Thursday, January 19


First off, sorry for the sentimental, motivational... whatever this is. I've just been thinking about things a lot lately, and I feel like I should share.

In only three days, I will be exactly halfway through my exchange....

This year is going by quicker than I could ever have imagined. And I've learned so much already: about myself, about the world, about everything! I've been learning some very important things: like not to worry so much. Things will happen however they're meant to happen, and you can only do so much to influence some things, that it's not worth wasting your time worrying about it- just live in the moment, because you might miss something great if you're worried about something beyond your control.
Never judge anyone until you get to know them. I am friends with some of the greatest people ever, and before, I probably never would've gotten to know them, and just sort of classified them in my mind by how I saw them acting or some things I'd heard them say. But until you truly spend time and talk and get to know people, you really don't know anything about them. So stop judging, and just sit down and talk, you never know what great friendships it could lead to.
Speaking about exchange (but it can also deal with pretty much everything in life) whether you have good experiences or bad experiences, it's still experience-try not to place it in either category of good or bad. Take it all to grow as a person and learn about yourself. That's what I've done, and boy have I learned a lot about myself!

While everyone always seems to be worried about what they're going to do with their life, and where they will be in 20 years, blah blah blah,....I thought of something yesterday on the bus (usually where I do ALL of my thinking....), that I don't want to plan out my life, because if I do, I'm not living in the moment, and most likely, things wouldn't even work out as planned. So instead, my life plan is to live life without a plan. All I know is that I want to experience the world and all that it has to offer, and I am going to do that however it comes to me, whatever way that is.

I've been inspired recently... by the guy on this website:
His experiences with people in the world, and his REASON for doing so is inspirational, and I would love to try to have some similar experiences, but we all know I'm not going to plan it all out or anything.
But trust me, if I had the money to travel, I would skip taking out all the student loans to go to school and just go experience the world. In just these short 6 months so far, I have learned far much more than I ever did in my entire four years of high school.

However, the rest of my time in Finland is quite planned out. I have so much to do and see, and experience, and being so busy will really make the time go by quickly. But if I'm doing things like what I have planned, then it will be time well spent!
Here's a look at my schedule for pretty much the rest of my time (things I have planned anyways)
January 25-go to Tampere to meet the new exchange students coming to Finland!
February 3-5- Oda  and her mom will be coming to Turku! :DDD
February 16- Wanhojen Tanssit (Old Dances)... where I will be giving my speech... IN FINNISH.
Febarury 17-March 3- Aunt Gail and Uncle Doug will be in Finland! (we will be going to Lapland, and Helsinki while they are here)
March 10- Cruise to Sweden with all of the people in my grade here
March 22-25- Go to St. Petersburg with Rotary
March 31-Finnish language test (6 hours... EEK)
April is pretty chill... nothing planned really
Same with May.... not much. (hopefully these months I will just be having fun, totally immersed in the culture, not even thinking about going home at all)
June 3-21- EUROTOUR!
Then only 3 weeks, and I will be coming home. :(

But speaking of home, when I'm on the bus (doing all my thinking), and I keep having these thoughts about going back home and what it will be like. And that I won't fit in because I'll be doing things like they're done in Finland, and the things I've grown up with won't seem "right" anymore. I'll give you some examples:
1) I go to pay for a candy bar or something at the gas station, and use a dollar bill, and start crying because it's not a coin like the 1 euro I would be handing over in Finland.
2) I go to flush the toilet, and put my hand on the back of the toilet where the button/lever would be, and it's not there, so I start crying in the bathroom, and my mom comes in, and I just tell her it's not right. I can't flush the toilet.
3) I go to the grocery store, and say "moi"(hi) and "kiitos"(thanks), and everyone just looks at me like I'm crazy.
4) Talk my dogs for a walk as soon as I get home (because I miss them like crazyyy) and speak to them in Finnish, and then they just look at me all confused.
And whenever I think about this kinda stuff, reality sets in that I will actually have to go back eventually, and these things most likely WILL happen. But I guess we will just see how things are going in 6 months....

Wednesday, January 11


Well, it's been almost a month since I last posted something, and SO much has happened. I'll spare the details this time, but here's a bit of what I've been up to lately.

Christmas happened. Christmas is celebrated on Christmas Eve, and you open presents in the evening, after Joulupukki (Santa Claus) has come to pass them out. It was hard for me at first for it to feel like Christmas without running downstairs and opening presents right away, but after family got here and we had dinner, it got much better. Christmas food is.... different. Rice porridge with cinnamon and sugar for breakfast was definitely my favorite thing I ate that day. And some of the most interesting were probably the carrot casserole, and the liver casserole. But, I did try everything that was offered, and the next day I went for dinner at my first host family's house, and ate a lot more there! Our first course was all sorts of fish... and I think everyone back home would be proud to know that I TRIED ALL OF IT. And.......... I actually LIKED most of it. Crazy, I know.
Oh, but about first day, Joulupukki was 45 minutes late. He went to the wrong house in another town. Walked in and asked where "the American" was, and found out there wasn't one. But, he still came, and it was great! After all.... Santa Claus does LIVE in Finland :)

On Christmas Day night, we lost power for about 4 days. That was interesting. I had some cool lamp thingy in my room, but it got pretty boring since the sun sets at 4. So, I slept a lot. Nothing wrong with that I didn't think.

Then, there was New Years, went out with exchange students after plans got changed, but still had a good night! One thing scary about New Years here though.... everyone is drunk.... and everyone has fireworks. In the middle of the city. I was a bit frightened, but luckily made it out unharmed. :)

For the rest of break, I hung out with exchange students a lot, and even had some plans with Finnish friends, which is always nice. I went out to lunch and played laser tag with some friends one day, went to the movies one day with another (saw Girl with the Dragon Tattoo... HIGHLY recommend it).

Then, somehow, it was back to school already. School started again on the 9th, and not much has happened. Everyone in Finland is getting hyped up about the Presidential debate happening soon. We even had a mock election at our school today. I also joined a basketball team, I think. I went to practice today, and it was so tough! I'm definitely out of shape, so it's a good thing I'm going to start playing again I think. I'm going again tomorrow (my host sister goes too). It was fun to play again, and I hope to stick with it for a while this year. Until springtime and Finnish baseball starts, that is.

Some exchange students "oldies" (they've been here since January, and so, they leave in January) have been leaving. One left already, and it was terribly sad. The other two leave on Friday. Having them leave really means that this year in Finland is almost halfway over, and it's scary how quickly it's going. I'm going to make the most out of the rest of my time here! 

OH, I also agreed to do a speech at the "old dances" in about a month.... in Finnish. I'm a bit worried, because I feel like my Finnish isn't good enough yet, but hopefully this will just help make it even better, and I know that once I do it, I will be much more confident with my Finnish.

Also.... my Norwegian sister (exchange student that lived with me last year) is coming to visit me in 23 days! Her mom is coming too, and I am so excited to meet her and see Oda again! It's going to be a wonderful weekend. I'm SO looking forward to it!

Hope all is well back home! Love you all!