WHOLEY PICKLE STICKS I HAVE BEEN IN FINLAND OFFICIALLY HALF THE AMOUNT OF TIME I WILL BE IN FINLAND! (Actually, that's not true, I still have three days until then, but I'm writing about it now because I am impatient.)
There are a few things to mark this momentous occasion:
1. On this day in history, Kalliope Irene experienced her first European Fall Break. It lasted all week and she still had one class and a choir rehearsal, but she didn't have to get out of bed at all except two hours Thursday and one on Friday (but, I promise she did anyways).
2. On this day in history, Kalliope Irene received her first final grade for a University of Jyväskylä class. She received a horrible grade that she would be sick to her stomach and in tears about at home (it was a 2 - which translates to a C or a D depending on who you ask), but she is happy nonetheless because she feels so fulfilled by learning what she did in the class and all of her classes this semester are transferring as pass/fail anyways, so C's get degrees baby!
3. On this day in history, Kalliope Irene stepped outside and witnessed the end of an extremely short Autumn. The trees are almost all bare, it's 18:30 and black outside, and it's forecasted to snow in a couple days.
4. On this day in history, Kalliope Irene shared card games and tea with Americans because sometimes a little bit of familiarity in a strange place is all a girl needs to rejuvenate.
Being in Finland for so long really does make a girl miss some things about home though:
1. Although she won't often admit it, she misses being with her momma and daddy. On the plus side, she talks to them often through facebook messenger, but nothing beats cuddling with your parents watching Harry Potter.
2. She also doesn't like to admit this: she misses marching band. Marching band has never been her favorite thing, but in the last two years, it’s really grown on her. There's so many videos of the Emporia State Marching Hornets on facebook and youtube and she's definitely missing being a part of that family.
3. Not only marching band, she misses playing her horn. She has a choir to sing in here, but she misses the sound of her instrument. She really hopes to find some information on some community orchestras and wind band performances in the soon time to attend!
4. She misses typical American life. It's October! She misses Java Cat and bonfires and the ESU ducks.
5. She misses church and her church family. She found a church that does a service in English every other week though, so she's excited to attend it in a couple Sundays!!!! For now, she's got her bible and her wonderful card from her church family on her bookshelf to keep her company.
6. Speaking of her bookshelf, she really, really misses the endless supply of English library books. English sections of libraries here are very limited.
And yet, there's so much about European life that she so, so, so loves.
1. Public transportation and my bike (sorry, I couldn't keep up the 3rd person perspective sorry lol) are pretty wonderful. As much as it's cold, riding my bike gives me a forcible way to stay active. I've gotten better at riding it too. There's a hill between Kortepohja (my apartment complex) and the school, and when I first started biking to school, I couldn't get up the hill without stopping to walk. Now I (almost) breeze through it! Also, being able to ride a bus between cities makes traveling so exciting! I have access to anywhere despite not having a car, and then I get to slow down and walk around while in these new places. It completely changes my perception of traveling.
2. Everything is smaller in Europe. I get coffees sometimes and at school and they are about 8oz (I think) which goes extremely quickly if I drink them like my Grande Starbucks from home. School lunches are also served buffet style, but you're limited to one plate. It really makes you aware of how much you are putting in your body.
3. I live in student housing, but it's an actual apartment for adults, not a dorm room with a floor mom (RA) to handle our problems. And we are trusted with a kitchen in our home. What??! Even freshman live in these flats.
Some things I've learned here:
1. How to properly budget and stick to it.
2. How to grocery shop and feed myself.
3. How to self motivate.
4. That personal time doesn't have to be reserved for the weekend. Life isn't about working. Life is about living.
5. Vitamin D is actually an important part of living a happy, healthy life.
6. Living with less feels good.
7. The world is full of super amazing people and each one of them is unique.
8. However, people really aren't that different. I know, it's a paradox.
9. Recycling is easier than you think. Especially when it's law so it's really well supported by "the system.”
10. Traveling doesn't have to be a big deal. And it doesn't have to be expensive.
It feels like time is moving so fast… I’m at the crest of the hill. I have so many more places to visit and experiences to have. A bunch of new classes start next week (I’ve completed three as of today.) When this is all over, I’ll have visited three countries, met people from almost 30 countries, learned from seven teachers and even more international guests about Global Education, foreign language education, special education, Finnish education, and educational research.
I can’t believe how amazing this experience has been. It’s beyond words. Honestly, I can’t wait to be home to hug my family, my boyfriend, my friends. I can’t wait to get back to “normal.” But at the same time, I am really, really, really going to miss this place. They always say studying abroad will change you. But no one can know what that means until they experience it.
"The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out." - Proverbs 18:15