Friday, December 24, 2010

It has been ages since my last post...

I don’t think I have updated this thing in well over two months, which I must apologize for all you who have interest in what I’ve been up to. Please go to my Facebook and look at all my pictures, which I’ve been a bit better at updating. Maybe that will keep you a bit more updated. Anyways I feel like lately I’ve been really busy and that’s why I haven’t bothered to update my blog, but that’s a bit of a lame excuse.

Anyways, I’ll go back to were I can remember and one of the coolest thing’s I’ve done since in Finland, over autumn break. My host family took me to the canary Islands for one week with Juha’s parents and his sisters family. In all there was 12 of us. Mostly it was a lot of laying by the pool (which was a hugeeee public salt water pool) enjoying the sun and warmth (It was about 25C, which is WAYYYY warm compared to the normal 5C I’ve been used to). We also drove one day to see the biggest mountain in all of spain, which is also a volcano, I forgot the name but it was really cool to see, especially because one thing I’ve really been missing is the mountains, and it’s not even snowboard season yet! While in the canary islands we celebrated my birthday with the family, we also celebrated the grandmothers 80th birthday which was the big reason that we all went, as well as the cousin Mari’s birthday. Both of the cousins Mari and Ville, who are mid 20’s were really nice and they had both bee exchange students in the U.S. Also one day all of the kids went to an outdoor water park which was good fun, not exactly something I expected to do while on my Finland exchange! It was a really good trip and enjoyed spending time with my host family, and the nice tan I got was also not too bad.

Another thing I did was a Rail Jam a bit out of town center. It was put on by the local skate shop I think with two street style rails they had built, One down and one with a kink. I was the only girl and wasn’t entirely sure what was going on with the compitition until they figured out that I didn’t speak Finnish. I wasn’t very good, just managed a few times to get on the down rail but I didn’t expect much, I just was ready to use my snowboard I got sent out for my birthday! But it was also a really relaxed jam, more like a session and it was fun just to snowboard and see what it’s like in Finland, and talk to other snowboarders. The rails are still up and I plan to go back with a friend as soon as my knee is better…..which brings me to my next adventure in Finland.

I went on a cruise with some IB classmates called Theory of Knowledge cruise which is a class we have and there was about 200 or so other IB students from around Finland. The cruise didn’t really have much of a schedule , after driving all night to Tuurku Harbor we boarded the ship and then at something like 8 some of us were in a debate compitition, myself included. My team didn’t make it past the first round but it was interesting to see how into it some people got. After that it was basically free time that we spent talking to other students, hanging out with each other , exploring the ships, and napping (to save up energy for the night). At the night time we went to the disco on the ship, and thankfully there was no sort of age restriction, and it was nice because it was mostly IB students. So we were dancing for a few hours (YES!!!!) when I slipped dancing, fell and twisted my knee. So I had to have some help getting back to our cabin. Now it's been around 2 months and a month or so on crutches, it's better. My knee still hurts on occasion like when i slip on the snow or snowboard.

What else have I been up to....lot's I guess but it's so much to remember or write about! I really need to be better about keeping this updated! Some highlights these past months have been going to two Finnish Rap concerts, and of course Lapland trip! I have also switched to my second host family by now, the Snaf family. They are Swedish speaking with a mom, dad, and two girls 10 and 15 and one boy who is my age and in the US. I will have to write more about my life recently later, the Lapland trip, oh, and Christmas! Which is today. In Finland they celebrate Christmas on Christmas eve. Hope everyone has a good Christmas! God Jul! I will try to update this again soon.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Haven't updated this in a while

Hey, sorry that I haven't written about what I've been up to lately, so basically I'll just try to summarize the last few weeks and the best parts about them.
Two weekends ago I saw salt with some friends, a pretty good movie, considering I don't like action. Then on Saturday two friends from nearby towns came to stay the night with Ceci ( girl from Mexico) and I here in Vasa. They are Erick from Brazil and Baptise from France. We are all in the same district and 4 of 7 out of 114 exchange students who are learning Swedish. We showed them around town and then later that evening we all made a food from our home country. I put pictures on Facebook of course so check them out!
This is our meal, I made blueberry coffee cake and grandmas chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. Ceci made burrito type things, Baptise made crepes and Erick made a pudding.
Later that evening we all went to my families summer cottage with some friends from school to sauna eat and hang out.
I even tried Finnish sausage, keep in mind that I've been a vegetarian for 9 years! But sauna, swimming in the cold water and eating grilled sausage is kind of a tradition, and I'm here to try new things.
Doesn't mean I enjoyed it!
This past weekend on Friday I went to Vera's house with friends from the IB class and we had a sleepover in her Sauna house by the lake. We didn't have to worry about being quiet because it was separate from the main house which was nice. We did the sauna and jumping off the dock into the very cold water, just hanging out and staying up late.
We even got things for s'mores which they had never had! Of course It was with Finnish chocolate and other Finnish substitutes, but they were still really good!
Tonight we have something called Tea Party, which is were all the 2nd year IB students humiliate the first years and then all 3 years of IB students go to a building we've rented out and play games and dance. I'll be taking pictures of course, although right now it's extremely rainy out! I hope it clears up, after all, Vasa is supposed to be the sunniest place in Finland!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Last weekend of summer

This weekend is the last weekend of "summer" in Finland. Although school started two weeks ago, and it's like 7 degrees C here, most people celebrate this weekend, especially on the West coast.
Friday I went to a big party, a Finnish tradition, although i'm not sure if it's just for the area around Vasa, or if it's all over. Anyways I rode my bike with some boys from school to the bus stop, and from there it was about a 30 minute or so ride. Everyone was drinking something, even though they were all under 18, and they were drinking on the street waiting for the bus, on the bus, and of course when we got there. When we got to the place, everyone was drinking, despite the fact they were all 13,14,15,16, & 17. There were lots of adults around, but they weren't there to stop the drinking, just to clean up bottles, and possibly take kids to the "emergency room", a place were kids could take their friends if they have had too much to drink. At first I felt a little out of place, ( Like i was a foreigner?!) being the only one not drinking out of 100's of kids, but as the people got more drunk and were having more fun, so was I. I met people from my school I might not have met because they were in the national system, and they wanted to practice english and know more about me and America. Although some of their drunken questions were a bit silly, "Is there fast food everywhere, do people shoot people on the street a lot...etc", it was still pretty fun. The best part was when people finished drinking and we decided to go inside to dance! The music was a lot like dances at home, with a few swedish songs and such. It was so great to get to go to a dance party; the only dancing i'd done in a while was back in Wenatchee with my friend lainey out of the side of my car in a Jcpenny's parking lot!
Saturday I went with my mom, dad, and brother to my host mothers parents summer cottage.
We got many Finnish foods and also got to go in a smoke sauna, the traditional sauna. Later that night my parents took me to drive around and look at fireworks, which people do on their own only on this night, and new years. I saw a few, nothing like the big fourth of July ones in the states, but it was still nice to see the tradition.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Life in Finland

I feel like I need something to make my blog more interesting and exiting as this year is so far! Can't say what exactly, but once my mom's sends my photo uploader i forgot i'll be sure to put lots of pictures up. Last friday my host family took me to their summer cottage about 30 min from here. We had tea with the grandparents and then went in the sauna and lake. On saturday I went with my host sister to one of her friends 18th birthday at a summer cottage, just some friends and food and such. It was nice meeting more new people but I was just way too tired that night! School has been pretty good, i'm liking my classes, esp. 3 art courses! Yesterday some friends and I went out to lunch which was nice and we discussed tea party, which i will talk about more later on when i know more about it! I'm anxiously awaiting my longboard that i ordered (Loaded Dervish) so i can use it before more rain, and snow comes. Other than that I am enjoying the newness of this all, and biking to school!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

School in Finland

So I've had my first week of school, i'm liking the Finnish school system. It may be because of all my open blocks (Class time) compared to all my classmates, but one thing I really like is the diversity from month to month and day to day.
We have modules which are 7 weeks, with 5 blocks of classes each day. Blocks are about 1:15 min. School goes from 8:15-4 but it just depends on your day and classes when you go to school and get out of school. Here is an example of a school day for me, Monday: no class block 1, (first class 9:45) block 2 English, Block 3 an art course (I have 3 seprate art courses this module!), block 5 another art course, but also ecconomics, so some weeks i will go to art, some ecconomics, i have a couple blocks that are like this because I am in the IB program at school, but taking art classes in Swedish at the national level. My best day is wednesday, because i have one art class block one, then another block two, then i'm done at eleven!

So in all this module i'm taking english, pscology, ecconomics, and three art courses. And at home i'll get credits for all of them! It's not too many but it's enough and I don't exactly want to take clasess (LIKE MATH!) that i don't really need/get credits for. But I really like my classes this module. The one thing I dislike about the Finnish school system compared to USA (or at least Wenatchee High School) is they don't have such an extensive amount of elective courses like we do, granted it is a smaller school, but i think its the same in all schools. But Finlands school system is ranked like number one in the world i think. I haven't noticed yet since classes are just starting, but students really care about their studies!
This is a chart of the Finnish school system, they start at age 7.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I'm home!

Yesterday was the end of language camp and my first host family came and picked me up. My family consists of mom, leha, dad Juha, sister Juulia (18) and brothers Miika (20) and Samuel (16), and dog Pate. Juulia has just gotten home from exchange in Australia. The whole family speaks english very well, Finnish at home, and the kids speak Swedish at school but the whole family speaks Swedish as well. I hear it is hard for English speakers to catch on here because everyone speaks English so well, so i have to remind people to speak Finnish/Swedish with me. And i'm practicing Rosseta Stone every night.
Tomorrow I start school, In the IB program, I hear most classes will be in English, i'm not sure if this is good because maybe my credits will transfer, or bad because I won't have as much time to practice my languages. Last night Juulia and Samuel took me out on the families little boat around the water, which is in my backyard. I also met two of Juulias friends. Oh, did i mention their house has its own sauna, and is very nice, well it is. Both grandparents are very close, and they each have a summer cottage about 30 min from here the family goes to, with more saunas! Today I picked berries with Leha, we are going to make juice from them. I forget the names in Finnish, they don't know the English names and i've never had this type of berries before. They are very good! I'm exited for school, and biking there each day. The Finnish lifestyle is a lot healthier than that of many Americans, EVERYONE bikes here.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

First week in Finland

I have safely landed in Finland a few days ago, on Sunday. Upon arrival a group of exchange students and I were taken by a charter bus to language camp a few hours from Helsinki, which is where i am now for the week. I am in between class time and lunch right now.
My class is a small group of six students who are learning swedish. The proportion of the six of us to the 100 or so students is relatively the proportion of Swedish Fins in Finland which i found interesting, but it makes sense.
My flight to Finland was for the most part good. I had a large "carry on" that baggage made me check, but with my Rotary jacket and smile, the man at baggage checked it for free instead of the $100+ additional cost! Also, while waiting at the gate, I got called up and moved to first class, there must have been an open seat or something. I was very lucky to get this for my seven hour flight, although i was not so lucky to be sitting by a couple of screaming babies!
I have a funny story my sisters will enjoy, while on my flight to Helsinki two sisters got to my seat where they started bickering in Finnish about who got the middle and isle. The mom said something, and in the end the baby sister ended up getting the isle. Sound familiar? HAHA.
Upon arrival in Helsinki, all was well until after I got my baggage where I had some trouble finding who was supposed to pick me up. It involved finding a phone, finding change, trying to use a non-touch screen comp. as a touch, calling a non english speaking fin accidently, Etc. Etc. Etc. When finally I spotted the rotarians and got on the bus to the language camp.
So that is where i am now, I have more lessons in a bit and tomorrow we get to go shopping in the city...I forget which city.