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.