Moi! I know many days have passed since my last entry, but I have not had access to a computer until now! I am in Turku, Finland currently, at the Scandic Julia Hotel. I have already done many things since last I wrote, and I really don´t know how to tell about them all! The orientation in D.C. was very nice, although very long and sometimes boring. We were lectured on Finland and Finnish culture, we did many interesting activies too. For example, we were split into 4 groups that each had to do a presentation of some aspect of Finnish culture for the staff at the YFU office in D.C. My group did a presentation on Finnish design and marimekko ( a popular fabric design) which included a mini fashion show! On Tuesday, we dressed up and went to Capitol Hill, I met with staff members from Senator Liberman and Senator Dodd´s offices! We then went to the Finnish Embassy, which was beautiful, and had learned more about Finland from the people there. From there, we drove to the Finnish Ambassadors home! It was really amazing, all fancy and like a mansion. We had a wonderful dinner buffet of Finnish foods, including a strawberry and cream cake that is very popular in Finland! We all got pictures with the Ambassador, but I can´t post them here because I can´t get them off my computer at the moment.The trip here was quite exciting, an 7½ hour flight from Washington D.C. and then a 2 hour flight to Helsinki. I had to run across the Frankfort airport because I left my carry on bag at security by accident, which was quite an adventure! I sat next to a very nice Finnish boy on the plane, who had been an exchange student in the USA for the last 10 months and was returning home. He didn´t realize at first that I was American, and thought that I was Finnish!!!!! I thought that was hilarious :) I am still extremely jet lagged, although I slept more than 12 hours last night, and was very nearly late to the morning session. I missed breakfast too! We went walking around the city last night, it was SO beautiful at the river that runs through Turku, there were many people sitting on the banks and on the restaurant boats anchored there. I took some pictures too, which I cannot get here now. I already and in love with Finland, it is amazing! The most stunning thing about it ( so far) is the silence. I had been told before that Finns are comfortable with silence, but I had not really understood it until I got off the plane and walked into the Helsinki-Vanta airport! There was an entire airport full of Finns, and no one was saying a word. The Silence was huge, but not painful or awkward. at all. Instead, it was like a breath of fresh air! Everyone knew that it was okay to not talk, and were comfortable doing so. I LOVED IT. It made me feel like I shouldn´t talk either, for face disapproving glances from the Finns. Our group of 14 was so loud as we stood around and walked through the airport, it felt very odd. The orientation so far in Turku has been really great, this afternoon we had a quick Finnish lesson and later we get some free time. We do some touring tomorrow, and have more free time ( I will enjoy that alot, like I did today, except today I got lost on my way back to the hotel!!!!). Friday we also get to try the sauna, which I am verrrrrrry excited about. We WILL wear our swimsuits though! Saturday we finally get to meet our host families, and then I will be able to write more often. I will probably not write until then. I hope this wasn´t completely confusing, my brain is quite tierd from trying to understand Finnish! I already have SO many stories!!
Moi from Finland!