Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Night of Dancing

Welcome back to my blog about Finland! As you can tell, I have a hard time remembering to write anything here, so I have a lot to catch you up on. Even though I honestly do not remember where I left off at... Oh well!

Kauhava and the Glamorous Gaala

Recently (meaning about a month ago) I was able to go back to the lovely town of Kauhava and participate in their school Gaala. A Gaala is like prom in that you go with a partner and dance, but that is where the similarities stop. To participate you must learn multiple dances, buy a gorgeous ball gown, and attain a partner. Lucky for me, I was invited by my good friend Kalle to be his "avec", which is the equivalent of his date, to this dance. Because Kalle is 18 and this dance was for the 2nd year 17 year olds, all of the 18 year old 3rd year students were treated as honored guests to watch the main dancing performance, and then take part in the free Waltzing at the end. I dresses up in a pretty dark green dress, and had to quickly learn how to dance. The whole night was lovely, I spent it dancing with my friends and Kalle. After the main Gaala event everyone went home to change into more comfortable clothing and headed to the "after party". Here we hung out with friends and danced to pop music. The entire night was fantastic, and it is another amazing memory I will have of Finland.

From Right to Left: Kalle, myself, and Tuomas. 
Taken after the glamorous night. 

From Right to Left: Elina, Tanja, and myself.
Two of my favorite people! They were a big part of why the night was so much fun, I am so lucky to have met them this year.

My beautiful Italian girl Angela! She is one of my closest friends, it was wonderful to share the night with her.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Postcard from Lohitie

All of these blog posts could be called "A little catching up to do..."

But hello there! Welcome back to the saga of my year here in Finland! Im pretty sure I left you guys with the stories about my wonderful stay in Kauhava... Dang, I really do suck at blogging, much has happened since then! I'll just dive in then...

Second Host Family
When I got off the train from Kauhava, I got in the car with my first host mom and went over the events of my lovely week, then, at the end of my stories she said that she had some bad news. Naturally, I had a mini heart-attack, thinking that I must have unknowingly broken some rule and that my butt would be on a plane back to Alaska sooner than originally planned. She went on to tell me that the house had a bad water leak, and that there was a good chance that I would have to change host families a month earlier than planned. This calmed my dreadful musings about an early return, but new worries about packing and leaving this wonderful family set in. I knew my second family, and was comfortable with them, but moving after only two months? That made me nervous.
I had about a week to pack my things (meaning I waited until 3 hours before leaving), and when the day came, Annica and Fred helped me get my luggage upstairs and out the door, and together we walked down the street to my new home. It was about a 5 minute walk, and when I reached the house my new host brother was there to help me get my MASSIVE suitcase up the sea foam green spiral staircase to my new room. I gave my wonderful family a final hug, and then the door shut, opening a new chapter in my Finnish life.
Skipping ahead in the story, I have now been in this house for about 3 weeks, and I am completely happy and comfortable! I get along with my host mother and brother, and I think that they like me too! Or at least I hope so haha :)

Random, but good, memories I haven't yet written down.

One day, a few weeks ago, my good friend Tuomas from Kauhava came to Helsinki, so I went to meet him for coffee. We ended up sightseeing around Helsinki and then meeting up with other friends that were in town. This group was very diverse, and the conversations we had that night left me laughing for hours afterward. Our coffee group included Angela from Italy, Dylan and Rae from Canada, Tuomas, Sara, and Hanna from Finland, and myself. We stayed out talking until about 8 pm, and then all went our separate ways. This is a classic example of the get togethers that normally occur, coffee, taking, and lots of laughter.

Rotex, the ex-exchange students, threw a Halloween party for all of the students in the 1420 district. I went with a huge group of people from the Helsinki area, dressed as a witch. My good friend Rae and i scrambled to find costumes that same day, so she went as Waldo, and I found a black dress and a witches hat and called it good. We had lots of food and talked and laughed, some people went to the jacuzzi and sauna, and over all we had a really nice time!

I think this is a long enough post, I will write more when my big plans for the future are in action! But before I go...


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Little Catching Up To Do...

Well hello again everyone! I am SO sorry for my lack of writing, life was busy for a while there, but now I am back here in my normal Espoo routine. I will fill you in about how Finland has been starting with my trip to Sweden and moving on until now!


This was an amazing trip! My host family, the Isacsson's, took me along with them to Stockholm, Sweden for a three day weekend to celebrate the 80th birthday of Annica's mother! We were able to walk around the beautiful city and see many different parts of the intricate culture of Stockholm. One night we went to this extremely glamorous restaurant named Fem Sma Hus. It was like a fairy tale night spent eating amazing food with beautiful people, then walking back through lamp lit European streets surrounded with many different languages. I can't say enough how thankful I am to have been able to go on that trip!

Fun. Concert

I screamed that phrase/sound/noise all night out of pure joy when I went to the Fun. concert! It was AMAZING! I still can't believe that I come to Finland, and my favorite band comes along with me! It was another night out of one of my dreams. The performance was stellar, and I got to experience it with one of my good friends, Noah, from Illinois! We both had a great time dancing and singing along with every song that was played!


This is arguably one of the best weeks I have had while here in Finland. A good friend of mine named Ilkka, who last year spent a year on exchange in Juneau, Alaska, was kind enough to invite me to spend a week with him and his family at their house in Kauhava, Finland. Naturally I said yes because not only was this a chance to see a good friend again, but it would also mean taking a train to go and see more the the country I am spending a year in! Over the week I got to attend school with Ilkka, and while at school I made friends with some of the most amazing people I have met in my entire life. People were so welcoming and kind that it felt like I was right at home in this completely new setting. We went to a hockey game, to a small get together of friends, Ilkka and his brother drove me all around the area, and I also got to join in on normal routines like going to the local coffee shop with friends, and having family dinners at home. This small town of 8,000 people, in the middle of the flat lands of Finland, provided me with such an amazing time that I came back to Espoo completely ready to face any challenges that will arise.

 These are two exchange students that are staying in Kauhava, Matteo from Germany and Angela from Italy! I am so glad that I got to meet them! 
Ilkka and myself after going to school one of the days I was in town.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pictures from the Past

Wow, this brings us back to the very beginning of it all. This picture was taken at Winter Orientation in January when I was just told that I would be going on exchange to Finland. The boy in the blue blazer is named Ilkka, he was at the time on exchange in Juneau, Alaska. The other boy is named Kaden, and he had just gotten back from his exchange year in Finland. They both walked up on to the stage, Ilkka carrying the flag of his home country, and Kaden holding the envelope decorated as a Finnish flag. They gave out a short introduction in Finnish, then both with a smile on their faces said in unison, 
"Welcome to Finland Katie Cadigan." 

Here we have pictures from the night I left Fairbanks behind. This was both the most wonderful, and most terrible night of my life. I know I already posted a bit about this night, so I'll only give a short run down of what happened. My Dad and my younger brother Sean drove me to the airport at about 11:30 at night where we were met by my wonderful friends Kelly, Claire, Torie, Spencer, Deenaalee, and Harry. We had very tearful goodbyes, and eventually it was down to just Sean, Dad, and I, sitting on the bench shown in the picture. I was crying, and honestly having a panic attack, but somehow I managed to stand up, say goodbye to the two people closest to me in the world, and board my plane. 

Now we have me, in Finland, at the very beginning of my journey.

Pala Kaiken


I think I am losing my touch at fabricating a set thesis for these posts, because I have so many little things that I want to share, and most of them have no connection to each other at all! Bare with me please. :)


T-2 days until I head off to Sweden with my host family! I am SO excited! The reason behind this trip is that my host Grandmother just turned 80 years old! The entire family (and its a big family) is going to meet in Stockholm for 2 days of celebrating, then when they leave on Sunday, Annica, Fred, Nora, and myself are staying through Monday to do some shopping and sight seeing! I am literally bouncing up and down in my seat with excitement right now!


For a long time I have had a favorite band named Fun., and wouldn't you know it, as if my exchange wasn't amazing already, guess who is coming to have a concert in Helsinki? Fun.! I bought my tickets yesterday! Other exchange students from across Finland are coming to see the concert as well, so we will all meet up and have a nice reunion while we watch Fun. preform!

Suomen Kurssi

I started my Finnish language courses on Tuesday, so now every Tuesday and Thursday I will be going to a class at 7 p.m. to learn how to finally puhu suomea! En ole kovin hyvä.

Thats about all I can think of right now, but I will write again soon, and put up more pictures!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Life 2.0

These are two of my closest friends here on exchange, Dylan, Sara, and Vivian, who took this picture. This is the magnificent Lutheran Cathedral in the heart of Helsinki.

This beautiful view of the Baltic Sea is only a 10 minute walk from my house. Every time I walk by the view takes my breath away! 

Myself with my host father and host sister at the Central Market Place right on the Baltic Sea in Helsinki. I am so fortunate to have such a wonderful host family!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Things I Have Come to Know


We have officially come to the one month in Finland mark! It was a whirl wind of activity and new experiences, and now things are finally starting to fall into a rhythm. Through this rhythm, there are a few things that I have come to notice about Finland, and my everyday life, that seem quite normal now, but a year ago would have baffled me had someone told me that these were in my future. These are the things that I have come to know:

1) Silence is fun! No really, I have come to enjoy the quiet atmosphere that you can find throughout this country. This sounds quiet, and you may now have an image of stone-faced Finns walking through the streets of Helsinki not saying a word. That isn't the case at all, its just that when you compare where I come from to where I am now, its like the volume level has been turned down about five notches. People here believe that if you are going to speak, you should have something to say. This means also that what a Finn says is the truth, and each word holds a new weight that I hadn't before felt in the US.  Because of this I have found that I have much more time with my own thoughts, and I have a better chance to observe and "people-watch", as well as learn much from the people that do speak with me.

2) Finland is like a small town, it seems that everyone knows everyone else. A very good example of this is when I told my host mother Annica that I wanted to join a yoga class. She smiled and said that "Oh yes, I have a friend named Monica who teaches a yoga class, let me give her a call and see if she can fit you in." Less than an hour later she comes to me stating that I was signed up and ready for a few weekend courses at a local studio, and that Monica would even teach in English for me so that I wouldn't get lost in the folds of the Swedish language. It was extremely kind of Annica to use her connections to help me out, and it also gives a good perspective on the community aspect of this countries culture.

3) Food. Ohhhhhh the food. I had no idea what I would be eating when I came to this country. I had heard horror stories about "blood-cake" and blood this, and blood that, so naturally I began to wonder if the people in Finland were really all vampires... No not really, but these rumors made me nervous about what types of foods  I would eat. Today I am happy to report that the food is good! The main staple foods that are included in most every meal are potatoes (peruna), tomatoes (tomaatii), cucumber (kurkku), fish (kala), bread (leipa), and butter (voi). There is an extreme emphasis on the bread and butter, daily I have at LEAST four pieces of bread with butter. And thats considered a low number. I quite enjoy everything we eat!

4) Public transportation has become one of my dearest, and most trusted friends. I say most trusted because when everything else in my life is a little bit crazy, I can always count on the bus I need to take to be there at the exact time that it is scheduled to. On a normal day I usually only use the bus to get where I need to go, but occasionally I need a train or a metro to get me to my destination. Each of these forms of people movers are very convenient, and I enjoy the freedom they give me.

There are defiantly more to add to this list, but its quite late, and I am terribly sick, so I should probably get to sleep. I'll start posting picture of my trip for those of you who haven't seen them on Facebook!

Hyvää yötä!