One Month in Jyväskylä!

Everyday Adventures

Wow!!! Today marks a month since I set out on this journey. It’s crazy to think that a month ago at this time I was sitting in an airport in Chicago just waiting for time to pass. Actually, that’s not true. Time zones ignored, I had only just woken up to load up the truck and head out.

Since that day, I have experienced so many amazing things, met so many amazing people, and have learned more than I think my brain can hold. It’s been so wonderful. And I haven’t even left the city yet!

In no particular order, here are some of my highlights of this month:

  • I have learned to budget. It took moving out of the country to make it happen but now I know how much I can spend and still have room for rent and food. At home, because of how American college dorm…

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Onnellinen

I think tonight, I will finally sleep like I belong here. Today is my second full day in the city and I am beginning to walk with confidence. To be comfortable in a place where the words don’t make sense. To find people I can connect with. To understand that American coffee is for suckers. Ha!

Yesterday was a super long day. I walked more steps yesterday than probably the entirety of the two weeks before combined. We started first thing in the morning meeting everyone in our little groups of people we got paired with to get to know and we started our information sessions. There, we heard about the student union and about the apartments and about the education practices of the school. After that, we got lunch and wandered around the main campus (theres three) and the city.

While in the city, I was actually surprised to find so much that I was familiar with. I found the McDonald’s! And a Subway, and an H&M. I heard Rihanna playing over the speakers. And there was even a restaurant called American Diner that I will eat at at least once. I plan on saving it until its a super cold, rainy, droopy day and I just want to be back home. Passing it yesterday, I could smell the nasty grease. It is going to be grand.

But there was also so much that was unfamiliar to me. Malls built into the city that look like nothing special from the outside. The city itself was such a change from home, even in the cities I have been in. There are countless bars and clubs – and even some coffee shops right next to them! I was blown away by the sheer mass of bicycles around. And the public transportation is so efficient. Also, There wasn’t a single piece of trash anywhere to be seen.

Unfortunately, after such a full day I expected to be sleepier than I was. When I got back home the jet lag finally kicked in. I fell asleep at 8pm and woke up at Midnight. Which was actually 4pm to my body. I lay awake and my mind was racing. Take a look into my sleepless mind:

Should I rent a bike or buy one?

I should arrange to meet up with my Finnish family.

I really need to start signing up for classes. How do you do that? Let’s go look it up. I really want to be ahead of the game on it. 

The coffee here is really bitter.

If I make coffee, where should I recycle the coffee filter? Is it paper? Textile? Is it even allowed to be recycled since it’s dirty?

Where are the plastic recycle bins? My apartment only has bins for glass, paper, metal, and compost.

What time is it at home?

This bed is really hard. I should get a mattress cover. 

Well. About 4:30am I finally fell asleep again. 8pm to my brain. That explains it.

Today I’ve been much nicer to myself. We started the day with equally drowsy information sessions. How not to get caught by phishers and why you wanna take Finnish classes and how to adapt to the new culture. Then we had lunch and the real fun began.

We finally got to see the part of campus that Google shows you when you ask it about JYU. And we got to explore on our own a bit. A huge group of us wandered around the lake in the rain and although it made our shoes wet for the rest of the day and was a bit miserable when we didn’t find the place we thought we were looking for right away, it made for an adventure! And when we finally got to sit down and drink some coffee (or hot cocoa in my case) we all got to learn from each other about how the governments, schools, and many other topics compared between Holland, Austria, Turkey, Latvia, and home. We also bonded over stories like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones. What started as a quest for a pick me up turned into an adventure to a new place and time learning about each other.

Eventually though, we decided it was time to come back to the rest of the world. We’d just missed pancakes! But we got some picnic food and sat around continuing to learn about each other.  We discussed religion and culture and wow! It is so amazing to hear what people outside of your own circle understand about topics you hold close to you. And it’s even more special to have open conversation knowing it’s safe.

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After the picnic was a concert from a men’s show choir made up of university alumni. It was a super strange experience to attend a concert 90% non-english. That being said, it’s also special to be reminded that music is universal. Even though I did not understand the lyrics of most of the songs, I could understand the feelings. Between me and my friend sitting next to me, we had a good time. The show made us laugh, made us dance, made us smile. And that’s all you can ask of a performer.

Interestingly, the enthusiasm expressed by the performers was not as evident in the audience. I believe everyone had a good time; the concert was also attended by freshman of the university and they laughed at all the jokes in the music that I didn’t understand. But it seems that Finns enjoy entertainment rather passively to what I am used to. I wanted to stand for the concert! I wanted to dance and be crazy and really get into the spirit and embrace the energy that the performers were sending out. But the audience was not as interested. But that’s okay. Lisanna and I enjoyed it enthusiastically from our seats!

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Also we learned a new Finnish word today: onnellinen; happy. If you listen to this song, you won’t have to have needed me translate it for you.

 

After the concert, a big group of us went to the pizza place in our apartment complex, Kortepohja. We spent way too long in there but when you have two Americans, a Dutch, an Austrian, a German, a Latvian, a Finn, and a few others all in one place and it’s one of their birthdays, it gets crazy! We all got to talking and sharing about each other and we discovered amazing things about how our histories intertwined, how each of our politics function, and the significance of language learning in school. At one point, Christopher and I just sat back and listened because everyone was talking across the table in different languages, comparing each other’s speech and learning from each other. It was something I think everyone should encounter at least once in their lives, but doesn’t happen often enough. Even after the pizza place closed, we stayed outside discussing our countries’ teacher training programs and more for long into the night.

But today is only Wednesday! There is so much to do before classes start. Tomorrow I am going to meet my friendship family, and a bunch of us are on a mission to finish stocking our apartments with the essentials and get bicycles. I should be getting a cell phone SIM card by next week so I’ll have an official Finnish cell phone number and data and everything will be set to go! Tomorrow, I should be able to sign up for my classes as well! And then there will be one more day of orientation, a good weekend to get ready, and classes start Monday!

So anyways, now I’m going to bed. I think I’m going to sleep better tonight. I can tell this place is special. I am onnellinen. I’ve only met two new Finns but I am surrounded by amazing people and I am ready for anything Finland can throw at me.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Kalliope’s Blue Diary Cover

Originally posted on Everyday Adventures.

6 Days to Go – My Last Week in Kansas

My name is Kalliope Craft and I am a junior elementary education major. This semester, I will be in Jyvaskyla, Finland studying the culture and Finnish primary education. I move into my apartment in the city on August 28th with a couple French women and as far as I know I’m one of two Americans attending the university this semester.

Oh my goodness it’s so close I can taste it. There’s so many emotions. So much to do.

Sadness: The hardest thing about leaving the country to go on an adventure is leaving behind the things that mean the most to you – the people. I am leaving behind my family, my friends, my boyfriend, everyone. I will be isolated in a new world. Leaving is hard, and until this week, I hadn’t realized that the beginning of this adventure is the putting-on-hold of another.

Relief: Thankfully, a student at my new school did her own study abroad trip to Emporia last semester so I will have a familiar face. I will be met as soon as I get to Jyvaskyla by a student tutor who will be there to help me get comfortable. I’ve already met one of my new roommates through facebook and I have a feeling we will get along really well. And lastly, I was just told today that I’ve been matched with a Finnish Friendship Family and I’m so excited to meet them. They are a family in the town I will be living with with three children and I will be able to learn so much from them about what “normal” looks like in Finland. So, even though I’m leaving behind amazing people, I am so relieved to know that I will meet so many more amazing people from the moment I step foot on foreign ground. 

Anxiety: What if I get so overwhelmed that I give up? Nothing will be familiar. The weather will be strange, the culture will be strange, the school will be strange. The city speaks Finnish, my roommates are French, and as far as I can tell, there’s only one other American going to the school at all. What if it’s all too weird? What if I run out of money? What if I get lost? What if my stuff gets lost? No one likes to face these thoughts but it is something I have to battle with. I have faith God’s watching over me. I really believe everything will be okay. But there is so much that could go wrong, and there’s even a chance that I’m in too far over my head and I just won’t like it.

Excitement: I have dreamt of traveling the world since I was in about fifth grade. I’ve had it in my head I would study abroad to Finland since junior or senior year of high school. One of the things I inherited from my Slytherin mom is the drive to realize my dreams. To make the world my own and make what I want happen. I said I would do this, and now I’m doing it. In 6 days, this dream I’ve had locked in my dream vault will no longer just be a dream, it will be happening. 

So anyways, that’s just a glimpse of the emotional rollercoaster that is preparing to study abroad. I know it won’t get anymore stable any time soon, but I also know it will be okay.

Between packing, making sure the bank knows I’m going, figuring out what to do about my cell phone, I’ve had a lot of final detail things to take care of this week. I’ve also got a lot of people to say “see ya later” to. So far I’ve only cried about it once, but it is only Tuesday.

The bulging Christmas box that is my future is about to burst open and I really hope what’s inside is beautiful. Six more days. And then Finland is my home.

“There are no limits to what you can achieve on your journey through life, except in your mind.” ― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

Originally posted on Everyday Adventures.

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Oh the Places You’ll Go: Finland Edition

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

I have wanted to go on a study abroad trip since I was in middle school. So when I heard that Emporia State offered an exchange program in Finland I jumped at the chance. Finland is well known for their education system and, as a Elementary Education major, I knew that I would get some great new perspectives by taking advantage of the opportunity. Since this would be my first time out of the country, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I had a feeling it would be amazing.

Preparing to go was a lot more work than I had anticipated, but I got through it all and the day finally arrived. Four other students, two professors, and myself flew to Finland. We arrived in Helsinki, the capital city, where we stayed for two days to do some sight seeing before heading to the university. One of my favorite activities included taking a ferry ride to visit a Navy island, Suomenlinna, where we explored what was left of the old abandoned fort, hiked along the coastline, and learned the hard way that geese in Finland are less than friendly. We also visited an art museum, the zoo and aquarium, and explored the street markets on the harbor. After our action packed two days, we boarded the train to Jyväskylä where we spent the remainder of our time.

The University of Jyväskylä has a very strong teacher education program and I loved learning the ins and outs of the Finnish education system. I took three week-long courses during my stay and learned countless lessons both in and outside of the classroom through lectures from wonderful professors, as well as collaboration with other students from around the world.

Some of the highlights of what I learned on my trip are as follows. There are no dead ends in Finnish education-you can go whichever direction you choose, and a high emphasis is placed on continuing education (you receive a sword and top hat with your PhD!). Young Finns are encouraged to play and explore – they learn through doing. Teachers are highly respected in Finland. Even elementary teachers must have at least a Masters degree and, as a result, teachers have a high level of autonomy-they can (for the most part) decide how and what they teach without worrying about meeting the criteria of standardized testing. Finally, I learned that much can be learned from simply listening to others and their perspectives. Some of the most interesting things I learned came from other students and their perspectives from their own countries’ education systems. By comparing places like Brazil, Hong Kong, China, the U.S., Norway, Germany, and Finland we were able to see what works in education and what may not be as effective. We also learned that what works in one country may not work in another simply due to cultural differences, but it is important to respect other practices and the people that implement them.

I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

Study abroad is amazing, and I would recommend it to anyone. However, as I have learned, it is important to remember that not everything will go perfectly. You might leave your purse on the train, your plane may get cancelled and you get stuck in Stockholm overnight, you will likely have some miscommunication with the locals, and you will certainly get very tired. Guess what though? Those bang-ups and hang-ups are important because they teach you things about yourself that you would not have learned unless you were pushed out of your comfort level.

You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

This has been a tiny glimpse at my own adventure. There are so many more things I could share like the amazing food (reindeer, boar, pear ice cream, nettle pancakes…) or the people (generally reserved, but very polite), and much more, but I think you get the general idea. Thank you for letting me share a little bit of my experience in Finland! I hope if you haven’t already, you get a chance to make your own adventures abroad.

(The above excerpts are from Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Suess.)

Ashley Peterson

Hello from Finland!

It has been several days since my last post and a lot of stuff has happened since then. To begin with, a group of friends and I traveled to Tampere over the weekend between Week 2 and Week 3. Kayna, Ashley, Erin, and I took a train on Friday from Jyvaskyla to Tampere. We then walked a the few blocks to our hostel called the Dream Hostel and Hotel. It seemed like it very far away, but only because we zig-zagged through the streets. It really was only around the corner. On Saturday, we then took the bus to the big observation tower. It is the second tallest observation tower in the Nordic area. It is located on the coast of the Baltic Sea so in one direction you can see the water and in the other directions you can see the city. The weather was beautiful and clear when we went so we were able to see for miles. The observation tower is also located in the middle of an amusement park. After lunch in the park, we wandered around looking at all the rides. We ended up paying to ride one roller coaster called The Tornado because it looked like the most fun. We were right. It had so many twists, turns, and loop-de-doops, we were screaming through the whole ride. We then found an area within in the amusement park called Angry Bird Land. Since Finland was the country that created the Angry Birds, it seems only right that they have a portion of the land dedicated to it. We had several photo shoots with all of the characters throughout the park. Later, as we were walking back to our hostel, we found a small chocolate shop. Everything smelled so good! I wanted to buy one of everything, but I knew that was a bit excessive. Instead, I bought twelve individual ones. (See image) They were all delicious!

The next morning, we checked out of the hostel and walked to the museum center. For this area, we paid one price and were then able to see multiple exhibits. My favorite one was the game museum. There was a massive collection of video games, arcade games, and board games throughout history and visitors are able to play the majority of them. There was also this wall of gaming systems throughout history up until about 2015. I was surprised how many of the various systems I had seen or played throughout my lifetime. There was another portion of the museum that was dedicated to rocks and minerals. Many of these minerals were various types of stones that we use as gems such as Amber, Amythest, and Diamonds. All of them were beautiful. There was one area that had huge stones where a portion was cut away so visitors can see the Amythest inside. I enjoyed this since my birthday is in February and Amythest is my birth stone. My group then traveled, by train, back to Jyvaskyla.

Early Monday morning, my roommate, Ashley, and I traveled by double-decker bus to Helsinki. Since neither of us had a class during the third week, we decided to do some traveling. In Helsinki, we went to Linnanmaki Amusement Park, got the all-access wristbands, and rode all the rides available (some were ridden multiple times.) Despite the sprinkling throughout the day, we had tons of fun. By the end of the day, our voices were a bit hoarse from all of the screaming we had done on the rides. We then began our walk to our hostel we were staying in for the night. The rain began to come down a bit harder, which made the walk seem dreadful. It didn’t help that we were relying on free wifi from the surrounding buildings for directions. Needless to say, we got incredibly lost. After about an hour and a half of using spotty directions and getting soaking wet, we found the hostel. Thankfully, we both had traveled only with what we could carry in our backpacks so we weren’t dragging any luggage behind us. That evening we research and planned our route for the next day to get to the harbor and our ferry. Tuesday morning, we woke up very early and traveled to our ferry destination. The rain had passed and the traveling was much nicer and easier. We then got on the ferry, which was a giant ship, and travelled to Tallinn, Estonia. It may have been the fact that it wasn’t raining or that we were well rested, but everything seemed bright, beautiful, and happy. The area that Ashley and I explored was the old-city town. Our favorite part was one cathedral that we were admiring from the outside to then realize not only could you go inside, but you can climb the 60 meter, stone, spiral-staircase toward the top of the steeple. It took a long time to climb, since people were attempting  to also climb down. We eventually climbed the 260 stair spiral to witness the scenic views. It was well worth the effort to climb becuase the views were breath-taking. The rest of the city was beautiful and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit. Our travel back to Finland was on a cruise ship, which was lots of fun. We then travelled that evening from Hesinki to Jyvaskyla arriving in Jyvaskyla at about 3:15 am. Needless to say, the 45 minute walk back to the dorms felt like a marathon. 

On Wednesday, the activity suggested by the International tutors was to go see the Finnish National Ballet company perform som of their numbers. Seating was not enough for everyone that was there, but thankfully I had arrived early enough to save some seats for my friends and I. The ballet was amazing with numbers from ballets such as Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and Sleeping Beauty. There were also some modern numbers that didn’t quite make much sense, but they were still interesting to watch. Since, then there has been a lot of down time just hanging out with friends, gathering souvenirs for family and friends back home, and working on assignments for previous courses. Now into class of Week 4. This course has been about learning and teaching about diversity, which has been interesting, but also somewhat repetitive. Only a few more days left, then it’s time to head home. There will probably be one more post after this one and then my Finland adventure will be over.

Until next time,

Robin Gassen

Moi!

“Moi” is one of the first words any visitor to Finland learns.  It is merely a casual “hey!”  I’ve taught you a word in Finnish; now let me teach something about the Finnish school system.

But, first, introductions.  My name is Kylie MacGregor.  I am an Elementary Education major at ESU, so it is appropriate that I am writing to you from the Nordic country of Finland, one of the highest ranking (education-wise) nations in the world.  The Finnish school system is a little bit different than the U.S. system, so there is so much information I could share with you.  However, no one reads blogs with the intention of reading books, so I’m just going to try to highlight the basics for you and point out one or two things I have found most interesting.

Today was our third day of classes at the University of Jyvaskyla (#Education in Finland) and our first day of actual school visits.  We went first to a secondary school and then to a primary school, so we got to see a fairly wide variety of age groups today.  Like I said before, the Finns’ school system has quite a few differences than ours, but they also have a few similarities.  I’ll let you decide which is which.

They start with kindergarten, the easiest explanation for which is “educational day care.”  This is optional, just like in the States, but most parents choose to enroll their students in one of the various Finnish programs.  Primary education (elementary education) is grades one through six.  Here, students begin their real studies.  As we learned on the school visit today, classes for primary-level students are 45 minutes long, with 15 minute breaks between each class period.  These shorter class periods help students remain focused throughout the entire school day, instead of being bored by mid-morning.  Grades 7 through 9 are referred to as ‘lower secondary education.’  Again, this is pretty basic stuff.  The biggest difference with these two age groups is the relaxed atmosphere of the Finnish schools.  There were second graders pushing their desks around and just being active little kids.  There were fifth graders literally climbing over the desks as they returned to their seats, paint brushes in hand.  There were eight graders playing pool while they waited for the next class to start.  Granted, it’s the last week of school for them, but still…The frequent breaks and the relaxed atmosphere undoubtedly help the students focus during their actual study times.

I learned a lot of interesting things when we visited the schools this morning, but perhaps the most interesting would be the variety of classes the students take.  Of course, they take the basic courses such as mathematics and sciences, but they also take several language classes, music classes, art classes (we saw some very impressive artistry!), and classes in things such as textiles, woodworking, and metalworking.  With the exception of math, science, and other necessary subjects, they have a surprising amount of freedom of choice when it comes to other classes they take.  This really promotes autonomy, which Finnish educators strive to instill in their pupils.  There is an optional 10th grade for students who wish to improve their academics from grades 7-9, but most students – as I’m sure you can imagine – are quite ready to move on by the time they finish 9th grade.

High school for Finns is referred to as ‘upper secondary education.’  This is where students make the first of many significant life decisions.  They are allowed to choose either general upper secondary education or vocational school.  General upper secondary education is the gateway to your typical university.  It is, more or less, a continuation of their previous education pathway with a little college preparation thrown in.  Vocational school, on the other hand, is more like a trade school.  Students that attend vocational school (approximately half of Finnish students) learn a specific trade, such as baker or hair dresser.  They still have the option of continuing on to a polytechnics university afterwards, but they are also given the option of entering the workforce directly after their graduation.  Interestingly enough, Finns are not required to attend school after finishing lower secondary education (9th grade); however, all but roughly 6% continue their education voluntarily.

I really love the idea of vocational school and I think it’s a concept the US could greatly benefit from.  Perhaps my perspective would be different if I wasn’t one of the American students fortunate enough to have college education within reasonable reach, but I honestly don’t believe every person needs to attend a prestigious university and get a master’s degree.  Every nation in the world functions because of the “little” jobs that all too often get overlooked.  Like we discussed in one of yesterday’s lectures, education has been “over-inflated” in many cases.  If we were to implement vocational schools across the U.S., I think we would find a positive shift in our economy, social structure, and even our day-to-day lives.

Just some thought-provoking ideas I thought were worth sharing.

Hello from Finland!

Day 6: Well we have officially moved into the University of Jyvaskyla! We arrived here by train on Sunday, but because of the spotty wifi, I haven’t been able to post until now. On Sunday, we took a three and half hour train ride to Jyvaskyla where my tutor met me to take me to the place where I am staying while I am here. It was quite the long walk to the train station and then to the dorms, especially with my luggage and cobblestone streets. When first arriving at my room, I was disheartened by the condition of the room because it was not quite the quality of room I was expecting. After my roommate and I unpacked, we settled in a bit, but it still didn’t feel like a home. The first night was very rough. On Monday, I woke up ready to start my first day of classes in Finland! I met my tutor outside and he walked my group to the International Office where we got campus maps and other essential information for the next month. The walk from the dorms to campus was EXTREMELY long! It took us about 45 minutes, which I was not expecting. It was also a very hot walk as we walked with the sun glaring down on us the entire time. After we got to class, I began to feel much better. The class for the first week is Education in Finland. We got a lot of information about the structure of the Finnish education system and some of the options that they offer. The biggest difference between Finnish and American education is that Finnish education is completely free for the equivalent of up to our 10th grade year in school.

We then had a BBQ cookout with sausages, pasta salad, and marshmallows. It all tasted really good. I also learned how to play a new game in English called Molkky. It was similar to bowling except with wooden pins instead of bowling pins. You also use a thick wooden rod instead of a bowling ball. It was a really fun and interesting game that I ended up purchasing online to play at home with my family. My roommate and I then went shopping to get some food at a local market. We both decided to each buy a sweet treat each week so we can share and try new things more often. When we got back to our apartment, we found one of our other group mates from ESU and the three of us played cards for a couple of hours. We all have found that it is difficult to find things to do in the evening, especially without a central lobby area to meet new people. Hopefully the weekends will have several activities or things to do around town to make that time go faster. I never realized before how grateful I am to have homework to fill the time in the evening.

The rest of this week will be filled with class, except for Thursday. I have heard that there is a holiday on Thursday, but no one seems to know what the holiday is. Posts from here on out may not be everyday because of the lack of wifi in the evenings, but I will do my best to keep all those reading these posts with the goings-on here in beautiful Finland.

Robin Gassen

Hello from Finland!

Day 2: Today some of my group members and I explored the wildlife here in Helsinki, Finland. First, we went to the Merimaailma Sea Life Helsinki aquarium. We saw all kinds of underwater creatures including several fish found in Finding Nemo. Most of us also got to touch a sea urchin, which we all agreed was “pokey.” The coolest part of all of the underwater exhibits was the area where tourists can walk under a portion of one of the aquariums that included small sharks, stingrays, and an assortment of fish. There was also an area where we got to pretend to be archeologists brushing away sand from fossils of fish. The aquarium was really cool and I’m glad we got to go.

We also visited Korkeasaari Zoo located on an island just off the coast of Helsinki. The terrain of this zoo was unique as it was built cohesively with the small mountain that made up the island. This is very different from most zoos in the U.S. where zoos are built either on flat land or the land is flattened to build the zoo on. It was quite the leg workout to travel to the various exhibits, but it was worth it to see all of the animals. Throughout the zoo there were peacocks roaming around, but they were nothing compared to the number of geese. One of my group mates, also from Emporia State University, got the toe of his shoe bitten, but he triumphed over the goose in the end with a stern look. My favorite exhibit was the monkey area. There were several various kinds, but one in particular had quite the mustache/beard that curled around it’s mouth. All the monkeys were very active and enjoyed playing.  My group also ate lunch at the zoo and my friend and I both tried some moose meat. I don’t think it will be something I eat everyday, but it was interesting to try once.

To end the evening, my group ate at an Italian restaurant named Dennis (prounounced Denny’s). I had the fettuccine alfredo and it was delicious. All of the cafes around the city are so cute, casual, and delicious. My group and I observed that most of the food options here are fairly healthy in comparison to most restaurants back home, except for the American ones. I can’t wait for tomorrow when we travel to the University of Jyvaskla and move into our homes for the next month.

Robin Gassen

Hello from Finland!

My name is Robin Gassen and I will be studying abroad this month in Finland!

Day 1: Today my group and I explored Helsinki, Finland. We will be in the capitol today and tomorrow before heading off to the University of Jyvaskla where we will be taking a different course each week. Today, we learned how to navigate the tram system, which can be very confusing considering it is entirely in a different language. We also visited an island called Suomenlinna. We took a ferry an explored the various museums, forts, and a naval academy there on the island. It was lots of fun to explore the various buildings and other areas.

Upon returning from the island, we explored part of the capital. There was a market nearby that was selling fruits, seafood, and trinkets for customers and tourists to purchase. I purchase a necklace that contains a spectrolite stone. This type of stone is only found in Finland, which makes it all the more special.

So far, the weather, people, and trip have been amazing! I can’t wait to see what the next month brings!IMG_1860