Kylie, outbound to Finland

This week, I reached six months in Finland. When  I think about that, it really astounds me and I am not sure how to feel. In the Florida orientations we spent many hours reviewing the exchange cycle: all of the stages you supposedly  go through on exchange. Basically it says that exchange has its ups and downs, well that's definitely one thing they nailed right on the head.

In these past six months I think I have felt more than ever. I've had plenty of time to think, to cry, to laugh until my stomach hurts, I've been sick, I've been sad, and I have suffered through my share of embarrassing moments. I remember talking to my sister in the first month saying, "it's so weird, I feel the happiest I have ever been and still sad at the same time." and she said to me, "well that's the exchange student feeling." Sometimes it can be really hard to be a minor living without anything familiar. Leaving everything you know can open your eyes to a lot of the things that were happening in your home country, both good and bad.

For me, I've definitely started to realize how important family truly is, but I have also begun to realize faults in American culture and even in myself. It has also been a time for me to look at my friendships and see clearly who my true friends are and always have been. Then again me saying this is sort of funny because I still have a whole other six months to grow and figure things out and my opinions could change completely from what they are now.

With my half way point, came my new family. I'll be honest I was a bit nervous to move. After six months with my first family, you can say I got pretty attached. Not only that, but also once you get comfortable it's kind of hard to uproot and move, and to make yourself adjust once again. However, so far, I can say that I was worried for nothing.

My family has been very welcoming and I already feel very comfortable, but the thing is that I'm switching my focus language. In my first family, they speak both Finnish and Swedish but I go to a Finnish speaking school so I focused on Finnish. However, now I am beginning to study Swedish because it is the predominate language of my new family. This does create some complications since my school and my friends are still Finnish speaking but I will try hard and hopefully everything will work out. It does get a bit confusing though, even after one week because I go to school and I hear Finnish all day. That is, until I go to Spanish class. In Finnish. Oh, and Swedish class. In Finnish. When I'm thinking in English and listening in Finnish and translating to Spanish or Swedish. I anticipate that when I come back, my English will not be so good.

Next week, Friday the thirteenth (what a convenient date for something important), I have the Finnish prom. Before you get the wrong idea, I need to explain. So, the second year students in Lukio have been going to practices to learn traditional dances for several months now and next Friday we will present them to secondary schools in our town, our own school, and then in the evening for the families. Needless to say, I'm a bit nervous. The dances are not really difficult, but they are a lot to remember. Wish me luck!