Olivia, Outbound to Finland

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Wow, it’s hard to believe that I’ve been in Finland for about two months now. It feels like yesterday that I was packing and say goodbye to all my friends and family. Time on exchange definitely flies by faster than it should. Days can sometimes feel like minutes.

It’s safe to say that I have fallen in love with Finland. It offers so many amazing people and the nature is absolutely spectacular. I spend most of my time at school, with friends, and traveling around. Finnish people are definitely shy at first but when you get to know them they are some of the best people you have ever met. And having a strong exchange student community is so important because they know exactly what you are going through. School is here is way different than the States. Here you are free to leave whenever you want and you can plan your schedule to your fit. So, if you want to sleep in you can or if you want free periods you can. Traveling around Finland is so easy and affordable, and you are allowed to go where you would like as long as you inform Rotary. I have traveled to Tampere and Helsinki with my friends and to meet up with other exchange students.

Rotary in Finland makes a very large effort to create a really strong community for exchange students. When you first arrive you spend a week at camp with all the new inbounds, so you can all get to know each other and get a crash course in Finnish culture. Then, your district will probably plan a weekend for all your district exchange students to spend together. My district, 1390, planned a camping trip which was such a blast. Also, on your own, you have the opportunity to make plans with exchange students. For example, the other RYE Florida girls in Finland, Delaney and Camille, and I met up in Tampere. And last weekend several exchange students came to my town and we just hung out for the day.

I think Finland’s biggest downside is the weather. But a little rain is definitely worth it when you see the beautiful autumn colors. It is a lot colder here compared to Atlanta but you get used to it really fast. Last weekend we finally had “Finnish summer” which was sunny and 58 degrees and I broke out my shorts. But, all in all, Finland is definitely a challenge with the language and the culture but I definitely worth the work.