Camille Stanbury

 Finland

Hometown: Lighthouse Point, Florida
School: Pompano Beach
Sponsor District : District 6990
Sponsor Club: Lighthouse Point, Florida
Host District: 1410
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Pori Teljä


My Bio


Hei! Minun nimeni on Camille Stanbury (Hello! My name is Camille Stanbury), and let me just start by saying I am so unbelievably excited for this this amazing year to come. So a little bit about me, I live in Lighthouse Point Florida with my mom and twin brother Mason. I’m 15 years old and attend school at Pompano Beach High, where I’m in the tenth grade. At school I take all honors classes, not counting electives, and I do very well. My favorite class is probably team sports, mostly because I’m very athletic and it’s just nice to have time to unwind during the stressful day. In my free time I like to play water polo, swim, or go to the beach, anything involving water you’ll find my there. I’ve always loved traveling so much and my dream of going abroad just seemed very unlikely until I got this opportunity, I never thought this would actually be a reality for me. During my exchange year I’m wishing to accomplish a number of things. I want to become more aware of the world around me, I want to become so engulfed in a culture I forget my own. I want to gain independence and confidence, and I believe that stepping out of my comfort zone and doing this will allow me to do so, and have such an amazing impact on my life.

The beautiful lake at Karkku

The beautiful lake at Karkku

Exploring the archipelago island Vepsä

Exploring the archipelago island Vepsä

Yyteri beach "The most beautiful beach in Scandinavia"

Yyteri beach "The most beautiful beach in Scandinavia"

A walk to a nearby church

A walk to a nearby church

My Frenchie and I

My Frenchie and I

Olivia, Delaney, and I saying bye after Karkku

Olivia, Delaney, and I saying bye after Karkku

Views from Tampere

Views from Tampere

Gorgeous Finland

Gorgeous Finland

Downtown Pori

Downtown Pori

A family friend's daughter and I after the JVG concert

A family friend's daughter and I after the JVG concert

I visited Helsinki for the weekend

I visited Helsinki for the weekend

I got to go to a JVG concert in Helsinki

I got to go to a JVG concert in Helsinki

Finns love rowing, and I got to try it at my friend's summer cottage!

Finns love rowing, and I got to try it at my friend's summer cottage!

A little exchange student meetup in Tampere

A little exchange student meetup in Tampere

The other RYE Florida girls and I met up in Tampere for the day

The other RYE Florida girls and I met up in Tampere for the day

Downtown Helsinki is so beautiful!!!

Downtown Helsinki is so beautiful!!!

Talking to my school about exchange

Talking to my school about exchange

My wonderful Aussi oldies, favorite Rotex, and best RYE friend

My wonderful Aussi oldies, favorite Rotex, and best RYE friend

most of my district 1410 in Lapland

most of my district 1410 in Lapland

In Lapland

In Lapland

Ice skating in Turku

Ice skating in Turku

My sisters and I with Santa when he visited our house

My sisters and I with Santa when he visited our house

Helsinki city center at Christmas time

Helsinki city center at Christmas time

Cross country skiing on a frozen lake!

Cross country skiing on a frozen lake!

All the Exchange students dancing wanhat at my school

All the Exchange students dancing wanhat at my school

Birthday party with my second family!

Birthday party with my second family!

Avanto! Or ice swimming in English

Avanto! Or ice swimming in English

On a recent day trip to Tallinn, Estonia

On a recent day trip to Tallinn, Estonia

Journals: Camille-Finland Blog 2017-18

  • Camille, Outbound to Finland

    So here I am 8 whole months later… that must be some kind of record. I can now say that after 6 whole months of winter I am in the clear, and spring finally decided to show up. There has been snow on the ground since the middle of October, and even now a week into April there is still snow covering a fair area of the ground. But like I said spring is here and I can tell you how I know, for one the temperatures are staying mostly above freezing even at night and the rain has come back.

    So to follow up on my last journal I had my wanhat dance, and it was wonderful. I had the most amazing time dancing with all of my friends, we all had so much fun and made some amazing memories. All three of my host families came to watch me dance; while looking out into the crowd and seeing them smile while watching me made me feel so unbelievably loved, I truly felt like a princess that day. After the dance the school had a huge party which gave me the opportunity to meet and talk to so many people I had never had the chance to prior to that night, the next week at school so many people were smiling, waving, and nodding at me as I walked down the hall, and I have to say it felt great.

    The big dance was really an important turning point in my exchange, the winter months leading up to that day had really taken a serious toll on my overall well being and I felt big change in myself. It was so cold and dark for such a long period of time, and I am someone who thrives on sunshine and beach days. I hadn’t felt like my normal happy & goofy self for a long time, and it was ridiculously hard for me to pull myself out of the slump. I am so grateful to have had such amazing people surrounding me during those tough times, to pick me up and remind me of everything and everyone I had to be thankful for. The big dance really reminded me of why I had chosen to do exchange, it forced me to do something completely new and showed me I could do anything if I worked hard enough. The week after the dance the sun started coming out and the days got longer, and I felt an immediate shift in my mood and now I am on a roller-coaster that only goes up.

    I changed host families in the beginning of March and it was hard, saying goodbye to my new family, my little sisters, the dog… they all took pieces of my heart. So I packed up my bags and said bye to the countryside and hello to the city (if you could even call it that). In my new and last family I live only a short distance from my school and the city center and it is so nice, I have a lot more freedom and I don’t need to depend so much on my family to get me everywhere I need to go. The family has made me feel so welcomed and loved since the first day I was here, and I could never thank them enough. I had my 17th birthday the first week I stayed with them and without even asking they went out of their ways to throw me a little party, and even though the gesture was small it was the best present I could have asked for.

    So as I mentioned in the first paragraph spring is coming, the sea is no longer frozen, and when I look outside I can see the green grass. There’s a feeling that comes with spring, I think just the idea of knowing that winter is over and I made it through is crazy. Winter brought so many struggles and so much heartache and now as the snow is melting I feel like a lot of my past issues and problems are too. I’m proud of myself, I’m in the home run of my exchange, I’m almost there. I’m not ready to go home, and I don’t know if I ever will be, but I’m excited to see what my last 3 months have in store for me.

    Click HERE to read more about Camille and all her blogs

  • Camille, Outbound to Finland

    I have been in Finland for 6 months now and with over half of my exchange done I’m starting to realize that this year won’t last forever, and to be completely honest it’s kind of scary. Everyone told me that my year would go by so fast, and even though sometimes the weeks felt like years it’s crazy to think we’re already in 2018. My oldies have left and my newbies are here and I have my return flight booked for July and everything is just rushing by.

    So the biggest event that has passed since my last journal was Christmas. Christmas in Finland, although the same in theory as in the U.S. is very different. Break started just 3 days before Christmas, but Christmas here is celebrated on the 24th and there is no christmas eve or celebrations on the 25th. On the 24th we woke up early and rice porridge and lots of fruit for breakfast, then we began cooking the dinner. In between cooking we went to church, played games, sang, and cooked some more. For dinner we dressed up and ate together as a family, we completely stuffed ourselves. After dinner SANTA CAME, here santa comes to your house and gives you your gifts and it was honestly such a sweet experience seeing my little sisters get so excited seeing santa sitting in the living room. I also got my white christmas, it snowed the whole day and it was absolutely beautiful. Christmas break was spent mostly at home enjoying each others company, but my host family also took me to cross country ski and are really trying their best to help me learn. All and all Christmas was great, and even though it was hard not being with my family back home It was so special to be able to experience Christmas in a different culture.

    New Year was Celebrated how it’s celebrated in the U.S., I spent the night with my friends running around our little city enjoying ourselves. We watched a huge firework show on the river that runs through the city and screamed and danced and laughed as we welcomed the New Year, and I can easily say it was one of the highlights of my exchange so far.

    In Finnish high schools there is a tradition called Vanhojentanssit, which is comparable to Prom. For this dance everyone finds a partner, and for about three months you learn and practices traditional ballroom dance and there is also a portion of the dance choreographed by the students. To dance the women must wear long ball gowns and the men suits with tail coats, and we perform our dances for basically the whole city. Everyone has been working so hard and I’m so excited to perform for everyone.

    For the last couple weeks it has been freezing, and when I say freezing I mean trying to fit 3 pairs of socks into your shoes because you don’t want to lose a toe. With the cold comes snow, and even though some days I wish it would all melt, it makes the short dark days feel brighter and longer. I have to say even though I’m some varying degree of freezing everyday I do appreciate the winter and the joy it brings with it, and I appreciate my parka so much more.

    We’re already a month into 2018, and I’ve been ridiculously busy but I wouldn’t want it any other way. So with the days getting longer and no end of winter in sight, I can honestly say I’m excited to see what opportunities the new year brings me.

    Click HERE to read more about Camille and all her blogs

  • Camille, Outbound to Finland

    4 months in my new home, it sounds like such a short time but feels like i’ve been here for so long. The amount of things I’ve done and goals I’ve accomplished is so crazy to actually think about, and I’m still ready for more. Since my last blog a lot has happened, I’ve been so busy with everything from school to rotary events and I absolutely love it!

    The first thing I want to talk about is the ensilumi or first snow. The first snow was in late october and when it fell it fell all at once, in one night we got around 5 inches and the trees, roads, and buildings were all covered in a beautiful white blanket. Snow where I live in Finland is special, because I’m on the west coast only about 15km from the sea snow doesn’t fall too often and when it does it doesn’t stick around. Another amazing thing that happened is that I got to see the northern lights. Now before that night I had never seen the northern lights before, so you could only imagine my excitement when I looked outside and saw the green lights dancing in the sky. My host mom and I just stood out side barefoot in our pajamas in the cold, and everything was perfect. I also went on a trip with rotary to Lapland which was amazing beyond words! Lapland is the northern part of Finland in the arctic circle, so in other words it was freezing and covered in snow. The trip was full of good friends, sled dog rides, skiing, meeting reindeer, and lots of laughs. In all honesty I only found out reindeer were real about a year ago, so getting to meet one and pet it was magical. Getting to be with all my rotary friends together in one place was so special, and the time spent with my oldies was priceless. I’ve also been to Tampere about a dozen times… but that’s pretty normal.

    Since being here I’ve really begun to value and understand how important friends are. The friendships I’ve made here in my new home are ones so special that being thousands of miles away in a few months won’t change a thing. My exchange friends are always there to listen when I need to talk about the troubles of being an exchange student, and my Finnish friends are there to show me how amazing friendships of only a couple months can be and helping guide me through this incredibly different culture. I couldn’t be more thankful for the wonderful people who have made their ways into my life, they have all made my exchange 100x better than I ever thought it could have been. I’ve also been keeping in touch with my friends back home, updating them on the important things that I’ve been doing while here. It’s nice to know all the support I have waiting for me when I finally have to leave my new home.

    Another big happening is I’ve moved host families! This was especially hard because I fell in love with my first family, and having to say goodbye felt like leaving home all over again. My advice to all the newbies is try to be as close with your host families as possible, it makes everything so much more special. As it usually goes overtime you begin to collect more and more stuff, so when it came time to pack up my room it was not easy task. So after two days of packing and hugs that didn’t seem to last long enough I said bye, and took a ride out to the countryside with my second host dad. My new family is a lot different than my first, with two little girls under 10 it’s really been a little crazy. I’ve missed being around kids, but I forgot how tiring it is especially when they don’t speak any english. Nevertheless I’m enjoying my time out in the country, and the new pace of life is refreshing.

    So with Christmas coming up and the days getting shorter and darker time seems to be moving so slow but so fast at the same time. With one third of my exchange done and 7 months to go, I’m excited to see what’s in store for the future. It’s a little scary knowing that I have so much to get done when I go back to Florida, but it also makes me appreciate my time here more. All I can say is that after 4 months here I’m definitely not ready to go home anytime soon.

    Click HERE to read more about Camille and all her blogs

  • Camille, Outbound to Finland

    Two months in Finland? That sounds so crazy to say, my time here is moving so fast! The last couple weeks I’ve been getting busier and busier, and it’s really helped me to fall in love with my exchange. As I’ve been getting closer with my host family, new friends, and other exchange students I’ve been noticing the homesickness really starting to fade, which has been such a breath of fresh air.

    I’ve been traveling a lot lately, Finland has such an amazing multidistrict, I can pretty much go anywhere in the country anytime I want with only the permission of my host family and counselor. So far I’ve been to Turku for a D.1410 meetup, and Tampere with the two other RYE florida girls. I also spent a weekend in Helsinki with some family friends which was absolutely amazing, and I’m going back to spend my fall break with one of my oldies! Riding in the buses from place to place has also helped me to really appreciate Finland for all of its beauty, watching the countryside roll by is really a sight to see.

    I also just wanted to say that when I first found out that I was going to Finland I was really nervous, because I feel that no one really talks about or goes to Finland ever and it’s was almost scary knowing I was going to this country that really no one could give me any sort of input on. So I wanted to write about some of the reasons that have made me fall in love with my new home. First off as I’ve stated above is Finland’s multidistrict, It’s amazing you can go practically anywhere you want anytime you want, and it’s so easy! Second is the school system, school here is so relaxed and the kids who are there want to be there, and if you’re lucky like I was you’ll get to pick out exactly what classes you want when you want them. Third is the nature, Finland has open land and green fields covered in wild flowers and trees for as far as you can see and wherever you end up there is probably a lake somewhere near by. And Lastly for this list is the language. Yes Finnish is a terribly hard language to learn, but once you really put in the effort and show other Finns that you really want to learn everything starts coming so much easier. Almost all Finns speak fluent English but are so shy to to speak to native English speakers, but when you even just try to speak even a little Finnish they are always so impressed and excited that someone is trying to learn their language. Finns are also so motivating with the language, they will always be so happy with anything you say and will always try to teach you more once you show interest.

    I wanted to close this journal with acknowledging the fact that it really is almost a complete turnaround from my last entry, Finnish culture is SOOO different than in South Florida and I in no way was expecting the culture shock to hit me as hard as it did. Finland like a lot of things in life is something that gets better with time, and I think I just didn’t allow myself the time to take the country in for what it really is. I am so in love with my life here, and am enjoying my time to the fullest which I think is what exchange is really about.

    Click HERE to read more about Camille and all her blogs

  • Camille, Outbound to Finland

    Click HERE to read about Camille and all her blogs

    Yksi kuukausi, en månad, one month. I’ve been in Finland, or should i saw Funland, for one month now and it’s honestly so weird to think time can move as fast as it has been lately. My time here so far has for a lack of better words been a dream. I left home on Aug. 5 with some really hard goodbyes, and hopped on a plane to Chicago where I met up with about 10 other exchange students and flew 9 straight hours to Helsinki. All 110 RYE students from all over the world going to Finland and Estonia went to a camp called Karkku, where we all got to meet and really get to know the Finnish language and culture. Karkku was really a soft landing for me which was nice, being able to calm down and in such a friendly and supportive environment. I met up with the other three exchange students from Florida, having familiar faces around me was amazing and we’ve all grown so close. Karkku was so much fun!!! We did all the stereotypical fi nnish things, from going to sauna then jumping into the freezing lake, to cooking Finnish markkara over a campfire. In the middle of the week we took a trip to the nearby city of Tampere, where we were set loose by the rotex with one goal: make some Finns uncomfortable. The last day of camp came with mixed emotions, as I was leaving my friends and the feeling of being comfortable, I was really jumping into my exchange head first… which was terrifying. When the host families came to pick up their kids, it was like a puppy adoption. People coming up and asking “are you my kid?” “do you know where I can find so and so?” but finally after everything I ended up in my beautiful home and city, Pori. My first day in my new home was great, everything was relaxed and I just unpacked, took a deep breath, and took everything in. My family surprised me and had a welcome dinner, since my host siblings are all older and live away from home I got to meet them all, and really get to know everyone. The two days I had before school started were spent with my host sister, who is now on exchange in the US, and exploring my new city. I’d just like to give my family some props for being so patient and understanding with me while I’ve adjusted, they’ve truly been amazing. School started the next week, and I’d like to tell you all I had the most amazing time and I felt so welcomed and happy… but the truth is, I didn’t. Finns are for being shy and unwelcoming, and let me tell you they really lived up to their stereotype. I found myself sitting alone everywhere I went for the first week, and just to sum the week up into one word it was awful. But then after some persistence, and trying my best to blend in with the culture people started talking to me. I’d also like to say there are five other exchange students with me at school, 2 of which are rotary and the other 3 afs, and they’ve all been such an amazing support system. Now that I am a month into my life here though, I’ve formed a routine and am really starting to feel at home here in MY country. I’m really happy with my life right now, and as I’m learning so many new things, and meeting so many new people, I’m falling more in love with Finland everyday! Kiitos to everyone who helped me through the shortest month of my life!!

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