Sydney Gamble

Finland

Hometown: Lecanto, Florida
School: Lecanto High School
Sponsor District : District 6950
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Inverness, Florida
Host District: 1410
Host Club: Turku Aninkainen


My Bio


Moi! Hello, my name is Sydney Noel Gamble. I am a “ready for adventure” 16-year-old girl. I am a Sophomore at Lecanto High School, where I am involved in activities like AVID, tennis, volleyball, and weightlifting. I live at home with my parents in Lecanto Florida, along with my two older sisters and my grandmother. Outside of school my adventuring knows no bounds! I love anything outdoors, like hunting, fishing, or just roaming around. Family time and volunteering play a huge role in my day-to-day life. It is important for me to give back to my community and family in any way I can. At 14 years old I attended an incoming Rotary Youth Exchange Party and I knew from that day that I wanted to be an exchange student too! I am so excited to begin this new chapter in my Life. Traveling and seeing new cultures, people, environments and new ways of thinking will be only the beginning of my new journey. I love snow and cold weather and it is on my bucket list to go see Husky’s under working conditions. So, I hope that I get to go to northern Finland to experience this. I will do my best to represent myself and my country in Finland and I am so excited to meet my new Host family. Thank you, Rotary, for making this possible!

Family

Family

Host family

Host family

Neighborhood

Neighborhood

School picture

School picture

Friends

Friends

Reindeer

Reindeer

Changing colors

Changing colors

Cheek concert

Cheek concert

House Winter

House Winter

Lapland

Lapland

Helsinki Church

Helsinki Church

Korpo

Korpo

Halloween Party

Halloween Party

Huskies

Huskies

Reindeer

Reindeer

Ruissalo

Ruissalo

Journals: Sydney-Finland Blog 2018-19

  • Sydney, Outbound to Finland

    I have been in Finland 5 and a half months. I am half way through my exchange here in Turku. I will be flying back around the second week of July. In my last update I had been here only 2 months, and everything was fairly new. Now I am getting settled in and I am used to my routines. I really want to tell you about some of my amazing adventures and the many things that I have learned, but first I want to tell you some exciting news.Today I met my second Host Family, and I loved that my host sisters were so excited to meet me. The whole family made me feel welcome, even their two dogs 😊 I will be only about 5 minutes from my current host family, so I would be able to easily visit them. I will be moving in with my second family in 1 week. I am happy and a little sad at the same time, but that is part of this exciting Rotary adventure. I have had an amazing time with my first Host family and I am very grateful for everything that I they have shown me, and they will always be a big part of my life. I know that there are more learning opportunities and new things to experience before my time in Finland is over.

    One of my favorite activities with my host family is cooking and learning how to make Finnish foods. My host mom and sister helped me make Pulla (a sweet bread similar to cinnamon rolls). We also made some amazing sushi the other day. Some days, just like at home, I have a lot of free time. I have found that I love doing puzzles, sometimes with my family and sometimes on my own. I have also joined a gym close to my school to help me stay busy and healthy. My host parents have also helped me find a tennis coach so that I can continue to practice while I am here. Just like in the U.S. I have been going to the movies with my friends from school, the last one that I saw was Fantastic Beasts. The movies here are almost always played in English and subtitled in Finnish which is very helpful for me. A couple of things that I have had to get used to are first Less sunlight (only 6 hours a day or less) and second if I am listening to a long class or a concert in Finnish, I find that I get a head ache. I didn’t realize how much my brain has to work to try to translate that much information. Something really important that I bought since I came to Finland and it has started to snow more was my Vans snow shoes/boots. I love my Van’s from back home, but they were not practical at all, unless I enjoyed slipping and falling down all the time and having cold wet feet. These may be one of the most important purchases I have made here yet (Thank you Ulla for helping me find them). Now at school I really enjoy my Art class and have created a lot of art work (my planets portrait being my favorite). I also had a party in my homeroom class and we made pizza, Yum!

    I love that Rotary and my family have made sure that I have been able to take trips and see new places. In October I took a trip to the Capital, Helsinki, and got to see the beautiful Capital Building, the Town Square, a Church built into the rocks, and the Amos Rex Art Museum. Also, in October I attended 2 different Halloween Costume Party’s, one with Rotary and one with friends from school. Both were great! November brought some beautiful Fall leaves and some more trips to Korpo, Russialo (with other In-Bound Students), and finally an amazing Rotary trip to Lapland. Lap land Tour began with a 16-hour bus ride that I tried to sleep through. We had many stops, some picking up more students and some to eat and use the bathrooms. Once in Lapland (In the Arctic Circle) we participated in some really unique activities. We skied, visited Huskies and Reindeer and also went on sled rides pulled separates by Huskies and then Reindeer, cooked sausage on a camp fire, and walked across a bridge that was half way between Finland and Sweden. We always stayed on schedule because there was only about 2 and a half hours of daylight each day and after the sun went down, we stayed inside. If you have the opportunity to go to Lapland, I highly recommend it. On the way back to Turku we stopped at Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi to meet the real Santa Claus. It is Christmas there all year around and it is magical. December brought more snow and Christmas. Christmas is Celebrated on Christmas Eve and Santa brings gifts to every child personally. I baked cookies for my Host family and I also made some for a club that I am in at School. Everyone seemed to enjoy them. On New Year’s Eve we saw fireworks and I got to wish my friends and family in Florida Happy New Year 7 hours before they had their New Year, which was pretty cool.

    There are many small things that happen everyday that remind me how lucky I am to be on this amazing adventure. Some days I will still get a little homesick and miss family,friends, and even sometimes American food, but then I realize that I am in Finland and then I look forward to my next adventure such as a new Host family, a wonderful trip to the Archipelago, or even a trip to an amazing underground Museum in Turku. Sometimes just the unknown is part of what makes my Rotary Youth Exchange exciting.

    Click HERE to read more about Sydney and all her blogs

  • Sydney, Outbound to Finland

    “The two important things in life is to learn that you are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be, and that the most difficult part of any endeavor is taking the first step, making the first decision.” (How appropriate that I found this on an “I love Finland” Facebook page as I was getting ready to post my first journal entry).

    I am so glad that I took that first step! Kittos to Rotary Florida district 6950 for helping make this dream come true. And also “Turku Aninkainen Club” in district 1410 for sponsoring me. In the short two months that I have been here so much has happened and time has flown by. My trip started out exciting, then I had a little hiccup, but now is even more amazing!

    Leaving on August 4th I felt totally prepared, thanks to all hard work and planning that I did with the Rotary’s help. At the airport I shed a few unexpected tears as I said my good byes. But as soon as my family was out of site I was fine and could focus on finding the right terminal and starting this incredible adventure. After a brief layover at Chicago O’Hare airport, where I met 4 other Rotary exchange students, I boarded my final plane to Helsinki. It was a 9-hour flight in which I slept for most of it.

    Around 3 am Florida time and 10 am Finland time I landed and met up with many other exchange students some really tired and some that were surprising full of energy. I was somewhere in between. Eventually buses picked up all 100 plus exchange students from all over the world and drove us to our Language and Culture camp in Karkku. We spent the week learning and having adventures not only about Finland but also some things about the students from the other countries that were there, which was really amazing to me. In the middle of the week we all took a trip to Tampere. It was such a wonderful city full of culture and history. On Saturday, at the end of camp, we said our goodbyes to the new friends that we had met and Hei to our new Host families. What a site, all of the Host moms and Dads and siblings all there to gather their new daughter or son. When mine found me, they gave me big hugs, even though I had read that Finnish people were not big Huggers. We loaded up my bags and traveled to my new home in Turku, Finland.

    My new family consisted of a mom, dad, sister, and brother. My host brother was there only a week before he also had to leave for exchange in America. After one day of unpacking and getting used to my new surroundings I started school in Turku. As far as I can tell, I am the only Exchange student in my school. There are other Rotary exchange students in Turku, but they go to different schools. I quickly found that I loved my Art class and my English class the most. The people in my English class are so much fun! I have met some really amazing people at school. My Finnish is still a work in progress, but I started with speaking Finnish to my host mom and host Aunt’s dogs’. It feels like I am the dog whisperer here in Finland, haha. I love that I have free periods at school and that I can leave school with friends and go walk around town or have a smoothie (since I don’t drink coffee) and then return to finish classes. I have so much more freedom here and I am trusted to do more on my own. I even participated in a debate at school and found it refreshing.

    Not everything the first day went perfectly. After school I was responsible for finding the right city bus to take me back home.  Welllllllllll……… That didn’t happen haha- Big fail! I got on the wrong bus and it took me three more bus transfers to get me back to where I needed to be. Needless to say, I took the scenic route home that day and learned quickly how to correct my error.

    In my free time I walk around near my house and take pictures of the rivers and churches and of course the wonderful Nature all around.  My host family has been amazing and has helped me feel comfortable with all the changes. In the first few weeks they have taken me to see the Zoo in Helsinki, Old Turku where I got to see how they lived and made things in the past, and they even let me go to a concert in Lahti to see a famous Finnish rapper named Cheek.

    After being in Finland for only 3 and a half weeks, I ended up with a surprise illness that basically stopped everything and kept me home from school for 2 and a half weeks. (The Hiccup) The worst part of being sick was feeling really weak and not being able to do many things for myself and the Pain. But after some great care from my Host parents, a lot of rest, and some antibiotics I was thankfully able to continue my unbelievable adventure here in Finland. I was really frustrated at the time, but I have also learned to appreciate my Exchange even more. I also learned during this time that I really like milk in my hot tea 😊 Kitos to my host Mom.

    If you are considering going on exchange and happen to read my Journal, I would highly recommend Finland as one of your top 5 choices. You won’t be disappointed with the fascinating beauty of Nature here and the people and the places you will get a chance to visit. My favorite place so far has been my trip to Naantali visiting my host Aunt and family. The Fall has been amazing and the old town and the nature by the sea were incredible there. Turku’s Castle and the old churches are definitely places you have to visit. Rotary does a lot here to provide us with opportunities to go places and see new things, From a trip to Lapland and the Euro-Tour to great weekends in Pori and Fireworks after a Rotary dinner. One thing I do miss is strong flavors of some American snacks. For me I found that I missed Taki’s and really sour candy. (I received a care package from my family with those requests are more inside)

    All in all, I am settling in and really enjoying my time here and I am ready for all that Finland and Exchange has to offer with an open mind.

     Kaikkea hyvää,

    Sydney Gamble

    Click HERE to read more about Syndey and all her blogs

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