Lizzy, Outbound to Finland

Moikka ja anteeks. It has been a hot minute since I have uploaded a journal, so I'm so sorry to all of my fans (my mom) who are always excited (my mom) to see what I have been up to (my mom). Okay so it is currently March 7th 2019. And a lot has happened. In short- I HAD A WHITE CHRISTMAS!! It was so cool to experience another cultures Christmas as in Finland everything happens on the 24th, and the ~real~ Santa comes to give you your gifts. I really bonded with my host family during this break, went skiing on Christmas Day. I tried avanto which is where you go to sauna (get slapped with some birch branch), then run to the frozen lake where they cut out a hole of ice to swim in. in one word- COLD. I got to visit many little Christmas markets which was amazing. The Estonia Girl finally went to Estonia and it was beautiful. I got to go to Lapland in November which was- words cannot describe how amazing. Huskie rides, meeting Santa and going to Santa Clause Village, snowboarding, long bus rides with the coolest people, laughing, feeding real reindeer and learning about the Sami people and their culture. Okay! so luckily I was not homesick during Christmas time. Which made it easy to fully immerse myself into Finnish Christmas culture! Okay next biggest thing was Wanhat- an old traditional dance done by the second graders at the high school. I got to take part in that which was so cool. And it is NOTHING like prom in the US. Here your dress-for one- is big and fancy and ballgown like. Second- you have to take the class to learn all the traditional dances. Everybody looked beautiful that day and for the girls its like the biggest day of their life after their wedding day. Then it was skiing holiday where I went to Turku and tried downhill skiing for the first time (I did not fall once!). I moved in with my THIRD host family a month and a week ago. And I move in another month. At the end of this month I go to Sweden, and next month is the World Championships for Ice skating AND GUESS WHO GETS TO GO!!! (its me and my host families if you are bad at guessing). But okay now for the real talk part I include in every journal. My year is nothing like I expected it to be. Now I would not give this opportunity up for ANYTHING. But I think unfortunately I will always be excited to go back home. I have not felt that "I never want to leave!!" feeling... yet, maybe it will come. But I have about 100 days left In Finland, and in June I have Eurotour so that will be AMAZING!. But lately I was affected by fools spring. Where I THOUGHT spring was coming as the snow was melting, the sun was shining and it was getting up to 45 degrees F. But as I type this, lots of snow is falling and it is 25 degrees. Lately I have also noticed that since Jasmine left to go back to Australia it has been hard making new friends. I have friends to go to coffee with and hang out with but they aren't like best best friends. I mean I have met one of my best friends here who is an exchange student from Michigan who I could not be more thankful for. I know for a fact that we have built a life long friendship. But okay, the snow is back, the cold is back, people still forget to tell me important things like "oh class is cancelled" which is why I have decided to write this because that happened today and I had nothing else to do. But I remembered Rotary's five finger rule. You cannot have all five. I certainly do not have all five. But I have great host families- amazing exchange friends and honestly? I am content. School and local friends and the language are all very hard. And I have tried so hard to learn Finnish. I understand so much, but my speaking abilities are low. But that's okay because I tried, and I am still trying. Local friends? I am working on it, I still ask people to hang out a lot and I am becoming closer with lots of people at my school. So, no, I don't have all 5 fingers, I have two. But hey, at least its not none. When things like the darkness, cold, and loneliness beat you down you have to keep going. Whether you want to or not. You cannot choose what happens in your day goes but you can choose how to look at it. And you have to stay positive through the tough things. Because this isn't forever. And when I am really upset I always go for a walk. I have a new rule. No matter how cold or how upset or lazy I feel- if the weather is nice (sunny and clear), then I go for a walk. But to you new exchange students! When the weather sucks, its dark, you feel homesick and lonely. Journal, go for a walk, be with your hos family, hang out with a friend or call a friend here. But don't shut down!! Sometimes you just have to take it day by day. Everything gets better with time, so just let time do its thing and before you know it you'll have only 3,5 months til you return home again. Its all a learning experience and don't compare exchanges! Anyways, til next time.

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