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!