Friday, January 28, 2011


I haven’t posted since I arrived in Finland so I will do a rundown of everyday at Karkku:
-I’m keeping a journal as well so if anyone wants  any more detail on some things just let me know =)
23 Jan. 2011
·         Woke up at 6am – talked with Miki (my roomie) until everyone else got up.
·         Breakfast
·         Went exploring in the grounds with Miki, Julia and Sophie
·         Internet time to talk e-mail people back home
·         Tour of the grounds including avanto, kota and sauna
·         Sledding – never done sledding on snow, was so much fun (parts of my hair froze!)
·         Dinner
·         Sauna – how have I lived for 18 years without sauna?? Went in avanto (ice hole) and rolled in snow, the extremes from sauna to frozen lake/snow is so exhilarating. We also sang and had a snow fight whilst in sauna.
·         Supper and a few games in sauna house
·         Went to bed

24 Jan. 2011
·         Woke up at 4 am so was fairly tired by the end of the day
·         Breakfast
·         First Finnish lesson – such a beautiful language
·         Snow soccer – couldn’t really get into it coz I was slipping everywhere in UGGs but it was amazing to watch, I felt so unco on the snow in comparison
·         Snow started to fall when we got back inside
·         Sauna etiquette talk
·         Sauna
·         Watched people verse each other in speed – mostly people versing Beth because no one could beat her

25 Jan. 2011
·         Considering taking up guitar again – played a few things I remember on Miki’s guitar and am keen to start up again
·         Breakfast
·         5 hours of Finnish lessons today (with breaks for kahvi [coffee])
·         Lunch
·         Talk on ‘A Year in Finland’
·         Dinner
·         Really awesome night with nature guides
o   ice fishing – watched fishermen drag net out of large hole in the ice then a small hole was drilled and I got to try with the small fishing rod, tried salmon that had been cooked by fire, best tasting fish I’ve ever eaten! There were also some ice- sculptures that were really gorgeous as well
o   later on cooked makkara (sausage – but not the same as aussie ones) on an open fire and cooked lettu (pancakes) in the kota.
o   Then went into a snow cave (it was so cool!) it was warm and nice which was a bit surprising considering it is made out if snow, we were told how to build one (took 3 skilled people 4 hours to build) and all sorts of information like how to make sure the oxygen hole doesn’t freeze up etc
o   Tried a traditional Aboriginal throwing spear – the one with the piece of wood used to push the arrow further (yeah, I just did a brilliant job of describing it =P). Let me just say that being Australian doesn’t automatically give you earth shattering talent in areas such as this
o   Then tried snow shoes – I’m considering going pro haha
o   On the walk back to the main building we saw a bear! ... and by that I mean a guy in a (very believable) bear suit pretending he was a bear, very convincingly as well until he started hugging and high fiving people haha
o   When we got back to the main building we were all presented with a certificate for surviving the night. GO TEAM! =)

26 Jan. 2011
Happy Australia Day!
·         It was Eugenia‘s birthday so after we’d had 3 hours of Finnish and lunch we had a cake sent to her by her host family, it was so sweet of them =)
·         At 1pm we got on the bus and drove to Tampere, when we got there we had a tour of the city for about 2 hours, we went into a cathedral, went to a park with a brilliant view and visited another church which was built entirely out of cement. I loved the architecture; it is so different to anything I’d seen before.
·         After the tour we had 2 hours for shopping. I bought a jacket and a scarf and saw some albums from Finnish artists we’d listed too in Finnish class, I didn’t buy them though.
·         When we got back to Karkku we spent time with people from the school, they played music for us and we all played games between songs.
·         We had a later curfew because of Eugenia’s birthday and we all hung out in the main building, I attempted to read a Finnish text book on, I’m guessing, English literature or history, I picked up a few things but mostly worked out pronunciation in my head (mostly had no clue what I was reading haha).

27 Jan. 2011

  •      Today we mostly had Finnish lessons, I got 16/16 for a recognition test =D so proud! I am really enjoying learning

  •      Talk about school in Finland, I have never been so excited about school haha It sounds really good.

  •      We had a talk about being tutors at a language camp in Turku, it’s for Finnish people to learn English and they get exchange students to help, they’re trying a new method ‘English through drama’ this year so I’m really interested in that, I also means I have the chance to do for someone what the tutors at Karkku have done for me =)

  •      We walked to Karkku church and had a candle church, sang the Finnish songs as well as the English ones, don’t know what I was saying but by about the 2nd repetition I had the pronunciation right =D

  •      Sauna again

Monday, January 24, 2011

Going Going Gone!

So I haven’t written in a few days but I have so much to say!

I only started getting nervous in the 2nd ½ of the car trip to Sydney for my flight, before that I was just a little obsessive over being ready and as prepared as possible. But it was about time I started getting nervous haha

My plane left Sydney at 5:40pm on the 21st Jan. 2011 firstly bound for Singapore.  It was on the plane and in the airport terminal I finally met other Finland bound exchange students, (as well as students bound for Austria, Belgium and Poland) my first reaction was shock as to how many of us there was going to Finland, roughly 15 left with me from Sydney. The plane trip to Singapore was reasonably uneventful, I spent most of the time watching movies/listening to music because I couldn’t sleep.

In Singapore we were joined by another 6 or 7 Finland bound students and a few to Austria. Managed to sleep a little on the Singapore – London (Heathrow) flight, and by a little I mean no more than 1 hour spread out over the 12 hour trip.

We arrived at Heathrow airport at about 6:10am local time. After going through customs (the English accents were really cool) we had a few hours before our next flight. I got a small hot chocolate from Starbucks to get some energy. I was given change in pounds so bought something to read on the Heathrow – Helsinki flight. We also joined up with 5 or 6 more Finland bound Aussies (around 25-30 of us in total). Wandered through the shops in the airport with a few other Aussies – Finland – saw a Finnish swimming team waiting in the terminal as well, went and told the other Aussies who said we should all go over and say hi (or ‘moi’ :P), came to a group decision of yes but we never actually did it haha they were on our flight though so those who sat near them chatted with them.

I sat next to a Finnish businessman who was really nice, we talked about Finland and Australia, he pointed out different things to me out the window such as frozen lakes in Sweden. Most memorable memory from any of the plane trips was descending towards Helsinki airport from Sunlight into cloud and fog then everything went clear and all you could see was thousands of trees covered in snow, it’s really hard to describe and no words or pictures do it justice, it definitely has to be experienced in person, I felt like an idiot because two Finnish girls were sitting behind me giggling at my reaction to the view. But I don’t care it was a really awesome experience.

We had to walk out in the snow from the plane to a bus to get to the airport – of course my huge jacket was in my big bag but it felt really refreshing walking in the cold in my rotary blazer as my only jacket, it felt really nice but I got a few weird looks from Finnish people. Got my big bag and got my large jacket out, then walked outside to the bus, it snowed a little but not much.

3 hour bus trip to get to Karkku (Orientation Camp), had supper was given room key then went to bed - a real bed, I almost forgot what that was haha

Thats all for now :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

3 More Sleeps (Rotary Meeting)

Did a final pack yesterday afternoon whilst watching The Notebook with my Polish host sister, Aggie. Mum forbids her from falling in love a-la the movie otherwise her parents will be banging on our door wanting to know where she is. Aggie says she hasn't met a Ryan Gosling so we shouldn't worry. Ellenor (my sister) says there are goslings and Ryans in the area so is a Ryan with a gosling the same as Ryan Gosling? - no response

Have weighed my big bag and it is 0.6kg over the limit...will airport notice? I will get rid of a few things just in case.

Today, I visited friends and said goodbyes for the last time before leaving, it feels wierd not seeing people for a year but I know they're all supportive and can't wait to see me and hear about my year when I get back. When I got home Dad had found a calf that we don't know where it's mother is and also a baby grass parrot with a broken wing, perhaps I am being replaced by baby animals so Mum and Dad don't miss me too much?

Tonight I went to a Rotary meeting of my sponsor club and was officially presented with my Rotary blazer. I even spoke a little Finnish, I was proud of myself. there were lots of people there as it was partners night and everyone wished my goodluck and said they'd like to hear about my experiences, that's what I love about living in a small town: it feels like the whole town is backing you so there are so many people to turn to for support and to share my experiences with, how could I possibly fail?

It's now 3 sleeps (56 hours) until my plane leaves, hopefully I can finish packing and tidying tomorrow morning and relax a little before I go. I'm still not nervous, perhaps meeting first host family makes it seem less daunting.

Kirjoitan taas pian (I will write again soon)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Less Than A Week

Only 5 sleeps to go!

Check List:
  • passport - check
  • ticket - check
  • visa - check
  • Euros - check
  • packed - check (likely to un-pack and re-pack a few more time between now and leaving though)
  • enthusiasm - check check

Leaving Australia on the 21.01.11, it suddenly feels very close but in a good way not a panic-stricken way =) Looking forward to meeting my Oldies (Rotary Youth Exchangers who have already been in Finland for 6 months) and my fellow Newbies (all those arriving at the same time as me). But even more excited about moving in with host family in Kotka, its going to be such a different experience and I can't wait!

Meeting in Sydney


My first host mother (Helena), host sisters (Rosa and Sara) and host neighbour (Leila) were visiting another Aussie who they'd previously hosted (Brooke) in Sydney. Mum, Dad and I drove to Sydney on the 12th, then on the 13th met everyone at Queen Victoria Building and wandered for a bit. Got massive chocolate covered strawberry from David Jones food hall (soo yum!) and got my first Euros =) followed by hot choccie and banana bread.

Walked through Hyde park, watched game of chess (the sort that are in parks with massive board and chess pieces 1/4 the hieght of a person), went to the Mint and ended up finding glassware by a famous Finnish designer and serviettes made in the town I'm going too!

Then we wandered from end to end of the Botanic Gardens finishing at the Opera House. Saw $5 randomly floating in the harbour but nobody could be bothered/was desperate enough to go get it. Had a late lunch at the Opera House Bar then parted ways with the others at Circular Quay to get trains back to where we were staying.

Dad and my Aunty went to one of the Sydney International tennis matches and Mum and I watched Aim Low: The Very Best of Dylan Moran (comedian a.k.a. Bernard from Black Books) laughed so much my stomach hurt and the perfect finish to a brilliant day.

Friday, January 7, 2011

In A Nutshell

All you need to know in a nut shell: My name is Ana, I like candle lit dinners, long walks on the beach and hate clich├ęs :P ... but seriously, I'm an 18 year old girl from New South Wales, Australia, I'm generally thought to be quiet and/or shy but that's only by people who havn't gotten the chance to know me. I love my friends and family to bits and enjoy getting out of my comfort zone and trying new things. With this in mind comes the reason for this blog, I'm about to spend an amazing 12 months on Rotary Youth Exchange in Finland! exciting right :D

I've decided to write a blog to keep large numbers of people up to date with what I'm up to during the year, so I can share my experiences from packing and leaving to arriving back in Oz and everything in between with you all without writing a million e-mails a month aha Hope you enjoy, but please remember these are my thoughts and experiences so if you believe I should express them differently than the way I do please keep these comments to yourself, thanks :)

Today marks the 13 sleeps mark to getting on that plane and leaving behind everything I know for a whole year, the surprising thing is I havn't freaked out yet! As of yesterday I have everything I'm going to pack, so now I guess I have to go finish packing...

Buh-bye for now :)