Jolanda Varis reporting:
Valerie Fischer came to Finland from Oregon, United States ten months ago. She wanted to get to see a Finnish high school and learn a bit of Finnish language. Valerie already finished her high school two years ago, when she was only sixteen.
Firstly, I wanted to know, why Valerie decided to come to Finland. Valerie told me that her family has some history with Finland. “I’ve visited Finland when I was fourteen. I really wanted to learn more about Finland.” Valerie’s exchange is independent, so she isn’t with any rotary. She said she wanted to decide exactly where to go by herself, and independent exchange was the only option for that.
Valerie’s dear hobby is cross-country skiing. She started skiing when she was just a toddler. “Skiing has been like a family sport”, says Valerie. In some schools, there are ski teams, but Valerie herself was in a club ski team. “I did skiing very competitively in the US, but I decided to quit skiing. In Finland, there isn’t really a possibility to be in a ski team, and I don’t have motivation to train on my own”, Valerie said laughingly. She said she still does skiing for fun, because she loves it, but she’s done racing.
Next, I asked Valerie her opinion of Finland. She thought about it for a while, and said that Finland is a nice country. “I like especially the nature here. There are forests where I live, and I like the fact that it’s the same here. I’m glad that I chose somewhere with nature and not in the middle of a huge city”, she explained. What she doesn’t like are mosquitos, but then, who likes mosquitos?
Next week Valerie is heading back to the US. She will have a summer job in a hotel, which she looks forward to. In the fall, Valerie will go to university in Oregon. All of the kids Valerie’s age, who she has grown up with, are graduating now, and she thinks it’s a bit weird, because she has graduated already two years ago. Valerie thinks it’s great that she can finally go to university.
In Valerie’s opinion, Finland, by far, has a better education system than the United States. “I was home schooled, so I got to move on whatever speed I wanted, and that was great. I think I got a better education than most of the kids in public schools.” She thinks that a part of why kids don’t learn as much as fast in public schools is because there are so many students. In Finland, Valerie has also seen that students here have more responsibilities. In the US, many parents blame the teachers if their kids don’t want to learn.
In the future, when Valerie will go to university, she said that she might do a university exchange. “An English-speaking country would be nice. That way I wouldn’t have to worry about a new language, just the culture”, Valerie shared. Good luck Valerie and have a safe trip back home!