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, 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

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