Kesävaihto Suomessa on tehnyt Melaniestä aiempaa itsenäisemmän ja kypsemmän nuoren. Hän kiinnostui myös uudella tavalla perulaisista juuristaan.
The one thing I can say for sure is that this program has helped me mature.
I really didn’t know what I was getting into when I applied, but I am forever grateful that I did. As the eldest in my family, I am very close to my younger brothers and care dearly for them. So, one of the obstacles I knew I would face would be homesickness.
I vividly remember the first time I met my Finnish family: Pia (mom), Ilpo (dad), Pinja (sister) and Pihla (sister). My older sister, Pinja, was volunteering at the orientation so I got to meet her first but when all the host families arrived at the Sofia Hotel to pick us up, everyone was nervous and anxious to meet our new families.
I had heard that Finns were reserved quiet people but on the first day my younger sister and I went for a nature walk and she showed me around the neighborhood. We got back around 10pm and I was bewildered as to how much daylight there was outside. Honestly I think adjusting to the time difference and light difference will be the most difficult when I go back.
So my first week was going well, I actually got the opportunity to go to Estonia and had a private tour of Helsinki from my sister. One of the perks of living in Oulunkylä was that the transportation was both simple and quick. I walked ten minutes to the train station and then got off at the last stop which all together took me only twenty minutes to go into the capital.
But I remember also during my first week, my family had friends over and they reminded me of my own family in the States. It was a nice evening, as my host mother had made salmon and my sisters, cake for dessert but when I retired to my room that night, I longed for my parents and brothers.
However, I know now that homesickness is something everyone goes through and we all experience it differently. In a way, it was good to go through that, because it means that my family is important to me.
I am not one with nature. But throughout this entire trip I have been in nature the majority of the time. The second day with my family we went to a swamp! I really didn’t want to but it was that or stay at home. I put on water resistant pants along with bright blue rubber boots and headed into the swamp. We were there for a while, but at least now I can say I’ve survived a swamp.
The second week we went to the famed “summer cottage.” As any typical American, I thought it was just going to be a lake house. But it was more rustic than I had expected. Nonetheless, I enjoyed my time in Puumala. We had crisp strawberry crepes for breakfast and delicious sausages for dinner.
Now the sauna….. I had heard endless conversations about how great the saunas are, and it was quite relaxing more than anything. We swam in what seemed like our own private lake (there wasn’t anybody nearby) and then hopped into the sauna to warm up. And I remember one particular “night” we went rowing in the canoe and the sky was a lilac purple. Truly beautiful. I hadn’t seen the true beauty of nature until that moment.
More than anything I have grown out of my shell. At first glace, Finland is not a tourist’s first choice but it is one the most loveliest countries in the world. To be honest, I was scared because I wasn’t sure what to expect, but in the end, this experience has shaped me and I think it’s a turning point in my life as I am definitely more independent than ever
, and I feel like this time away from my family has prepped me for when I leave for university in one year. Without hesitation if given the option, I would do it again.
My Own Epiphany
I’m sure we all like to think we know exactly who we are and where we’re heading, but for most people, that isn’t true. In Finland, I realized how much my own Peruvian culture is important to me
. I hadn’t bothered learning any traditional South American food because I always relied on my mom to cook for me. But I know when I get back I must learn how to cook Peruvian food because I missed it so much.
And my culture is what makes me different from others, whether that be food, music or clothing. When I went to a folk festival in Turku, I experienced first hand as I heard traditional music from Estonia and it’s energetic tone reminded me of the Huaylas from Peru but it was also different in a sense. There are so many similarities between Finland and America, but it’s still interesting to see the subtle differences between the two nations. I hope one day to return and show others the majestic land of Suomi.