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.

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