10IMPs in Graz & Vienna

Story: Heidi Mäenpää
The 10IMP excursion to the World Summit Youth Award in Graz began with us presenting each of the winning teams in the travel blog. We didn't know what to expect from the event in the beginning, since last year the IMPs went to the Europrix and not the WSYA. Nevertheless we decided to open our minds to everything new!
Thick morning fog surrounded us during the bus ride to Helsinki

Before we even knew it we were on the plane and on our way to Vienna, Austria. Even though some of us were slightly afraid of flying, and seemed very nervous, the flight went very well. The food we ate on the plane was just the beginning of an unforgettable food culture adventure...

From Vienna airport we took a bus to one of the city's railway stations. Of course our small group of 22 IMPs didn't fit into the first bus, so we had to wait for the second one, and we were able to take enjoy the surroundings of the airport. The weather was pretty much the same than in Finland, with a little less fog! Once we finally got into the bus and to the train station we noticed that the ticket office where we were supposed to go and get our tickets had closed twenty minutes before our arrival. If we had fit into the first bus there wouldn't have been any problems! But, luckily we are an adventurous bunch and we simply boarded the train without tickets. Our reservations were still visible inside the train, and when the conductor arrived our great guide Cai Melakoski was able to solve things out in fluent German!

The IMPs waiting and listening to instructions

Admiring art at Graz railway station

With the IMPs happy and with paid tickets (and sort of tired after the 2,5 hour train ride over the mountains) we arrived in Graz, UNESCO City of Design. In the darkness of the night there wasn't much to see, yet, but luckily we had time for scenery walks later. We checked into our lovely little accommodation place called Hotel Drei Raben. Some of the IMPs even felt brave enough to go out and embrace the Austrian night culture, but most of us seemed to stay at the hotel and get a good night sleep before the activities on Thursday.

On Thursday morning we had some free time to ourselves before we had any program, so we did some touring in the town centre.

Alex posing with the road workers
(They thought we were Americans...
I guess we took too many pictures!)
Town centre
Putting on our prettiest smiles...!
"How to throw leaves" by Alex
Nailed the shot!
Bridge view
The weather was perfect for taking photos

After a few hours of walking around the centre we took a tram to TAMK's exchange partner school FH Joanneum, where we were given a tour by Thomas Radeke, a lecturer at the school. Unfortunately the campus was so huge with multiple buildings that me and three others got lost trying to find our way to the "main lobby". We arrived slightly late but were still able to get all the necessary information! A few of us said right away that they might even be interested in coming there for the exchange period. We'll see!
Beginning of the presentation
Listening and Tweeting at the same time!
Our tour manager Thomas Radeke
A robot that shoots out vodka shots... Why not!
Tuomas handing out school leaflets
Emma and Anna posing in front of FH Joanneum

After an afternoon spent in FH Joanneum everyone headed to eat something before the Youth Award registration. Me, Emma, Anna and Sanna decided to listen to our hotel receptionist's advice and chose a nearby local place called Zu Den 3 Goldenen Kugeln. It turned out to be an excellent idea! We got to taste the very popular schnitzels in various forms.

Sanna and Emma enjoying their spectacular schnitzels!
This food is a "must" for everyone who travels to Austria!

After a filling meal we headed to Hotel Mercure for registration coffees and teas. Because of some technical difficulties the nametags for IMPs weren't ready yet, so we had to spend the first evening without them. But since we are so unforgettable, walking around without them wasn't really a problem. After the registration we headed to the national broadcasting station of ORF for the festival opening and welcome cocktails. In there we also ran into Arnau Gifreu who held the IMPs a workshop about Intercative Multimedia last February. It was really great to see him again! 
ORF station in the darkness
Opening speeches
Winners' projects in a nutshell... Lightning pitching!
Yummy bread!

On Friday morning the IMPs headed to listen to the Youth Award winners pitch their projects at Karl-Franzen's University. We also finally got our nametags! After a very interesting lunch hour there was also some speeches, or Keynotes, from guest speekers.

The University looked magnificent inside and outside!
Kaisu's nametag indicated that she is from Denmark
instead of Finland... Hmm? Suspicious says I!
Enjoying the lunch
I have no idea what it was. Still don't. Kinda scared of it even now!
Interesting topics were discussed throughout the evening

The evening also included a guided Design Walk across Graz, but at least me and Sanna decided to take a longer tour instead and climb up all the way to Schloßberg.
Graz Art Museum at night, from the Design Walk (by Alex)
Schloßberg steps at night. Had fun climbing them!
Graz looked like a starry sky
A slightly creepy tree on top of the mountain

On Saturday morning we had four different workshops we could attend with the other WSYA participants. Unfortunately one workshop was cancelled because the person responsible for it didn't show up after all. Aside from that everything went well. During the final workshop Anna Narinen's team was awarded for the most inventive product idea. All IMPs felt proud! When the workshops were done some final speeches were made by partners and ambassadors, such as Mathias Haas from SuperSocial Marketing.
Ready for the final day in Graz!
Waiting for the first workshops to begin
Making notes? Or playing games? Can you guess?
Joonas and Tia discussing
Our Internet café... With free condoms!
Alex presenting her group's idea of pregnancy control
The judges thought hard on who should win the prizes
Congrats on the most inventive idea!

After all the hard work it was time to finally party! The WSYA Gala was held inside the Schloßberg mountain, in a popular clubbing place called Dom im Berg. All winners were presented once again by the hosts Nkemdilim Uwaje and Anshul Tewari, and awarded with flowers and trophies. The awarding ceremony lasted for a couple of hours, and afterwards it was time to dance and make final connections with people. IMPs know how that works! 
The big cave was an impressive setting for the gala
Education Generation receiving their award

All winners and speakers
©Mathias Haas
Sanna at the party
Maria and Anna-Kaisa looking very pretty!
Cai enjoying his time in the Gala

Me and Mathias doing a fancy pose!
©Mathias Haas
SuperSocial afterparty
IMPs connecting
We just couldn't stop making new friends!

On Sunday the IMPs left Graz with slightly wistful feelings and began their journey back towards Vienna. The train ride offered breathtaking views of the mountains, valleys and little towns in between. We even saw a sheep or two! 
Beautiful frost covered trees along the way
And of course, what would an IMP do without a laptop!

When we arrived in Vienna we checked in our bags beforehand so that we could enjoy the town without heavy luggage. With Cai leading us we walked through the city and into the town square, where Vienna Christmas Market (Wiener Christkindlmarkt) was being held. We went around tasting strange delicacies and buying souvenirs.
St. Stephen's Cathedral

IMPs at Stephansplatz
Paparazzi number one!
Paparazzi number two!
Pretty horses! (My favourite picture by Alex)
Walking towards the Christmas market
Let's just say that we weren't the only ones going there....
A few people indeed!
Yum yum!
The market just got prettier as the time went by!
Time for the last pictures before heading home
It was now time to get to the airport and fly back to Finland. With relative ease we all found our way to the plane (even though some arrangements had to be made because the flight was overbooked) and safely arrived back in Helsinki.

Waiting for the subway

All and all this was a great chance for the IMPs to see what is happening in the New Media business and get new contacts from all over the world. Thanks to Cai and the school for making this possible, let's hope next year the 11IMPs enjoy their trip as much as we enjoyed ours!
Pictures: Heidi Mäenpää, Alexandra Ostasheva, Mathias Haas

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