Friday, April 27

time flies when you're having fun

such a cliche, but it's definitely true.

I don't have anything in particular I want to talk about today, so let's just start.

I went to Sweden a few weeks ago for a day with my host family. That was really cool, and we did a lot of shopping, but unfortunately the weather was crappy.

I moved back to my first family last Sunday. And then I will be here for 6 weeks until I move back to my 2nd family again. People think it's weird and ask why I didn't just stay in my 2nd family longer so I only have to switch once, which is a good question, but I also have a good answer. Moving from my 1st family made me realize how much I appreciate them and everything they did for me. Not that my 2nd family was bad or anything, it was far from it! But all families are different, and it helped me to appreciate just the little things about them, and my relationships that I made with each member. I liked the fact that after gaining the appreciation for my 1st family that I got to move back in with them and show them how much I appreciated everything, and I wanted the same thing to happen with my 2nd. And it will. It hasn't even been a week yet and I miss them.

It's a weird thing. How you can live so close to your other family (literally like 2 blocks away), yet actually miss them. I could go see them whenever I want, but it's not the same as actually living with them and doing everything together. It seems that no matter who I'm living with, I will miss the other. But knowing that the other is so close gives me comfort, and really makes me wonder how I will be feeling when I'm on an entirely different continent than both of them.

Vappu (May Day, I guess?) is in a few days, and I am incredibly excited! It's a really big deal here, and we get the day off of school and there's a lot of things going on in the center of Turku. But since I really don't know what to expect, I guess I won't tell you much more about it until it happens.

Today is a "flag day", meaning that there are Finnish flags flying everywhere! I absolutely LOVE these days. It only happens on National Holidays or celebrations I think (the days important enough to be marked in my planner), and other days there are never any flags to be seen. So when the flags are flying, it hits me again that I am really in Finland, and it hits me with a great sense of pride to be able to live in this country and participate in everything Finnish and to be able to call this country my home.

The days are going by so quickly, and in no time I will be getting on a plane going back to America. It's crazy how close it feels, yet also like it will never actually happen. But, today I bought tickets to a music festival that I will be going to just 2 days before I leave. If I'm already planning that far ahead, then I guess it isn't really as far as it feels. Only about 70 days left for me in my fantastic year in Finland, but I never want it to end.

Monday, April 2

Venäjä... aka Russia!

Last weekend I went to St. Petersburg with Rotary, and it was AMAZING! It was by far the most beautiful city I have ever been in. I honestly don't even know how to describe it, so I will post some pictures (which definitely don't do the city any justice)
the view out my hotel window

the winter palace with my friend grayce

kunst kamera museum (description about this coming up)

a church (gorgeous... but no pictures of inside.. there was a service going on)

peter the great's first house in st. petersburg

an orthodox church

Anyways, here's a bit about what we did in Russia:
The first day was just driving there on the bus and going through customs and such. Funny story: one boy (the first one to try and go through customs) was held up for a long time and they wouldn't let him through because they thought he was the son of a wanted man. But, after about 40 minutes, they finally let him through. 
The next day, we went to some museums. We went to the Hermitage, which part of it is in the Winter Palace shown above. There, we got to see original works by Van Gogh, DaVinci, and Michelangelo. Pretty amazing! I still can't believe that I saw those. Then, we went to Kunst Kamera museum, which is considered the museum of oddities. Also, there are many things dealing with science. There was an observatory in the top of the building, and many different deformities in jars (such as babies with 2 heads, no limbs, and many other things like that). It was definitely interesting, and very strange. 
Then we went to a traditional song/dance show. There were people that sang, a band with traditional instruments, and many different dances and costumes. It was really interesting and very fun! The guys can really do all those kicks and such that you think of when you think of Russian men dancing. 

The next day, we had a tour of the city and just got out and took pictures. I swear every other building was previously a "palace" build to show off their wealth, or built for them to show someone's love for them or something. It was kind of ridiculous, but it meant that all of the buildings were very grand and gorgeous! 
Then we had free time in Nevsky Prospekt (the biggest shopping street in St. Petersburg). We went and ate blinis. (traditional Russian food... kind of like crepes, but folded in a square with stuff in them). Then we just walked around and took lots of pictures, not much shopping was done. That night, we went to a ballet. Two other people and I were in the worst box you could have.... so we didn't see much. But what we could see of it, it was very modern, with no elaborate costumes or anything, and it was strange. But still cool to see a Russian ballet. 

And then, all of a sudden, it was time to leave already. We left in the morning, and made a stop in Viborg, which used to belong to Finland, and was the 2nd largest city in Finland before it was taken away. It was strange to hear people speaking Finnish with a Russian accent. 

Russia (and all of Europe really, compared to the US especially) has so much history! It was great having a tour guide that knew all of it and told us as much as she could. It really interested me. 

Another cool thing, was that in the main part of St. Petersburg, there is (or maybe not anymore, but there used to be at least) a law where all of the buildings had to be bright colors since the weather is so grey all of the time. Because of this, all of the buildings were bright blues, teals, pinks, and yellows. I think that's what really made it be such a beautiful city. But it was definitely a great trip, and something I will never forget. I really hope I can get back there someday and have more time to explore all that it has to offer.