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.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


5th-8th of March
I had a surprisingly productive Saturday, I got to skype the whole family and the Parrs too in the morning, I got some blogging done, wrote a few emails, cleaned my room and packed for Oulu. When Antti got home we all played Guitar Hero, I am going to be very good at Guitar hero by the end of the year! We left Kiuruvesi at about 6 and picked up Eeva and Ville in Pyhäsalmi. It was long drive to Oulu but we talked about all sorts of interesting things and it was gone in a flash. When we got to Oulu we went to Liisa and Pauli's apartment and it was such cute little apartment! We had dinner and they all spoke a lot of English for my benefit which for once I was grateful for. Normally it makes me feel really bad that everyone have to speak English around me. We messed around and played Uno, watched youtube videos and talked about what our plans were for the weekend.

In the morning I helped Liisa make these really yummy scone things with carrot in them and then others arrived and we spent awhile discussing plans for the weekend. We spent so much time discussing or were we arguing? We argued/discussed that too! We walked down to the big shopping centre and we had to wait a while because it was closed, Sunday morning 11 o’clock opening time? I guess some things don’t change between countries! It was a nice walk and they pointed everything out for me and Eeva took over my role as tourist and took photos of us walking. Eeva made pizza when we got home and it was sooooo good. We played Uno and Liisa and I made Pulla which was really cool except we were playing Mafia and accidently burnt the top of some of them! They were delicious all the same and they were a special pulla called Laskiaipulla and is traditionally eaten on shrove Tuesday. I don’t know why but I’m not a big fan of pulla with cardamon in it but this one was really delicious!  

We went in the sauna after that and Liisa had little bottles of scented oil so we had a cinnamon scented sauna, it was nice. It was a really hot sauna so I spent a while just standing outside in my t-shirt and jeans, made me chuckle, not sure why it was just a funny standing outside in next to nothing when it was below freezing temperature! We went over to Antti and Henri’s apartment and watched the American remake of Death at a Funeral. I didn’t except it to be that great but it was pretty funny! We had ice+cream and Ville somehow managed to rip the bag of popcorn so that bits of popcorn went flying everywhere! I guess you had to be there but it was pretty hilarious.

The gang minus Eeva who's taking the photo

Liisa and I looking like professional Pulla makers!


We woke up a bit earlier and had breakfast and got ready for our day in the city! When Ville and Eeva arrived we walked down to the bus stop and caught the bus into the shopping domain of Oulu! We went to a few different shops and It was mostly for me because I hadn’t really done much shopping since I got here and I bought a jacket, a scarf, 2 t-shirts, a cardigan and a pair of jeans. H & M is officially my new favourite store but I’m glad I have to go all the way to Oulu to shop there or I’d end up with no money! We wandered down to the sea front and had very delicious Chinese buffet! 

Afterwards we walked to the Tietomaa which, for any that have been, is like Melbourne’s Science Works or Canberra’s Questacon. We spent a few hours looking at all the things they had there, there was interactive games and quizzes and all sorts of cool stuff. The best part was probably when Ville tried to do the switched over vision thing that I will post a video of! We went to the shops on the way home and because Eeva and Ville had classes the next day they had to head back to Jyväskylä. Once they left Liisa and I had a Finnish lesson, Liisa is a very good teacher and I always remember stuff the best when she teaches me. It helps that she is studying Finnish at university! I am starting to pick up more and more phrases and words when people speak!

Eeva and I with a fat policeman! 

Group shot at the cool mirror

Eeva and I playing this game which I forget the name of.

It was just Liisa and I today and we woke  late and went shopping again in the city, I bought a few more things and Liisa found it hard to find me in the shops because I had my sweet new jacket so I blended in a lot more than I did with my bright blue one! We went to this really nice pancake house and had a pancake with strawberries and chocolate. I understood about 90 percent of the menu! We walked down to the frozen sea because they had all been joking about how it should be so exciting for me; it was pretty cool except the snow on the footpaths was melting and we both got really wet feet!  We had to go home after that so that Liisa could go to work, Antti and I had ice-cream and then he drove me to the bus stop. The bus trip was quick and before I knew it I was back at home in Kiuruvesi. 


The frozen sea!!! 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Downhill skiing!!

This week I was kind of sick at the start of the week and missed two days of school, I started a really big puzzle and basically spent all of the day doing it :P I got to do a whole family Skype while they all ate dinner on Wednesday and that made me feel better, my nanna was down in Adelaide which made me a little homesick because its easy to miss nanna because she’s always lived in Melbourne but I know its going to be hard whenever she’s in Adelaide without me. I was supposed to go skiing with my school on the Thursday and I somehow convinced myself I was well enough to go and I definitely don’t regret that decision! It was a great day! I borrowed my maths teachers ski’s and helmet (thank goodness I had one!) The bus ride was really long and when we arrived I was so freaked out! We had a quick lunch before we put all our gear on and went straight out onto the snow.

My friends took me to the baby hill first and I couldn’t even use the pully seat things right and went splat on my back! When I finally got to the top of the tiny hill they showed me how to turn and stop and we went down the hill step by step until I lost control and went whizzing down the hill and somehow managed to get to the bottom in one piece. The next time I lost control and ran into a kid! I was so embarrassed and the poor kid was crying but I didn’t hurt him he was just scared. I was so ready to quit, I did not want to kill any more children!

We went up again and I actually managed to gain some controls of the ski’s this time which was good but apparently deemed me ski ready and they all piled me onto to the chairlift! I was freaked out and knew all too well as soon as I sat down on the chair the only way down was to ski! I was a bit of a wuss and it took me a second (a few hundred seconds more like it) to convince myself to even start the hill. I was scared out of my mind but once I’d fallen and realised it didn’t hurt that much and also started skiing down the hill backwards and had one of my friends ski into me to stop me I felt a little better and was a bit more brave although I am pretty sure there was tears when I started skiing backwards, it was shameful!

We eventually made it down the hill, took us like 20 minutes! We headed back up the chairlift and skied over to another slope that was a little simpler and because I was a bit more confident I managed to actually ski some of it while holding Paula’s hand. Poor Paula, the amount of times I went smash into her and dragged her down into a pile of skies and snow! If your reading this Paula, KIITOS! I am very grateful for your help, I never would have gotten to where I got to without you!

After that we went to Heseburger for lunch and it was nice to have a bit of a break. We went up to the same slope afterwards and I held Paula’s hand for the most part and then actually skied the last 80 or so metres BY MYSELF without falling! Pretty stoked, we went up again and I skied even further by myself even thought I went splat beforehand. We did a few more then decided to find a few other slopes and we ran into Ari and he took a picture of us all which I really need to get of him because it’s the only pic I have from the whole day! I managed to ski the end of that slope by myself too although I fell twice at the top.

We were back at the resort now and my friends went up again and I had a rest, when they got back Anni and Julie decided we had enough time to go for one more so we went up. In hindsight bad idea, we had to do a medium level one and it was too steep to do holding Julie's hand and after 3 tumbles we decided I should take my ski’s off and slip down on my bum for the steep part and then put them back on! Talk about embarrassing but we were running late for the bus and it was actually kind of fun! When we got into the bus I could finally take my ski boots off, they are not the most comfortable things to wear for 7 hours! We stopped in Kajanni for a little bit on the way home and everyone went on the slot machines. You can do those at 15 in Finland! It’s really strange although my friends tell me that they are looking to change it to 18. At home we all worked on our puzzle and I told them all about my day. We watched House and I fell asleep seconds after I got into bed!

I had school the next day and I had the option of not going but I did because I felt fine! I tried to translate my Chemistry book but my dictionary lacks sciency words but one word jumped out me as I was searching. Koti-ikävä, homesickness and it made me happy that I don’t have it! I miss my family but there’s a difference between homesick and missing your family. Everyone kept asking me if I missed my mum especially because I was sick and maybe if I was 12 I would have but what teenager still gets their mother to look after them when they’re sick? Come on guys! Toughen up! :P 

We had some sort of traditional soup for lunch that was very nice but was another one of the eat it and don’t ask what’s in it meals. I took my first trip to the chemist and thank goodness the Chemist spoke perfect English so he helped me find what I was looking for. He was really funny, basically told me that these two brands are exactly the same, this one just charges you 4 times the amount because it has a famous brand! Got to love honesty like that! I had to do my first rotary report that night and it wasn’t so bad, I actually enjoyed writing about all the exciting things I’d been doing! Just like I enjoy writing on my blog! 

Our puzzle! 

Weekend in Tahkovouri

This weekend we were off to Tahkovouri for my Host grandmother’s birthday. The trip took about 2 hours and we were all squashed up into Pauli’s car. When we got there I went all major touristy because it is a ski resort and you can see all the slopes form the Spa place we were at and it was so cool! You could see all the people zipping down the slopes! The spa we were at to go bowling had a Down Under bar and advertisements for Fosters everywhere! I got to meet a lot of the extended family and we all had a game of bowling together. We had buffet lunch after that and we went to our cottage and messed around and drunk Jaffa till we had to get ready for dinner. Liisa did my hair all curly and it looked very nice. It was a tad chilly in just stockings and a dress and my heels kept sinking into the snow! The dinner was lovely; we had 4 really delicious meals which included a really nice steak and delicious cranberry tart for desert. The wine being served was Jacobs Creek! That’s 3 Aussie things in one weekend! There was Jazz music playing the entire time which was really nice although a little annoying for conversation. We all headed outside for the surprise of the night! Fireworks!!! I had never actually seen fireworks so close! We must have been less than 100 metres from them. I guess the chances of a spark creating a fire is a little less when you’re surrounded by snow! We had some speeches and then it was time to leave. Antti, Tiina and I went back to the cabin and we played cards and watched James Bond
We all dragged ourselves out of bed and tried to pack our bags before going to breakfast. Everyone started to leave after that so we said our goodbyes and piled back into Pauli’s car but minus Tiina this time so not as squishy! Antti and I were trying to figure out how this card trick I learnt at Wirraway works mathematically. We made pizza when we got home and Antti finally figured out how the trick works, wed’ seriously been trying to work it out all weekend so that was a relief! They all left after lunch so I watched The Land before time in Finnish with Tiina and ate ice cream! Really great weekend!


Tiina and I

The band, Tiina, Antti and I

Everyone at Dinner


First Week of 5th Period

21.2 – 25.2 
Pretty normal week, well normal for an exchange student! It was my first week in my own proper classes. To be honest I didn't really do a lot in class, I participated a far bit in my English class but Maths and Chemistry is just note taking and reading. My sport class is good, one thing I learnt though is that they are a lot more relaxed than Aussie sport classes. Most people just wear trackies and a t-shirt, so no compulsory uniform. All the games are for fun so no one minds passing the ball rather than claiming all the glory like boys tend to do in Australia. Definitely my favourite lesson because it’s a lot easier to feel included too. Because my poor blog is becoming very neglected I am going to keep the week time posts a bit shorter but ill probably still do full length ones for the weekends.

Anyway some other highlights from this week were; getting my ugg boots – I just thought I’d mention this because what country lets you go to school everyday in ugg boots and then when you get to school you can just walk around in your socks! I had quite a few small language achievements in class. Mostly just working out what we are talking about in Kemia. I managed to figure out what the word for heat was just by recognising where it was being used in the diagrams on the board. Little triumphs like this always make me feel good about learning Finnish. While it is tiresome and very frustrating at times it is also very rewarding at the end of the day.
I met my host grandmother and grandfather this week and that was really nice! :)
I sometimes go to the library café when I have a free and none of my friends have frees and drink coffee and read or write letters. This Thursday I was there and I ran in to our principal, Arja and she invited me to have lunch with her husband and daughter which was really nice. Pretty much sums up exchange life pretty well, you go to the library to have coffee and read and end up having lunch with your principal’s family! On the Friday Liisa, Antti and Pauli arrived and we all made pizza and played this hilarious game called Imago and ate lollies. So many funny memories from that night but I won’t try and explain because well they were all pretty you had to be there things! 

I am getting really bad at taking photos of stuff :/
Here is the game we played! 

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Saturday 19th of February
I was up super early today because I was catching the train to Sillinjarvi to meet my oldie, (It’s a rotary thing) Josh. Antti drove me to the bus stop but we waited like 20 minutes and the bus never came so Antti had to drive me to Iisalmi. We talked about living in the countryside on the way there because he lives in a big city now. Everything is a lot more untouched in the countryside compared to the big cities and the light pollution isn’t really a problem so the stars are a lot brighter. You have to pay to use the toilets in the train station! So weird! The train ride went really quick and Josh’s host dad picked me up when I got off, we had kahvi and cake and just chilled out and then we drove into Kuopio and we watched the Ice Marathon for a little bit but it was boring and kind off cold so we didn't spend long. We just walked around for a while and went in the shops, mostly to get out of the cold because it was freezing! We decided to see if we could find a cache but I only had one battery and when we went to find some the automatic doors closed on my face, it was so embarrassing :P It was lucky that when I turned on the GPS there was a cache only 40 m from us so we wandered over but the GZ was fenced of by a sign saying “don’t cross because of falling icicles” being the Aussie and determined cacher I am, I stepped over the fence and grabbed the cache in a few seconds. It was Josh’s first cache and I think he was pretty impressed. We had lunch after that at a Chinese place and it was good, although very spicy which is strange for Chinese food.  We walked to the sport hall after that and it was SO COLD! The sport hall was really cool, it had a small soccer pitch in the middle, a climbing wall, a running track, a volleyball court, a gymnastics area, high jump, long jump and even pole vault! We messed around with Hula hoops and played volleyball until we had to leave. Back at home we watched a documentary on strange foods and it just so happened the guy was in Australia for this episode! Can I say coincidence? We cooked tacos and spaghetti after that and they tasted good even though our pasta sauce was a bit runny. We played cards after tea and I taught Josh speed and Canasta. We played this cool game with his host sister and her boyfriend where you have to build trains across America. I came second. His host family had this adorable old dog that would come up to you and stick its head between your knees and demand pats, he made me miss my Clayton :( It was Papa’s birthday today as well and he was in my mind a lot. I am glad he isn’t sick or in pain anymore. Happy Birthday Papa, I miss you.

Coming down from that tower is a ski jump thing! 

The cool game we played. 

Didn’t have to get up so early today, we had brekkie and then I got dropped off at the Train station. It was really great to spend time Josh and his family but I found myself missing my host family which made me smile :) On the train there was a girl with a beanie that said “bad hair day” which made me giggle because that’s really not why you wear a beanie. I’d want one that said “I like warm ears” :P Antti, Liisa and Tiina picked me up from Iisalmi and we drove straight into the city were another minister person was a doing a speech. It was a sort of rally for support thing I believe. I pretended to know what was going on and tried to count the number of words that I understood and I only counted 9 which I felt was a little low. We went shopping after that and drove home and cooked dinner and Antti and Liisa told me all about the Finnish Army and it was very interesting. Ville and Antti were both in the Army and Pauli is now. It is compulsory for all men up till a certain age and if you don’t go you do a different sort of service and if you don’t do that you can go to jail. Liisa said I may get to go to Kajanni where Pauli’s army training is which would be pretty interesting! After lunch Antti and Liisa left and I played with Tiina and talked to mum.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Wanhojen Tanssit

I went into the city with Katariina and went shopping with Tiina and her friend in a cool newsagent store. My host mum and dad were organising some meeting with a minister for environment or something of the sorts and we hung around there until Vaino drove us home. I felt a bit homesick today, not sure why I just missed my mum and dad a bit. Liisa and Antti arrived at about 3 without Pauli this time because he had a shooting camp this weekend.

After lunch we left for the Wanhat! It was so amazing! The Wanhat roughly translates to Oldies Ball and it is for the 2nd years and it is done to celebrate that they are the oldies of the school now that the Abi have left to study for their exams. They did about 9 dances, all very different and some very traditional while others were a bit more modern. I took so many videos and I’ll add a few in once I have loaded them. Liisa told me all about her Wanhat and I was a really great night but I so wish I could have been in it. They practice for months beforehand though so it would have been impossible to learn it all in 3 weeks. Liisa and I brainstormed all the different ways I could somehow be a part of the next one but my Visa would have expired and I could risk not being able to come back to Finland again if I overstay :( When we got home Liisa and Antti taught me one of the most basic dances but I have made them promise to show me some others soon!

Pictures and Videos coming!

Friday, March 4, 2011


It was -34 this morning so my host mum insisted I wear my snow pants over my jeans and I was glad I did! When I got to school I had to test the age old question of whether you can take puffy snow pants off without making a fool out of yourself. The answer is no, I looked ridiculous! 

Anyway at about 9 the Abit started to arrive, the Abit are the senior class(Year 12). They were all dressed in funny costumes and they had buckets of paints that they put all over our faces and hair! It was so much fun and some of the costumes were really awesome! After everyone was completely covered in paint we all went into the hall and they all sung songs and there was a video and some of the teachers got funny presents and some of the students cried. 

They all got on to a truck after that and did a sort of parade around the city centre and threw candy at people on the streets. We had about an hour to wait after that and we had lunch and chilled. When all the Abi’s got back, they lined up and we carried them out on to the bus! I carried one of them with Julie. We then stood outside, freezing till the bus left. I played Super Mario with Tiina but I was too exhausted form the day to really concentrate and then I attempted to wash the red paint out of my hair! 


1 Month!

Wow so I have been in Finland for over a month now! Where did all the time go! I have been very busy over these last two weeks so I have gotten very behind on my blog and I’m sorry about that but after a few requests to hurry up I’ve decided I should get on with it!

Monday 14th of February
This week is a test week at school so I didn't have to go to school and I got to sleep in and have a late breakfast. I spent most of the day just talking to my Host mum and relaxing. In the evening my second Host dad, Jarmo, picked me up to bring me to my first volleyball training. It was so good to be playing volleyball again and my team is so nice. I managed to play quite well all training and I was pleasantly surprised that I was still an okay volleyball player even though I didn’t play a lot last year. Anyway my team trains 3 times a week Mon, Wed and Fri and they have tournaments every month or so. I am super excited to be playing with them :) I swum for a little bit afterwards but I only had 30 minutes. I got to see some great pics of my dog at home, Clay, courtesy of Jack and I’ll post some here because I can’t resist showing him off :)

Mines the lazy one on the ground

I got to Skype my Nana today for the first time since I got here and it was great just to hear her voice.  After that Katariina went to get a haircut and Väinö dropped me at school to talk to Arja (the principal) and I got my official school schedule! I have Maths, Chemistry, English and Sport and I get to finish super early on Wednesday. I walked to the shops afterwards for a bit and then Katariina took me to the bank to get my account set up. It was pretty straightforward but I experienced my first real can’t you just speak English please moments. I understand that is a very selfish thought but I am so used to doing my own banking and being in charge of my money that sitting there while they made my bank account not understanding anything just annoyed me! I was in a right bad mood because it was freezing and I was tired of not understanding but I felt much better when I got home to see that my Hunger Games books had arrived and so had my Secret Santa present J I watched Chuck for a bit and mid afternoon my package from home arrived! I opened it up with Tiina and everything was freezing! Also, unbeknownst to me my mum had added my scrap book that my best friends had made that was too heavy to bring in my suitcase; seriously made me day! I listened to the first Hamish and Andy for the year and unpacked my box then did a blog post for you all!

Worked on my first rotary report for a bit and finished up my slideshow for Tiina’s class. I went to Tiinas School after lunch and gave a short talk to her class about Australia. They seemed to really enjoy it and this was a group of 11/12 year olds who have been learning English for about 2 years and I was only being partly translated and they were asking me full proper questions!  I was just gobsmacked at how good at English they were! When we got home I got to look at about 200 old family photos mostly of Tiina and that was great fun. Jarmo picked me up for volleyball again and as we were driving there the car thermometer got down to -32.5! My coach called as we were driving to say it was cancelled though so we turned around and came back home. I went to the shops with Katariina and Tiina then looked at jackets online.