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.

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