Birthday, Dancing, and a Big Boat
Over the past few weeks many things have happened, some things I had been anticipating for years, some for months, and one that I didn’t anticipate at all. At the beginning of February, I started my seventh month in Finland, we began new classes for our fourth grading period of the school year, and I celebrated my birthday! On my birthday, my host family and I went bowling and we had a great time. I really enjoy bowling, but I’m not all that good at it, thus all three of the “children” in our family used the bumpers so as to avoid our balls rolling into the gutter. I ended up tying with my host mom, both of us with final scores of 94 (though her’s may have been a bit more solid a win as she didn’t use the bumpers). That weekend we had a small party for family and friends for which we made like at least three cakes, all of which were super yummy! I’m glad that I got to spend time with my family and friends at my birthday. It was fun.
A week later was the evening we had all been waiting and rehearsing for for months. We had our Vanhojen Tanssi. I may have mentioned some of the details in a previous post, but I would like to have all of the details right here near each other. We started learning the dances at the end of November. It was really fun to see where everyone was with dancing; very few people in our class had had much if any prior experience with ballroom. I remember on of the first practices all of the girls were talking about their dresses during a break and one girl in my class asked me if I had gotten my dress yet, to which I responded “no” as, at that point, I didn’t have my dress, nor had I even started shopping for one. She responded by gasping and clutching her heart dramatically. At least that’s how I remember it. I did finally get my dress and I love it so much. On Thursday night, everyone was finally all dressed up, hair and makeup done, with the boys in their penguin suits and the girls in their ball gowns. Some people were nervous, but in the end our dancing went really well! It is tradition for the students to choreograph their own dance as well. With our theme of internationality, we chose songs from many different countries. In planning, it was really interesting to see how everyone worked together to come up with choreography for our dance. Our theme was also reflected in our decorations. We painted French, Finnish, and American flags which we hung on the walls and decorated in red, white, and blue, the three colors conveniently being those which made up the flags of all the countries we were trying to represent. On Friday, we had two more performances, one for the kindergarten and elementary schoolers and one for the younger students at our school. The last few dances of the performances we were to go and choose someone from the audience to dance with. For the first performance on Friday, I asked one of my little brothers to dance with me, but he adamantly refused. Once we had finished our performances on Friday, we were free to go home and begin our holiday week.
This past week we have been off school for what’s known as the “ski holiday”. On Sunday, one of my friends and I went to Disney on Ice and we had a great time. The entire script and all of the songs were in Finnish, as the target audience were presumably an age who hadn’t even started learning English yet, but I understood quite much of it. On Monday morning I made pancakes for breakfast using a pancake form that was intended to make them look like pigs, though I hadn’t quite mastered the art of making pancakes with it and the first few came out rather scary looking. At the end of breakfast, my host mom told me I needed my passport and to pack for two nights. Apparently we were going on a trip somewhere. Immediately I was rather anxious as I had no clue as to where we were going, but I decided not to worry about it as I’m sure my host family has my best interest at heart.
We left a few hours later and drove to Helsinki, the part where the boats are. I then realized that we were going on cruise to Stockholm! When we got to the place where we would get on the boat, my little brother found out that one of his friends and his family was coming as well! As I have a tendency to get sea sick, my host mom (under direction of my mother apparently) thankfully brought seasickness medicine to make it better. The first night I didn’t sleep very well. I kept feeling the boat moving and hearing ice crunching. We spent Tuesday in Stockholm. We met up with some friends of my host mom and went to Junibacken, a children’s museum with lots of interactive exhibits for te kids based on storybooks. Junibacken is currently celebrating Moomin’s 70th birthday with a special Moomin’s exhibit that was really fun to visit. After the museum we got a bit of street food, everyone but myself getting hot dogs while I had fish & chips. After the museum we visited with the family friends. On the way back to the ship, we drove around the city and saw many of the sights. We also saw the church that we sang at on choir tour a few years back which brought back nice memories of that trip. The second night I slept much better, only waking a few times during the night.
In the last bit of the week, we have all been feeling poorly with rather unfortunate colds. The weather these past couple of weeks has been a bit warmer and the snow has been melting a lot, which I find somewhat ironic as my school back home has had several days off this past week due to inclement weather.