I am sure you are already curious about what happened in Finland during the two following weeks to our three students - Johana Ludvíková, Veronika Klugerová a Tereza Marešová. Let’s find out!
With three weeks of the exchange behind us, there are three more weeks to go. This week was pretty relaxed. To be honest, nothing special happened during the week. I was at school which was kind of boring, because 75 minutes for a whole lesson is a lot and sometimes teachers weren’t even talking to us much. But we still tried to go with the flow and compare the Finnish school system to ours. In a way it´s almost funny how distinct the school systems are.
On Wednesday, we were in the mood for shopping, so we went to some second-hand shops. We also looked into a few shopping centres and bought plenty of things we didn´t need. Our last stop was an Ikea, where we had a lot of fun exploring the decorated rooms. On Friday, the school planned a trip to Turku for the third-year students and we were invited as well. We walked through the city, doing various tasks given by the teachers for an hour in the freezing snowy weather. We went to a museum to see an autumn exhibition of shadows and lights. That was generally interesting -- small but remarkable. One of our tasks was to take a creative photo with the same idea as the exhibition. We also visited another museum, Forum Marinum, a ship museum. It wasn´t as entertaining as other museum I´ve visited. However, it was enjoyable. We got home after 2PM.
Later, we visited a local second-hand shop with Johana. We spend there a fair amount of time, and after a long day we went to a sauna and a hot tub. It was really relaxing. On Saturday, we had a really nice program planned with Saara and Johana. In the morning we visited an alpaca farm nearby (which I heard is really popular in Finland) and in the afternoon, we spend the day in the national park hiking around the lake, grilling sausages and roasting marshmallows.
We are slowly coming to the end of the exchange; things have slowed down and we aren´t that active every single day. However, we’re having a great time here with our friends and host families. This week, a delightful surprise greeted us: a snowfall! We experienced the real Finnish winter snow, and the landscape looked even more beautiful than it normally does.
One of the small yet pleasant highlights of this week was spending an enjoyable moment with Saara, baking and decorating a chocolate cake. We also shared this delicious piece of art with our friends the following day. I also spent an afternoon with Siiri, a friendly and kind Finnish student who had previously been on an exchange in Germany. I’ve been going to the gym a lot with Johy or by myself and it’s been really amazing. Besides our normal school days, I’ve been spending more time with my host family to get to know them better. Sadly, we haven´t had our Finnish lesson yet. It doesn’t seem practical to me to have it just for two weeks.
Regarding the weekend, we went to Naantali together with Teri, Henni and Saara. Despite the gloomy and foggy weather, we explored the Moomin land on a small island there. Naantali is a popular summer town and because of this, it felt a bit depressing and sad with the weather and almost no people. After our trip, we wrapped up the day by relaxing in a sauna. On Sunday, I had an incredible day with the girls – Siiri, Aurora, Tereza and Johana – in Turku. We spend our day thrifting in the second-hand shops, our favourite hobby, and we had a delightful lunch at a Mexican restaurant, making it one of the most memorable days I’ve experienced in Finland. All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our time together, conversing and laughing in a very charming café.
As much as I’m excited about returning home, I’ll miss my host family and the friends that I’ve made here. I also believe my English has improved, especially speaking, and I´m genuinely happy about that.
We have a beautiful third week in a row, and the longer I am here, the more I like it. We are starting to have quite a winter here, so we went to the larger city Turku to buy some things. My host family is so kind and has lent me a lot of things. Gloves and hats are an absolute necessity. Of course, we have already had snow here. I live by the sea, and the snow melts early, but when I visited Veronika, that was no longer the case.
One of the experiences of this week was that I played the role of a disabled person, and the local firefighters had the opportunity to practice rescuing a person in a car accident. My host mom leads the firefighters, and thanks to her, I got this opportunity.
On Friday, we went on a school trip to Turku. We visited many places and also the Museum of Lights and Shadows and the Marine Museum. It was very convenient because of the biting cold.
Sauna is a big thing for everyone here, and over the weekend, I was in it twice. With Veronika's host family, I had the opportunity to try theirs and then we were rolling in the snow. Unfortunately, we can't withstand such high temperatures as the Finns. The hot tub was also a great idea. We really enjoyed it. Saara (Verča's host sister) works in the national park during the summer, and she took us for a walk around the lake. We combined it with a barbeque and marshmallows with chocolate. In the evening, we also played a few board games (very popular here as well).
On Sunday, we were surprised by the beautiful, but cold weather. The time change allowed us to sleep a little bit more and then we went outside. We went for one last boat ride, and there was even a thin layer of ice. It was one of the nicest experiences here. I even saw how a boat is pulled out of the water. We also went for a walk to a viewpoint, and at home, we had an absolutely amazing dinner cooked entirely by my host dad. The whole family gathered. The smoke sauna was warming up all day so that I could try the most traditional sauna. My mom and I spent a lot of time there. I really liked it, it was truly interesting.
I've had another beautiful week. On Monday, my host mother and I went to visit her daughter Venla in the town Rauma, which is about an hour's drive from Nousiainen. We explored the old part of the town, which was beautiful, and she also showed me the local beach and the campus where Venla studies. We went for sushi, and Venla showed us her apartment, where I was surprised once again by a sauna. We spent a lovely evening together.
Tuesday was special for me as my host mother took me to her work for the day. She works at an elementary school, and I was able to attend English, art, and music classes. Many things surprised me – the school's facilities are at a completely different level, and many of the children spoke English fluently without any shyness. Everyone was incredibly kind and welcomed me warmly. I really appreciated it. The evening took a completely different turn than I expected. My mom is creating an escape game with a group of friends, so I joined another girl to try it out. What was even more surprising, afterwards, her friends invited me to join them for an escape game in the city in the evening, and of course, I didn't refuse. Fortunately, we managed to escape and even enjoyed a delicious dinner.
On Wednesday, after school, I went thrift shopping with my host mom's mother, which we both enjoyed. I bought a bunch of clothes, and my grandmother was very supportive. It looks like we'll need to buy another suitcase with all the shopping.
On Thursday the weather was beautiful, so I took Assi, the dog, for a walk. On Friday, Veronika and I went to the gym in the morning, and in the evening, the girls planned a movie night.
Saturday was again all about shopping and visiting the extended Pihanperä family, and despite the rainy weather, everything turned out great. I really appreciated it. In the evening, we had a special dinner with small river and sea crayfish and played board games.
On Sunday, the girls and I planned to go to Turku for some small shopping and coffee, having a lovely girls' day out. In the evening, my host family invited Janne's parents for dinner. The traditional food surprised me, and thus the week came to a lovely end.
So, we are halfway through our stay in Finland now and I have to say it’s been flying by incredibly fast. After the holidays we returned to school and finally started getting used to the regular school attendance in the Finnish school.
What happened this week? It started snowing!! Well, just a little, but having the first snow in October was something. On Wednesday we went on our own to the nearby city of Turku. Right after school we hopped on a bus and went. First, we headed to a beautiful café to warm up and refresh ourselves and then we explored some very good second-hand shops. There is plenty of them here. We ended the trip by buying stockings which come in handy here especially when it comes to layering clothing.
On Friday, we went to Turku again, along with the third-year students. After wandering around the city, we went to see an exhibition called Shadow and Light at the local museum. After that we had some free time (a chance to buy food, snacks, or to warm up indoors). We found a very cosy café. So, we bought coffee and a small treat and we watched the snow falling on the leaves fallen from the trees. Later that day my host sister and I baked Halloween treats and watched movies.
This weekend was more on the relaxing side, but honestly, I didn’t mind at all. On Saturday we went to celebrate my host sister’s nephew’s first birthday. The theme was Halloween, which meant everyone had to come in costumes, including me. Did I pack a costume? Of course not. Fortunately, my host family lent me a witch costume. The celebration was fantastic. Not only was the whole house decorated for Halloween, but also was the food and the cake in the Halloween spirit.
As for Sunday we went for a beautiful walk in the forest right behind our house and watched the sunset. A very nice way to end the week, if you ask me.
I began the week by spending the entire afternoon at Sini's place (a student who had stayed with me in the Czech Republic). We once again had meatballs and played some board games with her younger brother. After that, Sini took me to the local "centre," where sweets are sold every Tuesday for children living nearby. Shortly after that, we went for a short walk in the neighbourhood where she showed me her former school, a playground for children, a small lake, and, of course, saunas. When we returned to her place a delicious Pavlova cake from her mom was waiting for us along with the typical Finnish dish, Karelian pasty (a pocket filled with rice porridge topped with butter and boiled eggs). When I got back home my host sister baked delicious brownies for us and we enjoyed them while watching a TV series.
On Thursday we had a visit to the school from an American sociology professor James Hawdon, who prepared a presentation on the topic of crime in the United States. After his presentation, we had the opportunity to ask some questions and discuss the issues in the USA.
We spent Friday afternoon with our host students and their friends watching the movie "The Greatest Showman." We made pizzas along with plenty of snacks. After finishing the film, we played games and just had a good time!
During the weekend, we took a trip to the Moomin World, located in a summer town called Naantali. It's called a summer town because of the harbour, colourful historic houses, many tourist shops, and restaurants which are mostly open in the summer. We reached a beautiful viewpoint where we could see the summer residence of the president. Later that day I went to a Halloween "party" with my host sister, where I met her friends, enjoyed Halloween sweets, and listened to music; just having a good time.
We ended the week with a trip to Turku with new friends from school. We first visited several second-hand stores, made some very good purchases, then went to a charming Mexican restaurant for a meal, and finally to a café.
„Financováno Evropskou unií. Vyjádřené názory a stanoviska představují názory a stanoviska autorů a nemusí nutně odrážet názory a stanoviska Evropské unie nebo Domu zahraniční spolupráce. Evropská unie ani poskytovatel grantu za ně nenesou odpovědnost.“