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, January 30, 2011

Day 2 and 3 of Karkku

I am in Kiuruvesi now! I had a wonderful first night and also first day and there will be a longer post about that later. Here are just some quick summaries I wrote up a few days ago. 

Day 2 of Karrku

In the morning we had our first Finnish lesson, it was very good and the Finnish language is very logical so once you understand it, you just need to practise a lot to remember it all! We played a small ice breaker game where we had a finnish word with the same letter as our name and I was Joulupukki! SANTA!!
Sometime between the end of our first lesson and lunch it started snowing again so we all went outside and danced in the snow and took some pictures. The next lesson was on the alphabet and the different sounds that all the letters make, I was pretty stoked with myself because I can roll my r’s! Its one of those things some people just can’t do, like folding your tongue. Our teacher said that the Finnish president can’t roll her r’s! Kahvi and pulla time as usual and then out onto the soccer field for some snow soccer!! It was great fun but a bit slippery! There was a bit of dispute about one of the goals but our team definitely won ;) I got into a snow fight with Jooel but he is much stronger than me so he just threw me into the snow, which was good fun!
We had a quick presentation about Sauna after that and it was very interesting! One thing all the Finns told us was that we had to jump in the lake, It is a finnish thing and everyone does it! The lady giving the talk said only about 20 percent of Finns actually jump in the lake so we’d all been tricked! I don’t really see why they are so scared of it. I was talking to my host sister and she was surprised that I had actually gone in the lake because she had never done it hersef, I thought that was pretty funny.
I had my first clueless encounter with a finnish person today, I was going to the office to get my laptop and a little girl who looked about 7 looked at me and jabbered something at me and I just smiled and nodded at her and she giggled at me! There are two little girls that are sometimes running around the rooms, they sometimes come up to us with their wrists stuck together with tape, giggling their heads off , they are the cutest! I skipped sauna today because I was feeling a bit sick and it was also especially cold. When we went down to the sauna lounge we played this strange clappy game that I was really bad at and we all watched multiple people try to beat beth at speed, it got pretty intense while Lewis was playing because he almost beat her at one point!

Fast Finnish Fact # 1: There are more saunas’ in Finland then there are cars.

Joulupukki: Santa

My first snow!

Playing soccer

Go light coloured jacket team!

A cool shot I got of the trees

The weird clappy game

Karkku day 3

Today was amazing! Plain and simple! In the morning we had lessons which included the months, the seasons and also numbers. At the start of lessons we did this hilarious song and dance which basically documents the life of a banana including being digested and then being popped! We play the strangest games here! When lessons were over at about 3, we had a slideshow presentation about life in Finland which included all the holidays and what sort of things the Finns do during the year. It was very interesting and we learnt a few funny things about the Finns but I can’t remember any specifics right now. We also learnt all about Christmas and joulupukki and who should turn up as were talking about him but Joulupukki himself! We all sat on joulupukki's lap and he gave us finnish lollies. We had a delicious dinner then we all went and got rugged up for our wilderness training! There was this beautiful husky dog that went with one of the groups and while we were waiting we all fussed over him.
Then we split into groups and I was in the bear (karhu) group, our first activity was finnish crepe pancake things which were called lätty, We cooked them on a fry pan with a really long handle over the fire. We ate them with jam and sugar and they were delicious! After that we had a shot at cooking some finnish sausages or makkara, ou cook then on a long stick like a marshmallow, so not straight onto the fire but more over the coals. We went for a short walk down to the ice cave which was like an igloo but its just snow compacted together, it was so awesome! It had two chambers and you had to slide under and then slide up into the main chamber which had a hole in the bottom for our feet. It was really warm inside; we were all sweating by the time we got out. We learnt about how to make them so that they’re safe and you have enough oxygen! We had a quick shot at this weird spear thing that you sort of throw with this weird pole thing but we didn’t stay long because to do it you had to have your gloves off and the temperature was down to about -18 so it was freezing! We had try at the snow shoes and they were really fun! I stopped to take a picture of Sophie and then she said she’d take one of me and I stepped backwards not knowing the snow sloped and I fell straight in and this was almost waist deep snow so I had to get pulled out :P After we had all had a shot we trekked about halfway across the river to where they had a fire set up and some ice fishing! Lewis got to pull the line in and it actually had a fish on it! We got to try digging the hole which includes drilling the holes and then cutting the rest out with a funny scissor/ spear thing. We also tried the salmon that had been cooked on the fire and there were some ice sculptures there that a famous ice sculptor had made! He let us ruin them though by having a shot at the carving. We all joined up as a big group now and by this time most of us were freezing! We went for a short walk back to the campsite but halfway through our leader told us to stop and be really quiet and not use our camera flashes. I looked over and there was this big brown shadow curled up beside a tree and a lot of people were OMG its an actual bear!! The nature guy threw a snowball at it and it didn’t move and then he threw another and it got up and started running towards us! It was obvious as soon as it stood up it wasn’t an actual bear, I think if I had actually thought about it, awakening a real bear in front of 30 exchange students should have seemed a bit suspicious! That concluded our wilderness night and we all went inside and got a diploma saying we survived the finnish wilderness! Yay!

Makkara : Sausage
Lätty: Pancake/Crepe
Karhu: Bear

Joulopukki! He looks an awful lot like Jooel... hmmm


Cooking our lätty

Group shot! 

In the ice cave!

Christina, Eamon, Me and Sophie's glove

The fishing hole


Drill that hole!

Carve that ice!


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day 1 of Karkku

So I am going to try very hard to make myself update my blog, I really love it when I have a completed post but it is a bit of effort to sit down and write them and get the best pictures and then upload all the others but I will try for you all!
So for those that don’t know all the southern hemisphere inbounds for Finland all go to an orientation camp for the first week and we learn Finnish language and culture and do Finnish things! The camp runs till Saturday and then our host families pick us up!

Day 1 of Karkku
We were awoken to one of our tutors banging on the tour telling us to wake up or we will miss breakfast! Breakfast was rice bubbles, rolls with ham, cheese and tomato and two types of porridge. I accidently put buttermilk on my rice bubbles and all the tutors laughed at me! After breakfast we had a bit of time to our selves so Ana, Miki, Sophie and I went for a bit of a walk around the grounds and to take some photos. Everything is so magical here, it is just so hard to explain and my pictures really don’t do it any justice. The snow is the brightest white and the trees are amazing, as most of you have probably heard me say already! We had a quick intro session and we met all the Tutors, most of them are past exchange students so they know exactly how we are feeling! They are all really nice and my groups tutor is Reeta and she went to Germany for her exchange. Then straight on to kahvi time which is coffee for those non-Finns out there. kahvi time is actually in our schedule everyday, kahvi and Pulla is a very important time of the day for Finns. Pulla is a bit like a cinnamon scroll except not quite as soft and much yummier! I love kahvi and pulla time!



My First Photo in Suomi!

Kahvi and Pulla (also chocolate cake)

I got to talk to dad for a bit and sent some emails and photos home, to me it felt like I’d only been gone a day but it was more like 3 especially with the time difference! After computer time we all had a shot at trying the pulkka which is Finnish for sled. This was insanely fun! At first we were just going down the small driveway into the forest but then we moved on to the main driveway into the camp and you actually get quite a bit of speed and it is great fun! Unfortunately I didn’t really get a picture of me on the Pulkka but someone else has one and when I find out who it is, I will post the picture here! So I thought that nothing could get anymore awesome than sliding down the snow on the pulkka but after tea we had to get ready for Sauna! Pronounced Sah-oo-nah by the way, it seems the western world stole the word and then decided they didn’t like how it was said! Anyway Sauna= AWESOME! You get in the sauna and at first it is a bit unpleasant because it is really hot and I mean really hot! We averaged at about 65 degrees, the whole time, after a while it actually feels really nice and you slowly work out how to breathe properly and the feeling that you are being cooked sort of goes away. After you’re all warmed up, you pull your socks on and make a mad dash down the steps and wait your turn to go in the lake. This is outside in the -5 degree cold with only our underwear on! Anyway then you go down the ladder into the lake and just sort of wade around for a bit until it is just way to cold and you scramble out and run as fast as you can back into the sauna to warm back up! The first time I only got up to my knees in the water because it is freezing! Your whole body goes numb! The second time I went all the way up to my shoulders which is as far as you should go because the cold water is very bad for your head. That time felt much nicer because your body is cooling and heating up at the same rate. Hmm I’m not explaining it very well! After a bit somehow we all managed to start a snow fight inside the sauna because there is a bucket of snow that you can rub on yourself if you get a bit hot. It was so fun but very un-Finnish! Saunas are for deep thinking and reflection on the meaning of life, not snow fights and giggles! We all had a good time so we can be proper Finns later!
Towards the end a few of us decided to jump in the snow right after the sauna and that was even colder than the ice because the snow sticks to you and it is a lot more sudden too because with the lake you have to lower your self down whereas the snow is just boom! I think I enjoyed that a bit more than the ice but maybe that’s because the sauna was a lot closer to get back inside afterwards!
The Sauna

After everyone had enough Sauna we all piled into the lounge room and played a few games; Mafia, Charades and wink murder. Then it was off to bed! That night I woke up at 5am because I was still a tiny bit jetlagged which was very annoying but I decided I would use that opportunity to write in my journal so I came out into the lounge and it was snowing outside!!! Only a tiny little bit but it was the first time I’d ever seen it snow, I was a bit devastated though because by the time I’d walked the 10 steps to my room to get my camera, it had stopped! :(

Anyway thus ends my first full day in Finland and was it one of the best days of my life? Yes, yes it very much was!
Day 2 to follow soon!

Some Finnish words you should have learnt
Kahvi – Coffee
Pulla – Finnish Cinnamon Scroll
Pulkka – Sled

Going for a walk

More Trees!

The lake we jumped into

Snow Angels!

So beautiful

Delicious Lunch


Happy Australia Day everyone! We are going to Tampere tomorrow for shopping and a bit of sights seeing! It should be awesome but I doubt it will beat the awesomeness that was tonight. I will post about it soon, I am exhausted! I will probably not get any of my photos uploaded until I get to my host family because the internet here is very slow!

xx Julia

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Journey!

This will be mostly pictures of the 34+ hours that it took to get to Finland!

All the Family! 


Pam and David

Goodbye Adelaide!

Leaving Melbourne

The Melbourne to Singapore flight was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I just watched a movie, HIMYM, read for a bit and just chilled out. It was over in a jiffy!

Singapore! So many Boats! 

I didn't really take many photos in London but it was really fun! We were there for about 4 hours and it was all the Finalnders and a few Austrian exchangers all just hanging out in the London terminal! We all laughed at how they had the Queen on almost 12 different postcards and we fussed over how we had no idea how to pay for stuff! The flight to London was good, I slept for about 4 hours, but in that time it was Adelaide dinner time and I missed a meal while I was sleeping so when I woke up I was starving! 

Sweden from the air!

At the airport! 

After we hopped off the plane (whoo! Finnish soil!) we all got on a little bus that drove us to the termainal and we all got our luggage, went through immigration and we were greeted by Rotarians at that gate! At the time it was a bit surreal and frankly I was exhausted so I don't remember much of it. We then all piled onto the bus and waited forever for the next flight with the Perth kids and turns out it took them so long because they had lost Eamon's luggage! The trip to Karkku was pretty quick, I tried to stay awake and managed to succeed! When we arrived we had afternoon snack and then straight into bed!
Will post about some more awesome stuff later!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The oh so important "I AM IN FINLAND" post

So as you may already know: I AM IN FINLAND!
It is amazing and beautiful and I am truly in love with it. The flight was pretty good, not as horrid as I thought it would be. I will post more when I have my journal with me, right now I am sitting in the lounge room of Karkku and we're just chilling and just generally having a great time! We all went in the snow this morning and THE TREES! seriously they are amazing, like out of a dream.
Anyway, super busy having a great time so I will do a big update later!

Me and my friend Ana out in the snow!