Saturday, August 2, 2014

Viimeinen hyvästi - The Last Goodbye

.....Minun viimeinen sanan täytyy olla suomeksi. Sen takia, käykää sivun loppussa......

Well, this is it. The last blog post. Thank you to everyone who read my blogs intently. I really appreciate that someone was reading these!

I could tell you more about how amazing my life was, but I feel that this blog really sums it up nicely. If I dwell too much on the past I won’t get over the fact that it’s over.

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.


Tällä päivällä, vuosi sitten, saapuin Suomeen. Olin nuori tyttö, en osanut mitään suomea, ja en tietänyt, mitä mahtava vuosi oli tulossa minulle.

Minulla oli päiväkirja, ja olen kirjoitanut ainakin joka viikko minun elämästä suomessa. Päiväkirjassa löytyy sanat, mutta ne sanat oli muistot. Olen lukenut kirjan nyt kun tulin Kanadaan, ja en pysty lukea ilman itkua. Ymmärtäkää en itke, koska olen Kanadassa ja kaikki perheeni ja ystäväni ovat kaukana minusta.... okei joo, itken vähän. MUTTA itken koska tiedän, että se vuosi on ohi ja en voi tulla takasain. Kyllä, voin mennä Suomeen ihan monta kerta, mutta en voi käydä lukiossa ja tavata niin monia mahtavia ihmisiä.

Elämäni muuttaa, ja minunkin täytyy muuttaa.

Kiitos, kun olette lukeneet. Ootte aina sydämessäni.

Claire Klaara

 Autobotit, RULLATAAN 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Kanadassa - In Canada

Hello everyone! I am, in fact, alive and well. I have spent the last three weeks trying to adjust to life back in Canada and have not spent much time on things like blogs/ emails/ contacting people. I'm super shallow, I know, but this distance is helping me return to Canada and try to become a Canadian again.

I am writing my final blog post, and will post it when it's all done (hopefully some time this coming week)

Thank you to everyone for your patience.

Moro kaikki! Olen vielä kunnossa täällä Kanadassa, ja kaikki menee ihan OK. En ole jutellut paljon teidän kanssa, koska on helpompi minusta. Minun täytyy tulla Kanadalainen uudelleen, ja ei se ole helppo.

Kirjoitan minun viimeinen posti, ja kohta laitan tänne (joskus tällä viikolla)

Kiitos, kun te olette kaikki kärsivällinen.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Matkalla etelään - A trip down south

I went down to Vaasa on the second of this month to visit a Canadian friend of mine who is also a Rotary Exchange Student. We live 6 hours apart in Finland, and because it is so hard and expensive to travel I hadn’t had a chance to visit her. I know it was the last time I’ll see her until we’re both back in Canada, and we spent most of our two days together talking about going back home and how hard it was going to be. Though it may sound like a sad thing, talking about it with her really helped both of us, and I know that we’ll be there for each other when we’re both going through the “going home crisis”.

The path on the left was the trip there, the right one the way back.

On the fourth, my good friend Mika and his family picked me up from Vaasa and we continued south to Turku. I was so happy I got to travel to the south of Finland at least once this year! That’s one big problem with being north; it costs so much to travel anywhere.
In Turku we visited Turku Castle and the Cathedral, which were both beautiful but very simplistic. I like that about Finland, they get right to the point. Why make it super fancy when it could be practical instead?

Turku Church

In the castle, there was a place where people had thrown money from various countries. Some Canadian decided to throw a 50! I might have considered climbing over the rail and getting it...

The highlight of the trip was definitely the day we spent in Nantali, at Muumimaailma (Muumin land). For those of you who don’t know, the Muumins are characters created by a Finnish author Tove Jansson, and almost every single Finn grows up watching the TV show and reading the books. They’re so incredibly adorable, I can’t even explain. I’ve grown to love the Muumins in the past year that I’ve been here, and will really miss seeing their lovely faces on bowls, candies, pop, blankets… really just everywhere. Here are a few links you can check out if you’re interested in getting to know the Muumins:

Wikipedia page
Theme song (original Finnish)
Theme song (English), sounds totally weird to me
All things Moomin
First Moomin Episode turns out they have this on YouTube. Weird...
ANYWAYS, in Nantali there is an island that is essentially a Muumin theme park.  The park is very obviously made with six-year-olds in mind, but us two 19-year-olds had a blast anyways! There were times when I would just smile at the cuteness overload. Anyways, enough chit-chat, here’s some photos.

Traditional Finnish doughnuts that are to die for

Finally, something I understand ;)
My favorite Muumi, Niisku 

As of today, as I’m writing this right now, I have 23 days, 13 hours, 26 minutes and 23 second until I leave on a plane from Helsinki, leaving Finland and my exchange year behind. This is the most terrifying thing on the planet. My emotions are currently very unstable, and I feel that at any moment I could laugh, burst into tears, or both.
Because my exchange clock is really ticking, this will be my last blog post I will write while I am in Finland. I need to absorb every last second, breath in my last breaths of the beautiful Finnish air… and all that other poetic stuff. I will give you a blog post about the rest of my exchange when I get back to Canada and some posts about how I’m adapting into Canada again.  

See you later alligators!

Hyvää syntymäpäivää minulle - Happy Birthday to Me

Hello all! It’s time for a new blog post! Here’s an update on what’s happened in my life since the last post.

Our Rotary district in Finland, district 1400, had its district conference, an event that all the exchange students are asked to attend. District 1400 covers over half of Finland, but we have the least amount of exchange students, only eight this year. Sadly, one of us couldn’t make it, but the seven of us had a lot of fun in Oulu during that weekend. On Saturday night we had to do a short presentation, where we introduced ourselves in Finnish and another student and I had a little “speech” (in Finnish, of course!). After that we were planning on singing a song, but our small group didn’t have many talented singers. We decided to just read the song out like a poem. Though this all might sound disastrous, the presentation went really well. We were complimented on it for the rest of the night, and our district chair said it was one of the best he’d ever seen. Now, most of my district friends have headed off on Eurotour, a Rotary trip that takes the students across most of Europe. I’m sure it will be an amazing experience and they will have a blast, but I decided that I would rather spend my last month on exchange in Finland with my friends and my new country.

At my first cocktail party!

Majito (the one in the big red dress) and I decided to dress with our families cultures in mind. She wore a traditional Ecuadorian outfit, and I threw on my kilt.

You know you're at a fancy party when the plates have cup-holders. We were so impressed

During the test week I only had three exams, and so I had almost a week with “nothing to do”. I decided to visit my little brothers’ elementary school for a day to see what it was like. The teachers and students were very excited to have me there, and I had a lot of fun at the school. Though I spoke Finnish with the kids most of the time, some of them were brave enough to ask me questions in class in English. I was very impressed with their language skills at such a young age! I spent half of the day with Onni, my eight-year-old brother, which was a comical scene as we walked down the hall. To say I stood out in the line would be an understatement. The kids at the school never made me feel out of place or anything of the sort, but after that day I felt very old… Realising how long it had been since I was in grade 5 was a quite a shock to me!

Also during exam week I visited an Angry Birds theme park. For those of you who are unaware, Angry Birds was made by a Finnish company, so Angry Birds is a big deal here. They have a lot of merchandise all around Finland. The park was made for children, but it was enjoyable enough for me. My two little brothers and sister had the time of their lives, and just kept on going. About half way through the day I thought I was going to collapse, and I fell asleep almost instantly on the bus ride home. All around enjoyable day, though!

A giant trampoline that you could jump from into the giant foam pit (see picture above)

Saturday was our last day of school before summer. Yes, Saturday. It wasn’t really school though, we had a sort of assembly that wrapped up the year, since the exams were all done. I spent most of the assembly trying not to think that it was the end of the year and that I wouldn’t be coming back to the school on Monday. The phrase ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ has a very applicable at the moment. I’ll spare you the teary details, I’m not really in the mood to cry right now.
ANYWAYS, after the first and second years had their assembly the third years had their graduation. Muhoksen lukion grad class of 2014 consisted of just fewer than 40 students, compared to the 135 in my grad class in Canada.

I mentioned in my last blog post that I wrote a Finnish exam, and I was very stressed about the results. Well, they arrived just a few days ago in the mail and… I PASSED!! My Finnish level is rated at a 3/6, 1 meaning that one can speak very, very little Finnish and 6 meaning fluent. Though it may not sound like much, I’m ecstatic! I’ve been in Finland for almost ten months and I am half way to fluent. That’s a huge accomplishment in my books!

And finally, I turned 19 on the 26th of May. I had an amazing birthday with my great Finnish friends and family. The kindness of those around me never seems to end! Though it was a beautiful day, I couldn’t help but feel a little lonely without my Canadian friends and family. I’d spent every birthday I could remember in Canada, and it was interesting to look back and see how far I’d come from the past year.

You are going to get a post soon again about a trip I just recently took. Maybe even in the same day as I post this one. We’ll see…

Sunday, May 4, 2014


Kun minä sain lippua Kärpät pelille, olin ikionnellinen. En voinut uskoa, että olin menossa peliin!! KIITOS PALJON LARILLE JA EMILIALLE! Te olette paras ikinä. Se oli mahtava kokemus, ja olen onnekas minä olin siellä jäähallissa.

Toivon, että kaikki on näynyt Aaltosen hienoa maalia. Ensimmäinen maali pelissä, ja viimeinen maali Liigassa tänä vuonna. Voi jes, oli mahtava... En tarvitse selittää SM-Liiga teille, siksi teidän kappale on aika lyhyt.

Olin myöskin siellä Kärpät juhlissa, kun kaikki palelsi ulkona odotamassa Oulun jääkiekkoa pelaajaa. Se oikea näytelmä oli ihan OK, ei niin kiva, mutta sen jälkeen olemme tavanneet muutama pelaaja. Emmi, Martta ja Väinö olivat todella innostunut tavata kaikki pelaaja, mutta minä etsin se Kanadalainen Ben Maxwell. Olin niin hermostunut, että minä sainoin ’Hei! Olen Kanadalainen!’ ihan tyhmästi. Hän kysyi mistä minä olin, ja sanoin ’Vernonista, Okanagan laaksolla,’ ja HÄN TIETÄSI MISSÄ SE OLI!! Minä ymmärrän, että Kanada on iso maa, ja tietenkin Suomalainen ei voi teitää kaikesta paikasta, mutta joskus minä haluan joku tietää mistä olen! Oli aivan mahtava päivä. 


Before I explain the exciting title, which half of you don’t understand, let me tell you some of the less exciting things that have happened since the Russia tour...

I wrote the Finnish language exam. These tests are written across Finland, the same test for everyone. It’s a language proficiency test. I decided what the heck, I’ll write the medium test (there are three levels). At first, I was fairly confident in myself, but a week before the test I thought wait, what was I thinking?? I’ve been here SEVEN MONTHS. I can’t write the MEDIUM level test. What am I doing?! I asked if I could switch tests, but I wasn’t optimistic. And so, I took a train to Kemi to write the middle level test with another exchange student from America. We both felt terrible after the test, and we both agreed that our Finnish skills were not even close to the level that was expected for that test. Yes, okay, it was a dumb idea, but at least we tried! I put so much effort into that test, and if I pass I will cry tears of joy and amazement. Seriously though, I failed that test so hard.

On Palm Sunday, I went with Elsa, Onni and Väinö around the block to, essentially, Trick-or-Treat. We would sing a song, give the person a decorated willow branch, and they’d hand over candy. It rained for part of our little adventure, which was no fun, but it was still a good time.

Even the dog dressed up!

I also visited the Kinnunen’s cabin a few weekends ago. It is a beautiful place, and I can’t wait to visit in the summer. Sadly, there was still ice on the river, so we couldn’t go swimming when we went to the smoke sauna. Instead, we ran around on the ice naked, which was enjoyable :)

I’ve always enjoyed hockey. It’s one of the only sports I will watch on TV, and probably the only sport I really get into. Sadly, I don’t have the skills to actually play the sport, but that’s alright with me.
There is a hockey league in Finland called the SM-Liiga, or just Liiga. I would say the teams are just one small step below the NHL, maybe compared to the Western Hockey League back in Canada. There were 14 teams in the league this year, and each represents a city in Finland. Oulun Kärpät was the team that I cheered for the whole season, the most northern team in the Liiga, representing Oulu. The Kärpät team was doing really well, they were at the leading team the whole season, and made it to the playoffs. The Liiga playoffs are done the same as in the NHL, best of seven games. They made it through the playoffs all the way to the gold-medal series, against Tappara, from Tampere. In this series they won the first game, and then lost the next three. It was 1-3 in the series when Kärpät won a home game, to make it 2-3. The next game was in Tampere, which they also won. Tied in the series, 3-3, and the next game was in Oulu. I was so excited for Oulu’s team, my team, and I really wanted to get tickets to see the game. The tickets went on sale the day of the game, at 9.00, and at 9.03 all the tickets were sold. My friend Emilia, the biggest Kärpät fan I know, was trying to get tickets for her and me to see the game. That amazing girl stood in line for three hours, and went around Oulu to try and get tickets. Sadly, we didn’t get any. I was heading back home from Oulu when I got a call from her. She told me, or more yelled at me, that she got tickets. At first I thought she meant just one for herself, so I was really glad she was going to see the game, but still disappointed I couldn’t go. Then she said ‘Claire, there’s one for you too. Do you want to come?’ The people around me gave me strange looks as I screamed into my phone and danced around the street. I WAS GOING TO THE GAME!!
Our tickets were for the ‘standing area’ near the net. Though it was sometimes hard to see what was happening on the other end, the spots were great. The game was intense. Period one: 0-0. Period two: 0-0. Period three: 0-0. Both teams were giving their all, but the goalies were giving it 130%, keeping it tied at nothing the whole game. Over time started, it was about 7 minutes in, and Tappara made an AMAZING shot that I was sure was going in. Thankfully Karhunen, our lord savior, is a beast and managed to keep it out of the net. Then, the next face-off, Aaltonen took the puck up the end and… there it was: the winning goal
I’ve lived around bagpipes my whole life, so I know what the word ‘loud’ means, and I’ll tell you that 100 bagpipes couldn’t compare to the sound that erupted from that stadium. I admit that I didn’t actually see the goal happen, we were at the wrong end, but I got the hint. We screamed our lungs out as our team dived from the benches and dog-piled on the ice.
It was a beautiful feeling, and I will remember that day for the rest of my life. I am so incredibly thankful for the people who got me there. Thank you Lari for getting those tickets, and thank you so much Emmi for picking me to be your ‘plus one’. I am so honored that you gave the ticket to me, and I am so grateful. You really made my day, week, month, and maybe even year. KÄRPÄT ON RAUTAA!!!

This photo isn't zoomed at all. We really were that close!

Kiitos Aaltonen <3
All the drunk Finns gathered in the little market place, where there is a big statue of a police man, who apparently made the perfect chair.

A few days later there was a celebration in Oulu for the team...

After the presentation there were some team members outside signing autographs and taking pictures. I was determined to find one specific player, Ben Maxwell, from North Vancouver, Canada. I finally found him, but was really nervous to talk to him. I finally just blurted out to him “Hey! I’m from Canada!” He was obviously rather excited to talk to someone who spoke English, and especially someone from Canada. He asked where I was from and I told him “Vernon, in the Okanagan Valley.” When he said “yeah, I know Vernon, it’s a nice place” I almost burst into tears. I've gone the whole year saying that I live in Canada, “near Vancouver,” and most people don’t even know where that is. The fact that he knew where I was from without having to Google it warmed my heart. And so, here you go, a photo of probably the only two British Columbians, and maybe even Canadians, living in Oulu: