Welcome to my first blog post here in Finland, I will hopefully be uploading on here once a month so stay tuned
Sydney to Helsinki
Sydney to Singapore was a pretty boring flight. It was mainly just watching movies, bowling, trivia and seeing what new reason Katie had for calling the flight attendant again.
In Singapore we said goodbye to most of the students from 9685 but got to meet all the other ones going to the Nordic countries.
The flight from Singapore to Copenhagen was definitely nothing exciting, mainly just 14 hours of sleeping and watching movies.
Finally we arrived in Copenhagen where we all went our own ways. There I met 5 of the other Aussies going to Finland who were also staying the night in Copenhagen with our tour leaders, Beverley and Daryl. Copenhagen was really pretty but also really windy. We had a look around the city centre and went to Nyhavn Harbour where the colourful houses are along the river. After that we went back to our hotel. We tried to stay awake for as long as possible but by 7pm we were all knackered and pretty much passed out. By 5am we were all pretty much awake from jet lag and were able to get ready on time to catch our final flight to Helsinki. Despite Gemma almost losing her passport we all made the plane on time and before we knew it we were touching down in Helsinki.
Karkku language camp
Once the 8 other students arrived in Helsinki we took a 3 hour bus ride to Karkku which is where our language camp was held. Although there was no snow at all it was still really beautiful and a great way to start off our year in Finland.
On the first day we all met our rotexes, Velma, Hilla, Veera and Carlos who were our tutors as well as our Finnish teacher Mimmu. In the morning we had our first lesson. I don’t remember much of what we learnt but the camp was mainly just for us to get used to the Finnish culture and language. In the afternoon we did some outdoor activities with the rotexes and later we got to experience our first Finnish sauna. Although many of us didn’t go the “Finnish way” it was still good. From the sauna we ran down the the lake where we all jumped in and then raced back to the sauna to defrost as it was bloody freezing. After that we all got changed back into clothes and had evening snack in the sauna house and got to know everyone better.
In the morning it was pretty much the same as the day before but in the evening we all spent it with the other students who actually go to the school we were at. We played lots of different games and had evening snack with them where we got to know them better and also gave them vegemite to try which sadly, they all really hated and weren’t the biggest fans of.
On Wednesday we had Finnish lessons again in the morning but after lunch we all got on a bus to Tampere- the third biggest city in Finland. We got a tour of the city and got to visit one of the big churches there. We learnt more about the war that happened in Finland and also got to meet up with a few of the oldies that live in Tampere which was really nice. We walked around the for a bit and then said goodbye to our new friends and got on the bus back to Karkku. Later that night we all walked to Karkku church. We went to a small, quiet service and lit candles for our prayers. It was really nice after our big day out to just have some time to ourselves to sit and reflect. Once we got back to the school we had sauna again and also had a dip in the lake- still bloody freezing! After that we were all pretty tired and just crashed.
On Thursday we had lessons as usual but that night we had a walk and talk about the Finnish forests. We got to eat pancakes, smoked salmon and makkara (sausage) which were all cooked on the open fire. We were taught what Finnish people wear and how they transport their belongings in the snow and were also shown what kind of gear they use to camp in the snow. Yes, camping in -30 degrees is something Finns do voluntarily! It was really cool to experience what it is like to be in the forest and how it is every mans right to do so in Finland. The nature guides were really nice and I’m so thankful we got to experience that.
Friday was our last Finnish lesson with our teacher Mimmu. We got a certificate and Finnish chocolate for completing our language course. After that we got our group photo taken with our country flags- Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Later that day we had a ‘cosy night’ where we played different games and got to show off our different cultures. Myself and two other Aussies Chloe and Willow performed the nutbush and got everyone to join in with us. We listened to a dreamtime story from Hannah and got to hear some Maori songs sung by Saana and Hila from New Zealand. After the performances we just listened to music from Finland and Australia and also did some tiktok dances.
Saturday was our last morning at Karkku with all the exchange students. We all split up into our different districts and met with the rotarians who told us the expectations of the Finnish Rotary and what we can expect during our year here in Finland. After that our host families had all arrived and we could finally meet them. We then went back in for a small briefing with everyone and had lunch all together at the camp. After lunch it was time for all of us to say our goodbyes and head off to our new homes.
I believe we have come to the end of this blog post. I’m not sure how frequently I will keep up with these but hopefully it will be once a month.