Thursday, October 13, 2011

Four Girls and Magic Jeans

Well it is time again for me to put aside my precious, tv watching, book reading, time to update my now 14 followers, and other possible readers on my current adventures in Finland. Yes, don't judge but I totally get excited when I get new followers or comments. I love to look at my stats and find that hundreds of people have read my blog from all over the world. The only problem is that now all my Finnish friends read my blog so I can't make fun of their dressing habits anymore. There is no particularly monumental event in the past to weeks to focus on, so I'm going for a write what comes to mind approach.
Probably the biggest thing that is starting to change is that I have gotten a bit of a social life. It is hard to believe how little you get out as a foreign exchange student because it seems like they are always doing something. That may be so, but it really takes time to build the relationships where people actually invite you to do things. At the same time I believe some culture shock is starting to hit me. It took a while to notice this, but a lot of things that fascinated me in the beginning are now just normal. The taste of salmiakki is no longer cool to like, it just leaves a nasty aftertaste. We have been through an entire rotation of lunch food so I'm no longer trying new things, I am just eating enormous amounts of salad and bread to compensate for the fact that I dislike a lot of school lunch foods. Riding a bike to school loses its appeal when it is 40 degrees farenheight and your adorable fingerless gloves are leaving your thumbs numb. Mostly there is too much time to get anything done. It seems like anytime in the past when I am really busy with school work and activities that is when I get the most work done. Now that I have virtually all day to get my half of an assignment done I never seem to find the time to do it. In orientation they tell you  not to isolate yourself, but what is there to do when you have nothing to do?
My exchange friend L from Germany came over last Friday to spend the night and that was a lot of fun. We made macaroni and cheese (she's an herbivore) a delicacy I have waited to long to make. Then we watched Date Night and Four Girls and Magic Jeans. It is better known in English as The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, but that is the literal translation of the Finnish title.
I have finally gotten my mother to send me a care pakage full of what I'm sure is lots of wonderful licorice free american candy. I'm really excited to share it with my finnish friends and to hoard all the chex mix for myself. Now I can show them what I mean when I tell them that their juice boxes here taste like pixie sticks and water.
Lastly after today and Friday I have nine days of Syysloma (fall break) full of travelling adventures which should give me something to write about. This weekend I'm going with my host sister up to Oulu to stay with her cousins and then next week I'm going to Helsinki and Stolkholm. I look forward to updating you all and hopefully taking some great pictures to make up for the fact that I haven't taken any in a true Maggie fashion.
Remember to follow my blog so that the numbers increase my self confidence and that you are always free to send me fan mail full of chex mix and cheesy goldfish!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pieksämäki, Fall, and the End of Physics

Well here I am, same place I have been for the past six weeks, enjoying the beautiful fall colors of central Finland. It has all gone so fast, and I am already done with the first jakso (term, period, semesterlike thing) in High School here. However, I will talk about events in a chronological order starting at Rotary's District 1430 Camp. It was a great weekend full of finnish activities and exchange students, a perfect combanation for crazy. It was so nice to meet up with some of our camp friends and some friends yet to be made for a weekend after our first month in Finland. There isn't much to tell, but we all had a great time with our three and a half hour hike, and our complete lack of sleeping the whole weekend. The best part about the trip, although I say this in a joking manner, was the train ride. I think that there is some sort of genetic link to things you like because for some reason I, like my crazy mother, love riding trains. It is awesome and I think if I had the money, I would skip out on my next months of exchange to just ride the train around Finland.
After that not much has happened that is extremely noteworthy. I am continuing to learn important finnish words such as yksisarvinen (unicorn), and trying to take pictures of this lovely place before all the leaves are gone. I love fall and for some reason it seems like it comes earlier here in Finland. To me it seems like right now should be a beautiful October day, except for the fact that it is the middle of September.
Another important thing that I began to talk about in the beginning of my post is the end of the first jakso. This means that I am officially done with my first classes inculding physics, which is hopefully something I am done with forever. Never take a class you didn't like in english in a foreign language. The thing is, being here I have almost no desire to take classes that I loved in America. I dropped my math class, I dreaded physics, and I'm not taking any more Spanish until the spring. I'm really excited for next tuesday when I begin my music, art, English and RUSSIAN classes. Emphasis on Russian was shown through my use of capital letters. I can't wait to start again though it is sort of a downer that the friends I have made in my current classes might not follow me into my next ones. Well I better get started on making some new ones then.
Today was a little bit different because after the four to six weeks of classes here there is an exam week. Exam week starts today and ends next Monday, and because I talked all of my teachers out of making me take them with the exception of Spanish, I have nothing to do. However, this week the newbie exchangers from Spain arrived and so I am attending Finnish lessons in Spanish all week. It really shows me how far I have come, because I am able to help teach some using the little Spanish I know combined with the even less Finnish I know. Can't wait for the rest of the week and the rest of the year, however I hope it doesn't go too fast seeing as so much of it is already over, and I don't want to go back to my real life so soon.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

So My Mom Started to Complain...

I'd pretend I was just really motivated to update my blog, I just got really busy with all the finnish learning and parties I'm going to, but that would not be the truth. The thing is I have always been far to lazy to keep a journal. Then I get really bothered by the fact that I have journal posts from two years ago and I want to start fresh, so I in turn rip out those pages. However I don't plan on ripping out the pages of my blog, I just am not the best at taking the time to update it very often.The reason I am doing this post is because my sister facebook messaged me that my mom is complaining that I don't update my blog enough, so out of the goodness of my heart, I'm doing it for her.
I haven't posted in about two weeks which leaves a lot of time and suprisingly very little information to cover. School has now been going on for over two weeks here, so it is hard to imagine that it hasn't even started back in Minnesota. I think I'm mainly going to talk about the differences between the school systems seeing as I have been living in school the past two weeks.
Everyone has heard about Finland's education system being the best in the world, and if you haven't before, you just did. So I had no idea what to expect before I came to school here. I figured it would be impossibly difficult, and everyone would be unbelievably smart. However, there are quite many similarities which I will try to remember and point out.
The most noticable difference here is the personal responsibilty. I think much of America's problem is the fact that teachers underestimate the abilities of the students and don't push them. Here there is no school bell assuring that you will be on time. The teachers don't collect your homework, they expect that you have done it and that you will be prepared for the class. The schedule is different every day so you have to be aware of your schedule or you will miss a class or show up when there isn't a class. If you don't have class, you can leave the school whenever. H&M happens to be about three blocks away and what in America would be a study hall becomes an empty hour which you can fill with what you choose (shopping).
Right now I am taking geography, English, Spanish and physics. As difficult as they are to do with a language barrier, they do not seem overly difficult. However, there is not as much class time to work on homework as there would be at home, and luckily I only have four classes in six class hours or I would probably be over streched. Here classes are 70 minutes which seems impossibly long, specifically in physics. However the breaks between classes are 15 minutes long which gives you a perfect time to relax with a cigarette. Now that was a joke seeing as I have no intention to begin the expensive and nasty habit of smoking, but there really is a place fifty meters from my school that is marked of as a smoking area. At any given break there will probably be at least a dozen people standing there. It really shocks me as something you would never see in America.
Finnish school can also tend to be a bit of a fashion show. I didn't bring many clothes, but my typical jeans and a tee-shirt wardrobe does not fit in very well here, which brings me to a segment I like to call,
How to Dress Like a Finn!
  1. Wear leggings as pants. It doesn't matter if everyone sees your underwear. It doesn't matter what size you are, leggings are pants.
  2. Wear a sweater. Maybe a cardigan, maybe a shrug, maybe a sweater dress.
  3. Wear a scarf. However, be careful not to wrap it around your neck and let it hang down. No, no it must be carefully  looped around your neck, as if a wreath.
  4. Last but not least, have a ridiculously sized bag or purse, to carry all your books and H&M between class purchases. Not to forget of course the vital Marimekko pencil case that is a vital acessory for any serious studier.
Another difference is that everyone bikes to school. I think I have gotten a ride to school three times so far this year. Not everyone has a bicycle though, some have adorable little scooter/ vespa things. They are awesome. Bike riding is efficient and environmentally friendly, but it totally sucks if it is raining. I live 3km (2 miles for all my Jenkki readers) and that is a perfectly long bike ride if it is pouring rain. The food in school here is free, which also means that it is healthy. Telling a Finn that you eat pizza for lunch in America is the surest way to make their jaw drop. The last and most expensive difference is that you have to buy your own textbooks. Which could cost up to 800 dollars a year if you bought everything new. However, most kids share or buy used which saves a lot of money. Luckily Rotary pays for mine.
A non school realted thing that has happened recently is that I went to my first Rotary meeting here. I gave a presentation in Finglish, and my host dad translated it. It was interesting, but I think that it will be much better when I can speak Finnish. Well there is much more I could say about the school, but I'm afraid that my exchange would be over by the time I finished. Feel free to leave any questions in the comments below, in an email, or Facebook message.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Fungi Finding in Finland's Forests

It has been a while since i've updated my blog because school started and it turns out that homework is a lot more difficult to do when you don't speak the language all the instructions are in. So i'll try to give an update with Tuesday-Saturday remembering as much as I can but a lot has been going on.
Tuesday was my day home with Annariina because both of my host parents were at work. We watched Phantom of the Opera with Finnish subtitles and played Wii Party (a super lame version of mario party, I couldn't even be toadette). Then we went to the kirjasto (library)/ cultural center where I tried out for the choir. I love to sing but haven't been in choir since seventh grade on the account that I don't have time to take classes from scary people. I made it in, filling my tuesday nights for the year.
Wednesday was the first day of school, but not really. I had to go in at noon and talk to the english teacher who helped me plot my schedule for the next six weeks. In Finland, you have about five or six sections of the year where you take up to six classes. I am taking physics, math, English, Spanish, and geography. Suprisingly math is boring. I love math and want to keep taking it, but I am in the equivalent of Advanced Algebra in my high school, so I just do all the homework questions during the notes and stare at the ceiling. I might change to art, but I will have to see if it is still possible.
Thursday was the first real day of school, and I had all of my classes that day. I was really confused in the beginning but but it got better after lunch in english and spanish class when i actually understood what was going on. I biked 3k (2 miles) to school but then regretted it when I had to bike home in the pouring rain. Then I spent more time on my homework than I ever did in america because I couldn't understand anything.
Friday was another day of school, but it was better because I knew people and I knew what was going on. I keep meeting people but have trouble remembering names because they all sound the same and strange so I forget them easily.
Today I met with a rotarian so I know what is going on with Rotary. Then my host mom and I went shopping and mushroom picking (hence the name of this entry). I figured out how to use an atm and got some money.
I think the biggest thing that has happened all week though is that I've gone to sauna, twice. Sauna is such an important part of Finnish culture and now I understand why, it is what you dream of during the entire cold day. Coming from a place where you don't take off your clothes in the locker room, going to a sauna naked was kind of hard to imagine. I love it though and am totally glad that I did it.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Around Iisalmi

Today I went to Iisalmen Lyseo to find out what I need for Wednesday. After that we went to several stores all over town. We went to the bank to get me a debit card and then to the library. I got a library card and checked out a glee piano book just to remind myself that I can't play the piano as well as I once could. Then we went to a store to get me a prepaid mobile phone. After that we went to a Chinese restaurant. If you just laughed you should know you are not alone, I laugh almost everytime I think of the notion.
This is the picture of the inside of the restaurant.

Also at the restaurant we had chocolate ice cream pops which had a very familiar face on them.

After lunch we went to the bookstore. If you read the author you will recognize this book, but it definately is not the same illustrations I grew up with. This is the chamber of secrets which means the creepy lady on the front is Lockheart! The creeper in the background is Snape. I saw this book a week ago in Tampere, but I just had to share how funny I thought this book was with everyone online. After that we went to the finnish version of Target, a store I miss so desperately. I bought some yarn to knit a cowl scarf. And then the higlight of my day, drumroll please, I FOUND PEANUT BUTTER. and it actually tastes like peanut butter. It was rather expensive but I still was so excited. However when I looked for velveeta I remembered that they don't have it here. Then we came home and watched the finnish version of The Hangover. It was sort of funny but really weird because they are all really intense about finding a Digi box. However it definately had its own charm.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Haloo Helsinki!

I am finally updating my blog for the few readers who even check it anymore. I'm pretty sure I have not written in almost two months. So much has happened that I don't know where to begin! I left Fargo last Saturday for the next year to live here in Iisalmi. From there I flew to Chicago, Frankfurt and finally Helsinki. I then went to a week long language camp. I could write about the Language camp but I would be at the computer for several hours which I don't think my host family would appreciate. So in the way that everytime I unsuccessfully start a diary I start in a completely new book, I am going to skip the Language Camp for now and maybe write about it later.
Yesterday my Host-Father Keijo picked me up from the Language Camp in Karkku Finland and we drove five hours until we reached Iisalmi at about 18:30 ( I am thinking in 24 hour time already). I was excitedley greeted my my Host Mom Mervi and my little Host Sister Annariina. They showed me around their gorgeous home and I settled into my room and unpacked all my stuff. We had supper of some sort of mushroom and chicken pasta, and Annariina made me a delicious chocolate cake. As usual we had coffee with the cake. Then I went for a bike ride around the town with Mervi and Annariina. They showed me my new school and some other sights in Iisalmi. Then Annariina made berry smoothies and it was time to go to bed.
This morning I woke up at 9 which was a very restful sleep considering I have been getting up at seven every morning and I had to sleep on a one inch thick cot at camp. I had breakfast which in Finland is yogurt, a sandwich, and coffee. We picked berries and took them to Mervi's mom's house because she makes mehu (juice) out of them. We had the finnish version of crepes for lunch with strawberries and whipped cream. We also had Amerikan Pekoni (American bacon). It was a relaxing sunday spent in the country. Then we came back to Iisalmi and I finally got connected to the internet.
A little about Finland in general. It looks like northern Minnesota. No lie, I can't tell i'm in finland because of the nature. It is maybe a little cooler, but it is still nice out. They eat so many berries here! They are really intense about their Everyman's Right which means you can go on anyone's property and just pick berries. They also constantly drink kahvi (coffee). I have drank about as much this week as I have in the rest of my life. It is really great though and so far I love it here. The language is getting easier even though I understand very little. Mervi and Keijo speak english, but Annariina doesn't as much and neither does Mervi's mom.
I labeled this post Haloo Helsinki because it is a band that has a song called Maailman toisella puolen which describes my life right now exactly. Youtube it, because it is great regardless of whether you understand it or not. Bye for now, I'm going to go be Finnish.

Friday, July 1, 2011

36 Days

It is almost shocking to think that I am getting so close that I can count the days. A year ago this seemed like an improbable dream and now it has all turned in to reality.
Since graduation I have been mostly bumming around considering that I left my before graduation. I went for a week with my aunt and grandma down to California for a week of great fun. I had a chance to visit Disneyland, Hollywood, and Palm Springs. I also got to know some family a lot better than I had before.
Lately though I have had way to much time to sit around and watch tv, but I have used some of it to study my Finnish and get back to doing some lazy hobbies like reading and knitting. A lot of people have recently asked me if I am scared and my answer has always been "not yet". I know that there will be an inevitable self doubting day in which I question why I wanted to do this all in the first place. I've been studying Finnish, but I know it is not nearly enough. Even if I studied until I got there I am still going to be a stranger in a strange land.
It has also been a while since I've gotten new and exciting news, something that always motivates me to work harder at learning about Finland. I can't wait to hear about my plane ticket and visa!
Next Friday, my parents and I are traveling to Grand Rapids, MI for the CSRYE district conference. I am really excited to meet some more people who will be going to Finland with me and to go to all the orientation meetings. Up until now they have given us some basic information but we are always told that we will learn more in Michigan and now we are soon to be there. I just thought I'd give everyone a quick update about what has been going on in the past couple of weeks as I enjoy my summer and prepare for my departure date August 6, 2011.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Switched Placement

Well Graduation has come and gone, something that made my life hectic for a few weeks. Now all the parties are over, all the decorations down (almost) and all my thank yous written (yeah right!). The tuesday before graduation I got quite the surprise when I recieved my guarantee forms from Finland. For anyone who doesn't know what guarantee forms are it is a form that Finnish Rotary fills out, telling me my club/city/school/first host family etc. Well it was a shock to me when I looked at my town and it was not Hamina as I had been previously told, but actually was Iisalmi which though in the same rotary district is in a completely different part of the country. Hamina was on the shore of Finland, where as Iisalmi is in the middle of the country, lakes territory, something that makes it very similar to living here in Pelican Rapids. I don't have any complaints about the switch, the town is the same size, I get to live on the lake, and best of all Iisalmen Lyseo (my school) has Spanish, a class I have been taking for 3 years and am considering a major in. I've had contact with different members of my host family and I can't wait to meet them in person. I will arrive in Finland August 7, and from there will attend a week long language and culture camp. Then I get to go home with my family to Iisalmi. School starts the following Wednesday according to my host sister, and I will go from there.
Yesterday I attended a going away party for a foreign exchange student leaving my town. It was so sad knowing that I might not ever see her again, but I believe I will. It just made me start thinking about the fact that I am leaving in two months and will have to say goodbye to all of my friends, even though I'll be coming back to them. Most of them would be attending different colleges anyway, but it will still be really hard.
This Saturday I am flying out to California to spend a week with some family, something I am really excited for! Hopefully when I come back I will have a great tan and studied a lot of Finnish, something I don't do enough of.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

District Conference and Placement

It has been quite a while since I've written anything, partly because not a whole lot has happened as far as my exchange, and also partly because I've been so busy with school. Last weekend I attended the Rotary District 5580 Conference in Grand Forks, North Dakota. It was partly to learn more about Rotary, but it was mostly just a way to get to see Inbounds and my fellow Outbounds again. We arrived on Thursday, and spent Friday and Saturday listening to speakers, practicing for our talent show, and having some sessions talking about our experience next year. It was all a lot of fun, and the talent show was in high praise. It was a bittersweet moment leaving on Sunday morning because some of us will never see each other, as most of the Inbounds are leaving fairly soon after school is over.
Yesterday I got an email from a Rotarian informing me of my city placement in Finland. I will be living in Hamina, Finland. It is a town of 20,000 people and is located on the Gulf of Finland 150km from Helsinki and 40km from Russia. I will be attending the Haminan Lukio School which judging by their website looks ten times nicer than Pelican Rapids High School. I'm still trying to find out how many kids attend the school but there is a bit of a language barrier for me. I really need to crack down on my language seeing as I only have a little over 13 weeks left in the United States. I know the names of my host parents, but am still waiting to be contacted by them.
This weekend is Prom so I will try to post some pictures of that, but I usually end up forgetting to take them. Also coming up in three weeks is my high school graduation. I am graduating as valedictorian of my class, so I need to complete my speech soon. Tons is coming up in my life and I will be in Finland before I know it!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Winter Rendezvous

This weekend I had my first orientation in Hackensack, Minnesota at Deep Portages 30th Annual Winter Rendezvous. We got there Friday night and even though I was a half an hour late, I was the second one there. It was a bit weird at first because all the inbounds had already met and were hugging and catching up on lost time. I had only met two of my fellow outbounds so far, but everyone met really fast. Right away there was some general downtime and fun. After a few hours of that we had our first outbound orientation meeting. We talked about our country placement and our reaction to that. Some kids got placed in their #7 choices! We have 9 outbounds going to Mexico, Turkey, Thailand, Brazil, Philippines, Australia, Germany, and guess what! Two of us are going to Finland! That was so exciting to me as I will know someone there before I even arrive. She lives in Thunder Bay Ontario which has the biggest population of Finns outside of Finland. She even had some salmiakki to try. Salmiakki is a Finnish candy that is basically salty black licorice. It is surprisingly good though and I believe it will grow on me.
The next day was the actual rendezvous which was basically a family winter Olympics style thing. They split us into groups with one Rotarian per four kids. The one girl in my group got second runner up Women's. It was super fun. After that we went rock climbing on their indoor rock wall. I'm a little bit more chicken than I'd like to admit so I only went up once. One kid in my group went up several times, sometimes blindfolded and backwards! After that there was more hanging out and supper. Lastly we had our second and final orientation meeting of the evening. We took some pretty goofy intelligence tests, and learned a lot about culture shock from our rotex students. Apparently giving a potted plant in Finland is not an acceptable gift. Wonder why? After this there was more snacking and joking, and my friend from France taught us all how to make origami horses!
As you can see my friend from Chile was not very entertained!

Mine turned out pretty well. I am a master of paper folding.
Today we woke up, had breakfast and said a lot of goodbyes. We won't see each other again until the end of April, when we go to the rotary district conference in Grand Forks.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

This Weekend...

This weekend I am going to Hackensack, MN to the Deep Portage Learning Center for a "Mandatory" Orientation weekend. I'm not so sure how much learning and orientating it will be as much as super fun getting to know all of my fellow outbounds and our district's current inbounds. I'll hopefully post some pictures when I get home on Sunday. I say hopefully as I am rather awful at remembering that I should take pictures.
In other news 31 days until the 52nd Annual Academy Awards! I'm on a mission to see as many of the nominated movies as possible within these thirty one days. Though I sincerely doubt that will happen, my hope is to see all best picture nominees. So far I have seen three. Toy Story 3 on my seventeenth birthday. Yeah that's right, old enough to see R movies and would rather go to a G one. This one just got nominated because Pixar is classic. How many movies have a third movie that is actually as good as if not better than the first? I have also seen Black Swan. Though this was a very good movie showing Natalie Portman at her finest, I don't believe this will win either, seeing as it is so graphic I actually had to close my eyes at some points. I do believe that Natalie Portman might win best actress. Thirdly I have seen the Social Network as of last Sunday. I really liked this movie, but as my friend points out the GG winner hasn't won the Oscar in 8 years. I say this is the year to break that streak but I have yet to see The King's Speech, and The Fighter, other very strong contenders.
List of Movies left to see:
  1. The Fighter
  2. Inception
  3. The Kids Are All Right
  4. The King's Speech
  5. 127 Hours
  6. True Grit
  7. Winter's Bone

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

So on Monday when I got home from working at Do It Best Hardware (oh so many jokes are made about working at a do it best) I got a message to call the man who just a week ago called me to tell me that I was going to Finland. Instantly my mind went to, oh my god they are going to send me somewhere else. Oh no! Alas, my suspicions where half way correct. The reason he called was to ask if I was interested in changing to my number 1 country choice Denmark! It was such a conflicting feeling those two hours I had to decide. In the end though, I was too happy with receiving Finland to change. I knew if I did there would be a never ending feeling of "What if?"
In less related to exchange news, my senior directed play I am doing is going swell. So far drama is to a minimum and I haven't gone crazy on anyone yet! Trust me It will probably happen eventually seeing as how much I have to do every night besides sleep. Tonight we are working choreography...... We'll see how that goes. Also I have my first, several times postponed, International Club Night. Hopefully a few people show up...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Up until now.....

So this is the post where I get all my readers up to speed about this blog and everything that has happened to me in the last six months. It all started this summer when I went to Camp Ryla in Crookston, Minnesota. At camp they had some current rotary exchange students and some past exchangers speak to the whole camp about their experiences. I have always wanted to be a foreign exchange student, but I had never considered taking a year off in between high school and college. So I got home from camp and I looked up everything there was to know about Rotary Youth Exchange. The main place I got most of my information was It was a very helpful forum full of exchangers. So I said to myself, if this isn't just some whim you are going through and in a month you still want to do this, talk to your rotary club. So a month came and went, and I still really wanted to do it. That is how my whole process got started.
The next thing I had to go through was the intense application process. The application is about 20 pages long and you need six copies of almost everything. You have to set up several doctors appointments and everything has to be copied and signed in blue ink. It is intense! So once everything was signed I had my club interview. Funny thing about it was, the day that I had my interview I had to get my picture taken for the local paper in my play costume. Imagine the surprise of the local Rotarians when I show up to my interview in my full Titania costume. After my local club accepted my they sent me to District Interviews. The interviews took place in Duluth, Minnesota about four hours from where I live. Ironically enough, they took place on the same day as my play performance which had affected my first interview. Well this interview was a little more stressful than the first, but it actually turned out to be tons of fun! So two weeks later I got my email that I was officially accepted as an Outbounder 2011-2012. Then the waiting game began. I waited for about two months to hear where I would be going, until last Tuesday when I got the call. To once again get in my way, I missed the first call because I was holding tryouts for the spring play I am directing! In the end though I got back to the guy who called and he told me I was going to Finland. I screamed for about ten minutes I was so excited. It was my first choice, but I couldn't care less I am so excited to be going.
So, that should bring everyone up to speed on how my process is going. I will have more updates soon as I will be talking about my first winter orientation!