn’t fit any of the above. For someone who nearly failed English exams at school and was scared to ride a bike, to spend past 8 years abroad, was not something I saw coming.

What you need is an opportunity to get you started;  any kind will do. For me it was a year as an Au Pair, followed by backpacking around for another two. That was made possible by using networks like Helpx and Workaway, shuffling from an odd job to another depending where the bus tickets were cheap. Already I had kicked the need to be rich and brave out of the Eurolines discount nighbuss window.

To tackle the language I ended up doing whole degree in Scotland and landing a job with charities abroad. My jokes were a bit silly for several years but eventually I realised my thoughts and expressions had turned into English. All  experiences sort accidentally followed after another while my confidence and hunger for new experiences grew.

How to get started then? In our last post Lisa discussed the meaning of volunteering; nowadays  you can do it in so many ways. For example, have you heard about the Volunteer Solidarity Corps (ex EVS)?
Maybe your international opportunity is joining a local English activity. Did you know that in one of our “How to Survive through The Finnish Winter Project” (coffee for the person who makes a good short nickname for that project)- event , we had people from 13 different countries here in Turku. That truly is an international opportunity at your doorstep. Another opportunity to ask questions and hear what you could do with us is the information evening “Let’s get international” we are having in October.

When it comes for the reasons why and what I have gained, I will disappoint you and not give an answer. I risk being a cliche and say: it has shaped the person I now am. I did definitely fall out of my comfort zone, with a loud tiny bit painful bang. I wouldn’t have it any other way and I challenge you to give it a go because you won’t have any idea where these opportunities will take you.

Ronja, Project Assistant

The work of the volunteer

Everyone of us has more or less an idea of how a modern society is built. Its basic structure includes a political system, the production and industrial sector, the public services (for example, health care and education), services known as the tertiary sector, as well as the media and culture section.

Well, perhaps I’m simplifying reality too much but this is more or less what you can find in a city in our contemporary world.

However, there is something important missing on my list, something you cannot count and usually doesn’t make any news in the mainstream media. I’m referring to all those organizations, associations, and institutions that work relentlessly for making this world a better place and rely on voluntary work, on the goodwill of ordinary people who decide to dedicate their free time to something meaningful to them.

Our society proliferates with this kind of initiative and we can really find what better suits our interests and beliefs. If you are into nature, you can easily find organizations founded with the aim to preserve the natural environment or a specific species. If you believe and want to work for a fairer world, there are plenty of movements working for the advancement of human rights at a local or global scale. If you share an interest in arts and culture, think of how many places or groups you can already find in a relatively small city like Turku.

All what I have described has to do with our society’s added value: what makes our community a place worth of living, something as important as an efficient economic system with good job opportunities. This is the reason why influential organizations such as the Red Cross, WWF, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and so on, are still active after so many years – thanks to the dedication of countless people who have shared their precious time and energy without a financial reward.

The “work of the volunteer” is truly respectful and admirable: a personal choice that makes this world a better place to live. Each of us has a different motivation to start an experience as a volunteer, but the results are always positive and beneficial to society – no matter how big or small, known or not known, direct or indirect is the commitment. You definitely make a difference either by giving your time for an outside walk with dogs from a nearby kennel or by spending two months of your life at a refugee camp in the South of the world.

 The amount of time and the type of tasks you can offer doesn’t matter much, because your initiative always carries a potential to create a benefic circuit.

The benefic circuit of the volunteer job in 5 steps.

It’s a known fact that being a volunteer is not beneficial only to the target society or a single organization. It’s beneficial to the person himself/herself.


It’s proven and guaranteed that doing good is good for our inner self. It makes us feel happier and rewarded! Because if you feel useful for someone in this world your self-esteem will surely bolster.


A voluntary job can create lots of opportunities for the volunteer, especially if you are young and without significant job experiences. It can surely be a way of developing your skills and improve your capabilities to work. Choose an organization/field/institution that is closer to your ideals and interests and consider your voluntary work as a hands-on experience for a future job position. There are many organizations that welcome and allow volunteers to be very independent to contribute with new projects and ideas. Jump on and build up your own experience.


Arriving in a new place, starting from zero, sometimes with no job or a place to study can be really challenging. An organization that welcomes volunteers can be a good way of making network and new friends. People who join a volunteer group carry out the activities during their free time, and don’t feel the pressure of the official duties. For sure, they are more likely to welcome and be closer to newcomers than in an official working place.


Nowadays, many organizations and associations receive school or university students by offering them the opportunity to do an internship or a short-term project. If something like this is required by your school or university programme, start looking at the list of the organizations in your city. They will most likely have a place for you!


Usually associations and organizations that involved volunteers are international even if they just work on a local level. The people involved are often foreigners or with a quite international background and in some they offer the opportunity of experiences abroad.


Well, maybe I’m not the most impartial person to write this but that’s true: StepEurope offers anyone the possibility (1) to be involved as an active citizen and leave a mark in their community through various activities, from the more cultural and informative to the ones with a focus on leisure. Have a look at our range of activities here:

You can actively implement your own ideas and project, (2) learning by doing and improving a large range of skills: organizing, leading, marketing, creating, working in team, managing, recruiting new people, establishing contact with partners. Becoming a volunteer is easy: (3) If you’re new in Turku, we’re one of the NGOs where to start from: our target group is young adults and over, mainly foreigners, who are willing to meet each other and hang out together. If you’re still struggling with the Finnish language, don’t worry! Our activities and events are mainly in English! Check out our webpage:

StepEurope offers the opportunity for students (4) from the University and Vocational School to do their internship with us. If you’re interested, don’t hesitate to contact us: We also offer the possibility for a work-try out period, while you can be with us for a longer term.

Lastly, but not less important, StepEurope is an international organization (5) with the aim of promoting the international mobility abroad for young people through training, study trips, youth exchanges, (very soon) EVS all around Europe.

Are you ready for leaving your mark? We and many other different organizations and associations are waiting for your essential contribution.

Be active. Be involved. Become volunteer.


Gardening Project 2018

This year was the second time that I participated in the Gardening Project organized by StepEurope.

The idea was to gather a group of people interested in community gardening and provide them with a place and everything else needed for sustainable gardening in accordance with the principles of permaculture. We were allocated a plot in the lovely Elävän Kulttuurin Koroinen, provided with organic soil and seeds, and even gardening gloves with a first-aid kit always at hand, together with a unique opportunity to work together for a common goal: a plentiful harvest and an enriching learning experience.

Compared with the last year, this time we were more people participating in the project, which resulted in more workforce to actually do the hard labour, such as soil preparation, planting, weed maintenance, watering, and harvesting. This year we also had more beds and more plants to care for. We planted the following: carrots, potatoes, red onions, radish, beans, broad beans, coriander, parsley, pumpkin, zucchini, chard, and some flowers too.

My personal reasons for joining this project were quite simple: I wanted to learn more about sustainable gardening, permaculture and its principles, and of course connect with nature and like-minded people while learning new skills in general. I was very pleased to witness that our group was made of incredibly lovely people from all over the world. The team spirit flourished and we did a really good job in almost perfect co-operation (group members even traded kefir in the group, wow!)  Everybody was flexible and understanding of other team members’ working schedules, personal responsibilities or holidays. I feel that everyone did their best. It surely was more than enough, and I hope that the following picture is a proof of that:

Our project culminated in the loveliest Harvest Party. That is when we got to enjoy the fruits of our hard labour. Our senses were pampered with delicious, healthy and colorful vegetarian dishes, which we cooked together in a relaxed and warm atmosphere. The menu consisted of a soup called minestrone, an Italian dish gnocchi, a fresh salad with feta, roasted vegetables, and a Portuguese dish called ervilhas com ovos escalfados (peas and eggs) with a pizza and some homemade bread. Yummy!

The project was completely successful, regardless of the fact that some of the produce was lost due to extreme heat waves during the summer.

I want to express my utmost gratitude to everyone who made our Gardening Project possible! I am eagerly looking forward to community gardening with old and new friends next year again!

With love,