Monday, August 15, 2011

Travel Shorts

Monday, August 15, 2011

I have been in Suomi *(Finland) for just over a week and a day. At the moment I’m typing from my host family’s home, watching sade (rain) fall outside and listening to a basketball game between Portugal and Suomi (Finland) in the background. (Of course, Suomi is in the lead!)
                *Suo means swamp in Finnish, so Finland’s true name should be ‘swamp land.’

But to what I want to tell about is my trip to Finland.

On the first night I got there, Sunday night (or Sunday morning for all you in America) I was very tired, but managed to stay awake until elven at night or so, so I was feeling quite accomplished, if tired, on Monday morning among my four roommates.  
The parting from my parents on Saturday evening was on the verge of tears, but then again, that’s to be expected, being so far apart from someone you’ve spent your entire life with. But it was a happy parting, and luckily my father was able to stay with Christina Montgomery, fellow Finland exchange student, and me until we entered the plane.

While Christina spent her 10 hour flight being filled with food thanks to an upgrade to business class by my mother, I spent the flight with a 9 year-old Swiss girl and her mother. I learned a bit of German, and was able to help fill in her coloring book, so it wasn’t a bad trade off in the least.

Then came a layover about 3 hours long in the Frankfurt Airport, where we were able to meet up with about 20 other exchange students headed to Finland, mostly from the northwestern USA and southwestern Canada, but also a few from France as well. The best part about it wasn’t the exchange students though; it was at security. Tired and a bit out of it after my flight, I was told by the man at security in German to smile. “If I didn’t,” he warned, “I would be sure to beep while going through the metal detector.” Luckily I didn’t, and he explained this to me in English when he realized I clearly wasn’t German speaking. (A few moments of blank-staring was enough to convince him.)

After another 3 hour flight from Frankfurt to Helsinki (again filled with coloring books!) we arrived happy but tired into a new home. (The only odd bit is that for the life of me I cannot remember going through customs in Helsinki, only in Frankfurt. That, and on neither of the planes did I need to fill out any immigration paperwork.)

Anyways, this is just a short entry for now while I work on my longer blog piece about my week-long orientation camp. Sorry for being late!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Description and Details (First Post)

Saturday August 6, 2011
I have begun this blog as part of a school project, a way to educate people about Finland.  Of course, it will be a record of my own personal experiences as well, but its main purpose is to be educational.
My main goals will be:
~ To learn how to blog (this is my first blog)
            ~ To learn to compare and contrast other exchange student’s blogs with my own
            ~ To learn to keep a record of my Finnish exchange and the experiences I receive from it
            ~ To learn to be an effective user of the Finnish language
            ~ To learn to develop my organizational skills
            ~ To learn to become a social ambassador for the USA
Within all my blog entries, all of these should be included (with the exception of comparing and contrasting other’s blogs, due to the fact that there just aren’t that many blogs to work with) and if you notice I’m forgetting these, please tell me, e-mail me, whatnot.

Now that I’ve clarified that, please read on!

Today is my last day in the US. I leave for Finland this afternoon.  Super nerve-wracking/ exciting/ scary/ wow! feelings going on.  I’ve said my goodbyes to everyone except my family now, and I’m still a bit nervous about that.

Last night my parents’ good friends Lisa and Russ Sherlock hosted a wonderful going-away party for me, which I’m very grateful for.  Seeing all my friends and extended family there to wish me a good trip was really encouraging.  It’s a bit funny seeing as how not a single one of the friends I invited is going to the same school, but got along very well together, and found lots of connections regardless!  And on the cake was written (in Finnish) Näkemiin Monica, or Farewell Monica.  All in all it was a wonderful goodbye party!

On another topic, my flight to Finland leaves at 6 in the evening from DIA (Denver International Airport) tonight, and then 14 hours to Frankfurt.  In Frankfurt, I’ll have a 3-4 hour layover, then another 3-4 hours to the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport.  Funny fact: not counting the time discrepancies between Finland and Colorado, I leave at 6 in the evening and arrive at 6 in the evening.  Luckily, I won’t be traveling alone, but with fellow Finland exchange student Christina Montgomery. You can find her blog here: . (I encourage you to read it, as she’s already been writing constantly, unlike me.)

Once I arrive in Finland, I won’t immediately go to stay with my host family.  For the first week I’ll be in Karkku, Finland, at a week-long Rotary Youth Exchange orientation program with about 100 or so other teens from around the world who will study in Finland for the year.  We’ll be taking intensive language courses in Finnish and Swedish (both are official languages in Finland) as well as getting over our jet-lag, and learning some of the cultures and traditions of Finland.  Also, Finnish food; I still haven’t figured out exactly what I’ll be eating in Finland…

Anyways, I’ve been told to have as much fun as possible, and that’s what I plan to do!