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, April 14, 2011

Väinön Syntymäpäivä

I was sick this week; I’d picked up whatever my family had and spent Monday and Tuesday in bed. I blogged a lot and skyped a few people. I watched a movie with Finnish subtitles and I found it actually helped on picking up basic words. I gave a talk to my English class on Wednesday, it was the same talk I gave to my other English class and it went pretty well. I brought in a tube of Vegemite and they all tried it on a bit of bread. None of them liked it but a few said it wasn't as bad as they were expecting which I think was good!

Thursday was a slow day, I decided to go to the shoe shop and I had been in the store before so the owners knew I didn’t speak Finnish but one of them came up to me and just looked at me, so I looked up waiting for him to speak but I think he was waiting for me to speak so we just sort of looked at each other for a bit! So embarrassing, I just ran out of the store and won’t be going back without my host mum. I can normally get away with speaking just Finnish at the supermarket because its just numbers and basic stuff but whenever someone comes up to me in any other store I have to say en puhu suomea (I don’t speak Finnish) and I really don’t like doing that because sometimes, like at the chemist, they insist on finding someone who speaks English even though all I want to do is get some panadol and leave!

Anyway Antti, Liisa and Pauli got home soon after I did; they were here early because of Vaino’s 50th Birthday. We played Guitar hero, from my blogs it sort of seems like that’s all we do but I swear we do other stuff too! After dinner we all helped Liisa make her cheesecake. We talked about how they found about me back and I told them what I had to do to apply etc. It was super weird thinking it was a whole year ago, 2010 was an eventful year!

I’ve just looked at my journal and I was super happy about the fact that I got to have porridge on a school day! Hahaha I really love porridge! It was one of my friends 18th birthday’s as well and she was having a party that night, unfortunately I didn’t end up getting to go. It was good day at school and when I got home we drove to Physalmi to pick up Eeva and Ville. Eeva had knitted me a beanie and one of those cool circle scarfs! :) It was mostly cleaning up and preparing like crazy all afternoon! We had sausage and chips one night early and even got ice cream with love heart sprinkles.

Saturday 2nd of April
Today was my host dads 50th birthday and we were having a big party at the house so we were all up early getting stuff ready and showering and Eeva did everyone’s hair. We all dressed up and a few of them did little speeches and Antti played the song and Väinö really loved it and it was really sweet. I even did a little speech that Liisa had helped me write, I thought I said it awfully but Eeva said I did a good job :)  People started arriving after that and we shook a lot of hands and talked to a lot of people. I got to meet my host nanna from my second family and she was really awesome. I talked to her for a long time about Finland and her pen pal she has in the States. She was very funny and I know we are going to be good friends. Eeva's niece arrived and she was adorable, we sung Incy Wincy spider well Eeva sung it in Finnish and I did the actions. I must learn the Finnish words!

I got to speak to some host cousins and lots of family friends who were all very nice.  Everyone started to leave after that and we all just talked and ate the delicious cake. According to Eeva, I’m not really in Finland, it’s just imaginary! I must have a pretty good imagination! We all got a bit silly with the camera and everyone was taking stupid pictures! Vaino’s running team turned up and one of them took a picture of all us together, me without my shoes on, whoops! Just to add, my host dad is 50 and he’s going to be running a marathon in Sweden soon, that’s pretty cool! At the end of the day we all played monopoly with old Finnish money, markka. The markka was replaced with the Euro in 2002. We played some more guitar hero and went to bed.

Getting our hair done.

The food

Trust me to ruin a very nice photo! 

No comment! 

Yay! Finally one with us all together :) 

Sunday 3rd April
Wow, it’s April already! Slow start this morning we had porridge and played guitar hero (again? really Julia this is ridiculous!) At midday we walked down to the little hut by the river with pitch forks and an axe and it had rained the day before and all the snow had iced over so it was good fun to walk on the ice! We barbecued some makkara and drank warm juice. It was very pleasant and nice to just sit there and talk. We talked about my birthday, Pauli gets off the army at the same time and Henriikka comes back just beforehand so there will be lots of celebrations! To anyone reading who isn’t a teenager, don’t worry because when you turn 113 you can be a teenager again! Pauli thinks he’s so clever! Liisa and I tried to find the cache that is supposed to be there but it seems its gone walkabout. When we got home Ville and Eeeva came over and we all had kahvi and leftover cake and then everyone had to leave. Antti and I played Guitar hero but Tiina wanted to play Monopoly so we did that but then she got upset because Antti made her bankrupt so we stopped playing and played more guitar hero! I have a permanently sore hand from that game but I don’t care because it’s awesome!

This was our last day of winter wonderland, its all melting away now. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


The start of this week marked my 2 month week since I left Australia! Where is all my time going!  Another relatively normal week, on Monday I had  volleyball and I got to meet my host brother, Santeri, from my second family. There were only 4 of us at volleyball that night so we had a different sort of training. I had to use the ATM in Finnish for the first time which was a little daunting, normally I’m cool with making a mistake but when it comes to money I’m a little bit more wary! Somehow I managed to press all the right buttons and it was all good. I went to the library in one of my frees and discovered in the English section of the library there is a dictionary of all the English slang swear words and internet abbreviations, lovely! For a library with a small collection of English books it does seem a little stupid that they have this one. I found a learn Finnish CD in the library though which I did when I got home. It was all way to basic for me but it was a good refresher for some of my vocab.

On Wednesday we were doing grammar in English and its quite hilarious when you realise you have no idea about all this stuff they are learning even though its in your own language! I don’t know if it’s because I just don’t remember grammar stuff I learnt in year 4 or if it’s just because I do them instinctively and therefore can’t explain how they work? The class’s homework was to read the text “How to be Australian.” My poor host mum and dad and sister were all sick so I was confined to my room that afternoon but I actually got a lot of blogging done and wrote emails to all the people I had been neglecting! I backed up my photos and there was over 2000 of them, this is after 2 months!

In my English class the next day we listened to Down Under and talked about Australia, good lesson! I got to read one of my friend’s English papers for another course and they were studying Romeo and Juliet, I thought this was pretty funny because we study Romeo and Juliet in English! Obviously they don’t have to look at it so deeply like we do but it is still interesting that we study the same topics even thought they are doing it as a foreign language. To top of what was a pretty good day, our maths exercises were in English so I actually got to do something! I ran into a lady coming out of school to who had to be at least 80 and she spoke fluent English to me which made my day! Liisa, Antti and Pauli came home that evening and there was a meeting for some of the local residents at our house and it meant lots of hand shakes and being introduced as “she’s from Australia” all night. Not that I mind, i'm the interesting foreigner! 

On Saturday we all went to one of Antti’s friend’s house because Tiina and Antti’s band were recording a song for my host dad’s birthday. They had already done the music so it was just Tiina singing various bits of the song till it was all good to go. The song was Kaksi Puuta by Juha Tapio. It’s a really nice song and it means 2 trees, it’s my host dad’s favourite song. After that the guys played some rock and roll songs and for those that don’t know rock and roll to Finland is definitely a different sort to rock and roll to what’s in Australia. I will elaborate on Finnish music in my music post though! It was a good afternoon and when we got home we played Guitar Hero, watched Spiderman, went in the Sauna and had ice cream with Haighs chocolate frogs that my mum had sent me for Easter.

Sunday was really fun day; we went into the city to go sledding and spent most of the morning doing just that! We kept trying to go down as a train but there was too many of us and we kept ending up in a big pile! We came home and had delicious fresh pancakes that Liisa and Äiti had made and then they all had to leave, always the worst part of the week. I got to talk to the Lee-Anne in the afternoon which was nice, these days when I talk to people back home it’s a good thing rather than a sad I haven’t seen you thing. I love being able to tell people all the fun i’m having and my friends are glad to see me so happy. 

They broke the sled 

Back to School!

Back at school this week, on Tuesday there was a special sort of panel of speakers in the culture house related to the current election. My friends translated a few of the questions for me and it seemed like something I would really get into. They discussed things like Finland’s immigrants and government support for students etc. Our sport class switched to Basketball this week and the guys in my class are hilarious! There were pyramids, somersaults and tackling! At the end of our lesson the teacher got out the mini tramp so we could do slam dunks, cool teacher much? I went bowling with my rotary club that afternoon which was really nice and good for my Finnish too because they insist on speaking to me in Finnish even though I barely understand what they are saying! I came home that afternoon to find a parcel from Lisa with chocolate and Vegemite! I did lots of writing this week, letters and postcards.

On Thursday I went to the stationery shop and bought some coloured pens and a Moomin pencil case. Moomin stuff here is really expensive! You could stick a Moomin picture on a rock and sell it for 5 Euros but I guess I can’t critique because I love it! (The pencil case that is, not the rock) That evening was the night of the really cool moon so there was a special skiing track set up on the lake. It was my second time skiing and thankfully it was only flat so I didn’t have to worry about uphill! It was tough at first but once you get used to the action it doesn’t hurt so much. We got to have warm juice by the campfire and the trip back was in the dark and the moon made everything glow which was really awesome. I was actually really proud of myself that night because it was tough work that at the start wasn’t that enjoyable but I stuck at it and it was great fun by the end. I guess a lot of things are like this on exchange, you might find things different or difficult but I guarantee if you keep up with it you’ll start to wonder why you didn’t like it to start with! I have had this with a lot of foods too, like fried egg and capsicum. Both foods I never really liked or ate in Australia but love now!

We had porridge for lunch at school on Friday which I thought was hilarious! I really need to do a “normal school day” post soon; I promise it is on my list! Antti was the only one home this weekend and on Friday the snow was perfect for snowballs so we had a snow fight and made my first ever snowman, although I didn’t really do much of it! It had a name, but I’ve forgotten it. We played guitar hero after that and I am getting pretty good at it.

Our Snowman

Cool photo! 

On Saturday my host mum brought Tiina and I to the school to go ice-skating! I’d skated before but I wasn’t very good and I was terrified I was going to smash my head open on the ice! We didn’t skate for very long and after we went to the shops to buy stuff for my cooking. We went to family friend’s house after that and it was really nice to meet them, somehow I was actually part of the conversation even though it was in Finnish! I fooled even myself! We had a really delicious dinner and then watched a movie and had ice-cream. When we got home we played guitar hero for almost 4 hours and it was super late when we all went to sleep.

Sunday was my day for doing a bit of cooking and I was making ANZAC biscuits first up. I had just assumed that because Finland uses the metric system they would use the same cups etc. I was very wrong. They use decilitres, I had heard of these a few times in maths before but it was very confusing especially since I was using an Australian recipe! It was actually quite stressful as I had no idea if I was doing the right amounts of everything. In the end, I had the right amount of butter and golden syrup but not of flour, sugar etc so they were very oily and a bit crunchy. They were still good though and I now knew to change it next time. The next recipe I attempted was a Sticky Date Pudding. I know it’s not very Australian but my dad makes the best Sticky date and I just really wanted to make it. The pudding was really good but definitely not as good as my dads. I made fried rice for dinner and again very Australian! It was tasty though and it was nice to have a food I love from Oz. I literally collapsed on the couch after that, I was drained! Cooking in a foreign country is exhausting! Also I didn't take any photos which I was pretty disappointed about.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tallinn Cruise

I had a few more days of break and a few exciting things happened. I got my Finnish bank card, I went into the cow house for the first time; I got to see the new calf! On the Friday we drove into Physälmi and went to this old flea market, lots of old books and videos, it reminded me of the Port Elliot market. We went to a sports store and it had some really nice bikes in it! I found a golden shoe horn! Points to anyone who knows why this is funny. We picked up Liisa on the way home and spent the afternoon looking at old baby photos of all of them and packing.
Saturday 10th of March
We had an early start as we had to be in the city by about 8.30. There was about 16 or so of us travelling to Helsinki and it was a long trip but it passed pretty quickly. I listened to Hamish and Andy, wrote in my journal, had some Finnish lessons with Lisa and played cards. We stopped for lunch at the same roadhouse as I did when I drove from Karkku to Kiuruvesi! It was very strange thinking that it was only 6 weeks ago that I came to live with my family! It was nice to look over how much fun i’d already had and how much I’d changed even in that short amount of time. When we arrived in Helsinki it was straight to the dock and we all piled off the bus and went and picked up our tickets. We had to wait a little bit before we could get on the boat and we saw Aira Samulin who is a famous Finnish dancer, Tiina and Sophia went and got a photo with her. I was blown away by the size of the ship; I’d never been on a cruise ship before. When we go onto the ship we found our room, Liisa and I’s room was just a little room with two beds but the other room was a nice fancy room with a lounge and mini bar! While we were still docked in Helsinki we saw a bus with KOSONEN on it! That was pretty cool! We had a huge buffet lunch and then went back to mum and dads room and did our hair and hung around for a while. We docked at Tallinn at about 10pm and at about that time we headed down to the main sort of dance floor and they had music and dancing. The guy playing the guitar was one fo the Idol judges and I recognised him, which make him the first Finnish celebrity that Iäve recognised! We all danced and watched the music; Liisa told me all about her Abi cruise. If you remember back to my Penkkarit post now, after we put the Abit on the bus they drive to Helsinki and go on a cruise to Tallinn. We’ve decided I’m coming back for Tiina’s Abi cruise in 2018! After a while, everyone started to head to bed and Liisa and I decided to find the disco which was on the top floor, we were a little lost and someone offered to help us, in English because he’s heard me speaking English and then Liisa replied to him in Finnish and he was all shocked that she was speaking Finnish. Looking back I think maybe the time of the night made it funnier than it really was! We found the disco and danced for a while and actually had a tiny Finnish lesson at 2 in the morning! Finally we went back up to our room and turned on the TV to see that in the main area there was a rock and roll band playing, had to resist going back down there!  

On the bus

Getting an Autograph

My host Parents :)

The main stage

Liisa and I in the disco

Somehow Liisa and I managed to drag our selves to breakfast at a reasonable time and then we all got ready to go into Tallinn! We walked off the ship into a sort of terminal thing. No one checked our bags or passports or anything, mind you. We went to a shopping centre first where seeing shoes sold for like 700 euro’s startled me until I realized it was Estonian money! Estonia now uses the Euro but only as of last year I believe so they still take Kroons. Actually I just looked it up and Kroons are no longer used in Estonia, only Euro’s so it must be for people to know what price they are paying for things. Anyway, afterwards Liisa and I went for a walk across the snow which, unlike Kiuruvesi, was starting to melt which didn’t make it fun to walk on! I was trying to find a cache but after a lot of searching we had to give up and walk back to the ship. It was near a really nice old church though so we got some great photos and got to see this strange statue which is a memorial for the 852 people that died on a cruise that sunk in 1994. When we got back to the ship we went “shopping” There was 3 main shops on board, one that sold chocolates and lollies, one that sold duty free perfume and another one that was by far the biggest, which sold alcohol. There is a chocolate called Julia! We had left Estonia now and I spent ages just watching the ship going through the ice, it was really cool, it sort seemed like we shouldn’t be moving but we were! I met the head of the Kokoomus party which means if they win, I can say i've met the Prime Minister! Liisa and I went back to the cabin and packed our stuff up because we had to leave the ship. I got to pose with the Kosonen bus before we left for the long journey back home. I tried to sleep, wrote in my journal and listened to U2 for most of the way. I also wrote my rotary article which I promise to post soon! We got home very late and we all collapsed utterly exhausted! 

Me looking pretty cool and Tallinn in the background

Walking in the city!

Liisa and I with the church

The statue


I'm famous in Finland....