Thursday, December 15


Well... since I'm a procrastinator who hates blogging (not a good mix, by the way), I have a LOT that I have done since the last time I blogged. I believe last time, I was complaining about having the November Blues. But now, I am happy to inform you that that only lasted about a week, and left pretty much as quickly as it came.

Since then, my exchange friend Elisha and I have made Thanksgiving dinner for our families:
And yes, that means we even cooked a turkey! (Two, actually. Because the biggest they could find was like 7 pounds, for 9 people) The stuffing was made from scratch, and we also had sweet potato apple crisp, cranberry sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole. And for dessert, there was pecan and pumpkin pie. For the pumpkin, there's no canned pumpkin in Finland, so we actually had to cut up a pumpkin and boil it and what not. Thankfully, everything turned out good! And the turkey could not have been better! I think from now on, I should be in charge of turkey for Thanksgiving.... 

After that, I went to Lapland with all of the exchange students in Finland with Rotary (about 150 people), and we were there for 4 days, after our 16 hour bus ride. We went on a reindeer sleigh ride, a dog sled ride, made ice sculptures (well, tried to), went snowshoeing, downhill skiing, sledding, went to the local high school, and they had some entertainment for the night, ran across a bridge to Sweden, went to Rovaniemi (Santa's hometown) and other stuff that I can't remember at the moment. We also went to a reindeer farm and learned some facts about reindeer.

 Obviously, that means I have to tell you them:
A baby reindeer has 3,000 hairs per square centimeter, while an adult reindeer has 1,600. Each herder has a special mark that they put on each of their reindeer's ears. It's pretty official, and they have government documents claiming which mark is theirs and whatnot. Uhm, they used to castrate the reindeer by biting the vein behind the testicles. Yes, that means an actual person would BITE it. But, that's illegal now, and they use a clamp type thing to cut it. During October is "baby starting" (as the woman knowing VERY little English told us... she had to have everything else translated for her... but she told us that!) and the male reindeer lose about 20 kilos in that month... hard work for them! Oh, and last year, the herder we talked to lost 3,000 reindeer because the herd was on the thought-to-be frozen river, and the ice collapsed and they drowned. That's all the facts I can remember. 

^that's my favorite picture I took from the entire trip

OH, and in Lapland.... I TURNED 18!!!!!

Which means that when I got back, my family had a party for me with some of the families I had met while living with them. It was really fun and nice to have everyone together. There was lots of good food, which my host mom had thought out, and each had a meaning. Either something about Finland and a certain area I had been to, or just something that she knew I really liked. 

The next day... was moving day. I didn't even start packing until 11 that morning, and was in the car to the next family by 11:37.... with 4 bags more than I came with (and that I'm allowed to take on the plane with me at the end of the year).

Anyways, I'm here in my new family now. I do miss my old family (I cried when I left... and for about 3 straight days before I even had to leave at random times whenever I thought about it), but I am really liking my new family. I speak a lot more Finnish, and although it is tiring and I feel like sleeping all the time, I am liking the challenge. I think I will learn pretty quickly if I keep it up.

But that's about it for now. Merry Christmas everyone! Knowing me, I probably won't post before then! 
In Finnish (because I know you're all DYING to say this to each other at Christmas): Hyvää Joulua! 

I almost forgot! I changed the settings, so anyone can leave a comment now! SO, comment away! :)

Tuesday, November 22

It happened.

Well, I guess it couldn't be avoided forever....

I'm suffering from a bad case of the November Blues. 

Unfortunately... I'm told this will last until after Christmas. But I guess I did pretty good not falling victim to the November Blues until the END of November.

It seems like I was the first one to get it, and it seems to be contagious. Now two other exchange students that I'm really close to got it the day after me. So it's good that we can all talk about it and realize we aren't alone. But that doesn't change the fact that it still sucks. A LOT.

There's no particular reason why we feel this way, but we all just seem to be kind of depressed. No one has any motivation to do anything, we don't feel like trying with the language because English is just so easy, and we're always so tired. We don't have any really close Finnish friends that we can talk to about everything, and it's getting really difficult for us.

We all want to make strong connections like that, but we just don't know how. We have friends... just not really close friends. I know stuff like that takes time, but we're only here for a year. Time isn't exactly on our side here.

I don't think it's anything to worry about, because most exchange students go through this about this time, and we are all told that yeah, November and the holidays pretty much suck, but in the end the rest of your year will make up for it all. So just stick it out, and things will get better. So that's exactly what I'm going to do. I will anxiously be awaiting for the time when things get better.

Everyone says that when you get like this, to go out and do things with friends- and I do. And when I'm staying busy I am fine and have a good time with other people, but as soon as I am alone, I just feel really down and want to cry.

I'm sorry for this pretty depressing post, but I think everyone should know what's going on and why I may not be acting quite like myself. It's nothing to worry about, just something apparently all exchange students go through. I'm hoping it passes quickly.

P.S. Hugs seem to help... a LOT. Hung out with other exchange students today and we all got a lot of hugs. They were needed.

Tuesday, November 15

Olen onnellinen täällä

.... "I am happy here". Which is an understatement. I absolutely love it here. This is the part of my exchange where I, and every other exchange student, is told that we will start settling into everything and start to get depressed and miss home. But that couldn't have been more wrong! Yes, I am settling into everything, but that's what makes it better! I have friends, and I have plans every weekend and things to do during the week, and I'm staying busy and learning the language and haven't been happier since I've been here! Things are going GREAT.

On the 2 hour bus ride to Urjala last weekend, I was thinking about how time is going by so fast (I've been here 101 days now), and that I'd eventually have to leave this wonderful, beautiful country and all of the people here that I've met already, and I started to cry. I don't want to ever have to leave. This is my home, and right now I can't imagine being back in America again.

I know I will eventually have to face the fact that I have to go back sometime (notice I don't say "go home", I don't really know if Michigan is home anymore. I don't think that it is), but for now, I'm just going to enjoy what little time I have here, and live so I have no regrets once I leave. I say yes to everything, even if it doesn't sound like that much fun, because I try to stay optimistic and have as many opportunities as possible... you never know when something great could happen. Also, sitting at home alone is never fun.

So don't worry about me at all. I'm having a great time and living with a great host family! I move families the weekend right after my birthday (which is December 7th!), and am looking forward to seeing how life is in a different family and getting to know them, but I know I will miss the family I am in now... but I know I can come back and visit anytime! :)

Moose Hunting!

Ok, so I went to Urjala last weekend to stay with my friend Emily (from Michigan too...) and go moose hunting with her and her host dad!

Let me start off by saying moose hunting is one of the strangest things I have ever done in my life.
Here's how it works: There are about 10 men on one side of the forest spread out that sit there with guns, waiting for the moose. Then, the other 10 or more people go on the other side of the forest and spread out so they can't see each other, and run through the forest (yes, pretty much run, which is impossible in a Finnish forest), making as much noise as possible (some have like giant kazoos, and other have these wooden paddles with a golf ball attached that you swing back and forth) to scare the moose out of the woods towards the gunmen. Each woods is at least 1 km long.... and they go through about 5 forests a day. And they go both Saturday and Sunday. These are some dedicated men.

So I was one of the people running through the woods.. but four of us were together. Emily's host dad, her 12 year old host brother, Emily, and me. Emily and I had a bit of a hard time keeping up. Let me explain Finnish forests. I'm not quite sure how anything grows, because there are giant rocks EVERYWHERE. Major ankle breakers. And to make it even worse, there is moss growing like crazy all over everything, so you can't tell where the rocks are. And when moss is on rocks and you have to go down a little hill, it gets a bit slippery... and you fall. At least Emily and I did.

Our group ended up getting just one moose that day. Normally they get a few. We had seen more, but they were in the woods and the gunmen couldn't get a clear shot. So we ended the day with one. We had wanted to see them gut it, but by the time we told them through the radio to wait for us to get there... they had already finished. But, we did get to see a pile of guts!

And then we sat on it! It was jiggly and kind of gross. 

After we got that one we went through two more forests with no luck. So we took it to the building where they skin it and chop up the meat and everything. They started off skinning its legs, and then they put it in this machine type thing where they hang it up by its feet, and the machine holds on to the skin from legs, and then they pull the moose up and it rips off all of the skin! Then once it gets to the head, they chop the head off. I helped skin part of it! I cut a little bit off the leg... but then I hit a vein and got creeped out when the blood started squirting out... so I stopped. 

I'm not entirely sure what happened next, because next time I looked, they cut the feet off with an electric saw, and then I was watching the head because Emily's host dad was taking the tongue out so we could have it to eat, and then next I knew there was no more moose hanging in the barn.

They had cut the antlers off... which were pretty deformed, and they gave them to Emily and I! I was so happy! Even though they're really small and mine is bumpy and weird, it's still awesome! (And my dog is VERY interested in it)

With the skin, they salt it and fold it up and put it in a pile with the others, because someone comes and picks them all up in February, and the hunters get some money for it.

But the next day... I ate some tongue. It was boiled, and then the skin was peeled off.

And then about a minute later... I ate some. 

It was terrible! I ate the smallest piece... but all I could think was "is this how my tongue would be if I cooked it?", so it was not enjoyed by me. But I'm sure it would've been good if I wasn't thinking about what I was eating. But I just couldn't get over that. I was jumping up and down running around the house while trying to swallow it. Those of you that know me can probably totally picture that and know exactly what I did. Others.... well it's up to your imagination. 
BUT, now I can say I have eaten moose tongue. 

I forgot to post this before, but, I know I said you can e-mail me if you have any questions or just want to comment on something, but I didn't post my e-mail. So, it's
I look forward to hearing from you guys!

EYP.... finally.

First of all... I know I promised this post like 2 weeks ago, but I didn't do it. I was too busy enjoying life.

So I will start from the beginning. I was asked to go to EYP about a month before the actual event, and I had absolutely no idea what it was, but I said yes anyways. And I was excited. But as it got closer, and I met with the other students from my school going and we talked about it more... none of us wanted to go. We had to prepare for our topics that we would be in a committee on so we could discuss it (my topic was woman rights and gender equality), and let's just say I didn't really prepare. I was much less than thrilled. Another girl going and I were even trying to make up reasons why we couldn't go... but that didn't work. We ended up going anyways.

So, we got there, and everyone was just kind of mad that we were there, and didn't know what to expect. There were over 100 people there, and everyone seemed really shy and didn't know what to do.
But then we went to an assembly, and had to play ice breaker games, and things started to get just awkward, not fun.
However, then we broke up into our committees (there were about 9, each on different topics that would be associated with the European Union.. since EYP does stand for European Youth Parliament). My group was the smallest... 6 people, all girls (in the women's rights committee... imagine that!) and we played games from about 8 to midnight. And it was really fun! We all got really comfortable with each other, and started enjoying what we were having to do.

OH! Did I mention that this whole event was in English?! There were people from all over Europe there, but since it was a regional event for Finland, they were mostly Finns.

The next day, we were with our committees the entire day, working on our topics and trying to come up with a resolution for the problem. Ours was how to deal with banning traditional Islamic garments, while considering religious traditions and ensuring gender equality. It was a lot of hard work, and I drank about 7 cups of coffee that day... at least. It was tiring stuff. But there was also some fun things worked in there, so we didn't get too bored. And it was actually pretty fun just discussing our topic. I thought it would pretty much be like death, but it wasn't. So I was happy.

That night, we had a "farewell party", and it was HALLOWEEN themed! :) I LOVE halloween... my favorite holiday, actually. And people actually dressed up! There was a dance, and some different halloween competitions, and it was fun to hang out with people, and especially nice to hang out with the people that came with from my school. I hadn't talked to them before that weekend, but I now talk to them quite frequently at school.

No one got much sleep after that, because we had to meet with our committees at like 1 in the morning to go over our resolutions and make sure we had everything set for our speeches the next day.

So the next day, we went to the City Hall, so we could discuss/debate and vote on every committee's resolution. Each resolution started by reading through the points that they came up with that they would change, then there was a speech from someone on that committee about why their resolution was so good. Then, there could be an attack speech made by anyone from another committee, pointing out things that seemed questionable, or that just wouldn't work, or things they had left out. And then the committee presenting could answer those points, and then an open debate started. There were about 4 rounds, where about 6 people would ask questions each round, and then the committee could answer them. Then, there was a final speech, answering the last round of questions, and again explaining why we should vote for their resolution to pass. Then, everyone had to vote on whether they want the resolution to pass, or not.

Sadly, my resolution did not pass, but it was quite close. There were 5 more votes for it to not pass than for it to pass, so we were pretty happy that it was at least divided, and we had split peoples opinions.
After we had gone through all of the resolutions, there was a speech about what EYP can do for you and how it can change you... blah blah blah.

And now that we have participated in one EYP event, we can sign up to go to any of the events all over Europe. But, unfortunately, since I will not be in Europe too long, I probably won't get to participate in any of them. BUT, if I lived here, I would definitely go to some more. It was a good experience, and getting up and having to talk in front of everyone definitely made me get out of my shell a little bit more, as public speaking is DEFINITELY not my strong suit. But everyone was in the same positions, plus English was no one else's first language, so I did have an advantage there.

It was a great weekend, and I made some good friends.

Here's a picture of my committee (the guy was our chair person, that had to lead us through the entire process) We call ourselves "Fabulous FEMM"

OH, one thing I forgot. The first day, we had to change from formal clothes to regular clothes for team building, and we had to change in the classrooms that we were sleeping in for the weekend (the whole event was held at a high school). There were boys and girls in the same room. So we just had to change in front of each other. Super awkward at first, but then I was just like "hey, maybe this is how they do it here. No big deal". So I was fine with it, but then I found out that a lot of other people thought it was awkward. But it was just another different, maybe strange, thing that I have come across during my exchange so far, and it was no problem at all! As an exchange student, you learn to just accept things as they are, and not really question anything too much.

Sunday, October 30


The title of this blog has absolutely nothing to do with how my life is going here. I love it here! But "ugh" is how I feel when I think about writing a blog. I despise it, but try to keep up on it for people back home. Now that I actually have things going on here, I hate taking the time to write a blog, because I don't want to half-ass anything.

So it's pretty much been about 20 days since my last post, and so many big things have happened.

First of all:
I went to Helsinki for a weekend. We stayed with some friends of my host family (two different friends, actually, so two families) and they were all really interesting people. In the first family, the woman was a professor of stem cell research, and the man was an entrepreneur where he sells fancy wines to companies, (that was a bad explanation, but you know what I mean) and the daughter had been an exchange student in California. The second family, only the mom and son were there, for they are in the process of moving back to Finland from China.

But we were just touristy and went around Helsinki taking pictures of and with everything! It takes literally FOREVER to load pictures to my blog, so please just check out my pictures on facebook. I'm pretty sure everyone back home that reads this has facebook, and if not, send me and email or something and I can send you some pictures by email.

I really liked Helsinki though. It was sooo much different than Turku. It was an ACTUAL city, with like people on the streets everywhere, and a subway, and tram. It felt good to be in a city for a bit. We went down to the harbor and went to the markets (both indoor and outdoor), and I can definitely say I will be going back to the outdoor one, and pretty much getting all gifts there for people before I come home. It was really neat stuff and I wanted it all! Not sure how I will decide what to get... but I'm not too worried about that yet.

The weekend after that we had syysloma (or autumn holiday... for those of you non-finnish speakers). For the holiday, we got two days off of school, and so we went to the summer cottage for three days. We just relaxed, went on a hike (in search of a moose.. but no luck... however, we did get some mushrooms!), went to sauna and then swam in the sea. We also went into the town and took a look at the open coal mines that they have (pictures on facebook).

This weekend I went to something called European Youth Parliament.. but I'll make another post about just that hopefully later on this week, because I want to explain it really well.

Now: how's my progress with the language and life and everything going?

Language: Pretty damn well I think. I understand SO much more, as long as people aren't talking extremely fast or mumbling. I'm starting to speak more Finnish with my host family and it gets easier to do so everyday. I have noticed thought that it's hard to speak "Finglish", which is pretty much English, where you add in all the Finnish words that you do know to make a sentence. It's hard because your mouth just moves differently in each language, and then I stumble all over my words.

Friends: SO many more people are talking to me at school and starting to open up. I no longer feel like I never have anyone to talk to between classes, and I'm glad that I'm starting to make actual friends. My idea of what a friend was changed so much from what I thought back home when I once got here. It went from "people I hang out with outside of school", to being "they smiled at me/sat with them at lunch" to call the a friend. But now, my idea of a friend has changed again. Now it is "who can I go up and talk to between classes/who starts conversations with me first/who makes plans to hang out outside of school".

Life: Just amazing. I'm keeping busy, and have something to do every weekend up to the one after my birthday (December 7th). However, I have a feeling that I am, unfortunately, still a victim of jet lag. I can hardly ever fall asleep at night until like 1 or 2 in the morning, and then am tired all day, until it gets to be like 8 o'clock at night. I don't really know how to change this endless cycle, so if anyone has any ideas, PLEASE let me know! I'm desperate.
I've gotten a gym membership, so I'm hoping that working out will make me tired enough to fall asleep at a decent time.

Food Choices: I definitely like a LOT more foods than when I left. Examples being tomatoes, which are now my favorite part of a salad, and cucumbers, which I used to HATE, but now find myself craving them from time to time.

But now I'm tired after a long weekend of EYP (blog post to come) and can't think of anything else to say. Hopefully now you're happy that you know I'm still alive and doing well with life in Finland!

Sunday, October 9


That means weekend. And mine was pretty good. This is going to be a short post though, unlike all my others.

Friday I started a new term at school, and on Fridays I just have Spanish and English. And I really like both of those classes I think. Should be a good term. And tomorrow now I have Russian and Music, so those should be fun too!

After school I made peanut butter cookies for my host sisters birthday party, and watched Star Wars with my host mom and host sister.
The Star Wars was necessary because....

Saturday I went to this Star Wars convention type thing.. but it wasn't really a convention. Just a thing where they showed different movies. One was about copyright laws, but has been considered "the sexiest film about copyright laws", and it was pretty good. It was all about a band, Girl Talk, and I like so it was good. And then the main event was the "Star Wars: Uncut", which was 15 seconds clips of the movie that people had made and submitted, so they were all put together to make the entire movie. Which was kind of confusing, so I'm really glad I watched the movie the night before I went since I hadn't seen it before.
But that whole day I had hung out with some exchange students and one of their Finnish friends. We went to a cafe and hung out at this exhibit all about soccer for a while, and they had an Xbox Kinect, so we played that for a while. Fun stuff.
I stayed the night then at my friend from Minnesota's house, and we just talked about everything, which is always nice to do with other exchange students. AND, next year, she will only be 45 minutes from the UofM, so I hope to see her quite a bit.

Today I FINALLY bought me some Nokia Hai Frost boots. They're like the rain boots that they have, but warm for winter. So perfect, kill two birds with one stone: rain and cold.

Tonight I watched a movie with my host sister called Desert Flower. I highly recommend to everyone. Super good, but really sad as well.

AND, this whole weekend has been absolutely perfect fall weather, and I'm totally craving some apple cider. So, everyone back home should drink a glass of hot apple cider for me.

Enjoy it, and you'll hear from me soon.

Wednesday, October 5

life lately.

Well... life lately has been good! It is exam week (started last week actually... but continues into this week too), and so one of my exchange friends, also from Michigan, came to stay with me for a few days. We did a lot of shopping (well... mostly she did. I hardly bought anything) and just hung out around Turku most of the days she was here. I'm pretty much in love with that city.

And then one of the days she was here we stayed in Masku and biked to the store to get stuff to make our American dinner that we made! We had cheeseburgers, potato wedges, corn on the cob, brussel sprouts (like Uncle Mark makes), and ambrosia. OH, and don't forget the lemonade!
It was so much food, but SO good!

One day when we were in Turku, we just walked around by the river and took some pictures. It was probably the best day it has been in Finland since I've gotten here. Super sunny and actually really warm, which was a nice surprise. This is one of my favorite pictures from that day:
So... this man is living the life. A beautiful day in Finland, and he's just sitting on a bench on the bridge, reading a newspaper (actually... it was a map. but for the sake of making it sound like his life is perfect at the moment... let's just say it's a newspaper). But, we also were living the life, just on the bench opposite of this man. Except instead of a 'newspaper', we had candy and our cameras.

Second favorite picture of the day. Not sure what this building is... but I just love it! 

After talking some lovely pictures... we decided to go eat. At an actual restaurant. It was my first time at an actual restaurant (unless we count a pizza place... I wouldn't), but all we could afford was appetizers. So... we got ourselves some salads and foccacia bread, and ate at an actual restaurant. All for like 6 euros each. Score. 

Following our lovely 'dinner', we went to the center. Where, we saw this:
That would be naked men standing on a balcony. But you can only see their top half. This wasn't the first time I've seen this either. Probably like the 4th or 5th, and I laugh every single time. 

That day Emily went back home, and I didn't do much that weekend, because everyone was studying for exams. But, I did go mushroom picking with my host mom. It didn't take too long before we had 2 buckets full though. This was what we found in about 20 minutes. 

The bottom picture would be a zucchini that we found my first week here in the garden at the summer cottage. It is HUGE. I made zucchini bread out of it... but it didn't use much of that. 

Today was an exciting day! So I guess the rest of this blog will be just about today. 
It started off with me going with my youngest host sister, Venla, who is 11, to her school. I met with her teacher, and talked to Venla's class, along with 3 other classes (I think) that came in to join. It was most definitely the biggest group of people that I had ever talked in front of, but it was a lot of fun! I was nervous at first, but they were all so attentive and asked a lot of questions (which I totally wasn't expecting), and it turned out really well. In Venla's class is one of my next host sisters, so I got to meet her as well. 

After that class, I went to another class, but the teacher didn't have me talk about myself first like last time, so they didn't know anything and were expected to ask questions, and nobody knew what to ask. The only questions I got asked were if I had a dog, and the follow up questions about my dog. The teacher did tell me they were probably just in shock that I was there, which I can understand. The other class had had a few days to know I was coming and they all wrote down questions, where the second class only knew like 5 minutes beforehand. 

So then I went home and made myself an American lunch! It only consisted of Kraft mac & cheese and an A&W root beer, but it was good. However, afterwards I just kind of felt sick. It's how I feel after I eat most of the American food I bought at the store the other day. But that's a good thing... it means I will no longer be wasting my money on overpriced foods that I can get anytime I want back home. 

After that, I caught the bus to Turku to meet up with the exchange students at our weekly cafe day. I didn't stay there long though, before 3 of my friends decided they wanted to walk to the cathedral. I was all for that, because it was such a nice day. So we went there and walked around and took a lot of pictures. 
That picture was taken from where the organ is, which leads to a funny story. Since my host dad is the organist at the cathedral, I kept saying "I wonder if he's left work yet, maybe we'll see him". Then, he walked by and we talked to him and he offered to take us up to see the organ. All three of my friends eyes lit up, so of course we went! They all loved it and Sam kept saying it was like one of the best things that has happened to him in a while, or something like that. There are pins for sale at the Cathedral, so we each bought one for our Rotary blazers in honor of that day. 

After the cathedral, we took a bus to the castle. However, there were some exciting happenings on the way to the castle. First of all, at the bus stop, I was almost knocked out by a homeless man because he was fighting with another man. It was quite the fight... and I was almost in the middle of it. But thankfully, I made it on the bus safely. 

Trying to get off the bus was another story. The two other exchange students I was with and I were the only ones on the bus when we were getting off. Sam and I got off just fine, but Christina got stuck. The bus driver was messing with her. As soon as she'd get to the door, he'd close it, and then open the other one, so she'd walk to the other side of the bus. That happened a few times, until finally he opens the door she was in front of and shouts "THAT JUST HAPPENED... NEXT TIME I'M KEEPING YOU!" and then laughed creepily as he drove away. I could not stop laughing... but at the same time was pretty terrified about what just happened. 

But, we finally made it to the castle. We couldn't go in today, but I got some pictures (of course), and it was so pretty! 

Another picture that I just LOVE, but Marley(my sister) says looks like where I'm from: 
Might look like Northern Michigan, but on the side of the street I was standing on... there was a castle. We don't have those back home. 

That's about it for my exciting day I believe. Tomorrow I am going to a department store that is having a big sale like all week, called "Hullut Päivät", aka, crazy days, to buy some maple syrup, which is on sale about half the price from what it is at the store in Masku. I have been meaning to buy some so I can make my family french toast... and now I have no excuse! 

Tomorrow I'm also going to my friends house with some other exchange students to watch Star Wars (since I've never seen it), and we are preparing to go to a Star Wars event thing on Saturday if I don't have anything else going on with my host family. 

That's it for now! If you want to see more pictures, I just put a bunch up on Facebook, so go check them out! 

Saturday, September 24


Oh man where to begin.
Well, syyskuu means september, which it is. It's coming to an end, rather quickly. About 5 days from now. I can't believe I'm almost 2 months into my exchange. Crazy to think about it like that. So i guess I prefer to say I have about 8 months left. But that still seems like so little time. Right now, I really don't even want to think about ever having to leave. I'll just stay here, and people can come visit, K? K.

Well.... let's go in order of what happened this week.
First of all, on Monday I woke up and my eyes were all itchy, and then at school after the first class I realized they were totally red. So I mentioned it to my host sister and she insisted I call mom to get a doctors appointment. So I did. I leave school early on Mondays to go to Turku for a Finnish lesson with all other exchange students in the area, so I did that, and right after the lesson I went to the doc. Turns out I had an eye infection. Wonderful. So I got some medicine, and was told it should be better in 2 days. And was also told to throw away my mascara and eye shadow. Not cool. Mascara here is so expensive! And luckily I had only used one of my eyeshadows in the past 3 days, so I didn't have to throw away all of them! But the infection didn't go away by Friday, so my wonderful host mom called the doctor and got me a new prescription... which seems to be working so far :) That was my oh so exciting Monday! But I promise my Tuesday was MUCH better.....

BECAUSE I MET THE PRINCE AND PRINCESS OF SWEDEN! That's right, you read that correctly. I decided to skip school and go to the library in Turku where I knew they would be that day in hopes of getting a good picture. I didn't even really expect to even see them at all. Let alone talk to the princess! Well... ok. To tell the truth, I didn't really talk. I was frozen for a while, and then when everyone I was with starting talking, I realized I had the chance to actually talk to the future Queen of Sweden (that's right, I'll be able to say I met a queen!) and so I kind of just mumbled something. I don't even know what it was that I tried to say! But one of the guys I was with (also a Rotary exchange student) thought to give Victoria(the princess) one of his exchange student business cards! So... she now has his phone number! haha. But here are some pics. And no, zoom was not on. We were really that close :)
^^that would be the princess with my friends business card. he had written a little note for her on the back

And then after that we went to Hesburger. But that's pretty much a weekly occurrence. (For those that haven't read the previous posts... Hesburger is a big burger chain that started in Turku)

Wednesday was just a normal day. I went to school, and went orienteering in gym class. This was the second week in a row that we did that. We aren't given a compass, just a map. So, just like last week, my group got lost. Except it was a different group. But it's still fun to go on these little adventures with the people in my class. (By the way... eyes were still not better today.)

Thursday.... I went to school again. Normal day. Nothing too special happened that I can remember. 

Friday! Went to school again. But I get to sleep in on Fridays, so the day started out good! My host mom had called the doctor for some different medicine for me since my eyes still weren't any better. So I got some new medicine. We were going to go swimming after school, but since I still had the eye infection, and my host mom had gotten it as well, we figured that wasn't a good idea. So, we went to my host mom's friend's ranch for sauna! It was dark when we got there, so I didn't see that much. But they have chickens and horses! That was kind of random. But they do, and I think we're planning on going there again sometime in the daylight. But then we went to sauna, and ran out to a pond that they have on their property. It was fun! There wasn't enough room in the sauna for everyone to be on the top bench, and so my host sister got kicked off the top since I'm only here for a year and they get to sauna their entire lives! Oh, the perks of being an exchange student :) 

Saturday... I finally woke up before 11 on a Saturday. Pretty sure that's like the 2nd time since I've been here. School weeks take all of my energy. But today we just cleaned the house. And I decided that I wanted to make no bake cookies, and my host mom needed some stuff from the store too, so I rode my bike to the store and got everything. But then I ended up not making the cookies today. I'm saving that for tomorrow instead. Can't wait to have some no bakes though! They sound amazing. This evening, the whole family (well, except my host dad. He's in Siberia for 9 days for some concerts) went to some French club's meeting so my host sisters could play some music for them. I ended up sitting next to an old woman who actually spoke English as well because she goes there for 2 months every year. Also, we ate a lot of food there, so I was stuffed. 
Leaving there, we went to the video store and picked out a movie. We rented Water for Elephants and watched it when we got home. For those of you have haven't seen it, I highly recommend! It was super good, but definitely a tear jerker. I cried pretty much the entire time. 
And now I'm just in my room writing a blog, and just got done skyping with a friend back home :) 

OH, by the way. I've been wanting lemonade pretty bad for the entire past month. So, tonight I was told there was lemonade at this French club meeting. I got pretty exciting and of course said I would like some lemonade. Only to be let down when a Sprite was put in front of me. But oh well, I'll get over it. But hopefully I can get some lemonade soon!

Also, there were Pringles tonight in the car on the way home, and I asked my host sisters if they ever put them in their mouth and pretend that they're a duck. They NEVER do that. CRAZY! But by the time I thought of that and went to show them, there were no Pringles left. So we're going to have to get some soon so I can show them. They're definitely missing out. 
^that's what i'm talking about. For those that don't know what I mean. 

Anyways... I've been here for almost 2 months, and the only mail I have gotten is from the bank here after setting up an account. So if anyone wishes to send me some love, that would be greatly appreciated :) 
Just let me know and I can send you my address. 
Hope everyone is doing well, and enjoying my blog! 
With love from Finland! 

P.S.... my spelling is really starting to get bad! Thank goodness this blog does the automatic spell check and puts a red line under everything I spell wrong. Otherwise there would be tons of errors! Hopefully this thing caught them all........

Sunday, September 11

So much.

I feel like so much has happened recently and I haven't updated anything. I'm so bad about updating this and writing in my journal. Especially the journal. It's just so time consuming to write out everything that I want to remember, and my handwriting is just so bad so if I really want to be able to read it, it will take me like half of the time I have in Finland to actually document everything. So maybe I'll just start updating this way more and not writing in my journal. Ok, that was a bit of a rant. I apologize. 

This will probably not be in the correct order at all, and maybe I've already written about some of this in a previous post, but oh well. 

The farthest my memory can remember right now that I haven't written about is the day that the first year students were all forced to dress like animals once they got to school, and do strange things during the breaks between classes. I guess the third year students were in charge of it all, and it was to celebrate the fact that they only have 100 days left of school. The only thing I'm really positive about what was going on is that they had to break up into groups (based on what animal you were... tiger, panda, or parrot), and draw one of the teachers. The pictures were definitely interesting. And it was funny to see everyone (or hear, more likely. They were dressed in trash bags, which were extremely loud) dressed like animals. But I felt completely out of place in my classes that were all first year students, since I was the only one not dressed up, and part of me wished that I had to dress up too, but it's all good. (Sadly, no pictures. Sorry.)

So I totally thought that a Finnish class I plan on taking started last week, so I got all excited and told everyone "my Finnish class starts today", but then got home and realized it didn't start for another week. So that was kind of depressing. But now it officially starts TOMORROW. And I'm positive about that this time! :)

On Friday, I went to watch a floorball game with my host sister, Emilia. It was fun to watch since it was something I had never seen before. But.... 
These were Masku's extra players (the team from where I live)....

And these were the other team's extra players....

Needless to say, it wasn't a very exciting game, and Masku kicked some ass. The other team didn't even have a coach with them. But floorball seems like a fun game, and I'm glad I went. 

After the game we went to Hesburger with some of my host sister's friends, and we ended up staying there just talking for like 3 hours. One of her friends reminds me so much of one of my good guy friends back home, it's ridiculous. Like same exact mannerisms and just the way he acts about everything. Being around him really makes me miss the one he reminds me of, but hopefully we can be friends too. 
At one point at Hesburger, my host sister and her friend decided that everyone needed to talk in English from then on. So then no one wanted to talk and it got all quiet. One of the guys just said "i'm speechless.", it was funny, but of course that didn't last very long. But it was worth a shot. 

When I got home from that, I got on Facebook and found out that there had been a bomb threat at my high school back home. The guy had sent out an e-mail to tons of people in the school district, and targeted specific people and it was just really though out. It pretty much completely freaked me out, and I didn't really know what exactly happened or how anything ended, so I didn't sleep much that night. It's so weird being in another country when something like that happens back home, especially when you don't know all the details. It's just strange to know that you can't do anything to help anyone back home, and I just sat there waiting to hear more information about it. It really didn't help when the next day, my internet here didn't work, so I was pretty much not in a good state of mind all day since I hadn't heard anything from home. But thankfully everything turned out okay and no one got hurt. 

But the day that I was worried about back home with no internet was also a very fun day. It was the district welcome party for all of the exchange students. We met up in Turku and then went to a beach to grill some makkara (sausage), and just hang out together. There was about 30 of us in all, and it was so good to be with everyone. The people that I was talking to most of the time talked about so much stuff. We ended up calling ourselves "the deep dark circle", because we talked about a lot of really deep subjects. (Like religion, what we would do if someone back home died this year, if we were worried about anything happening on the anniversary of 9/11... stuff like that) It was good to talk about stuff like that with people that understand you and are a lot like you. Every exchange student already has so much in common, and a lot of our beliefs on everything were really similar. It's like every exchange student has a bond to each other because of our choice to be an exchange student. But we also talked about other things and had some fun, we're not downers like that ALL the time. It was also a really nice day out, and the place we were at was pretty beautiful too. 

Today I went to my host mom's brother's summer cottage to have coffee and some snacks. He and his wife were really nice people (not that I've met anyone in Finland that wasn't nice...). Venla and her friend Arto went with us. Arto is my host mom's friend's son (the host mom's friend also went today), but this kid is amazing! He's 13, and his English is incredible! And he definitely wasn't afraid to use it! He says he learns most of his English from TV, so I guess TV can be a good thing. He was so interested in the US and asked so many questions. It was great to have someone be so willing to talk to me about everything! He was a really nice kid, and keeps saying I need to come over more often so he can practice his English... And he also says he loves to cook, so I won't complain about that! :) 

Now to the completely out of order and random stuff:

I went to play frisbee golf last weekend with my host mom and sister. I had never done it before (despite my mom's many attempts to go play in Cadillac), and it was really fun!

Last weekend I went shopping with some of my exchange friends to get some stuff that I needed... And some stuff I really didn't need. But, I'm taking some of the stuff back, because it took me forever to decide whether or not I really wanted to buy it, and then I did, and now I regret it and am taking it back. Typical me. I should've known I didn't really want it since I debated getting it for so long. 

After shopping, we went and had dinner at a pizza place. That's where I discovered this.... 
Pineapple Fanta. Best pop I've had in my entire life. SO good. And normally I don't even like pop. But I do love pineapple, so it makes sense. Also... pizzas here don't come cut. So we pretty much demolished it, but it was good. 

I almost hate to admit this... but I'm craving some processed food. Everything here is so fresh, but I just want some chips and some frozen dinners. Doritos sound amazing. Also chicken nuggets.
And they put ketchup on everything here! My host sister made pizza the other day, with ketchup as the sauce instead of tomato sauce. And the ketchup is a lot different. It's really sweet and not at all like Heinz. 

I mentioned before how they always play a song at the beginning of the school day, and the other day they played one that just kept saying "nami nami makkara" over and over. Which means "yummy yummy sausage". Everyone was like what the hell is going on. But it was funny, and at least I understood it! :) 

OH! On Friday, I pretty much understood all of my math lesson! I was so excited! & I also came so close to actually answering one of the questions.... in Finnish. But I wasn't 100% positive that he was asking a question. But regardless, I was really proud of myself. Even though it was a lesson on something I learned like 4 years ago. 

My host dad's dad came over today. They give all of their grandkids 10 euros a month, and they gave me that money too. I thought it was so sweet, because he said that I was one of their grand kids now, but they don't speak any English so we only ever exchanged like four words in Finnish. But they're both so nice, and I can't wait to be able to have conversations with them. 

I'm sure I could come up with more random things to tell you, but I'm tired and can't think of anything else at the moment. So this is it for now. Hope you enjoyed it! 

Thursday, September 1


That means adventure. I've been having lots of those lately. Well, I guess you could say this whole year is an adventure... but these things lately are just interesting things I have done that I like to consider to be adventures. But it doesn't really take much for me to call something an "adventure".

So I guess my first adventure would be sailing. I went sailing last weekend with my little host sister's girl scout troop (there was actually only 3 of them though) on a boat called the Hemmingway. We went through the Turku Archipelago, and it was gorgeous! Unfortunately... I didn't really get all that many pictures (at all) of the views because it was either rainy and I didn't want my camera out, or it was windy and rough and we were always moving the sails and I was afraid it would break or go overboard. I did, however, manage to get pictures of the tall ships leaving the harbor on our last day sailing as we were coming it. It was an awesome sight to see! There were boats, big and small, everywhere.

Second adventure... we went to the Turku Cathedral where my host dad had one of his concerts. He plays the organ, and the organ in this church was spectacular. Actually... the entire church was spectacular, but we didn't really have much time before or after the concert to look around, so we are going to go back some other time. But the concert was really good! Much different than I had expected. When I think of the organ, I think of church, and that usually doesn't come with very good music at 9 o'clock on Sunday mornings with the eldest members of my community. However, it was actually kind of exciting, and I would go to one again! We got to go up and check out the organ after the concert, and I got a few pictures.

Last adventure I will mention... Flowpark! So fun! It's a high ropes course, but there are tons of different courses here, and there are different levels. My gym class went (which is all girls) today, and it was really nice to spend time with them and get to know them a little better. I'm definitely looking forward to hanging out with them again! But the high ropes course was so fun! There was a lot more variety of the things to climb on to get to the next platform than any of the high ropes courses I have seen or been on in the US. And there were a lot of zip lines, which I love. Some were short just to get from one platform to the next in the middle of the course, and then every course always ended with a one as well. There was one course, however, that I was too afraid to do! I climbed up and was all hooked in to go... but I just couldn't do it. It consisted of pretty much just holding onto a rope and swinging over to the next thing, which was just a barrel hanging from a cable. That was a bit too much for me, and I climbed back to the ground. And so far, I don't regret that choice. 

That's all that I have to say about my adventures for now... but I'm sure there will be many more to come! 

Wednesday, August 31


That means food.
I really like the food here. I'm also finding that I like things here that I didn't like in the States. Like marshmallow fluff. You can't even buy it here. The kind my host family has they bought from the US, and then I brought them another jar because they said they were running low. But about twice a week now, I find myself going into the kitchen and making myself a peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwich. And then I thoroughly enjoy it.

But enough about food that you can have in the US. One thing that I have absolutely fallen in love with and already know I will miss when I'm gone is karjalan piirakka (or Karelian Pie). It is an eastern Finland specialty, but I'm so glad that we also have it in the southwest. It is a thin rye bread crust, filled with a rice pudding (not sweet though) mixture, and then you bake it. Then you chop up some hard boiled eggs and mix it with butter to put on top. Delicious.
Here's a basic recipe, along with some information about them.
So that's one thing that I'm always happy to see in the house. I've also eaten reindeer... twice. The first time was on my bread for breakfast. It has been cold smoked, and was sliced like lunchmeat. For some reason, reindeer lunchmeat just doesn't seem right. But it was really good. I also had it like in chunks with mashed potatoes and lingonberries on top. That's the traditional way to eat it. And I'm sure I'll be seeing more reindeer on my plate this year. And I will be happy to eat it.

The chocolate here is to die for. I buy some pretty much every day, which I should probably stop doing. Because that's going to add up to be a lot of money spent on chocolate. But I just can't help myself. The main chocolate company here has so many different flavors, and my mission is to try them all. So I guess I'll just have to continue buying chocolate every day until I've done that. It could be a while.

Salmiakki! That would be salty black liquorice. Although I don't really enjoy it when I eat it, it definitely needs to be mentioned. Everyone here loves it, and I haven't found a single person that says they don't. My goal is to enjoy it by the end of the year. This means that I continuously force myself to eat it so I get used to it. There's lots of different kinds, and some are definitely better than the others. There was one that also had eucalyptus in it.... that would definitely be on the worse list. But I will continue to eat it until I can eat it without making a face... and then eat it some more until I like it. I figure I'm not really a Finn until I like salmiakki.

I'll post more about the food later after I've spent a little more time at a grocery store, but I figured I should post another blog, and this was pretty much all I could think of.

But on a side note... here are some other things I've been up to lately:
I went sailing in the Turku Archipelago last weekend. It was amazing! So beautiful! And with so many islands, it seemed like we weren't out in the middle of the sea... but we were! (more pictures of that to come later... I've just been kind busy and haven't uploaded anything)
I also got a cell phone! Finally. Everyone kept asking for my number... but I didn't have a phone. And not having a phone in Finland is like a sin. Everyone has a phone. So now I don't feel left out of the loop. And I can actually go and do things and if I get lost I have some way of figuring out what to do, and just being able to tell my host mom where I'm going is always a good thing.

Sunday, August 21


That means school. But, my specific school, high school I guess you could call it, is called Lukio. That's what this post is mainly about.

However, first, totally not school related, is that tonight great! We had the neighbors and their 4, adorable little children over for dinner, which was all made on the grill, to celebrate my first whole week of living in Masku! And I'm loving every minute of it! :)

But now onto school. I have been making a list in my notebook during school of everything that I notice that I want to mention on here, so hopefully I'm not forgetting anything. These are in no particular order, and probably will jump back and forth a lot. But here's what I've noticed:

Pencil cases- everyone has them! Back home, I remember I never wanted to use them because they were "uncool" after about 7th grade. But these pencil cases lead to the next thing...

Markers- the ones that are basically felt tip pens, but in all different colors. Everyone also has a ton of these, which makes the pencil case necessary in order to keep them all together!

Bells- there aren't any bells to dismiss us from class, the teachers just tell us when we can leave. Then, we have 15 minutes until the next class (which, coming from having 5 minutes between classes in a much bigger school, is really strange to have so much time to just sit around) Then, there are bells, which are more like chimes, telling us to head to our next class.

Morning Announcements- The first day of announcements, I had no idea what was going on. I had just gotten to my first class of the day, and then the announcements came on, and all I could make out was that they were naming some states from America, and then saying a few sentences, and then everyone would laugh, and then they would name another one and the cycle would continue. I had no idea why anyone was laughing at the things being said about the United States, and I was getting a little worried. However, I asked and was told that they were telling about the stupid laws that were in those states, which was totally understandable, as I've looked them up and found them funny myself. Anyways, after the announcements every morning, then they play a song over the loudspeakers before we begin class. The song the first day was one by Pitbull and Marc Anthony, which probably never would have been played in my school in Manistee. Everything at school here is so laid back. Leading to the next thing...

What the Teacher's Wear- the best example of this would be my math teacher. He stands in front of the class everyday wearing pretty much a white v-neck and jeans. Now, compared to say, Mr. Joseph (my old english teacher), that's no big deal, right? But compared to my old math teacher, Mr. Thuemmel, who ALWAYS wears khaki pants and a button up shirt and tie, it's pretty different. But it makes it a lot easier to relate to the teachers here, so I like that-even if we don't speak the same language yet (although most of them come and talk to me one on one in english-except one class where all of his lectures are in finnish, and then again in english just for me... I feel like my classmates may be somewhat annoyed with that, but it's not REALLY my fault)

School Lunch- It's FREE! It's buffet style, and you can get however much you want, at no cost. However, there is only one option each day, until the 9 you get in Manistee, but it's generally good food, and very filling. Whereas in Manistee, you paid 2 dollars to get hardly any food and it wasn't good for you and left you even hungrier than you were before you ate anything at all.

Computers- students don't get any. Also, they don't even take them to school. Since it is the best education system in the world, maybe we shouldn't use them in the states. They are a big distraction, and the kids here just learn from books (which they buy themselves, they're not given to them by the school). Plus, isn't it a proven fact that you obtain knowledge more if you write it down, not just type it into a Word document?

Chalkboard- this one isn't that big of a change, but there are chalkboards in every classroom- no dry erase boards. And, the chalkboard always seems to look clean, never smeared with old chalk from the past lessons. I guess everything in Finland is just cleaner.

Bathrooms- No big bathrooms with multiple stalls. There are just individual bathrooms located down the hallway. Boys and girls use the same ones, and only one person goes in at a time. Simple as that.
Taking shoes off- The first day of school, everyone took their shoes off before they went into any classroom. I had no idea what was going on, or why they were doing it, so I just did it anyways. However, that was with a class I had with all 1st year students, who were new to the building. I later asked a 2nd year why they took their shoes off, and apparently they had to last year for some reason, but this year they could leave their shoes on. However, people still do it just because, and they did make an announcement saying that if you had shoes that were like running shoes, that you had to take them off before going into the class because they track in a lot of dirt. But there is one room where you HAVE to take your shoes off, and that's because it has carpet, which leads to the next thing, since carpet shouldn't be an issue since all of Manistee High has carpet. However...

No Janitors- The schools here have no janitors to clean up after everyone. So, everyone takes care of their own messes, and that includes dirt from your shoes. The schools aren't dirty by any means, so I'm wondering how things get cleaned, but I'm sure I'll find out more about that later on in the year.

Folders- I went to buy school supplies and expected to just get a regular folder that you can find in pretty much any store in the states. Just one slot on each side to slide my papers into. But, the folders here are different. Something that seems to insignificant can catch you off guard. The folders here have stretchy bands that wrap around to keep the folder closed, and when opened, there is only one place to put the papers. It isn't just a slot either. It has 3 sides that fold over where the papers go, and then you close it and put the stretchy bands around it to keep everything in place. Not the best explanation, but I hope you get the idea.

Paper- no regular lined paper here. (okay, not completely true. There is SOME, but I had to search for it in the store). All of the paper they use for every class is just like graph paper. You know, with all of the tiny little squares all over it. Again, insignificant, but kind of hard to get used to writing on.

That's it for the list that I've made. But one more thing is riding the bus to school. I have a choice between two bus stops to go to, one is about 10 minutes away, so I have to leave at 7:50 to catch the bus, then change schools at the middle school, where I have to wait about 20 minutes until the next one comes. OR, I can walk to a bus stop about 20 minutes away, and leave at 8:15 for an 8:35 bus, and go straight to school from there. So, obviously, I choose the one that's further away so I can sleep in just a little bit longer. Every bit counts. Plus, I figure in the middle of winter, I won't want to be waiting at the bus stop for 20 minutes in the cold.

A few more things totally un-school related:
Metal link charm bracelets here are really popular! I'm talking about the ones that everyone had in the states in about 7th grade. Each charm was probably about 4 dollars. Here, it's a MUCH bigger deal than it ever was there though. Each charm is apparently about 20 euros (about 24 dollars), and I've even spotted some of the guys wearing them. They do look good though, and since we were only in 7th grade and wanted just as many charms as possible, they're much more ACTUALLY fashionable here. Especially since the charms are so expensive, people are really choosy about what they put on them.

CAPRIS- for men. So many guys wear capris! I don't think there's much more to say about that, just that they must be in fashion.

I'm definitely loving it here though! Some things take getting used to, but I can most definitely do that! I'm getting a phone in a few days which will make it a lot easier to connect with friends here and such. Next thing is just to learn Finnish- but that will probably be a big thing for the whole year... there's a lot to it, just like any language. In fact, my principal came up to me the other day and told me it would be great if I would make a speech at graduation in Finnish, so I'll see what I can do :)

Monday, August 15

Finally a place to call home...

I'm probably going to skip a lot of what has happened so far, but I will do my best to talk about the most important/interesting things.
Karkku language camp was so fun and I learned a lot! (But there is still MUCH more to learn, but I believe I am starting Finnish classes the first of September, so that will help)
Since I talked a lot about Finnish design in my last blog, I figured I should post some pictures of my room at language camp. I got lucky and only had one roommate, and we had really good beds, where some other people had 3 roommates and had to sleep on a cot.
I know that isn't really much of a picture, but I'll post more further on of my first family's house. After all, we were only at a boarding school. But thankfully, that bed was very comfortable. Which was how I was able to sleep for 14 hours the first night (with a little help from jet lag, of course) 

We went to Tampere, the 3rd largest city in Finland last Wednesday, and it was really neat! There were a lot of people, and most of them acted just like our teacher Anni said that they would- like typical Finns, I suppose. One thing all of us realized was that there were many people with "interesting" style, and no one even looked at them funny at all. If they dressed like that or wore their hair that many colors in the States, they would definitely get some funny looks. But we just hung out around the markets, and went to Hesburger for the first time, where I tried to order in Finnish, but he just answered me in English. By the end of the year, I'll be able to do it all in Finnish! In the market plate (which was all outside), there were 2 really big lines. One for some type of French bread that smelled wonderful, and the other for churros with nutella. The 2nd one had the shortest line of the 2, and so of course I had to get some! Also, there were stands that had all sorts of kinds of olives, one with candies, and another with dried sausage (not sure what that is, but it was definitely interesting) 

After we got back from Tampere, we went to Sastamala Church, which was very old (over 500 years I believe), and was made of stone with a dirt floor. It was really neat being in a place that old, since there is nothing nearly that old in Manistee. 

Fast forwarding to Saturday now... my family came (except for my host dad, he was in Germany) to pick me up from camp. Everyone got out of a meeting at the same time, and our families were waiting all in one area, so we had to search for them. I saw mine all the way across the room, so I was shouting "anteeksi" (excuse me, in Finnish), while trying to get to them. It was so nice to meet them, and it almost didn't seem real since I had been waiting so long for that moment. So, I showed them around the camp a bit and took my suitcases to their car, then went to eat. After that, we drove home and I got to unpack, and we took the dog for a walk and picked some blueberries so we could make a blueberry pie for dessert. 
My room is very cozy, and I like it a lot! 

That's my room, with the dog sitting in the middle of the floor. The dog seems to like me a lot, which I am glad about, because I sort of miss Buster and Dixie, so it's good just to have a dog around. She (Hari) is adorable! 

On Sunday, we went to the summer cottage, and, unfortunately, I forgot my camera. The cottage is on the sea, and we had to go across 4 bridges to get to the island that it is on. We went there to big black currants so my host mom could make juice. We went with my host mom's friend and her daughter, who is my youngest host sister's friend. It's such a beautiful place, and I really wish I had taken my camera. 
We picked lots of berries, and had a small picnic. We also went in sauna, and then jumped into the sea of course. It felt wonderful, and it wasn't too salty like I thought it might be. There was a medusa in the water when we first got there, and we caught it and got to touch it. It was such a unique feeling. It was jelly, yet it was moving a bit and felt so strange in my hands. We had been talking about snakes earlier in the day, and Venla and I went outside to take down the hammock, and I freaked out because I thought I saw a snake! Turns out... it was not a snake. It was a sort of lizard, but without legs. So it looked just like a snake, and still freaks me out a bit, but it's not harmful. 
We had a delicious dinner at the cottage of pasta and bread. And for dessert, we had cheesecake! It was so good, but very different than the cheesecake I've had before. This seemed to have a lot more flavor, and tasted a bit more like cheese, but I would like to make it sometime. 
Before we could head home, we went to pick up Emilia's friend Iida from her summer cottage. It was also on an island, and we had to take a ferry a very short way across to the next island, and it took only about 50 seconds to get across. I will take a picture of one sometime to post on here. It wasn't anything like the SS Badger or anything. Once we picked her up, we headed back to Masku, and I slept most of the way, but I was awake when we saw a fox near the road. I am amazed at all of the wildlife I have seen so far, and it hasn't even been a week! One other thing that we saw in the neighborhood was a bunny! But it was no ordinary bunny, this was like a bunny on steroids. I swear it was about 3 feet tall, and was actually quite intimidating. Nothing like you would think when you think of a bunny. I always thought a bunny was a baby rabbit, but I was proven wrong on this one. 
Anyways, today we met with the man from Rotary who is in charge of my exchange, and talked about some things that I need to do soon and that I will go to my first Rotary meeting on Wednesday! School starts tomorrow and I am very excited, yet nervous because I have no idea what to expect, or what classes I should take or anything! But I suppose I will post more on that after tomorrow! 
The railroad near Karkku

A view from a high point in Tampere (and some friends.. of course)

A church in Tampere

The olives at the market in Tampere


The lake at Karkku