by Natalie Griffin, Greenheart Travel High School student in Finland
On my first day in Finland most host family members Sari, Tomi, and Jasmin came to pick me up at the airport. The sun was still a little low and the tall bottomless pine trees that are found in Finland were covered in snow. It wasn’t a long way to their house and we made small talk during the time it took. When I got to their house they showed me the rooms and I went in mine and began to unpack.
While I was unpacking, my host brother Joonas and his fiancée came and introduced themselves, and we all sat down to drink tea, eat sandwiches and later played different Xbox games, talked, and drank soda. When Sari and Tomi came back we went on a walk. It wasn’t as cold as I would think it would be, but when we stayed out for a long time it felt like the cold was burning instead of freezing. Sari then left to pick up my other host brother Kasper after our walk and I met him before going to bed.
The next day I woke up early at 5am but laid in bed till much later. Kasper went to school and Sari went to work so it was just me and Jasmin. We both ate breakfast and then watched some tv and played another video game together. During our time playing, Tomi’s sister and her husband visited with their dog and we talked and had tea together before returning to our game.
After a long time of playing video games, we went ice skating on a frozen football (soccer) field. For dinner we got Subway in the town nearby, it had snowed all day but we simply drove over the snow covered road which is something never done in Connecticut.
The day after that I spent with Jasmin again and she led me to the school along with her friend. After showing me the way to the school, we played with Sari’s friend’s dog, Bella, in the snow. She loved to dig at the ice and try to catch the snow in her mouth. We also hid Jasmin in the snow and told Bella to try to find her. After a long time of playing in the snow we returned Bella to her house and walked home.
The day after that was my first day of school, I woke up early and got ready and then waited for Jasmin. Her friend came and we all walked to school together a little before 8am. The cold temperature froze our eyelashes and hair making it look white.
When we arrived at the school we waited in the hallway and I met more of Jasmin’s friends and waited for my school counsellor to come find me. In my Finnish school each grade is broken up into separate classes of students. The students in a class all have the same teacher and subject at the same time and therefore mostly the same schedule besides electives.
My counsellor helped me pick some electives and then called down four of the students from my class. We all walked around the school together and then went to my math class which was almost over. I met my teacher and was introduced to the class before the bell rang. I followed the four girls to their lockers and then we went to gym. Since the temperature was so cold we stayed inside and had gymnastics; the boys and girls are separated in gym at this school.
Once gym was over we walked to their lockers and then to our physics class. I got to sit with some them because there was an open desk. My teacher checked homework and then went over it in Finnish with the students. Half way through the period, we went to lunch leaving our stuff in the classroom. When we finished lunch we went back to the class and my teacher had everyone introduce themselves along with a fact about themselves in English which some were happy to do and others reluctant to use English.
At the end of school I waited by the door for Jasmin and talked to one of the girls I met while waiting for her. We talked about going shopping sometime in the town close by together along with the others. Then I found Jasmin and we walked home. School had ended at 12:45 but some days it’s longer.
We didn’t do much for the rest of the day except I did my physics homework using google translate to understand it.