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Future Leaders 2018 -blogi
Bonding with the host family (Karina)
Vaihdon ensimmäisinä päivinä yhdysvaltalaista Karinaa vaivasi korvatulehdus. Sairastamisesta seurasi kuitenkin jotain hyvää: Karina on nyt todella läheinen isäntäperheensä kanssa!
Wow! I can hardly believe I’m approaching my third week in this beautiful country, but here I am and the past two weeks have been an adventure to say the least.
To say I started my journey in Finland to a rocky start would be an understatement. A couple days before our flight was supposed to take off, a painful ear infection had me bedridden and dreading the flight that was to come. Nonetheless, I got through the flight and was absolutely exhausted when I met my host family. As excited as I was to meet them, my weakened state made it difficult to find the energy to appreciate the new country and experiences I was going to have. I would be lying if I didn't say that a small part of me wanted to curl up and sleep for the first few days in Finland. Knowing that time would go by quickly, I knew I had to make every second count while in Finland, even if those seconds were a little unpleasant.
Luckily for me, the unfortunately timed ear infection turned out to be a blessing in disguise. If anything, it helped me bond with my host family. In the beginning days, my host mother and I broke the ice when I needed her help with my ear medications and we laughed when some of my medications made me unexpectedly sick. My host sister was even a doctor who was able to check up on the healing process. Yes, it was an odd way to meet my host family and certainly wasn’t how I planned our first days to go, but in the end, it helped me connect to my host family in an unconventional way. It made it easier to accept cultural differences when we had common ground to go on. Believe or not, Finns and Americans get ear infections just the same and neither particularly enjoy them.
Day one of Finland involved a visit to a historical town called Porvoo. My host family and I walked through the pastel colored town and admired the beauties which Porvoo had to offer. The wind was against us that day, almost pushing us over wherever we went, so we found safety in a small coffee shop with my new favorite beverage here: cappuccinos. Now, I don't know if this is where my love for coffee really took off, but I’ll admit that I haven’t stopped drinking coffee since I started this program and it’s grown to be one of my favorite parts of Finnish culture.
After that, we made our way to lunch in a nearby town called Loviisa, however this wasn’t just any ordinary lunch, it was a vegan junk food lunch. Both my host mother and host sister eat vegan so they wanted to try something new and it did not disappoint. Highlights include vegan mac and cheese and some amazing Finnish dessert pancakes that I continue to crave nearly everyday. When we started to go home, all of us could barely make it to the car we were so full. Good food is apparently a language everyone can speak.
I think one of the best parts about being immersed in a new culture is you get to constantly be outside your comfort zone. My first week was definitely a nerve wracking way to introduce myself into Finnish culture, but you can always look back at those moments and laugh, knowing the experience was worth the small moments of discomfort.
Text and pictures: Karina Mobley