Sunday, May 16, 2010


So, long time no update. I'm sorry! I've been super busy, and I can't believe how fast the time has flew by me. Only 3 weeks left in Finland for me! Then I leave for Eurotour. As excited I am to see everyone back in good ol' Minnesota, I know I'm going to miss it here too.
But, this weekend I'm happy I was able to make it down to Helsinki, Finland's capital.

There was a ton of people, which was a huge change from Kemi. There were tourists from all over. And the weather was amazing there.

This is by the coast, where we got to eat outside(woo!)

Another picture by the coast, with my host mom, Riitta.

The Helsinki train station is in the background.

A huge church :) It was really pretty, and there was an ice cream truck parked right by it.

Me on the steps by the church, eating some ice cream :D

More coming soon!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


The ski hill on one of the windy days

Last week I went with my host family to Yllästunturi, a ski resort in northern finland, for the hiihtoloma, or ski holiday (the Finnish version of spring break). It was a lot of fun, and I took plenty of pictures :D And while it was a ski holiday, I spent my time there snowshoeing since my ski skills aren't really up to par. The snow may be starting to melt back in Minnesota, but its still holding on here, and my whole leg sunk into it more than once on my snowshoe adventures in the Finn-forests.

In the top picture, I have my tired face on. Veera, my host sister, was apparently not fazed by skiing though.

The cafe I got my coffee from, after snowshoeing up to the hill.

Satu, my host mom, is the smiling one trying to take my picture in the back.

The Finn-forest!

Another picture of the hill :)

Some Finn-forest scenery.

Hope this holds you all over for a little while :P
I move next weekend to my last host family, which is crazy. I'm going to miss the Valkeinen's a lot, but the Hendricksson's seem pretty cool :) I think it should go well! And there's soo much going on to keep me busy for the short four months I have left, its gone by so fast.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Snow Castle

So, this weekend I had two fellow American exchangees up to Kemi to stay over. It was a ton of fun, and on top of it, there ended up being a Rotex trip to Kemi's Snow Castle on the same weekend. So, we had plenty to do :D

The map above is the layout of this year's castle. They change it every year, and it take about a month to build.

Entrance hallway :)

The two 'icy bears' guarding the castle, as our tour guide told us.

One of the normal hotel rooms, they cost from 120 - 170 euros a night per person. And they are not very warm, haha.

The honeymoon suite, for the people that get married in the castle's snow chapel. Doesn't it look nice? Haha. Apparently around 30 couples a year get married in the chapel.

The snow chapel.

The snow stage, where they have mostly kid entertainers.

Since we were in Kemi, I got to act as the tour guide once we left the castle and finished our day of wandering the castle and tubing down the hill behind it. I guided everyone to San Milano, Kemi's best pizza place, which was a lot cheaper than the snow castle's restaurant. Yay!

After pizza, the other exchange students went back to their host cities by train, and Anna, Grace, and I all went back home and had a movie marathon while thawing out our feet.

This weekend was a ton of fun, and tomorrow is my birthday (woo) so I'm expecting it to continue for a while :D

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Vanhojen Tanssit!

So, last week was busy. Everyday was spent preparing for the 'Oldie's Dance', a Finnish tradition that celebrates the third-graders of the high school graduating and the second-graders becoming the oldest in the school. :) And because of the name, it's traditional to dress up in old-style formal wear- they used to wear those white wig things George Washington did to the dance.
I took the dance lesson last period. I didn't really catch on until the last week, heh. But, I'm proud to announce that I didn't fall at all :D Though, during the tango I came a little close.
There's not many pictures of me actually dancing, because they were all so blurry, but my host sister taped the whole thing, and I'm going to see if there's a way I can get that up on here :)

My dress was made by my host mom :)

My hair was too. I woke up at 7 on Friday morning with rollers in my hair, and we had to start right away to get everything finished.

First, we all went to my school and danced. After that, we went to San Milano, a local pizza place to eat. This is me and Ilona :)

After eating, we went right to Tervahalli, where the dance was. First we had to practice, and the band had to practice too. In this picture, I'm looking over at the band, hoping that they're going to play better for the dance. My partner, Jan, is hoping that Satu won't be taking pictures of him the whole time. Haha.

Me asking Jan I'm right on the steps of the Wiener Waltz, still during practice.

The grand entrance. We all messed it up the first time, but its okay, haha.

After the grand entrance. Everyone is looking at each other to see who's fault it was. Haha.

Dancing :)

After the dance, me and Veera, my host sister.

My head hurt from the pins. There were so man.

Veera, me and Satu

The whole thing was a lot of fun :) I danced a lot better than I expected. After the dance, I went to the after party for everyone that danced, and for some of the 3rd-graders that decided to sneak in. That was a lot of fun too, and we danced some more, haha. Unfortunately, all that running around in a dress in -25C weather, then staying out late, earned me a cold. But, this weekend was a lot of fun, and I'm really disappointed its all over.
I have plenty of pictures and a video to remember it by though :)

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Well, not much to update on right now. It's test week this week, which means life is pretty easy for me :P I've been busy with Finnish lessons, and preparing for the dance (though I'm not sure if my dance skills are getting any better, haha).
There's been a ton of snow (or 'lumi' in Finnish) recently, so I thought I show what a Finnish winter looks like :D Not too different from Minnesota, haha.
Here's a few pictures from around town to hold everyone over until the Oldie's dance on the 19th. Hope you like them!

That's the town library in the background :)

There's two of these pillars at the entrance of where the snow castle is built. It just opened last weekend, so I haven't been there yet, but I will! If you look closely at it, you can see 'Lumilinna' carved in it, which means Snowcastle, which is carved right below it.

Just a branch near the harbor, which is frozen I guess, because people are skiing on the sea. Haha.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Crayfish Eating, Christmas, and New Year's :D

So, no update for a while again. Sorry! The holidays were incredibly busy, and I've been doing so much here with friends and my new family that I haven't remembered to blog about it :P
So, I'll have to cover a lot in this post!
About a week before Christmas, my host family introduced me to a Finnish tradition: Crayfish Parties.
Apparently, they're supposed to happen around the end of summer, but my host family does it a little different. Every year around Christmas they pull the crustaceans out of their freezer, thaw them out in a huge bucket, and set them out to eat on a nice platter. I was the one that got to arrange them nicely on the platter (bleh).

A couple of family friends came over to eat them with us, which is not as easy as you might think. I had to be taught a couple different times on the right way to eat them. First, you pull off the claws and crack them, suck the juice out, then take out the meat and put it on buttered bread. Then, you have to crack open the back, suck more juice, and pull it apart just right so you only get the tail and not the nasty stuff. Then, you open the tail, take out the tube that holds the poop (ew) and take the meat and put it on the bread. Rinse and repeat.
The whole process makes you incredibly hungry, and honestly, I was kind of grossed out. But I tried! I was done after filling up a piece of bread though, and luckily, there was steak after. :P

Christmas break came a couple days before Christmas, and me and all of my friends pretty much ran out of school on the last day. I helped get ready for my host family's relatives to come over in the couple of days before, which involved a lot of cooking and cleaning. :P
The relatives arrived the day before Christmas Eve, and we all hit it off pretty fast. They tested my Finnish, but everyone (besides Lumi, the two-year-old, haha) spoke english very well. Laura, one of my host dad's sisters, is even a past exchanger, and she went to Chicago during her 3rd year of high school.

This is a picture of Petteri, my host dad's brother-in-law, struggling to open a can of fish eggs, Riita, his wife and my host dad's oldest sister, and Mummi, my host dad's mom and the master cook of our Christmas.

Here's Mummi, Laura, and Riita, in the kitchen again. I'm not sure what they're making there, haha.

Here's Lumi, Riita and Petteri's daughter, moments before she forced me and Veera, my host sister, to sing Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer.

Christmas Eve is when the Finns celebrate Christmas. They eat, go play in the snow, eat more, relax, eat, open presents, and then eat. The picture above is of balini's(I have no idea how to spell that). They came originally from Russia, but its now traditional to eat them on Christmas Eve, just as it is to eat rice porridge in the morning. They put one almond in the porridge while its cooking, and whoever ends up with the almond in their bowl gets one wish that's supposed to be guaranteed to come true. I got the almond this year :)
The balini's are eaten as an appetizer to the Christmas Eve dinner. They're like a sour pancake, that you spread sour cream, fish eggs, onions, and pepper on. It sounds weird, but its actually pretty good.
That was followed by ham. I think we ate two hams and one turkey over the time everyone was here, and more chocolate than I can measure. It was a lot of food.
My host parents have a lot more pictures of me with everyone, and I'll be sure to put them up once I get them :)

New Year's I spent with my host family and some of their family friends. It wasn't so different from an American New Year's, other than us not watching the ball drop. We went outside at about 11:30 to start lighting off a ton of fireworks, though it was a little too cold to fully enjoy them (who wants to be out in -20C?), and my host parent's champagne froze in their glasses. It was fun nonetheless, and we stayed up until 4:00 playing bored games :)

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Independence Day Dance

Last night my high school put on a dance to celebrate Finnish Independence Day, which is tomorrow. It was a ton of fun, but totally different than American high school dances. Instead of a lot of hip hop and grinding, there was Elvis and traditional dance. Of course, I still don't know how really, so it didn't work out too well. But it was still fun :D

From left to right: Me, Venla, Milka, Maiju, and Mari, drinking punch before the dance :)

Vipe, Venla's boyfriend, attempting to teach me to dance.

This crazy circle dance thing. You jumped and twirled, and I tripped over my feet a lot.

Santtu, me, and Vipe. Haha.
More pictures on Facebook :D