Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Koeviikko Update

Sorry I haven't posted for such a long time. I have been thinking that I don't have enough to post about and now that I am posting I realize that I have so much to post about that this may become a little long.

Right now is Koeviikko in most finnish schools. Koeviikko literally means test week. It is like Finals week in the US, but here they have it every six weeks whenever a period (semester) ends. They have tests in all their classes and then when it is over school resumes as normal, but with totally new classes. As an exchange student, I don't have to take any of the tests unless I want credit for the classes, as I am going to wait to get credit until I understand a little more finnish, so guess what? I have a week off! Being an exchange student is really nice, I must say. Since I have a week off, I have made myself a list of things that I must accomplish because I have been putting them off, and I need to get some things done. This list includes things such as writing letters, translating some swedish and finnish class notes, reading my finnish book, updating my journal, and of course blogging because I always hate it when I get behind in updating my blog and before I left for Finland I vowed to myself that I wouldn't get behind in updating my blog. So here I am.

So about two weeks ago something really exciting happened. The Princess of Sweden came to Turku! So naturally I had to take this opportunity to see her. She was visiting different places in Turku for two days. At one point around lunch time she was going to be at the library so I left from my school about a half an hour before she came to the library and I amazingly got in the first row where she would pull up and get out of her car. So it was really exciting to be in the first row! I was very surprised at that. And soon she pulled up in her car and she and prince daniel got out of the car and walked around and said hello to all the crowd around the entrance to the library. Soon she walked by where I was standing and it was seriously cool to see her so close! She was like 2 meters away from me! There was a whole bunch of little kids standing next to me so I got a bunch of pictures of her talking to the little kids. When she saw all of the kids she was like "oh, så masse barn" and I was excited because I understood what she had said (oh, so many kids)! That made me very happy. I got some pretty awesome pictures of her and in my facebook album I tagged the pictures with her as "Princess Victoria, Crown princess of Sweden"

There she is! 

Her and Daniel 

Turku really showed their yellow and blue colors for the days that she was there. You could tell that she was in town because there were Swedish flags everywhere! 

They were handing these out to everyone there. It is defiantly a nice souvenir to have. It now is up on my closet door. By the way, Tervetuloa means welcome in finnish. They also had some in swedish, but I stuck to just the finnish one. 

Something that happened more recently was that I went to a finnish book and food fair. It was very cool to go to, even though every single book there was in finnish...but still it was cool. Also it was a nice break from the temptation of buying things! I wouldn't understand a word of the entire book, so why buy it? What is weird is that I actually spent 11 euro, even though everything was in finnish, weird right? What I bought were little things like keychains. I also got information on future events happening in Turku, which is always good because I love randomly going to things like a book fair. My favorite part was that there was a stand there that was from the norwegian embassy and I stopped there and got some information about Norway in finnish! It is very useful! Haha, but I stopped by just because I am such a loyal norwegian! It was also a food fair, and that was good because there were tons of free samples and like everything was delicious! Especially the norwegian salmon (hmmm...I wonder why?)! But the whole fair was defiantly a good experience!

Another thing that has happened in the last month is that I have joined a local swim club. This week will be my third week with them. In Finland all hobbies are on your own, which is to say that the school does not have any extra circulars connected with it at all. Not even a homework club. I think that this may be one of the reasons why it is one of the best school systems in the world, none of that stuff to distract you from your studies. Though I do think that it is good to have some extra ciriculars connected with the school. It actually makes me a little sad when I think about the fact that the school I go to has basically nothing after school. There are few signs on billboards advertising a dance or a club. There are no events hosted my the school. No school colors or mascots, no school pride. It is good at the same time that it is bad. I have never minded people with school pride, sure sometimes whenever the principal would go off about how he was "bleeding green"and then go into a huge speech about something like that, I did think from time to time that it is a bit much, and I can understand why the finnish school system doesn't have anything like that and how here it is so much more intense with school. But I have to say it does make the school days seem a little less bland.

But enough about school, I was talking about swimming. I have now been with the club for 2 whole weeks and I must say that it is INTENSE! So much more intense than Lady Tigers Swim and Dive. The practices here are a lot more work than the ones at Summit High! And we have a half an hour to an hour of dryland warm up before every practice. It is a bit annoying. But I like it at the same time that I hate it. But it is good. I definatly like swimming with them, because the other kids are not the most competitive people, even though they are good...and the dryland warm ups are good because it gives me a chance to see the other kids on the team when they aren't wearing a swim cap and goggles. And it also gives me a chance to meet kids that go to different schools than I do. They are mostly all my age and maybe a year younger. Also there are two other exchange students on the swim team. One from Taiwan and one from Mexico. It is nice because then I feel like I am not the only one that doesn't understand the swimming directions from the coach because they are in finnish. Speaking of which, I am starting to learn the different strokes in finnish. I know that Perhonen is Butterfly. That one is the easiest because I knew what butterfly is before I started swimming. And Breast is Rinta. But it is hard because the strokes begin with different letters in finnish. So I can't read the abbreviations for the different strokes and the coach has to repeat everything in english for me and the others. But I am starting to learn the different strokes so then they won't always have to explain it to me.

I have been homesick. There I said it! But it is weird. It is not like something that you would expect. For me homesickness has really been a lot like deja vu. At totally random moments it hits you because one thing gives you a feeling at home. And it is like deja vu because you don't always know why you got homesick from this one thing. Especially so random. It isn't so bad, it usually goes away pretty fast. Sometimes I do feel really alone though. I miss my friends, they seem like such perfect friends when I am all alone. Another thing that makes me homesick, or not really homesick but just I feel really angry and mad at the world, is whenever technology doesn't work, or if it is being slow. It is always the littlest things. What I miss the most about the states is understanding things. I don't care that much about understanding conversation, television, or even school. But there are always those things that you never thought of that you wish were in english. Like for instance, coupons or captions under pictures in the newspaper, or the tv guide. It is hard, and it makes me wish that I was back home sometimes, so I wouldn't have to use google translate to find out what a coupon is for, or when that show that I really want to see comes on. But for now all I can do is study finnish in hopes that the words I learn are high frequency in coupons.

Another things that has been happening lately is that in the evenings my host mother and our neighbor take me to the local beach for us to go winter swimming! It isn't winter swimming yet because it isn't fall yet, but we are preparing our bodies so we are able to go swimming in an ice hole in the middle of winter. This is an old finnish tradition where they have a whole in the ice and people swim in it and then go to the sauna. It is doable because you have the sauna to warm up in. It isn't like winter swimming yet because the water isn't nearly cold enough for it, but the water is defiantly getting colder, I can feel it. I will probably have posts in the future about it as I get more into the sport.

A couple weeks ago here in Turku there was the annual Turku Day, which was very cool. All the museums in town had cheap to free admissions. Which I took advantage of the opportunity of and went to one local museum. It was a very cool museum because it was actually an underground museum that had some of the old medieval building foundations and streets from the beginnings of Turku. Turku is the oldest city in Finland so it was very cool to see the buildings from so long ago. It is always so hard to comprehend how old things in museums are, and therefore hard to appreciate their age, but I still thought that it was very cool to see all the old streets from Turku. Also on this day the city was unveiling a new bridge that goes across the river, that and you add the fact that this city is the European Culture Capital of 2011, and you get a day where the city will go all out. And that means only one thing: a humongous concert on the new bridge and.....fireworks! So at 9 at night we went to the city and saw the fireworks, and I must say that they were the most amazing fireworks that I have ever seen. They had music playing and they coordinated the music and the fireworks in an amazing display. It was by far the best firework show I have ever been to.

So as this is test week, I have a week off, which means I basically have a week with nothing to do. I have spent a lot of this time watching TV and relaxing at home. With of course little spurts of actually doing stuff. Like, for instance, last thursday, the first day of test week, I went go karting down the ski hill with the other exchange students. It was absolutely a blast! We all met up in the city before and then we took the bus to the nearest island of Hirvensalo, where the ski hill is, (Hirvensalo also happens to be the island where my second host family lives, so I was able to see the bus route that I will be taking every day starting in late November). So when we got there we got off the bus and walked towards the ski hill. I had been hearing a lot about this ski hill. It is basically the place where everyone in the city goes to ski. It is incredibly close to city, and that is probably why it is so popular. Of course when people talk about it with me they always tell me that it is the most unimpressive hill for skiing that I would ever see, coming from Colorado, whose lowest point is higher than the highest point in all of Finland. But I was excited to see the hill just to see what they were actually talking about, and I must say that it was bigger than I expected, but still not much. It was about the size of the average bunny hill in Colorado. But in the summer it is used for some biking and it has a go kart track going down the side of it. So it is a attraction for any tourist. Going there was really fun! Also we came there when it had just rained so the track was very slippery and a bit dangerous.This made it more fun for me, though  all the australians kept slipping and going off the course, and I didn't slip off course once, in fact I got the fastest time going down the hill. Overall it was a fun afternoon. And the view from the top of the hill was pretty nice of Turku.

Go karts 

Megan! (South Africa) 

View from the top 

Learn how to drive, Australians! 

The hill, yes this is a ski resort here, I know, I am as shocked as you are 

As it is test week that also means the start of a new period in the the finnish high school, and a new period means new classes, new schedule and new books. This all starts next friday. So here is my new schedule:


History of Art
History of Art

Finnish Class
Rotary Meeting
History of Art

1:15- 2:30



.....It's pretty nice....you may notice that on fridays I get off at 11:00....like I said...pretty nice

So now it is October! I have been here nearly two months! It really doesn't feel like two months at all! It feels like some time since I said goodbye to my mom in the airport but time goes by so fast! It is weird to think that I am already a sixth done! But I still have a long time left and I hope that it goes by slowly! 

If anyone is bored you could always send me mail! Getting mail is always very exciting! My address is:

Christina Montgomery
Muntionkatu 11 A 4
TURKU, 20740

Also keep in mind that it will change late november. I would really appreciate any kind of mail!

And lastly I will add a link to a song on youtube for my mom, So anyone who isn't my mother can just ignore it :)

I will try and post again soon! 


  1. Hi Christina!
    I came across your blog by accident, but I must say I really enjoy reading it! Mostly because I myself have recently moved to Turku and secondly, because ten years ago I was an exchange student in Minnesota, Usa. So reading your blog brings back a lot of memories of how I felt when I was 16 and leaving home to live in another country for a year. So keep it up, it's really nice to read about your experience here in Turku :)


  2. That's cool! Thanks for reading it! I hope you continue to enjoy it!