Lizzy, Outbound to Finland

Moi!!

It’s been a little over a month since I’ve arrived here in my new home, Espoo, Finland and every day blows my mind in a new way. I’ve gone on boat rides through Helsinki with my host dad, eaten lots of Finnish foods, went kayaking in cold waters, drunken countless numbers of coffee, seen the most beautiful sunset of my life with my best friends, gone to an amusement park, and so much more!! I feel so lucky with my host family. They’re understanding, patient, so kind, goofy, and are always there to support me and help me with my Finnish. I’ve made more friends than I ever thought I could have, joined a soccer team, and really have become apart of my host family. I love it here. Exchange has been the best choice I’ve made in my life so far. But don’t be fooled... Exchange isn’t an escape from anything. And it DEFINITELY is not an escape from emotions.This past month has been one of the best and hardest months of my life (so far). I’ve cried multiple times, gone through some things I never would’ve imagined having to deal with, felt homesick and cried some more. It has been hard, I’m not going to try to sugar coat it. Some days I just want to lay in bed and watch Gilmore Girls all day. But I don’t. Because I know that my family wouldn’t have sent me half way across the world if they didn’t think I could do it. With every time I’ve cried I’ve become stronger and I already feel much more mature. I feel confident when handling situations on my own instead of terrified. I’ve learned so much about myself and Finland in the past month. While it certainly is incredibly hard to leave everything familiar behind to go into a foreign country which you’ve only researched through books and the internet- it is incredible. Everyday is a new day to experience something you’ve never experienced before. Everyday is a new day to try something new. Even though I am currently dealing with something I still handle everyday as a gift. Because I know I only have one September 9th here. And I don’t intend on wasting it crying alone in my room. I already know how to cope with feelings of homesickness and I know that exchange is roller coaster of emotions. But I wouldn’t trade this past month for the world. I am having the time of my life here! I am truly in love with Finland. I love my new friends, both exchange and local. I love my host family. And I just love this whole country. I always smile when i remember I’m actually living here! I’ll also let you in on a secret haha. (Sorry mom & dad if you’re reading this). But my mom really didn’t think it was the right choice for me to go on exchange. “Just wait til college, you’ll have more freedom” she kept telling me. I kept trying and I said “will you just go to a meeting PLEASE!” And she did go. Well I guess that meeting went pretty well because look where I am now. Which also says something- if you’re really passionate about wanting to go on exchange don’t let the word “no” stop you. I didn’t and heyyy from Finland!!! Parents will see all the incredible work rotary does and see how many kids went and had the time of their lives. So my secret to you (which another exchange student told me)- is if your parents are saying no- just tell them to go to a meeting before they make up their mind. It worked for me! Ok I’ve rambled on for 655 words now. But thank you for reading! If you’re thinking about doing Exchange- ask any of us outbounds because trust me- we LOVE talking about our exchange.

-Lizzy Landauer

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