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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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.

Hello from Finland!

Week 2, Day 3: Since my last post, several days have passed and several adventures have occurred. Last week, we had Thursday off because it was Ascension Day here in Finland. No one has really been able to explain to me what Ascension Day is, but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with those who are getting ready to graduate primary school. Whatever the reason, we didn’t have class and got to relax. It was really needed since we had been constantly going since leaving Kansas. My roommate and I had quite the relaxing day that including sleeping in and Netflix.

On Friday, class was interactive as we went to a Day Care here in town and then had some group work after lunch where we got to design our dream school. Many of the qualities and characteristics that each group came up with give me hope for the future of world education. Then later that evening a small group of friends from Emporia and California went to a local horse race. The race was quite different than those I have seen in the States mainly because the drivers ride in carts behind the horse instead of on the horse’s back. When we first arrived, we were thoroughly confused because everything in the program and over the loudspeaker was in Finnish. After a couple races, we still were clueless so I found someone who looked like he worked at the track so he could explain the racing process to me. He only spoke broken English so he needed to find someone who spoke it more clearly. He found one gentleman who explained the process to me and later my friends and I learned that the gentleman was actually one of the owners of a horse that won a race. As my group was walking to sit inside since it was pretty cold, the same gentleman let us know that there were free sausages around the corner. We were very grateful since we were hungry and the sausages were warm. While sitting inside the indoor viewing area, there was a guy who seemed to be constantly running around. After one of the races, he asked us if we were there because we had bet on a horse. We explained that we were just curious tourists. I later realized that he was actually the guy who was interviewing the racers after they won and he also was announcing comments about how the racers felt before the race. When he came back to the indoor observation area, I asked him if anyone was allowed to go to the area where the horses were kept or if it was for owners and racers only. He explained that after the next race, he would take us behind the scenes so we could see the horses. In other words, we got the V.I.P. Pass to see the horses and even take a picture with a traditional Finnish horse. It was amazing! My group was very grateful that I was someone who was willing to talk to strangers who looked in charge.

The weekend was very relaxing as it mainly consisted of lazing about, Netflix, and hanging out with friends. On one evening, we attempted to go to a local bar/restaurant for karokee night, but there was no singing to be found. Instead we just did karokee in our room. We made the night fun.

This week has begun a new class called National Education Systems. In this class, we have two professors; one from Ohio and one here from Finland. We are spending the time comparing the Finnish and American education systems including their structure, curriculum, etc. We are also comparing the education systems of other countries that the students in the class represent including Brazil, China, and Vietnam. As for evening activities, yesterday we went to a smoke sauna, which is different that the sauna we attended last week because the method of heating the sauna is different. This sauna was located right next to a lake. The process is to spend a couple minutes in the sauna and then jump into the lake, then go back into the sauna for a longer period of time. I chose not to participate in this activity mainly because of the amount of people crowding the sauna and the reactions from those who were jumping into the freezing lake. Although I didn’t participate in the sauna, I did enjoy watching people’s reactions as their skin hit the water and I also enjoy the sausages and marshmallows that we roasted over the fire pit.

Yet again, Finland has impressed me and been immensely fun. I am so glad that I made the decision to study abroad.

Until next time,

Robin Gassen