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 hannah_34_21@hotmail.com
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.