My name is Sam Yancho, and this is my blog about my school year abroad in Finland in the 2011-2012 school year. I will try to update the blog as much as possible with new information and stories about what I'm doing as everything unfolds.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Long Needed Update

Well, I guess it's that time of year again, time for me to update whoever is still reading this (which is a surprisingly large amount more than I ever thought) about what I've been doing here in Finland.

This time it's been three months since my last update. So I've got a lot to cover.

It's really getting to that time of the year that every exchange student dreads. The days when we realize that this in not to last. The best things in life never do last long, and nothing we can do will change it, so accept it and enjoy what we were blessed enough to experience at all. So my main goal for these next two months is to live in the moment and not worry about what I'll be missing later, because after I leave I would only be able to look back and see how I spent the most important time worried about what memories I will have to look back on.

Now, time to try and remember some of the things that I've done over the last few months.

I went to Stockholm by a cruise ship for a day.

Danced in the Wanhat where you practice classic European ballroom dances and then present them to the school and parents.

Went to Lapland for a second time, touring a reindeer farm, went cross country skiing up a tunturi (mountain in Lapland), went in the hole in the ice before sauna, went downhill skiing, saw the Northern Lights twice, and toured an ice castle.

I went to St. Petersburg for a weekend, and

I went to some pretty big museums.

So that's basically a quick run over of the big things I've done in the last three months. I've also moved to my third host-family, given my goodbye speech, I went to Helsinki twice, once was to see a musical performance of Broadway classics. I took the Finnish National Fluency Test, at the beginner level, which by the way requires advanced knowledge of the Finnish Language.

This weekend I go to Kuopio for a Rotary conference with the rest of my district's exchange students, and those are always a good time for everyone. 

The things I've done this year have far surpassed my greatest expectations. I reached a point two months ago where I realized that if tomorrow I were sent home for some unknown reason, I would be 100% content with the way I lived this year and the only regret I would have is that my time here is so limited.

I didn't believe it to be possible to become so attached in such a short period of time. Of course I am excited to go home and share my stories and travels with my family, but I'm afraid to leave because I know that as soon as I step foot on that plane, there is a chance I might never come back, and I can't have that. But, as I wrap up living through one of my life dreams, it's time to explore and set my eyes on another, because what are your dreams worth if you never set out to make them a reality. 

It's a bit late, so I'm going to forego editing and make a hasty decision to just post this as is. Hopefully my English hasn't become so terrible that I can no longer express myself in a grammatically correct way. But, it probably has, and I could care less.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

No niin, sanoin että yrittäisin kirjoittaa suomeksi koska ilmeisesti minulla on monta suomalainen lukijaa. Tämä viikko on koeviikko no niin minulla ei ole koulua. Ja se on oikein mukava että voin nukku myöhään, mutta huomenna menen Haminaan koska minun täytyy vuokrata pukua vanhojen tansseja varten. Helmikuussa menen risteilylle Tukholmaan kavereiden kanssa. Sitten perjantaina toivon mennä Helsinkiin kavereiden kanssa, en minä tiedä miksi. Mutta haluan mennä koska en ole koskaan ollut Helsingissä. :)

Anteeksi että tämä on vähän lyhyt, mutta olen vasynyt ja haluan mene nukkumaan.

For you English speakers reading this, I'll translate it, it'll sound a little simple, but that's how my Finnish is right now. As for all the mistakes I may have made in the Finnish section, which I'm almost certain there are a few, I'll just have to live with them, because I'm too tired to go through and check everything right now.  (mä toivon että ymmärrät :) ).

So, I said that I would try to write in Finnish because apparently I have many Finnish readers. This week is exam week, so I don't have school. And it's really nice that I can sleep late, but tomorrow I'm going to Hamina because I need to rent a suit for the Vanhojen dance. In February I'm going to Stockholm on a cruise with friends. Then, on Friday I'm going to Helsinki with my friends, I don't know why. But I want to go because I've never been in Helsinki. :)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Well already over another month since I've posted. I'm honestly sorry to say I had completely forgotten about my blog for about a three week period of time. But, the good news is that over those three weeks I have had about 300 more visitors, which means at least someone is reading what I have to say, so that should keep me determined to continue writing on here.

Christmas time came and went. Sadly it didn't feel much like Christmas, until Christmas had already passed. There was very little snow, but listening to Finnish Christmas carols, and drinking warm cups of glöggi with gingerbread cookies. My host family gave me lots of chocolate, socks, shirts, and a hat. It was more than what I needed, or could have asked for, I'm really thankful.

I was able to Skype my Family on Christmas day (the 25th in the US, Christmas day in Finland is December the 24th) which was really nice. Surprisingly I wasn't homesick at all. Yeah, I missed my brothers and my parents and the rest of my family, but I wasn't down on myself because I wasn't back in the US with them. I understood that next year I'll be able to celebrate Christmas with everybody, and it will mean so much more because I now know how lucky I am to be able to celebrate with my entire family. Next year I will be able to be with everybody and share my experiences with them.

Christmas break was nice, I didn't really do much, but it gave me time to relax from school and from my Finnish studies. I slept a lot, to say the least.

New years came and went as well. It was amazing to walk through town on New Years Eve and the air would be thick with the smoke from the fireworks people were shooting off (In Finland New Years Eve is the only night you are allowed to shoot off fireworks, I could be mistaken, but I know it's one of the only nights, if not the only). It sounded like a war zone, hearing the explosions from every direction.

After New Years, it was back to school and Finnish lessons. My new courses gave me a lot of free time. On Monday through Wednesday I didn't have to be to school until 10. I joined a local gym and so now I go to the gym almost every day of the week, as long as my schedule permits.

I study Finnish a lot still. On Mondays I have around 5 hours of lessons, then on Wednesdays I have another 3. Plus around an hour or so of home studying three more nights out of the week. So it study a lot, but it's hard to shake the feeling that I should know much more than I do, or that my Finnish should be better than it is. It's definitely a difficult language, to say the least. But I love it. It's one of the most difficult things I've ever set my mind to, and I'm determined to do my best to learn it. Even if I will always make mistakes.

On the 9th of January, I moved to my next host family. I live now with my host counselor and his wife, they're a great host family. I have my own room, and my home is close to one of the town's two city centers, and so it is really easy for me to get around. We sit and talk about everything, from world politics to Finnish history.

That's all I can really think of right now. And so since it's getting late I might end this post. I'll post again sooner though. Maybe even try a post in Finnish then English so I can get some more practice in. I'll post pictures in my next post as well. That's all for now.