Sunday, June 28, 2009

Moi! I am currently in Ylöjärvi, Finland at my host family´s home! There is so much to write here, please forgive me if I do not do such a great job! The family consists of the mother, Marjut, the father Simo, the son (19) Anssi, and the three sisters, Ilona(15), Ella (12) and Heli(8). And don´t forget the dogs, Tina and Nana! Only the mother speaks English fluently, and she is the one who translates for me. The family talks together in Finnish, and I sit and listen until Marjut translates! Since I got here yesterday afternoon, I have gotten used to hearing Finnish around me, although I don´t understand most of it. There are some words that I do know however,and sometimes I can pick up the basic topic being discussed. The house is really beauitful, all wood and tile floors with pretty decoratings and windows. My room is attached to Heli´s and has little steps up to it! I have a entire wardrobe for my clothes, and it fits very nicely. They have a beautiful garden and back yard, it has an adorable little playhouse for Heli and a little sauna! I have already tried the sauna before going to my host family at a beach near Turku. I will try to describe it, becuase it was amazing. You shower briefly in the locker room, and then go into the sauna. It is VERY HOT, with wooded benches all around. The one I went into could hold 20 to 30 people, if they wanted to squish. This was a rather large sauna, all the others I have seen are much smaller, holding only about 5 people max. There are buttons on the walls that if pushed add more water go onto the rocks which are arranged in the center of the room. That makes steam and adds heat! Then you sit and sweat! The hot air pushes in on your mouth and lungs, and when you breathe through your mouth it almost tastes like peppermint! When you can´t stand another minute, you go out and run down the dock and jump into the sea! I was actually swimming in the Baltic Sea, how cool is that! At first the water feels like little needles it is soooo cold, but if you swim around for a few mintues it feels really good. You repeat the process, so it was like this: you get HOT and sweat rivers and then rundownthedock and then COLD and then swim and then get out and rundownthedock and into the sauna and then HOT and sweat and repeat! Anyway, it makes your whole body feel really good, and your skin all tingly! After a sauna nothing in the world is a problem, and everything is good :) There is so much left to tell! I gave out presents, Heli loved the doll I made her and is calling her Marta! She carries her around everywhere. We had BBQ for dinner, and a special cake for dessert. They even put mini Finnish and American flags on top! We looked at photos after that, laughing and pointing out funny faces. It was strange because I couldn´t really talk to them, but somehow we could understand the noises and points and laughs. It´s amazing how not having a common language is a handicap! Before bed we had an `evening snack`of bread, butter, jam, cucumber, juice ( a typical cranberry kind) and yogert. It was very good! The food is nice, although a little different, probably because it is more healthy. There are several funny things as well: Finns call the ´bathroom´the ´toilet´ and on the drive yesterday Marjut mentioned that the water in Finland is very clean and you ´could even fill your water bottle in the toilet!´ At first I thought that she meant in the actual toilet, but I soon realized tha she meant the sink!!!! Also she told me about a ´key nap´ and a ´running lunch´, both family jokes. A key nap is a nap during which you put a key or some other object in your hand as you sleep and when you drop it you wake up and have slept just the right amount of time. A running lunch is when you eat at a restraunt and then run away without paying! I thought those things were amusing!! It is so hard to not be able to speak Finnish. I feel like I am treading water, and barely keeping my head up! I know however that the more I tread water the stronger I will become.After I while I might even be able to swim properly! There are so many details that cannot possibly be recorded here, but I hope to have given the basic idea! I´ll write again tomorrow IF I HAVE TIME... we will go to Tampere!


  1. Anonymous13:30

    I love reading all the details: that Heli named her dolly Marta; all about the sauna; the feeling of being in deep water; of the key nap -- I just love that one! Keep trying to talk; I bet if you tap into that musical part of your mind, you'll be able to sort the sounds out better. Maybe you and Ella can play piano together and teach each other a song...with patience and laughter understanding will flourish. We're behind you 100%. love, Mom

  2. Anonymous06:15

    Suggestion: please add "YFU", "Finland", "exchange" as a tag to EACH posting. This will make your blog easier for friends to find with searches.

  3. how do you do that??