08 October 2012

The Daily

I've seen a few other exchange blogs talk about their daily lives in their host countries, so I thought I'd share mine.

I can't say that every single day has the same routine happening, which is something that I really like! Routines, in general, annoy me, and I don't like living on repeat constantly. Maybe this is why Finnish school fits me a lot better than American school (or it could be the intelligent conversations, interesting way of learning, &tc...). But I'll go over my classes and predictable before/after school activities so you can have a general idea of it all.

A new jaakso started last week, so my classes were changed. Most of them start at 8:10, which means that I get up everyday at 6 or so. I wake up, rush to the bathroom, shower, then go back to my room to get ready. I emerge at about 7 and go downstairs for breakfast. I usually eat bread with yogurt (and my host brother thinks I'm crazy for putting the yogurt on my bread). Fruit juice is my norm too. At 7:35 or so my host parents drive me into the city (sometimes we drive my host brother too) and they drop me off at Carlson's and H&M. There is an extensive amount of construction going on in downtown Kuopio, and so I have to walk through a construction site to get to school.

This is where I spend my days.

We'll pretend today is Monday (today is actually Monday, so I'm very accurate). My first class of the day is Maanantieto 1 (geography)! For a while I've wanted to take an authentic geography class, so this is great. We don't have every class every day and so although it's been a week since starting the new jaakso, I've only had this class 3 times. Over those 3 days, I've learned about the solar system from a Finnish perspective and written an essay in Finnish about the sun! And when I say "written an essay in Finnish about the sun," I mean that I've written a few sentences about the sun in 90% Finnish (there were a few things I didn't know and couldn't translate, so I wrote the English equivalent) and I feel ever so proud of myself. Maybe this essay is one of those things I'll remember for the rest of my life.

My beautiful essay about "aurinko."

The first day of geography class was hilarious. The teacher told us to draw a map of the Earth, but just as I was about to start drawing he walks over to me and says, "It's okay, you can draw your own map." I was a bit confused, because the map of the Earth was everybody's map, and when he referenced "my own map" I could only assume he meant drawing the United States. But I thought, no, I'll draw a map of the world because that isn't hard. And so I did, and when he returned, he exclaimed, "Oh look! You drew our map!" I thought it was hilarious. The teacher is a very kind man who helps me along when I don't understand and I appreciate that immensely. I also sit next to my friend Viivi (you couldn't believe how happy I was to have her in this class. I thought I wasn't going to know anyone!) and she translates some stuff for me and we talk and the class goes by nicely.

The next class I have is Musiikki 2 (I don't think I spelled that right, but I suppose you can guess what it is regardless). My first music class was an intro to music in general, and music 2 focuses on Finnish music. Suomalainen musiikki! I love it. The teacher is a really spirited, funny man and he gets us all up and dancing and singing and playing the songs. I'm in that class with Viivi too, and so her and I usually share a guitar when it comes time to playing along with the music. We also have at textbook that shows songs and so we can follow along with the sheet music and strum the chords.

Me and Viivi's desks with Viivi's music book (yes I still need to order mine...).

After music is Historia 3, which is an international relations course. Yes, of course I was so excited to join this class! It was another one of those classes that I was really afraid I wouldn't know anyone in it... But my friend Elina is in there and so I sit next to her, and she has introduced me to some of her friends, and so I am integrating just nicely. The teacher is a nice man who lectures a lot, which I really like because I enjoy being immersed in all the Finnish. I take notes too, but they're not that good because I have a hard time reading his handwriting. They're not that good because I also don't understand what I'm writing. Maybe one day I'll look back and finally understand?

The lunch periods at my school absolutely confused me for the first few weeks, and they still do a bit. If you ask me when I have lunch, I won't know. I can usually give you an estimate of time, though. On Mondays I have lunch around 11:35. The lunches are most likely always in the middle of a class period, and so when you go to lunch depends on which grade you're in (year one, two, or three). My classes are normally with third years (or second years taking third year classes), and so I go during that section. Lunches are really nice here. Everything is free to the students (except for coffee, but that's only 50 cents or so) and it only takes 90 cents from the government to make a meal for one kid. Isn't that lovely? I really like the food but I know that it's not popular with others. We normally have fish, chicken, or beef with vegetables (usually potatoes). I really like it. It's a nice variety. Once lunch is finished you go back to your class for 30 more minutes of learning or so and then it's done.

After Historia I have Kuvataide 5 (picture art). I love all art classes at this school, and I never thought I'd ever feel so artistic! The teacher of these art classes is absolutely creative, and she comes up with the best project ideas for us to do. I'm not sure what Kuvataide 5 is centered around (which artistic medium), but my first art class (Kuvataide 3) was focused on advertising, and my other art class (Kuvataide 2) is environmental art. Numero viisi (number 5) might have to deal with personal art, or ... people art, but I'm not quite sure yet. I don't know too many people in this class, and so sometimes I feel awkward and a bit out of place, but I'm making friends and the teacher is such a nice person. I don't feel bad going here or anything like that. Don't worry.

The art classroom!

That finishes my usual Monday, but there are two classes that I still have that I don't have on Mondays. IB English and Kuvataide 2. IB English is as you can imagine- international baccalaureate English, dealing with literature and prose, and yes, it still challenges me even though it's in my native language. Kuvataide 2 is similar in a lot of ways to Kuvataide 5, as I explained a bit before, dealing with art but in an environmental sense. My friend Elina is in there too and so she helps translate and give directions to me. 

School this jaakso finishes either at 12:45, 14:20, or 15:50. I then take the bus home if I'm not hanging out with my friends and get there about 15 minutes later. Today was an adventure on the bus... My usual #20 was very late (like 4 whole minutes you guys) when suddenly a giant tour bus pulls up with a paper in the front reading "20" on it. I assumed that the normal #20 had broken down, and so I got on this bus with everybody else. Just as the doors close I heard the bus driver say, "Savonlinna" which freaked me out. The new bus situation was already really confusing and a panic set in when I started to wonder if I was headed 2 hours away to Savonlinna. How would I explain something like this to my host family? What do I do? I only know one person in Savonlinna, and I don't even have his cell phone number. But the bus drove off and hit all the usual stops of #20, so everything was okay. I got home just fine. I'll go to Savonlinna later.

When I get home from school I have some downtime until it's time for dinner. I either go on Facebook, call someone, watch TV, have a snack, go on a walk... The choices are endless, of course. :) Around 18:00 or so my host mom has dinner ready, and her food is always, always, always superb. Before coming to Finland people told me I'd lose weight, but now that I'm here and eating a lot of her food... I don't know. 

A sampling of äiti's cooking.

After dinner I usually watch TV with my host family. They like Smash, NCIS, and Tanssii Tahtien Kanssa (Dancing with the Stars a la Suomi) mainly, so we usually stick with those. We also usually watch the news, but because I can't understand it I feel like I've been living in a dream world that has no world events going on. If you quizzed me about global news, I'd flop. I can understand the weather though, and that's great. All throughout Finland it's under 10 C. Isn't it kind of weird that I consider 10 C... warm now? But I'm so excited for the temperatures to keep dropping. Apparently it's going to snow on Saturday! A really great way to start the Fall Break. I'll keep my camera with me waiting for those first flakes...

When it nears 21:00 or 22:00 I start getting ready for bed. Then I set my alarm for the next day and it all begins again.

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