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.

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. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Wednesday the 13th of July was the first day for the music festival happening in my city called IskelmäViikko. It is a pretty big event for the city and people come from all over Finland for it and the city is buzzing with people during it. During the day I was home by myself and I watched a movie and Sherlock Holmes and just lazed around after my exhausting week. In the evening I went with Henriikka to her friends apartment and we hung out there and then went to the festival. It was very busy and the atmosphere was great. The concert that night was Popeda which is a very famous Finnish band that have been around for quite a while. I had never heard of them but they are pretty good! I didn't get very many good pictures or videos because of all the light so I took some off the events fb page.

Thursday I was home again and I skyped Amy for her birthday and sung Happy Birthday to her in English and Finnish and then I got to skype Julie for the first time since she left Finland. When Ritva came home I went to the city center with her and we had lätty and walked around the marketplace for a bit. There was all these couple dancing the Jenkka and it just brought a smile to my face, my little city is pretty awesome. When we came home I watched a Finnish documentary that was really moving. It was called Miesten Vuoro but in English I think it is called Steam of Life if anyone is interested in looking it up. 

The dance is called Jenkka and it is a Finnish dance

Friday was filled with blogging and watching more Sherlock Holmes and then the movie Sherlock Holmes with Ritva and Henriikka in the evening. I cleaned my room as well, exciting stuff!

Harry Potter and some new introductions

We all woke up kind of late, I doubt we would have woken for another hour, if Antti had not called asking when was breakfast. We spent most of the morning figuring out what we would do and by the time we had decided, we had run out of time so we just left. We stopped first at an Army shop that sold all this old gear from the army and some of it was pretty neat! Pauli bought his bike and rode home and Antti and I set off back to Kiuruvesi. I read my Finland Culture shock book which was really good and I recommend it to any newbies reading this. When I got home Ritva told me that I had missed Henriikka (who had just got back from Australia) because she was having a Harry Potter marathon with her cousin and that I would go and see the new movie with them tonight. I imagine my host mum was very confused about my insane smile as I said I AM GOING TO SEE HARRY POTTER TONIGHT?

Needless to say I was a little bit excited that I would get to see a midnight screening! Henriikka came home a few hours later and it was very awesome to finally get to meet her! I met her cousin, Reetta, too who is one of the biggest Harry Potter fans I have ever met and she went to the premiere in London for the second part of DH which made me insanely jealous of her. She also reads my blog so hei Rettaa! We drove to Iisalmi for the movie and it was pouring with rain. The movie itself was AMAZING. I really, really loved it! In my journal there is a very long paragraph of just all caps that I can barely read about specific things that I liked about the movie but I will not list them here because it will take to long and this blog is for my exchange and not Harry Potter. I was a bit sad when it finished because it really is over now, no more books, no more movies. 

Blurry photo in the cinema before it had started

Paljon Onnea Vaan

Paljon onnea vaan
Paljon onnea vaan
Paljon onnea Julia
Paljon onnea vaan

So the 11th of July was my 17th birthday! I had breakfast which was bread and chocolate cake with Liisa and Antti and then we cleaned up the apartment and did the dishes. We decided to go caching because it was such a nice day and I hadn't taken them out caching yet! We walked down to the coast and then had to bush bash it a bit to get to the cache. We took the super long way around the power plant to get to the next one and we were almost eaten alive by mosquitoes. The second one was much cooler and when I told them that it was actually the cache they didn't believe me, it was sort of camouflaged as something electrical. We walked back home then and Liisa and I decided that we should have a barbecue because I said that I had never had such a warm birthday. So we walked to the shops to buy things for our barbecue and then just hung out and made salad while listening to music until Pauli got home from work. The apartment block has this nice little area with barbecues and chairs and tables and we brought everything down there. Ville joined us not so long after and we all just ate and talked. We had cake and ice cream back at the apartment while watching Usavich which is this very strange show about two rabbits in jail. We all played Blokus then and I am fairly sure Pauli won every single round. It was a really lovely birthday, I missed my sisters a lot that day so it was good  that I could spend it with some of my favourite people! Thanks to everyone who wished me a Happy Birthday.

Pauli spilled porridge everywhere!

Off to the cache

Tamä ei ole roska
This is not rubbish

The cache is the black thing

Birthday Barbie

Chef Ville

Pauli stares longingly at the grass. 

Cutting the cake

om nom nom

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Home is where the heart is! But does that mean when we travel we make our destinations our home? I am fairly sure most people bring their hearts with them EVERYWHERE, I mean they are inside our bodies protected by our lungs and ribcage and skin..... Home can be a confusing word for exchange students, Rotary refers to your countries as your Home Country and your Host Country. To me this doesn't make sense because then they can talk for hours about all the different ways to make your host country; home. When someone asks me do you have this at home, it can be confusing because home is like a 5 minute bike ride from here, and only a couple of months ago it was a slightly longer bike ride away and then a few more months before that well someone please try riding a bike from Finland to Australia and get back to me on how long that takes and then in just a few weeks it will a different place again! So were do you mean?!? I sort of consider my home to be Kiuruvesi because I live with many people and that's a big thing they have in common. When I leave Finland will I be leaving home or going back home? 

7th of July, Thursday
I was up early to go to Iisalmi with Jarmo to do a bit of shopping. It was a bit early and I had to walk around for a bit to wait for the shops to open and I ran into a rebound I know who lives in Iisalmi. I found it a little comical that I know 4 people in Iisalmi and I managed to run into one of them! Oh small cities! One of the important things to me at this point in my exchange is that when I am shopping I don't speak any English and normally this all goes fine because Finns aren't big on their small talk which works in my favour! This particular day I was at the very last store and it was all going good until the guy doing the transactions starts up this huge long speech about some sort of rewards card. I wasn't really paying attention and by the time my brain said, stop him and tell him you have no idea what he is saying, he had already been talking for almost a minute and I would have looked pretty stupid explaining that I had stared at him for a minute trying to understand when really I was like: 

So I just let him finish and then said no in Finnish and grabbed my stuff and left, utterly embarrassed because I imagine he was very confused. Just one of my many, 'Julia manages to make a huge fool out of her self in Finland' stories. The sad thing is many of them don't involve being confused by the language.

When we got home I packed and we went to Peltohovi and I had Finland's idea of spag bog, I doubt that a tomato got anywhere near that bowl of pasta, I imagine the Italians would be horrified! The Finns even put normal tomato sauce on their pasta sometimes, which shocked me a bit! After that I was dropped of at my first host families house because I was staying there a few days while my family drove to Helsinki to pick up Henriikka, who was returning from her exchange in Australia. Tiina, Antti and I played GH until Tiina and I rode down to the beach and swum for a little while because once again it was freezing! Afterwards we joined in stacking firewood with bunch of people that had come down to Koskelo to restock the place before winter. Its so great seeing people from my little city come together on their own time to make sure the whole community can make use of the place all year round! It says a lot about the sort of people most Finns are. Tiina and I camped out in the tent that night but I woke after 1 hour of terrible sleep and sneaked inside and slept on the couch! In my defence, I swear my mattress was more like a tissue than an actual mattress.

The next day was spent doing the grocery shopping, cleaning the house and re stocking the shed with wood. My family uses so much fire wood! They fill an entire shed full of it and use almost all of it in just one winter! We played that Finnish bowling game that I mentioned way back in January and some more GH until Eeeva, Ville and Liisa arrived and we watched a very strange TV show. 

On Saturday everyone was up pretty early and we all had breakfast together, it was nice doing all the 'normal' things with them again. We all got ready and drove the 25 or so kms that it took to get to the strawberry farm. We split up into to teams and then just picked the strawberries! It was a really hot day and exhausting work but it was fun because you can eat the strawberries while you pick them! In the end we had picked as a group almost 30 kilograms of strawberries! At home we mashed them up a bit and sprinkled them with sugar and put them in containers with MANSIKKA 2011 on them, which I was in charge of, ready to be used throughout the year in berry soups and cooking! Antti made strawberry smoothies for us all and we just talked and ate strawberries. I ate so many strawberries that I actually had a stomach ache by the end of the day. I helped Liisa make two cakes, one for Pauli and one for my birthday. When I help Liisa make anything I really just sit there and talk to her but Liisa insists I actually help! We drove to the Summer cottage then and it was quite a way out of the city. It was absolutely mind blowingly beautiful as expected. Pauli made Letty and as I recall Liisa and I talked about the difference in plastic bottles between Aus and Finland? haha The letty were delicious and afterwards Tiina, Liisa and I went for a swim in the lake and I just can't explain how much how I love the lakes here, they are just amazing, I swear they have magic properties. We all went in the sauna and got to jump in the lake afterwards which is such a nice feeling. We ate Pauli's cake and then it was time to leave. It was such a hot night, most Finnish homes don't have air-con so the houses get really warm in the summer and it was so hard to sleep! 

Mansikat <3

Strawberry fingers!

All of the strawberries we picked

Being mashed

Ready to be frozen

Liisa and the cake she made for Pauli

It was to celebrate Pauli finishing his service at the army. It says 362 days has passed because that is how long Pauli was in the army for. 

Suomen Järvissä <3

Us three and Äiti in the corner


Sunday we were all up early again to get ready for a confirmation party. Confirmations are a really big cultural thing here and almost every teenager will be confirmed when they are about 14 or 15. The confirmation we were going to was for a good friend of the families. There was a lot of handshaking and having people question who I was. First time that I kinda felt annoyed that everyone was speaking on my behalf. The food was absolutely delicious and we all got huge glasses of ice cream with strawberries afterwards! There was this huge cake that Ellinoora (the girl who was being confirmed) had made herself! After the party Pauli, Liisa and I went to Essi and Jaana's just for a little while and had coffee and chatted. I  finally got to meet Magalie who I had been friends on fb for a while, she had been an exchange student in Kiuruvesi a few years ago. We drove to Oulu after that, all squashed up in the back seat! When we got there we drank coke and watched YouTube videos, I was introduced the most annoying song to get stuck in your head ever. If you want to forever have it playing in your mind, you can watch here. The time difference between Australia and Finland meant that I was already getting birthday messages at 6 in the evening which I must admit was pretty cool! 

Jaana decided to show us her Penkarrit costume