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.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Its been a while....

I don't have many regrets from my exchange but not keeping my blog alive has to be one of them. I loved my blog, still do, but towards the end it just became too much of a stress than an enjoyable thing and when I got home, I was being too nitpicky, wanting to ‘one day’ get it up to date. Now over 4 months have been and gone and my blog is in the same shape so I am just going to post this! This blog has been alive for over 2 years now and I am pretty proud of that achievement in itself.

Woah did I say 4 months? Wow.

Time is a weird thing for an exchange student and it doesn't stop when you get back to your home country.  I’ve done many things in the last 4 months, things I’ve missed with people I missed and I hope I keep the momentum and get around to writing about them. This year I am in year 12 which is the final year of High School, it was difficult at the start because after a messy year 10 and year 11 in Finland, getting back into the swing was hard. Still don't really have as good as a grip as I would like but hey I’m getting through it. My first report card was pretty good and I am still somehow maintaining A’s (except Research Project, but about that later).

I don't think I had a honeymoon return phase but I still have my new perspective. You realise the things you enjoyed how much you really enjoy them when you don't get to do them in a year. Like camping and caching. I’ve been doing a lot of them! I enjoy people getting my jokes again (sorry Finns) and having people understand the pop culture references I make way too often.

I’ve been enjoying spending time with my friends and family who I missed very much. A lot of my friends now have their P’s (driving license) so that has been a new exciting freedom for us all. I am learning to drive with Dad, I still need to complete a few more hours of driving and then take a test. I have learnt quite quickly though and quite enjoy driving.

I miss Finland every day but I try to keep positive about it. It got me down a lot at the beginning and didn't cope very well but routine helps. I still get to Skype, not as often as I would like but I get email updates on their lives and as much as it pains me not to be apart of them anymore, I know they’re happy and its all I can hope for right now. I keep little reminders throughout my life, like maps, flags, pictures and my lovely moomin mugs, which for a while I refused to even take out of my cupboard for fear they would get broken.

I do miss the feeling of accomplishment you get when you can have a conversation in another language. To others my Finnish was not that great in the end but I was proud of my achievements. In my last 3 months I greatly improved because of my dear little sister, Liina, who I owe a good chunk of my Finnish too. She is only 9 (well 10 very soon, paljon onnea Liina!) but she was a ruthless teacher! We would spend 10 minutes on just one word, until I got it perfect! I owe the other huge chunk, of course, to Liisa who really can’t get enough airtime on this blog. Without her teaching at the beginning, I would not have been able to talk to Liina and just the thought of that is horrible!

Everyone helped me in my Finnish; in fact everyone helped me with everything! They may say the Finns are cold (because hey it is cold!) and quiet but they have big warm hearts and they will help people out and not expect anything in return. I am so grateful for everything that everyone did for me when I was in Finland and I hope that I managed to let everyone know that but here it is for the world to see. I cant even list names, it would take too long. I don't think some people realise that if you ask an exchange student over for coffee and pulla, you may just make her whole week. Mostly I am grateful for my families, they all became like families to me and I miss all their smiling faces.(you get used to the Finnish smiles :P) I also owe a lot to my wonderful Rotary counsellor, Kalevi, who helped me out through out the year. Seriously guys, cant say enough good things about Rotary. Everyone at my school was great too, especially at the end when I started seeming a little bit less odd. If I ever won a Nobel prize, my thank you speech would be pretty long….

It still hasn't finished though!!! My real family were also amazing <3 My mum sent me emails almost everyday, just telling me what they were up too, I didn't reply often but just knowing what was happening was a comfort for me, especially in the beginning when Dad was still ill and then when the silly thing went and fell of his bike and ended up in Hospital again! Talk about frequent flyer… I got skyped in to a bit of Christmas and a few family dinners and just having the support from my family was the best thing I could have hoped for. My Mum and Dad came to visit me in October, which I hope to blog about and that was a great experience for us all too. My mum got to learn 1-10 in Finnish from Liina who couldn't really grasp that mum had no idea! They have both retained ‘kiitos’ and ‘hei hei’ though, Dad says whenever this song ever plays on the radio it makes him think of Finland. I did a bit of travel with them and luckily we had some snow too! I also missed my sisters terribly and that has got to be the best thing about being back, I love you guys (even though I know you don't read my blog!). My rotary counsellor here has also been a great help, before during and even now. I owe so much thanks to so many people. This whole experience has changed my life forever and I will never forget everyone who helped me have the best time I could.

This post is messy and doesn't have a very good flow, but it makes me feel happy. I know it sounds like a goodbye but I promise its not. I will be back soon. 

First day back with Dad and Mum

Clayton with the sunset

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