by Natalie Griffin, Greenheart Travel high school student in Finland
On February 3rd (Wednesday) it was my birthday. I usually wake up at 7:00 a.m., and that morning my host mother and sister came into my room to surprise me with a cake and present while singing ‘happy birthday.’ The present was a necklace made by a popular Finnish jewellery company and some Finnish chocolate.
I got dressed and ready and then we ate the cake together and I went to school. I thought all the birthday surprises would be over, but when I sat down in my Math class, everyone stood up together without explanation and began singing ‘happy birthday’ to me in English and then Finnish. When they sat back down, one of the girls pulled out two small cakes (shaped like long rectangles) and a knife, while another pulled out matches and a candle. We spent the beginning of my math class eating cake and talking. One of my friends also gave me a chocolate bar as a present when the math party was over.
Friday after my birthday, I had a bad headache when waking up so my host mother let me stay home from school. I slept in late and then was feeling better. So when my host sister got home we made some Finnish buns for my party on Saturday. Also, it was Runeberg’s birthday (the man who wrote the Finnish national anthem) so we ate Runeberg’s tortes. And my host brother, Joonas, came back from the army for the weekend.
On Saturday morning, I made a mud cake with my host sister and laughed with Joonas as he tried to play the Walking Dead video game, which has decisions you must quickly make on what to make the character say, but they are all in English. When the people came to the party, we ate cake and buns and drank tea or coffee, and then relaxed in the living room.
Most of the people there didn’t speak English but I spent the time talking to a little girl that my host mother’s brother takes care of sometimes like an uncle. She only knew a couple words in English but we got help communicating through Sari’s brother. We talked about how we both are afraid of spiders and I told her how I was once badly bitten by one. She told me I’m Spider-Man and that she is Super-Girl, and we talked about Minions and she told me she likes to play Five Nights at Freddy’s (a horror game). For presents I got a mug, chocolate, a pretty necklace made with a cool stone, home-made mittens, and some special traditional Finnish branches used in the sauna.