20 March 2012

4,220 Miles

That's how far it is between Ketchikan, Alaska and Kuopio, Finland.

I received my host family placement today! I really don't like those blogs that has a whole bunch of capital letters and a lot of exclamation points, but I have to become one of those right now. I HAVE A HOST FAMILY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, I'm done. But those words and exclamation points do not accurately describe how I feel right now. For the past few days, I have been intensely thinking about my host family... and so when I woke up today and casually checked my email, there was a small thought in my head that said, "Oh, there will be an email from your host family!" but I've been thinking that for about a week so I tried to ignore that thought. But when it went to my inbox there were two new emails from AFS- one telling me that I had a host family, and the other giving me the website where I could find all that information. I stared blankly and the screen and ran to my mother's bedroom, and we read through the information together. I started screaming when I found out where I would be living (so that was a nice wake up for my mother).

Let's get down to the details!
Next year, as I stated earlier, I will be living in Kuopio, Finland -which, by the way, was the city that I wanted to live in the MOST! So I got my dream city. It feels amazing, I'll have you know. I have two host parents, Liisa and Vesa. I have FIVE host siblings -Eemeli, Taneli, Anni, Antti, and Aapeli- which is an amazing contrast to my life right now, because I have no siblings normally. They also have a big dog, Howavart! And Howavart will be a good friend to me next year because I will miss my dog Emma very much.

Kuopio, my host city, is a city of 97,552 people (according to Wikipedia). Ketchikan is a town of 14,000 in the borough, so I am super excited to move to a big city! It could be considered the "Archipelago City" of Finland. Kuopio is like an archipelago in the sense that it is situated on and throughout Lake Kallavesi, on the edges of it and on islands inside it. It's very spread out. I really like that, because it's kind of like my town right now! Ketchikan is in the Alexander Archipelago in Alaska.
                                                      This is Kuopio! Courtesy of Wikipedia.

And now I've got about 5 months until I leave. In those 5 months I will turn 18, I will graduate from high school, I will get a visa for Finland, I will say goodbye to my friends and family, and I will leave on the biggest adventure of my life. The feelings I have right now cannot be measured- I want to cry with happiness and with sadness, I want to smile because all this news is amazing, I want to dance, I want to scream (in a good way), and I want to go! Most of all I want to go to Finland because this whole exchange is such an amazing opportunity for me.

My parents are sad though, and that's expected. They are very excited for me too! But my mom had that look in her eyes this morning. She said to my father, "When our baby flies the nest, she sure flies far. She has big wings." She consoled herself by also saying, "All that's between you and me, Alexa, is Russia and Sarah Palin!"
Which is very, very true. :)

05 March 2012

Establishing a Future

It's very interesting for me to think that somewhere in Finland, right now, there are people thinking about me. And perhaps it is not in more than a name- but maybe they're merely thinking of the girl who could be with them next year.

Right now, there are people with AFS organizing my application and figuring out where I'd best be abroad. Maybe they're debating sending my application to the Lahti Liaison, or maybe the Tampere one, or even somewhere like Inari. I am in their thoughts, I am in their hands, and I am in their days. I wonder if I'll ever meet any of them, if they'll have a large role in my exchange year.

Right now, there is a family in Finland, debating which person to host. At this point, they could be very unsuspecting, not realizing that I think about them almost every day. Or maybe they think about me just as much as I think about them, because maybe they're as excited as I am to make contact. Regardless of these things, though, there is a family in Finland who will soon enough have me with them. They will pick me, and I will go.

And right now, there are people all around the world who have some sort of interaction with me at some point- whether they be as teachers, classmates, fellow exchangers, or strangers I run into. I can't tell you enough how curious I am about all of them. They will play such a role in my life that it can't possibly be imagined at this time. Maybe they wonder about the possibilities of me too.

Foreign exchanges are intricate things. I have imagined these moments for the past two years, and it's hard for me to grasp that all of this exchange is really happening. It seems so surreal. I never really believed the blogs that said, "I can't believe this is actually happening!" or "It doesn't seem real yet!" but now those seem to be the mottos of my days.