Olivia Lord

 Finland

Hometown: Marietta, Georgia
School: North Cobb
Sponsor District : District 6900
Sponsor Club: East Cobb, Georgia
Host District: 1390
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Hämeenlinna


My Bio


Moi! My name is Olivia Lord and I am 16 years old. I am currently a junior at North Cobb High School. I live in Marietta with my parents, my sister, and my two dogs. My favorite subjects in school are art and history. This is because I love learning about new cultures and how they differ. Outside of school, I enjoy going to the lake, traveling to new places, and going on adventures with my friends. Being a Georgia native I don’t have much experience with winter but Finland will give me the opportunity to experience real snow! I love ice skating but I am excited to try skiing. I am also excited to be a part of Georgia’s inaugural outbound exchange. This exchange will allow me to achieve my goals of learning a new language, immersing in a new culture, and creating lifelong friendships. I have always been interested in travel. I caught the travel bug at a very young age from visiting my family around the country. This eventually led me to travel with my family, with school to Europe, and on my own to Belize. My whole life I have been a part of international programs at school, so I feel that this exchange will be the perfect capstone.

Went dress shopping with friends in Helsinki

Went dress shopping with friends in Helsinki

Exchange students take on Hämeenlinna

Exchange students take on Hämeenlinna

Delaney, Camille, and me in Tampere

Delaney, Camille, and me in Tampere

My host sister and me in Tallinn, Estonia

My host sister and me in Tallinn, Estonia

Cross country skiing!

Cross country skiing!

Feeding reindeer!

Feeding reindeer!

A lumilyhty that my host sister and I made

A lumilyhty that my host sister and I made

Halloween party with my friends!

Halloween party with my friends!

My first host family's Christmas tree

My first host family's Christmas tree

Friends and me in Lapland

Friends and me in Lapland

Journals: Olivia-Finland Blog 2017-18

  • Olivia, Outbound to Finland

    Part of exchange is never having a real sense of time. These past five months have been the fastest of my life. Days blur together and sometimes I find myself wondering what the date is. But to me, that is beautiful because life back home is so structured and pressured, and here my main focus is taking advantage of every opportunity that is presented to me.

    Since I last wrote I have had so many more opportunities. I’ve been to many other cities here in Finland and traveled to Lapland (the northernmost part of Finland) twice! Lapland is definitely my happy place. The first time I went was with Rotary and we went on husky safaris, reindeer sledding, and downhill skiing. It is hands down one of the best experiences of my life, especially since I got to spend it with some of my best friends. The second time I went to Lapland was with my host family for the holidays. This is very common in Finland because many families have small cottages all around Finland that they love to spend their time in. We took an overnight train to a town called Kolari and unloaded our car from the train and drove an hour to our house in Olos. The next day was Christmas Eve, which is when Finns celebrate. We ate the traditional Christmas riisipuuro, went to a church service, opened presents, and had Christmas dinner. We spent the rest of the week cross country skiing. It was my first time trying it and I absolutely fell in love. For new years my host family’s friends joined us and we set off fireworks, went sledding, saw the northern lights, and rung in the new year.

    Even though I have been having such a blast it's not all fun. At the beginning of December, it was time to move host families. I was sad because I love my first host family so much but I was also excited because it was time for a new adventure. Also, just this week we had to say goodbye to our oldies, which are the exchange students that come from the southern hemisphere from January to January. It was so sad to see them go, but part of exchange is knowing that it's not goodbye forever. Also, Finland itself can be hard sometimes: the winters are dark, grey, and wet, the language is hard, and the people are so quiet. But, these things never stop me from loving Finland. If anything they make me appreciate it more because it is so different than home. In Georgia, I never would have had the opportunity for a week and a half of arctic nights or to experience -30 degrees Celsius. But, the winter solstice has come and gone so every day gets lighter.

    Exchange is hard but every struggle is worth it because you will make the most amazing memories. I can’t believe my halfway point comes in less than two weeks; I'm not ready for it to end!

    Click HERE to read more about Olivia and all her blogs

  • Olivia, Outbound to Finland

    Wow, it’s hard to believe that I’ve been in Finland for about two months now. It feels like yesterday that I was packing and say goodbye to all my friends and family. Time on exchange definitely flies by faster than it should. Days can sometimes feel like minutes.

    It’s safe to say that I have fallen in love with Finland. It offers so many amazing people and the nature is absolutely spectacular. I spend most of my time at school, with friends, and traveling around. Finnish people are definitely shy at first but when you get to know them they are some of the best people you have ever met. And having a strong exchange student community is so important because they know exactly what you are going through. School is here is way different than the States. Here you are free to leave whenever you want and you can plan your schedule to your fit. So, if you want to sleep in you can or if you want free periods you can. Traveling around Finland is so easy and affordable, and you are allowed to go where you would like as long as you inform Rotary. I have traveled to Tampere and Helsinki with my friends and to meet up with other exchange students.

    Rotary in Finland makes a very large effort to create a really strong community for exchange students. When you first arrive you spend a week at camp with all the new inbounds, so you can all get to know each other and get a crash course in Finnish culture. Then, your district will probably plan a weekend for all your district exchange students to spend together. My district, 1390, planned a camping trip which was such a blast. Also, on your own, you have the opportunity to make plans with exchange students. For example, the other RYE Florida girls in Finland, Delaney and Camille, and I met up in Tampere. And last weekend several exchange students came to my town and we just hung out for the day.

    I think Finland’s biggest downside is the weather. But a little rain is definitely worth it when you see the beautiful autumn colors. It is a lot colder here compared to Atlanta but you get used to it really fast. Last weekend we finally had “Finnish summer” which was sunny and 58 degrees and I broke out my shorts. But, all in all, Finland is definitely a challenge with the language and the culture but I definitely worth the work.

    Click HERE to read more about Olivia and all her blogs

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