Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Getting Everyone Up To Speed

So I know its been a while since I last said anything but so much has been going on.

Since I last posted:

  • I have tried cross country skiing - epic fail! got about 300m and already found the ground, but will hopefully get better with practice
  • First host Rotary club meeting - made a 20 min presentation on myself, Australia and why I wanted to be an exchange student - also said intro. to presentation in Finnish
  • Ystävänpäivä (Valentine's Day) - more a day for celebrating friends not couples - scored a free week at the gym for being the friend of a member

  • Discovered Tuesdays are going to be my least favourite day - Double English, Double break, history, double maths...
  • I've been to Zumba - it definitely works
  • Experienced Pankarrit - last day of school for 3rd years (equivilent of year 12) - they all came to school dressed up as different things including superheroes, grim reaper, a cow, captain Jack Sparrow, the mad hatter, hippies, etc. The seniors area was decorated as a jungle, also pulled some ´muck-up day´ style pranks like undoing the pipe under the sink so water sprays all over the persons pants.. yep, they got me haha, presentation by 3rd years to teachers and younger students such as 'the biggest smoker,' 'cutest couple,' 'best dancer,' 'best teacher' etc. To get into the hall where the presentations were they made everyone crawl on their hands and knees through a tunnel, the floor was covered in water and glitter which meant everyone was covered in glitter when they came out the other side but there was also uncooked macaroni as well which was crushed into the knees of my jeans, that was a bit gross - the dogs thought it was extremely interesting when I got home though -_- Also they all brought lollies to school and threw them everywhere - sometimes directly at people with force haha I swear I was hit about 100 times, it was pretty funny. Then at about 1 the 3rd years all got on a float and were driven around town whilst they threw lollies to people in the street (wondering how some of them survived in their outfits when it coz it was -27).
  • Watched Wanhat - Dance for 2nd years becoming 3rd years and are now the oldest in the school. It was so cool to watch, traditional dances like waltzing then a dance at the end which was more contemporary with small parts from lots of songs e.g 'Vogue' - Madonna, and 'Thriller' - Michael Jackson etc

  • currently on a 1 week holiday from school - been gymming with Maddi, wandering around Kotka, cooking lettu with the host fam, and *fingers crossed* going to Helsinki on Friday :D Oh, and obviously - practicing my Finnish :)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Finnish Music we listened to at Karrku

Throught our Finnish lessons at Karrku we listened to many different Finnish songs from different genres, I've included there videos on here for your viewing and my memories equally - If they're not your cup of tea that's fine too.

'Maasta Maahan' - Raappana

'Hyvää Yötä Ja Huomenta' - except the one we listened to was by Don Huonot not the finalists of Idol (Finnish equivilent of Australian Idol)


'Melankolian Riemut' - Anna Puu

'Mikӓ Boogie?' - Fintelligens

'Missӓ Muruseni On' - Jenni Vartiainen

'Huomenna' - Uniklubi

'Taivas Lyö Tulta' - Teräsbetoni

'Viikko Sitten' Jukkapoika

Viisaus Ei Asu Meissä' - Apulanta

'Tinakenkätyttö' - Kaija Koo

'Hyökyaalto' - Antti Tuisku

'Ihmisenpyörä' - Happoradio

'Minä' - Kymppilinja feat Mariska

Hope you enjoyed :) If you made it this far!!

School Again

11 Helmikuu 2011

First moring of starting school at 8, had a double period of English, which started with listening to 'Eye of the Tiger' - random I know! Actually learnt some things I didn't know, but not about the English language, the class had to answer questions about Finland in English. Question: 'What do Finns do in their spare time?' Answer: 'We just keep skiing!' haha

Hired some Finnish CDs of artists we listened to at Karkku - hoping listening to Finnish music will improve my pronunciation :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

First Day of School

School didn't start until 11am becuase there was one more exam in the morning for some students. Maddi came over to my place before school then we went together. Mostly all the students kept to themselves, the only people that spoke to us were Maddi's host brother and his friends and Maddi's 2nd host sister and her friends. Don't know if I have any host brothers or sisters at the school because I don't know who my next host families are yet.

First lesson was history, we are being tought about ancient Rome, I can't tell you specifically what though because it was all in Finnish - obviously haha. Give me a few months and I hope to be able to understand a lot more than I do now. Epic fail when it came to roll call - I wasn't expecting to already be on the class list as it was my first lesson etc and then the teacher called 'Anastasia.' I thought to myself 'cool someone has the same name as me *look around to see who*' after about 20 seconds it dawned on me that it was me - my bad.

Turns out the class doesn't run for the full hour it is timetabled for - it goes for about 45 minutes. So 45 mins into the lesson everyone got up and walked out leaving me and Maddi looking confused and asking each other, then the teacher 'are they coming back?' aha turned out it was lunchtime, who knew? (apparently everyone but me and Maddi but that's beside the point)

Then came art class (double period) - potentially going to be my favourite. Being able to talk with those around you and the creative atmosphere makes it an easier environment to be in than a classroom where everyone is focussed on note-taking etc. the group of girls at the same table as me are super nice. Our goal for the lesson was to draw a place of complete nature (so no buildings, cars etc) from our early childhood - Maddi and I both decided to do the beach - very different from all the lakes and forests drawn by those around us.

My Masterpiece

Overall a great first day :) yes that's right I only had 3 hours of class.

Went to my 'Finnish as a Second Language' night class. Went for 2.5 hours - was so glad for the 10 minute break in the middle because my brain was beginning to feel like jelly. I understood everything we were doing - how words change depending on their context - but my vocabulary isnt that huge so all the new words was fairly overwhelming. I enjoyed it though - seriously!

Some Photos

I think it's about time I put some photos on here.

'Welcome to Finland' sign in Helsinki Airport

Soo much snow! and a pretty snow covered tree - well, every tree is snow covered but this one is special because I'm standing under it :P

'Avanto' hole in the ice covering the lake. I went swimming in there after sauna, it was freezing! but felt so good after - I swear I'm not crazy!

View from sauna house veranda. HUGE icicles coming down from gutters, stairs that lead to avanto and the white big area below the trees on the horizon is the lake - went ice fishing on this lake.


My new best friend

Ice fishing (with net) also went ice fishing with the little rod and the small drilled hole in the ice (but don't have a picture of that)


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

07 Helmikuu 2011

Got my bank account :D aaaand.. that's about it haha

08 Helmikuu 2011

Went to my first 'Finnish as a Second Language' lesson at the night school, absolutely everything was said in Finnish because everyone else started in Autumn (so Spring back in Aust.) but I caught a few things and even though my brain hurt afterwards I´m going to stick with it :) This means catching up on the first 3.5 chapters of the text book but apparently I am learning quicker than average so hopefully I will catch up soon :) - I have a week to catch up after Thursday because the rest of the class has tests that week - I seem to be starting everything just as tests start - school, Finnish classes, what next?? haha

Afterwards, Maddi, Sara, Roosa (Sara's friend) and I had a movie night, we rented out White Chicks and had popcorn and coke. I still love the movie but it felt funnier 2 years ago last time I watched it, or maybe Finns have a different sense of humour? Felt like a total tool laughing when they weren't, but it was still good.

09 Helmikuu 2011

Spent the day fixing up e-mails back home that didn't send because the photo files attached were too big :( So 3 weeks later the replies actually go... brilliant haha In the evening went with Hellu Sara and Amo to visit their friend who has Australian kelpies who had puppies :D They were so cute! A little bit of Australia in the middle of Kotka :)

Also started my powerpoint presentation for my first host rotary club meeting on the 14th, I hope it goes ok *fingers crossed*

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ice Skating

Today I went ice skating with Sara and Hellu, it was 'real' iceskating (in my opinion :P) because it was outdoors and just ice not a rink. My new skates are awesome :D Took me a bit to get my balance but after a few laps I had the hang of it, it's been so long since I have skated, maybe 4 or more years so this was fun. The funny thing is that once you've been skating for a while and then take off your skates walking normally feels odd haha

I then went to Olli and Hellu's god son's 10th birthday, watched Chelsea vs Liverpool on tv with everyone there, it only took 68 minutes for someone to score :P Had 2 birthdays in two days, went to Olli and Hellu's other god son's 22nd birthday last night.

Have been invited along to local football (soccer) and basketball games, also hoping to see some ice hockey :) and one evening this coming week or next weekend we will go skiing... on the ocean (sea -thanks Aggie :P) (coz its frozen and there are paths made how awesome is that :D!) then when the skiing holiday comes around we are going to go downhill skiing, can't wait!!!

Runeberg Day

05 Helmikuu 2011 (cont.)

Today is Runeberg Day. Johan Ludvig Runeberg is the national poet of Finland (he is a Swedish speaking Finn). His poem 'Maamme' ('Our land') from Vänrikki Stoolin (The Tales of Ensign Stål) became the lyrics to the Finnish national anthem. There is also a pastry named after him (or his wife??) and eaten on this day, it is called Runebergintorttu. It feels like cakecrumbs and is flavoured with almonds and rum, it has a circle of rasberry jam on top surrounded by a ring of icing sugar (and sometimes rasberry jam in the centre). It tastes really good. It is believed that Runeberg's wife Fredrika made these for him every morning for breakfast.

Just a little Finnish history for you :)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

2 Weeks Notice(ing)

05 Helmikuu 2011

Today marks the 2 weeks date of my being in Finland. The following is a list of things I have noticed are different for me:

  • It snows a lot more than Australia
  • Driving on the 'different not wrong' side of the road
    • passenger seat is on the other side of the car! Yes, I will admit it, I walked to the drivers side the first time I went to get into a car haha
  • car seats are heated
  • Finnish people are initially more reserved but most have huge personalities that come out when you get to know them better
  • Lots of people want to speak English to me e.g shop assistants, kind of annoying when I'm trying to practice my Finnish on them haha
  • Finnish music is awesome
  • Towns stop really suddenly - one second your in the middle of town the next your in the middle of a forest or farmland
  • You can NEVER have to many photos of trees/snow/both :P
  • You can't smile at people you pass in the street - you appear drunk or seedy not friendly
  • If you make eye contact with someone who doesn't know you the opposite side of the room suddenly becomes extremely interesting to them for about 5 minutes
  • Uncontrolable laughter because your friend steps onto the wrong direction escalator will gain you stares from the entire surrounding food court... awkward.
  • Finnish people are so stylish - they seem to pull of winter fashion so much better than others I've seen
  • If the only spare seat on the bus is next to you, someone will reluctantly take it but as soon as a spare pair of seats turns up they will go sit there
  • Finnish food is ah-mazing!
  • at 17:30 (5:30pm) it feels like 20:30 (8:30pm) becuase it is already so dark outside
  • At 2 weeks I am still getting used to seeing snow every time I look out a window
  • Nothing quiet beats the feeling you get when you see the sun rising and you haven't seen it for days due to cloud :)

Kotkassa Bussi

04 Helmikuu 2011

Today I spent the day flying solo, it was good. I don't know about anyone else but every now and then I enjoy doing my own thing and having time to think.

I decided to try out the bus system. I caught the bus into the city and bought myself another (much needed) pair of jeans and a few more shirts. Feel much more at home now becuase Im not needing to wash my clothes so often to have something to wear haha annd I have clothes that are more like Finnish style so  I don't look (or maybe it's a feeling?) so touristy anymore :D

Getting home was the most excting bus trip in the history of my life. I went to the bus station and sat down to wait for the bus. It was a few minutes before the bus was due to arrive and I wanted to make sure I was in the right place. I asked another person waiting 'bussi kaksi *indicate station we were in*' only to be responded with a blank stare so I asked 'English? ('yes') Can I catch the number 2 bus here?' then I was told that I was in the wrong place and they gave me directions to the big bus depo in town - very nice person they were :) . I got there but the sign with 'number 2 bus' on it had Helsinki, Tampere and Turku written under it. I definitely knew I was in the wrong spot so I rang Hellu to ask where I was supposed to be and it turned out I was originally in the right spot! Maybe the person I asked thought I would be wanting to go to Helsinki rather than a local suberb becuase I was speaking English? Anyway I had 5 mins to get back to the other station before the next bus left (there wouldn't be another for an hour after that) so I ran back the width of Kotka - not that easy when the paths are icy - and made it to the station just as the bus was pulling in. What good timing, despite it sounding a bit hectic it was actually quiet fun! ... or am I going mad?? haha

Had 3 minute noodles (so much better than 2 minute noodles :P) with Sara, studied some Finnish then helped Hellu cook spag. bol. (spagetti bolognese) for dinner.

Rotary and Shopping

03 Helmikuu 2011

Tried rye bread with breakfast - it was good :P

Went to Rotary meeting for the club of Hamina-Vehkalahti. Didn't understand 1/2 of what was being said but caught a few words here and there. Met Merritt who is the exchange student for the Hamina-Vehkalahti club, hopefully she, Nadja, Madii and I can all catch up soon in Kotka. I also said a few words in Finnish.

'Hyvää Huomenta, nimeni on Anastasia Nixon. Olen 18 vuotta vanha ja Australialinen. Kiitos kutsuneet minut.' which hopefully I said 'Good morning, my name is Anastasia Nixon. I am 18 years old and Australian. Thankyou for inviting me.' I gave them one of my 4 sponsor club banners and I now have one of theirs :)

After the meeting Madii and I got dropped off at Pasaati. I bought a handbag because I didn't bring one with me and I didn't want to be using my host sister's ones all year. Pluuus... I really liked the one I got when I saw it :P We met up with Nadja (exchange student in Kotka from Germany) after she'd finished school and we had kahvi and pulla, she is super nice :)

Met my host club counsellor in the evening, she was really helpful and importantly I get along with her :) She let me know about all the basic things exchange students need to know about, bank accounts, school books, Finnish lessons (possibly solo becuase the night classes started in autumn and have already done 3 units but apparently I am 'a fast learner' so may be able join the class and learn the 3 unit externally from the class), District meetings and so on.

Thinking of Queensland

02 Helmikuu 2011

Today was when Cyclone Yasi finally hit Queensland, they are really not having a good year, first the floods now a cyclone. I have been watching the news to keep up to date with what is happening with Yasi.

Spent this morning finishing orgnising my room and putting stuff away. Found out I am invited to a Rotary meeting tomorrow in Hamina (next town over from Kotka) because Madii's host grandfather is a member of the club (Madii is another Aussie exchange student in Kotka). Went with Hellu and Sara to Citymarket shopping centre - Hellu bought me a pair of ice skates! That was so nice of her. Now I just have to be able to skate haha Skating and skiing are school sport though so I will definitely get plenty of opportunity to use them :)

AAANNNDDD... I got accepted to be a tutor at the English through Drama/Language Support Summer Camp!!! Yay! I am so excited for it :)

Getting Organised

01 Helmikuu 2011

Today was my meeting with the school counsellor. We organised my subjects:

My Timetable is:

Kello (Time)
maanantai (Mon.)
tiistai (Tues.)
keskiviikko (Wed.)
torstai (Thurs.)
perjantai (Fri.)










Other than the counsellor I met the principal, my art teacher, my english teacher (also my contact person at the school) and a few administration people. What will take some getting used to is calling teachers by their first names, it's rude to use their last name or call them 'sir/miss' because it is impersonal and creates a barrier between you so it means more resistant to learning from them - not sure if I expained that right, but that's the general idea.

Went to the library with Hellu and Sara, I now have a library card, does this equal initiation into the community? let's hope so :) I also got a Finnish sim card, a nokia phone feels so much more legit when used in Finland :P (F.Y.I for those who don't know Nokia is a Finnish company which started out making rubber products such as car tyres and gumboots (which you can still get). Nokia is also a town :))

Helped with dinner, we made hot sandwiches -along the same idea as pizza - with bread, garlic or pepper cheese spread then a tiny bit of mustard, pickled cucumber, salami, ham and cheese then put in the oven for about 10 mins. They were really nice.

Wow! Free Time!

31 Tammikuu 2011

Today not much happened, but in a good way, it was relaxing. I spent most of the day learning Finnish, I also sent in my application to be a tutor at the English Through Drama/Language Support Summer Camp, I hope I get picked it looks really good. I also filled out my visa etc for the St. Petersburg trip, exciting!

Other than that I found out when my 1st Rotary meeting is - 14th Helmikuu (Feb.) - I get 20 minutes to talk about myself, Australia, and why I wanted to be an exchange student. Also I am meeting my Host club counsellor, Sanna, on the 4th and have a meeting at the school to organise my subjects and have a tour.

We had makkara cooked on the fireplace and fajitas for dinner.

First Day with Host Family

30 Tammikuu 2011

Asked the first night questions over breakfast, then we went on a tour of Kotka. It is a ‘small town’ of 55 000 people, what size does that make my home town of 1 000?? Kotka is a very beautiful city, lots of parks, snow and I love the architecture of the buildings. Also the sea was frozen! How cool (no pun intended) is that? Well, for me it is haha

So I’m not starting school until the 10th but I am so excited for it. We went to Pasaati (the big shopping centre) and I got some pens, books etc for school. I also got a Moomin Suomi-Englanti Dictionary for Finnish kids first experiencing the English language (or 18 year old Australian exchange students hoping to learn Finnish :P) from my host family as a welcoming present, I also got a scarf and mittens from them and 2 pairs of knitted socks and a knitted mittens from Leila (who I also met when they were all in Sydney – see previous post 'Meeting in Sydney').

We then had lunch in a French-style restaurant, I tried escargot – once I got over the fact I had just put a snail in my mouth it didn’t taste that bad haha.

Took Vilma and Vera for a walk with Sara, on the way back all the neighbourhood kids were out playing, one was laying on his back in the snow being held at (plastic) sword point by another kid yelling something in Finnish – of course they went quiet as we walked past though. Then there was another group climbing in boulders and trees, seemed like fun J

The Mighty Ducks was on t.v so we watched that and in the breaks I would read a page from my Moomi dictionary, I feel like a little kid again! It’s fun :P

Friday, February 4, 2011

Moving In

29 Tammikku 2011

Today's the day that the true exchange experience starts, kind of sad because now everyone at camp is going there seperate ways but exciting becuase we will now be living in 'real' Finland < don't know how else to discribe it haha

We did the banana dance one more time (some Aussies reading may remember this from Outward Bound, except there is a few more steps in this one :P but there was no 'Bananas of the world unite!' at the beginning)

  • Go bananas
  • Pick bananas
  • chop bananas
  • eat bananas
  • digest bananas
  • poop bananas
  • flush bananas
  • swim bananas
  • go bananas

Host families arrive (I was getting a ride to Kotka with Paavo [District chairman] so two of the tutors, Linda and Marianne, where my host family for lunch :P

Goodbye Speeches


Left Karkku :(

During the car trip I learnt a lot about Finland, it's culture and history from Paavo. We stopped at his sister-in-law's house for a break. She lives roughly 1/2 way between Karkku and Kotka, she was really nice.

I arrived at my host family's house at about 6pm. The house is so beautiful and homely as well. I love my room too! There are 4 pets, Venla, Vera and Vilma who are dogs and Vivi who is a cat, they're all so adorable :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Karrku 28.01.2011

28 Jan 2011

  • Breakfast
  • Info and first Finnish lessson for the day (3 hours)
  • Lunch
  • Final Finnish lesson :'(
    • recieved diploma in Finnish (for doing 22 hours of lessons and covering basic Finnish)
    • watched highlights from the ice hockey championships 1995 - I have a feeling this year Suomi wins again! You heard it here 1st
  • Played floorball (kind of like slide hockey) in sleds. There was 5 pairs to a team in each pair one person was pulling the sled the other sat in it with the hockey stick and only they were allowed to hit the ball. I was on team Poro, we won 4-0, so, uh.. Go Team!
  • Had a talk from Rotary about rules for the year, travelling outside your host district means you have to get a crazy amount of permission (from several different people) so basically you have to plan a trip weeks in advance.
  • Cozy Night!!
    • so many talented people :) Kim you are my idol... Now when I say Aussie, you say Oui! - Aussie! I'll be asking for an encore :P
    • Played 'Honey I Love You' aah the memories of this game haha
    • Loved every single performance.
  • Going to host family tomorrow !! Exciting!