Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hyvää Uutta Vuotta! 

So, it's now 2012, and I've been in Finland for almost five months. Wow. But hey, there's snow outside and I've got a sleepover to go to tonight, so everything's good!

Way, way back at the beginning of last month, on December 3, I went on a trip with Rotary to Muornio, Finland. Pretty far up north, and just a river away from Sweden. We went with more that 100 exchange students from around Finland, and got to be together for Finland's Independence Day on December 6!

First we had the bus ride up to Lapland, which took about 12 hours. Most (sane) people slept a bit, but some of us just stayed up the whole ride, and everyone was happy to be in touch with friends again! Much of the time I was talking to a Finn who had done an exchange the year before in Canada, and it was wonderful talking to her. Neither of the people in the picture below are her, but they are Canadian. 

I also had the chance to go snowboarding for two days at some decently sized hills. We only had about one hour of daylight at the time, but it was still nice. The snow was pretty good, and it was lucky we had come that week and not a week earlier or there wouldn't have been any snow!

I also hung out quite a bit with Christina, who if you remember, is the other girl from Colorado in Finland. I'm actually going to meet up with her again this weekend, so it should be fun! We get along well together, and it's nice having someone who knows all the instate jokes. While there was three separate buses, one going on the western side of the country, one going though the middle (my bus), and one going through the east, Christina and I still managed to bump into each other when we took a pit stop in Oulu! 

She actually has a youtube channel, and she made a short video about the trip. Please watch it! 

After coming back from skiing on out second day, we had the opportunity to go to a nearby school and have a party! The students had a couple bands, fire dancers, and then us exchange students did quite a few of our own performances. 

The Australians and New Zealanders presenting their country song.

The next day, we got to meet tons of reindeer and huskies, and also got to listen to a native Sami woman tell about her lifestyle. We went to a reindeer farm, and dog sledding as well. We also went snowshoeing, but it was dark by the time we did that, so a few people got lost on the way back to our hotel. The exchange students took up most of the hotel, and the rooms ranged from a small room shared by two people to two story rooms that held six or seven (my room). 

 In the Sami museum


Dog Sledding with Friends

 Huskies! At the kennels, they have about 400 dogs (and really cute puppies!) . Every team of dogs has their own trainer.


 Reindeer with a Sami trainer

Breakfast with Christina and Khloii. 

Some clothes hanging in the museum house.

The next day, on Wednesday, we left and headed to Rovaniemi, the true home of Santa Claus. Unfortunately, Santa wasn't in his office until two in the afternoon, so we didn't get to meet him, but I got lots of presents for my friends and family! 

 The next two pictures go together. It's incredible and really crazy.

All the officially recognized languages in Santaland. They actually get letters from all over the world, and have baskets of letters from almost every country around the world!

After this, it was just a long, long bus ride back home, but I did watch a British movie, Hot Fuzz, about police officers, that I enjoyed. I hung out with my friends on the bus, and had a good time. I got back at about one in the morning, but for the kids in Estonia, they didn't get back until the next afternoon! This week was really fun and a good break from school, a mixture of cultures, and a sort of birthday gift for me. I really enjoyed it.

A friend's blog I've found particularly interesting, is one that's being written in Mali, Africa. Kaitlyn is actually from my school in the US, and it's been an experience even to hear about all the things she's doing there. She's in the capital city of Mali, in Bamako. She's not doing it under the Rotary Youth Exchange, and she's only there for half a year, but it's still rather exciting to read!

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