I am using this blog to tell everyone what I'm thinking and doing beforehand, during and after my exchange year in Finland for 2011.

Thursday, January 31, 2013


I had another District camp this time in Pieksämäki , It was so great to see all the Aussies again and meet the newbie’s! It was very weird seeing them at the very beginning of their exchanges. They asked the same sort of questions and commented on all the same sort of things we did at the start which is really weird! It was a really fun camp, we gave little speeches in Finnish, had a mini Olympics, went on a hike through the forest and SAW THE NORTHERN LIGHTS! Yep! It was about 3am and they were only white but it was definitely them! I didn't get any pictures, they lasted all of 3 minutes and then they were gone. It was a very strange time to be seeing them and so far south, we were very lucky!

I really loved the weather in September and I would often take a walk in the big forest that was a few hundred metres from my house. It wouldn’t be a blog about me without a story where I made a fool of myself though. They were working on the track so that there would be a bridge for snow mobiles or something and it meant that there had been a lot of digging around the tracks and after a few days of rain, they turned into great big mud pits….. On one of my walks I was faced by a mud pit and simply had to walk through it. Even after that somewhat small mishap, I was faced with a dirty great big trench! I had to jump and hope I didn’t slip in, it was deep enough and wet enough that it would have been very hard to get out! I did love the forest though. 

September brought a lot of planning as Mum and Dad had booked in their flights and I was responsible for organising lots of activities with the Visit Finland people. It was an exciting time! It was also very nerve racking as I was picking my subjects and pathways for year 12 around this time too. Strange to think back to when it was just planning and now it is over! 

I also got to see another play at the local theatre in September, it was being directed by a friend of mine, I saw the play 4 times through rehearsals and then an actual showing with Tiina. The local theatre was a really important part of my exchange in the last few months. I loved it and wish I had been more involved or at least, watched, earlier. 

As many Rotary students will know, changing host families will mean there are these inevitable "phases" that your exchange will go through, little things like the route you go to school, people you become friends with or family traditions that become part of your life that mean a lot to your exchange experience, when you move families you may or may not be able to keep those  special things but they mean a lot. One very special person in my exchange was my host grandma Doris. I loved all my host grandparents and they were all very lovely people but Doris was such a beautiful person and I was able to spend a lot of time with her during my exchange. Sometimes we would just have lunch or sometimes we might walk to the cemetery to water the flowers or walk down to the lake where it would drop a few more degrees. I was very grateful for my friendship with Doris, my Nana here in Australia is one of my best friends so it meant a lot to have a Finnish Nana as well.  

That awkward moment when Ana POKES SOPHIE IN THE EYE XD

Finnish beauty

Lunch time shenanigans

This was a pretty rad place (y)

At the theatre with Tiina :)

Group shot!

The beautiful Finnish Autumn 

Going on a bear hunt, going to catch a big one!

Oh no! 

Would have been helpful before I walked up the hill...

Saturday, May 26, 2012


I just can’t bring the blog back and not finish off the year. I just cant. August brought the beginning of school and it was nice to find that I could follow a bit more in class and begun to try to talk to the teachers in Finnish only. Poor Ari, he was very nice about the fact that I made no sense. Ari was my favourite teacher, then Jaana. Everyone told me she was scary but then again they had to take Swedish with her, I didn't :P

I joined a Finnish class in August and went every Tuesday night and it was great. I was the youngest there and in the middle in terms of skill level but it was good for my grammar and it was nice to be surrounded by people who understood what it was like. I also spent a few weeks in a pottery class but I had to stop going because the time was annoying but that was great fun too and they were both free! Some of my Tuesdays consisted of a whole school day, 1 hour in the library, lunch, Finnish class and then an hour of swimming before being picked up! It was nice to be busy though.  I had a German class in my first Jakso of the new school year and that was good too! It was the first class so everyone was at the same level as me which helped for about 2 weeks but then they just whizzed past me :P Damn Finns and their language skills!

I visited Savonlinna with Leena in August and it was for a Kosonen Family meeting. For the first time in my life, I was in a room packed with people with the same last name as me. It may sound weird but it makes you feel like you’re part of something bigger. Nobody there was even indirectly related to me because the meeting was really for a separate branch of the Kosonen tree but Leena had offered to bring me and I was really grateful for the experience! I got to see the castle too which was cool because when I was little it was the only thing I knew about Finland!

At the meeting

In Savonlinna!


Picture me on my knees taking this photo when someone walks by.. Of course being Finland they didn't even give me a second glance!

Soaking in the last of the summer days

Friday, May 25, 2012

Its been a while....

I don't have many regrets from my exchange but not keeping my blog alive has to be one of them. I loved my blog, still do, but towards the end it just became too much of a stress than an enjoyable thing and when I got home, I was being too nitpicky, wanting to ‘one day’ get it up to date. Now over 4 months have been and gone and my blog is in the same shape so I am just going to post this! This blog has been alive for over 2 years now and I am pretty proud of that achievement in itself.

Woah did I say 4 months? Wow.

Time is a weird thing for an exchange student and it doesn't stop when you get back to your home country.  I’ve done many things in the last 4 months, things I’ve missed with people I missed and I hope I keep the momentum and get around to writing about them. This year I am in year 12 which is the final year of High School, it was difficult at the start because after a messy year 10 and year 11 in Finland, getting back into the swing was hard. Still don't really have as good as a grip as I would like but hey I’m getting through it. My first report card was pretty good and I am still somehow maintaining A’s (except Research Project, but about that later).

I don't think I had a honeymoon return phase but I still have my new perspective. You realise the things you enjoyed how much you really enjoy them when you don't get to do them in a year. Like camping and caching. I’ve been doing a lot of them! I enjoy people getting my jokes again (sorry Finns) and having people understand the pop culture references I make way too often.

I’ve been enjoying spending time with my friends and family who I missed very much. A lot of my friends now have their P’s (driving license) so that has been a new exciting freedom for us all. I am learning to drive with Dad, I still need to complete a few more hours of driving and then take a test. I have learnt quite quickly though and quite enjoy driving.

I miss Finland every day but I try to keep positive about it. It got me down a lot at the beginning and didn't cope very well but routine helps. I still get to Skype, not as often as I would like but I get email updates on their lives and as much as it pains me not to be apart of them anymore, I know they’re happy and its all I can hope for right now. I keep little reminders throughout my life, like maps, flags, pictures and my lovely moomin mugs, which for a while I refused to even take out of my cupboard for fear they would get broken.

I do miss the feeling of accomplishment you get when you can have a conversation in another language. To others my Finnish was not that great in the end but I was proud of my achievements. In my last 3 months I greatly improved because of my dear little sister, Liina, who I owe a good chunk of my Finnish too. She is only 9 (well 10 very soon, paljon onnea Liina!) but she was a ruthless teacher! We would spend 10 minutes on just one word, until I got it perfect! I owe the other huge chunk, of course, to Liisa who really can’t get enough airtime on this blog. Without her teaching at the beginning, I would not have been able to talk to Liina and just the thought of that is horrible!

Everyone helped me in my Finnish; in fact everyone helped me with everything! They may say the Finns are cold (because hey it is cold!) and quiet but they have big warm hearts and they will help people out and not expect anything in return. I am so grateful for everything that everyone did for me when I was in Finland and I hope that I managed to let everyone know that but here it is for the world to see. I cant even list names, it would take too long. I don't think some people realise that if you ask an exchange student over for coffee and pulla, you may just make her whole week. Mostly I am grateful for my families, they all became like families to me and I miss all their smiling faces.(you get used to the Finnish smiles :P) I also owe a lot to my wonderful Rotary counsellor, Kalevi, who helped me out through out the year. Seriously guys, cant say enough good things about Rotary. Everyone at my school was great too, especially at the end when I started seeming a little bit less odd. If I ever won a Nobel prize, my thank you speech would be pretty long….

It still hasn't finished though!!! My real family were also amazing <3 My mum sent me emails almost everyday, just telling me what they were up too, I didn't reply often but just knowing what was happening was a comfort for me, especially in the beginning when Dad was still ill and then when the silly thing went and fell of his bike and ended up in Hospital again! Talk about frequent flyer… I got skyped in to a bit of Christmas and a few family dinners and just having the support from my family was the best thing I could have hoped for. My Mum and Dad came to visit me in October, which I hope to blog about and that was a great experience for us all too. My mum got to learn 1-10 in Finnish from Liina who couldn't really grasp that mum had no idea! They have both retained ‘kiitos’ and ‘hei hei’ though, Dad says whenever this song ever plays on the radio it makes him think of Finland. I did a bit of travel with them and luckily we had some snow too! I also missed my sisters terribly and that has got to be the best thing about being back, I love you guys (even though I know you don't read my blog!). My rotary counsellor here has also been a great help, before during and even now. I owe so much thanks to so many people. This whole experience has changed my life forever and I will never forget everyone who helped me have the best time I could.

This post is messy and doesn't have a very good flow, but it makes me feel happy. I know it sounds like a goodbye but I promise its not. I will be back soon. 

First day back with Dad and Mum

Clayton with the sunset

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Niin paljon marjoja!

Another thing you should know about Finns is that most of them are very passionate about their berries! There is a law that in the forest anyone can collect as many berries as they would like, regardless of who the forest belongs too. During the summer Finnish people pick a lot of berries and freeze them to use throughout the year. I think its a great mentality, its just another way that Finland shows that it is very sustainable. Already I have picked strawberries and blueberries and this time I was picking blackcurrants which are mostly used to make juice or berry soup which is delicious! I asked my family if they had heard of Ribena but sadly Finland is deprived of its awesomeness :( We also tried a few other berries that were in their garden, like gooseberries and others that I don't know that names of. 

After we picked all the berries, Liisa and I made apple and blackcurrant crumble and it was quite tasty but blackcurrants have a very intense taste that I didn't enjoy so much.  I rode home that night under a full moon, by then it was dark and it felt almost like I was in a dream because there was a lot of fog and it was all light up by just the light of the moon.

The recipe actually said, now take a moment to take a picture of the sugar on the berries

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Being Suomalainen

On the 4th of August, the running club had a bit of a special event and my first host parents were running there so I went along.  We cooked makkara and made coffee on the fire and it was all very Finnish. I always love when we go to Koskelo, it is one of my favourite places in Finland. 

I love this place, I love this country, I love my life.


At the start of August my host parents were on holidays and we spent quite a few days at the summer cottage. I tried to water ski but I just couldn't do it! I was a bit disappointed in myself but I got to go on the tube thing which was good fun as well.

The last part of July

It feels weird to be talking about day to day things so I am just going to do some highlights for a little while, maybe until I catch up.

On the 23rd I rode to Murennos and spent the day hanging out with all of them. The weather was really lovely and Ville, Eeva and I rode our bikes into the city to get soft drink and it was so peaceful out! We played GH and we had full cream milk ice-cream, flash back to I think March when I had it last! We watched a movie on TV and it was about a Finnish excahnge student in America. One thing I loved about the summer is that I can ride my bike home at 10pm and it is still light! The very next day I rode to Murennos again and this time I got absolutely saturated riding there, the weather can change so much in just one day!

On Friday the 29th I was up early to go to Doris' place to help her make some pulla. I leant some new pulla making techniques and we ate them afterwards and they were DELICIOUS! My pulla can't even compare. On Saturday there was a Soccer Tournament for lots of teams in my city. I went with Ritva and Salla and it was insanely warm, I think that it had to be one of the warmest days for the whole summer. Jarmo, Santeri and Henriikka were all playing so we watched a few games and I took some photos. There was a magician there who did a card trick for us all and I had never seen it before and I wanted to know how it worked! Don't you just hate that! Actually there was a famous singer there that day and I got to shake his hand which brings my famous Finns count to 4! I got so sunburned that day and I had a strange shaped top on and it was the stupidest looking sunburn ever.

I also made biscuits, who can guess the shapes?



Sunday, October 9, 2011

6 Months and 1 year

16th to 22nd of July
It was Jarmo's birthday on the 16th so we spent the morning making some things for afternoon tea. When everyone arrived, I got a few birthday presents. A lovely pair of earrings, some Marimekko cases, some cloud-berries and a cactus! We watched a slideshow on Henriikka's pictures from Australia. One thing about Finnish people is that when young people have a birthday, Christmas or confirmation, it is common for them to receive gifts like sets of plates, mugs and kitchen utensils that they can keep in storage until they move out and then they have a collection of things to use. I think it is a great idea and am going to be asking for those sorts of things for my next birthday. In the evening I watched the very last episode of Sea Patrol ever :( I love that show!

On the Sunday I woke up early and tried to find the motivation to finish my eurotour blogs. I got a way but gave up after before I finished. Ritva and I drove up into the forest and picked some blueberries because I wanted to make blueberry muffins. The mosquitoes were crazy! We came home after just two containers of blueberries and had lunch. We all went to Ritva’s mums place and had pulla and coffee and laid out in the sun on the trampoline. I had ice cream with cloudberries and they were really delicious!

I made my blueberry muffins on the Monday morning and they turned out really, really well. I used this recipe and I couldn’t recommend it any more. I went to volleyball in the evening and I hadn’t been in a while and it was good to be back! We played beach volleyball with some of Henriikka's friends afterwards and it was pretty fun. I thought it was funny how as the game progressed the swearing increased and how much I understood did too :P

The rest of the week was spent doing nothing at all, I was sick and I had gone into holiday hibernation. I went to the library and borrowed some kids books to read in Finnish and on the way home got absolutely saturated. Finnish summer is really lovely but it rains almost every second day! Coming from the direst state on the driest continent, I got sick of it quite quickly. The Friday was my 6 month mark in Finland which was just incomprehensible. 

In more recent news, I moved host families just over a week ago. That means that the next time I pack up all my things, it will be to head back to Australia. Time is running out so fast but I have been trying to not think of it and just live with the time I have. It is also the 1 year mark from when Dad fell which is so crazy! At the time each day felt so long and hard and now a whole year has been and gone. Mum and Dad are in the air right now, heading to Europe, I think its fitting that their flight was today.