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, February 10, 2011

First week in Kiuruvesi

Monday – In the morning my host mum had a meeting so she dropped me at the shops to do any shopping that I needed. It was sort of a condensed version of Big W but with a grocery section as well. I bought some face wash, hair ties and a couple of postcards, I know what your thinking, exciting stuff! Afterwards Katariina took me to the school where I met the principal and some of the teachers. I met my group of “buddies” who offered to show me where I should go etc and they all seemed really nice! We walked over to the library that doubles as a culture centre and I signed up for a library card, they have a section of English books and the kids Finnish books will be good for me too! I skyped with the whole family and Tiina and Katariina said hi to them all too and Renee and Amy were embarrassing as usual! I talked to Liisa and I decided on my subjects and then I went to write in my journal and accidentally fell asleep, I was that exhausted! Luckily I woke up an hour later and we all headed out to go swimming. They have a pool Zumba session that I joined in for, I was easily the youngest there by about 20 years but it was fun and after it was finished I just did laps. It was nice to be swimming, it felt familiar.

Finland's idea of a charity calendar!

Julia socks!! :D

Tuesday – 10 days in Finland! This morning I had to get up a bit earlier and I got ready for school and then Tiina and I walked down to the bus stop to wait what felt like years for the bus. It was only really about 5 minutes it was just so cold!!! When I got to school my friends showed me where to put my coat and shoes. Most people walk around in socks, its awesome! The finnish school year is broken up into 6 periods that last about 8 weeks each. Because they are almost finished period 4, I don’t have any real classes till period 5 starts so I just go wherever! I went to history first, I have no idea what we were learning about, I just copied everything from the board into my book. After that I had English and the topic they were doing was Australia so that lesson was a lot more fun. I told a dream time story about the Murray River and the teacher used me as verification for all the facts in their textbooks. Then we had lunch, school lunches in Finland are free and in my experience, quite tasty! During lunch I went with my friends to the supermarket where they bought some pick and mix lollies or candy as it is known here. We had a free after lunch and then I had maths. It was pretty simple maths by what I could see but I didn’t have a clue what I was actually supposed to be doing because of course all the instructions are in Finnish. I felt very frustrated that I couldn’t understand because I've always been pretty good at math and to suddenly be quite hopeless was rather depressing. After school finished Katariina took me to the shoe store but the end of January is a very bad time to buy shoes and I have quite a big foot so we left unsuccessful. I went for a walk when we came back home. It was just on twilight so it was really pretty outside and I took some photos and almost got stuck in the snow :P

Wednesday – Today I was in a bit of a panic for the whole day because I’d heard about cyclone Yasi and my host sister Henriikka lives in Cairns and I was really worried about her. I emailed her though and she said she was alright so after lunch I was lot less on edge! I talked to a few really nice girls before school today and one thing I’ve learnt about foreign names is that they are so much harder to remember! I think its because sometimes not only are you remembering who has what name but you have to actually remember the name too because its likely you've never heard said name before. Anyway I had history first again and then religion and we watched the first 50 minutes of The Da Vinci Code which was a really cool movie. We had lunch and then I went to the library and borrowed a novel to read. I was supposed to go to social sciences but I got a bit lost and couldn’t find the class so I just went to the library and read till the lesson was over. I watched the cyclone for a while when I got home but stopped when it started getting serious, it was to sad. I worked on my presentation for my English class a bit and uploaded a heap of photos. For iltapala, which is like evening snack, we had Mämmi, I can’t really explain what it is but it was quite frankly disgusting. I was a good sport and ate it all though.


Thursday – I had History in the morning again, it was good to have my novel with me this time. I had English afterwards and I gave a quick talk about Australia, I talked about the geography, sport, animals, beaches, school, food and a fun bit at the end about all the “big stuff” we had in Australia. I think they enjoyed it, especially the big stuff bit. I went to the shops at lunch and got some blue tac and a postcard for my rotary club. I got on the bus all by myself today and I managed to find the right one so it was all good. After lunch Tiina and I went and played in the snow, we had a snowball fight and we swum through the snow and we laughed at the cats when they jumped off the tree because they can only just keep their heads out of the snow, it was hilarious! When it got a bit cold we came inside and played guitar hero and also sing star. I sung Mika boogie which as some of you might remember I posted here back in May when I’d first found out about exchange. I was hopeless! I tried to actually sing the words but I couldn’t say them fast enough :P It was fun though and it was great to spend time with my sister. We went swimming again and there was no Zumba tonight so I just did laps and went in the spa with Tiina. After swimming we walked a little while in the snow to the supermarket where we bought lollies and ice-creams. Magnums here are just over 2 dollars!! When we got home I gave my family their gifts and I think they liked them!

Tiina and I having fun

My house! :)

They don't get a lot of use out of their hills hoist.......

This is a picture Liisa sent me just after Christmas and I thought it was good to show how much snow there is. The seesaw thing was completely buried and then some! 

We thought the cat jumping into the snow was the funniest thing! 

Friday – I overslept a bit today and had to shovel down my brekkie and dress really fast. It had snowed HEAPS the night before and it was a bit annoying to walk on the fresh snow because it made your feet cold. I had history and the religion again, I read in history and we continued watching The Da Vinci code. I had English after lunch and then I had a free because they had a special meeting to go to. While I was waiting for the bus 2 girls introduced themselves to me and one of them is in my volleyball team!  It was the first time I had to get off the bus by myself because Tiina had an early finish and I got of one stop too late but I didn’t mind because it wasn’t too cold so it was a pleasant walk. I decided to take advantage of all the fresh snow so I grabbed my camera and threw on some hot gumboots and went for a walk, takin heaps of pictures on the way. I almost got stuck at one point, I wanted a better perspective for my photo and the snow was deeper than it looked! Somehow I managed to roll out of it and after that I was too afraid to stray off the path. I ended up with a few really great shots! For iltapala we had toast so I thought it was a good opportunity to let them try vegemite! Tiina and Katariina tried it and didn’t really like it all but I will have to bring it out again when all my other siblings are here again so they can try too! We also ate our Runeberg’s tarts that we’d made beforehand and they were delicious!

I like this photo, its sort of menacing.

My current screensaver :) 

I wanted to get closer to the really, really white trees to take some photos but I was afraid I would get stuck

Happy Julia is happy!

Runeberg's tarts! 

Saturday – I got to sleep in today, it was nice. I skyped with the whole family this morning and I had to talk to mum about St Petersburg Tour. We went shopping after that and I got some bathers. We went food shopping too and that was exciting! I tried to make note of everything that was different but there was too many to list after a while! You cant get milk in bottles though, only cartons. Tiina had her friend over for a sleepover so we had hamburgers for lunch and then this really delicious chocolate biscuits. I finished my book and then did another blog post. We had Pekkala Saturday tradition again but we had ice-cream too and ice cream here comes in cartons so you peel the carton off and then slice the ice cream, it was so funny! We also watched a show on tv called Putous that had an actor called Krista Kosonen on it! 

Sunday – I went for a walk with Katariina in the morning to get the newspaper and it was exceptionally cold! We were only outside for about 5 minutes and I was utterly freezing by the time we got back inside! I played with Tiina in the snow for a bit and we jumped off the concrete pipe in to the snow, move over jetty jumping! Afterwards I helped Katariina make pizza and it was delicious! It had a layer of mince and tomato sauce then ham, cheese and herb mix. I had a bit of a rest and then we went to my host dad’s sisters house for dinner. They were all very nice and we had a delicious meal. Afterwards we went upstairs and watched the Finnish version of new inventors and also Finnish Idol, they just call It Idol though. There was a surprisingly large amount of English songs being sung so it was fun to watch that. Even in Finland they have people that just audition for the fun of it!


I hope you’ve all had nice weeks and that you enjoy the weekend! I have added all my January and most of my February photos onto facebook so if you’re my friend you should check them out. Ill try and do more than just diary posts now that I have more of a routine here but I want to know what sort of things you all want me to write about? If there’s a certain topic or anything that you’d like me to talk about leave a comment of you can ask me on facebook.
I have added a page, which you can find on the sidebar called Finnish Figures. There I will keep track of a few silly things a few more serious things so you guys can see what I am doing and also what I’m not. To start it I’ve added # times been in the Sauna, # times been cross country skiing, # times eaten a main meal that didn’t have potatoes and distance swum in the pool because I swim A LOT here and I’d like to see how high I can get it. I need more inspiration though! What are some things you guys want me to keep track of? Also if you’d like to send me stuff, like postcards, letters or even parcels if you love me that much just send me a message on facebook and I can give you my address. 


  1. I'm afraid you're getting a bit twisted version of the Finnish cuisine, since it's your host dad who is so mad about potatoes =) Although it is an integral part of our food culture, a lot of Finns rarely eat potatoes. It's a matter of choice, really, and when it comes to that your host dad's a real "tater-thusiast"...

    P.S. Vegemite sounds & looks disgusting. But I guess so does Mämmi, so never judge a book by it's cover?


    Mämmi-loving Ville

  2. Hmmm I knew that Väinö liked potatoes a lot more than normal but I still thought it was a staple everywhere! I'll be sure to set my blog readers straight when I talk about food!

    PS. I can see how Vegemite looks a little scary but is very yummy!


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