Monday, November 28, 2011

A Finnish Test

The finnish school system is very well known for it's excellency. And it really is an incredible system, solid system that works wonders. In finnish high school, there are 5 jakso's and they last six weeks each and are the equivalent of a semester in the united states. At the end of every jakso there is a week of final tests for every class. As an exchange student I am not required to take the tests, and so therefore I have a week off. And then after the test week is over, everyone has a new schedule and new classes. So it is a bit harsh that they have to study so hard, so often, but I think that they have it that way so that it keeps the students on their toes and always studying. Which is a good way to keep them from slacking off. If you slack off you get left in the dust, and education is very important in the finnish culture, so slacking off in school and getting left behind is unacceptable, especially in my school, which is known as one of the best schools in Turku.

So this morning I took my first test in the finnish school system. It was in geography, which is one of the classes that I greatly enjoyed in this last jakso. I enjoyed it because it was quite an easy and simple class, which comprised mostly of the basics and introduction to earth science and geography. It was also a mixture of some of the subjects of my science classes in several of the past years. Which made it easy because I could follow what was going on, since I already knew much of what the class was about.

Studying for the test was probably the hardest part. I had my geography text book, but it was all in that helped a lot....not really. I basically just flipped the pages and tried to memorize the many pictures and diagrams, google translating words in bold and such. But I also had a lot of notes that I copied down and then google translated so most of my studying for the test consisted of memorizing those notes. Google translate had actually done a mostly good job on some of them. I had used some other translating websites as well, so most of my notes made sense. But also what made studying so hard was that I really had no idea what to expect from the test. I had no idea what a finnish test would be like. I had some notes where the teacher had written down some tips for taking the test. I had an idea that it would have a lot of writing. But otherwise, I was totally clueless, so I just studied my notes as if I was taking an american test.

So, come Monday morning when I had my test, I set my alarm for 7 am, which was terrible, by the way. And then I took the bus to school, and I was kinda nervous, but I had to tell myself that I had an excuse for failing the test: the class had been in another that was a good enough excuse, if I did manage to fail it....But the test was going to be in english, thank god.

In Finland, american tests have a big reputation of being so incredibly easy. All of the finns think that all of our tests are multiple choice, and we barely ever have tests. And in all honesty I think that these allegations are false. Our tests are hard enough, it just depends on the teacher you have. Some teachers don't even give tests, and some give tests that are really challenging and take forever. Not to mention that most of the time that we have tests, which are not in finals week we have to complete them in one class period, unlike finnish tests, which you are given 3 hours for.

But anyways, enough about how hard tests are. In my opinion, having taken tests in both Finland and USA, I think that they are probably just as difficult in one country as the other. I was thinking that because Finland has such a better system, that of course they would have harder tests, but when I think about it, we have tests every six weeks, also, and they are just as hard, it is only at semester's end that we have a week dedicated to tests.

So I took the test, it wasn't all that different from an american test, it was kinda like an essay question test, which had more than one essay question. But that was it. If you knew what you had to write about, it was fine.

I have no idea how well I did. I did better than I thought I would, that is for sure.

Anyways, sorry for a post without pictures...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

District Camp of 1410

The weekend of November 18-19 was one that has been put off. It was the district camp of my Finnish Rotary District of 1410. We were supposed to have this camp back in October, on a weekend which I had nothing planned, but no! I had planned to go to a puppet show but, I instead went to my district camp, which I honestly would prefer, but of course I would have liked to go to both.....but anyways. The district camp was just a weekend where all the exchange students in the southwest of Finland got to hang out and do bonding activities and it was really a lot of fun.

My entire name didn't exactly fit on it.... :( 

On Saturday morning, I as well as the exchange students in and around Turku took a bus from Turku bus station to Laitila, where the Rotary picked us up and took us to some church like house in the woods, and it was on the lake. I don't really know what kind of place it was. I guess just a meeting place, designed for camps like this. Of course there were some religious stuff there, so it was also probably connected with a church or something. But the important thing was that there was a main place, with a cafeteria, some dorms and a sauna. Oh, and a ping pong table. That was also a very important part of the place.


Trying to push people in....classic pastime....

We were sinking it!!!

All the Rotary Exchange students who go to my school! 

This picture really shows our ability to sink the dock....

So while we were there we ate, and played some games, and talked a lot. It is always nice to talk to the other exchange students. Of course I am in the city so twice a week I get to see twenty other exchange students, but then many of these exchange students live in small towns where they are often times the only exchange student in their town. And then times like the district camp and such is some of the only times that they get to spend with a lot of other exchange students. So times like these are always really nice.

Then at night we went to the Sauna and got to swim in the lake, which was probably around 5-8 degrees Celsius, and it was cold. But fun to do it with all the others. The dock which was on the lake had a lot of water on it and the water froze really fast so it was really slippery! But it was still fun.

And then we all got in our pajamas and cooked Sausages over a fire, and it was a lot of fun. And then we all stayed up late eating chocolate and playing ping pong. I went to bed around two am and I know that I was among the first to go to bed.....

Roommates from Taiwan and Minnesota :) 

Blazer is filling up :) 

Ping Pong! 


Smash ping pong.... to describe my feelings of joy when I saw this! 

The morning was very tiring and hard. Luckily breakfast was at 10 instead of something like 7 or 8, because that would be torture, in the morning we did much of the same and we all discussed how our host family and school has been going, and if we have been homesick. And then the camp and we took the bus back to Turku.

At dinner :) 

Sadly on the bus back to Turku, I mistook the sun set for a sun rise, and when I realized that I was actually being blinded by the sun set, I was quite sad. It definitely gets dark early of you confuse those two things.

Koeviikko Update again :D

What is even harder than keeping up on your blog? Keeping up on other people's blogs! For a week I check my all the blogs that I am following, and none of them update! And then all of a sudden I forget to check for one day and I am swamped with so many blogs, I am glued to the computer screen for like an hour! Gah! But, I think that everybody seems to have a new blog post at the same time as everyone else. And I also start writing these blog posts at some of the worst times too. Like do I write in my blog for the several hours that I have nothing much to do after school when I am for moving host families, which I will be doing sometime in the next few hours. And I still barely have anything in my suitcase.....But once you start, you can't stop blogging or else this post will be prolonged until next month, and we don't want that to happen, do we?

So it is that time again! Test week! Usually, this would be followed by a groan, but of course, I am an exchange student which basically means that test week means no school while all of your finnish friends spend all their time in school or studying. It is actually a bit boring......So I get to sleep in until 12 and then spend the rest of the day watching TV. It is nice, though today is the first day of the test week and I was so antsy that I needed to get out of the house so I went to exchange student cafe Wednesdays, where all of the exchange students in Turku and surrounding areas meet in a cafe and discuss the meaning of life....actually our conversations are not that deep....just the average exchange student conversation....which can range a bit...

I am taking one test this test week....yeah, I know, it is a crazy amount of work! Haha, not really. I was planning on taking more at the beginning of this period (or term, whatever you want to call it), as you may recall from previous blog posts, with my big plans. Well those plans kinda fell apart when some classes turned out to be a bit boring and really hard to understand in another language....So now I am just going to take my geography test, which will be really easy because I have tons of notes which I have google translated (as inaccurate as that may be......) and the class itself is a mixture of what I have learned in my last two years of science class, so as long as I remember some of that (as hard as that will be) then I will be able to take this test and possibly get a good grade....

I also have my classes for next term! Which starts after test week, I am taking a lot of easy classes, which will be nice because I have found that when you have a lot of classes like History or really academic classes, they are very easy motivation to just stay in bed in the morning, whereas classes where I enjoy what is happening, such as Art, are really much more enjoyable, and are much more motivation to get up in the morning, especially when they are first thing, because usually I don't skip the classes that are in the middle of the day, only the ones in the morning when it is dark and I am tired.  And I also have three mornings a week which I get to have the first class period off! But this also means that I have longer afternoons and every single day I go until 2:30 in the afternoon. Which is a lot different because pretty much every day now I finish at 1:00, and it is stupid for me to feel like my days are long, because when I was in the US, I would go from 8 to 3 every day, so I have really gotten used to the easy life, which makes me worry about how hard it will be to go back to that life....

New Text books, they are backwards because they were taken with my webcam....

Anyways, I am taking French 1, Art 1 and Art 3, Biology 2, Music 1, and I am also taking a dancing class. This dancing class is for the Old's Dance at school, which is a big prom-like dance in February for all the second years in the school. It is different from American Proms because they dance in front of an audience and they also dance traditional old dances. But I am will have a lot more on that subject as the date approaches.

I am excited for this schedule because the classes are easy and hopefully I will be able to take the tests in all of them and get credit for all of them! Which will be nice to bring some credit home so I don't have to take all these classes over again, in the states.

Somewhere in Turku :) 

This last Saturday marked a very sad day. It was the day which one of my Oldies went home. Oldies are also exchange students, but all from the Southern Hemisphere and so they always come in January, and they leave in November/December/January. So one of my australian oldies left to go home. Which is so sad because I am going to miss her like crazy. And not only is she gone, but that means that my exchange is almost halfway done, not quite, but time is definitely going by so fast! It seems like yesterday that I was at home in Colorado and it was Summer! So soon I am going to have a mid-exchange crisis here! But one good thing comes from the Oldies leaving, and that is Newbies! In january there will be more Southern Hemisphere exchange students coming and that will be fun! My Rotary club here is hosting another exchange student in January, which will be soooo nice, because having another exchange student at the meetings will make everything so much less boring! But I don't want my Oldies to leave! I feel like I am torn between my old dog and my new puppy!

Anyways, that is probably enough long segments of text for now, I will have another post soon (I know this because I actually have something specific to write about for the next one)!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New Address!

I have my new address! If anyone wants to send me mail, that would be super awesome! 

Christina Montgomery 
Puhuri 11 G 22
20900 Turku

Send Me something!!!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

November Happenings

November is by far my favorite month of the year. Thanksgiving just makes it all so good. Not to mention it is around time that I am craving some snow. I get all of that in the US, and I should be able to have snow here too, but none yet......strange....

But November still has yet to dissapoint. It is the perfect temperature outside. Though, it is pretty freezing. My mexican friend is from Yucatan, and on Wednesday we saw each other and she was like "It's sooooooo cold!!!!" Haha, I can't wait to see her in the dead of winter! The cold feels really good. And I recently switched host families, which means I have a new bus route, and since I now live on an island, I see the ocean every day, and my bus route follows the river until I get to my school, so a couple times I have walked along the river instead of taking the bus and then just get on the bus at the last stop along the river. A couple days the sun was out and shining on the river, and it made the river so gorgeous!

It also gets dark at like four here, which is kinda weird, some days I don't mind it, other days I feel like the days are way too short. But I have discovered that the cafe that all the exchange students meet in on Wednesdays, is really really nice when it's dark out. 

Also yesterday I got to model for my art class. When I asked the teacher if I could, she was so surprised because normally nobody ever wanted to be sketched, but I guess that is just another example of how much more outgoing americans are than finns in things like this. Being sketched was weird, but it was still pretty cool. There was a guy in the back of the room who kept smiling when he was drawing, I didn't want to see his drawing of me....

But I got some pictures of some of the best of the class' sketches. 

When I was being sketched, I couldn't help but think about the 12 pounds I have gained in the last few months, and all that chocolate I have been eating.....

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Hello again. It has been a while but blogging is more difficult than you think, because it involves sitting down and typing a ton! And with the existence of is harder to blog than you may think. A friend of mine here in Finland labeled her last blog post Ugh which I think is an appropriate blog post for this one as well, but then I have a specific thing that I am talking about in this post so I will not label it Ugh, but instead Sweden.

This last weekend my host family and I went to Sweden! It was a weird feeling, to just visit another country for the weekend, but then we are in Europe. We left Friday night on the ferry to Sweden. The ferry left at 8:00 at night from Turku Harbor. And since Turku harbor is only a 15 minute drive from my house, we left at like 7:30, so that was quite a strange feeling, to leave for another country only a half hour before the boat left. The boat terminal had a feeling a lot like an airport. There was passenger check in and then many people standing around waiting for the boat to leave with their suitcases.

The boat was packed on Friday night. Many finns go on the ferry to sweden on friday night and then party the entire night on the ferry and then don't get off in Sweden and take the boat back to Finland right away and sleep the entire way back. I have talked to many people in school, who have taken the ferry to sweden many times, but in fact have never stepped foot in Sweden. There were 2700 people on board that night, so it was almost full.

On board, right after we left 

Turku Harbor in the background 

So we went on and then we did some shopping and looked around. We ate dinner in one of the restaurants on the boat and then we slept most of the way there. Because it is international waters, there are no taxing, nor laws for gambling, so on the ferry there are plenty of opportunities for shopping (lots of alcohol and chocolate) and plenty opportunities to gamble, even I could gamble (with adult supervision of course). With 25% sales tax, it is nice to get a relief and buy things for cheap on the boat. Of course I did get the feeling that it was quite similar to titanic, but I really wasn't worried at all. Overall, the ferry had such a nice atmosphere to it, it was very nice. 

Tax free shopping! 

Tax free Beer! Don't worry I didn't buy any 

There is a time difference between Sweden and Finland of one hour, and the clocks had both times with the finnish flag pointing at the finnish time and the Swedish, at the Swedish time, I thought that this was so cool! 

This was our room, the beds were a lot more comfortable than you thought. 

Unfortunately, the ferries often leave from Turku early enough in the evening so that people are hungry and go and eat dinner in the onboard restaurants, this would seem fine, but that means you get to your destination earlier. Meaning that we get to Stockholm at six in the morning. Yeah, I know, it sucks. So we had to get all our stuff together and walk off the boat into darkness. So we found the subway and it took us to the city center. We dropped our luggage off and went to find breakfast. After breakfast, it was still very very early, but at least the sun had risen so it wasn't still dark. Looking back on it, if I weren't so tired, it was very nice to get into Stockholm and see it in the early morning, because it was well before anyone in the right mind would get up so there was no one out, and cities, especially big cities like stockholm are very different in early morning, and it was interesting to see. We went along the area by the old town and there were many fisherman fishing on the sidewalk, there wasn't the noise of lots of traffic and the sun was just coming up so I got to see the sunrise on the hundreds of years old buildings. It was really nice, if I wasn't so tired! 

Something that I really liked about Stockholm was the way that the city was on several different islands. The main, oldest part of the city was at it's center and on it's very own island. It was nice because there were many bridges and there was a lot of water. There were also a lot of very old buildings there. There has never really been a lot of war in Stockholm, so many buildings have been able to stay intact. And the people of Sweden take very good care of their old buildings, especially in the oldest part of town. They were actually quite intimidating. But very pretty. 

Swedish Parliament 

Nobel Prize museum

So we walked around a lot in the old town. We saw a lot of the old buildings, many of the tourist attractions were closed because we got there so early. But it was very nice. It is a really nice city. So then in the afternoon we saw a bit of the newer part of the city, where the big expensive department stores were. We went and had lunch with my oldest host brother who lives in Espoo, Finland but was also in Stockholm that day. We ate in the Market Hall of Stockholm, which is where you can buy tons of fresh meat and fish and bread, and all sorts of things. We have one in Turku, but the Stockholm one was much bigger. 

At Lunch 

The Market Hall

We also went to a church in town, which I am guessing is the official church of Sweden, since it was the one that Princess Victoria and Daniel got married in a few years ago. It was really nice. It was one of the most impressive churches I have been to. It had so much detail, that it was just incredible. I was totally blown away by it. 

So then we went to the Swedish royal palace, which many people have said that it is the ugliest building in Sweden, but I think that it wasn't ugly, I thought that the architecture really was strong and powerful, like it said "I'm better than you" Which is exactly what you want the home of a king to say. But I may be the only one with that opinion. What I liked most about this palace is that it is like a copy of Versailles. It isn't as huge and extravagant as Versailles, but when they designed it, they wanted to have everything, especially everything that Versailles had. And one thing that I am especially looking forward to seeing on my eurotour next summer is Versailles. Unfortunately, when we toured, we were not allowed to take pictures, so I don't have any pictures, but I can assure you that it looked very nice. There were lots of rooms that were very royal. 

So then later we got on a train and went a little bit into the country side and stayed the night at my host uncle's house. It was nice because it was way out in the countryside, but still very close to the city. The next day we didn't do much, we went to a shopping outlet and everyone except me bought something. On Sunday night we drove to the ferry terminal and boarded the boat back to Finland, this time I had seen a lot of the ferry before and we had already eaten dinner, so after a little bit in the tax free store, I went to bed. And we got into Turku early morning, but I was feeling sick so I didn't go to my first classes. Overall it was a really great trip to Sweden. 

Leaving Stockholm