Ella Mustonen reporting:
In a few days this school year will end. Especially our third-year students will celebrate finishing their studies on the first of June. Other students will continue at Klassikka in the autumn – except our exchange students.
I interviewed our school’s exchange students Paola Mendez Contrenas, Iroja Nagamine, Wadi Abimeri, Cameron Butler and Kota Iijima. Now they’re sharing their feelings, thoughts and experiences.
Kota: “For me this exchange year was very special, quality time. I think I experienced all things Finnish. Among them, skiing in Lapland was especially very impressive. When I was skiing there, I didn’t want to go back to Japan because the place where I skied was so beautiful. Besides this, I experienced ice swimming, ice fishing and eating some traditional foods. All the experiences were very interesting and impressive.”
Paola: “My exchange year has been amazing! I saw snow for the first time and it was magical! I also
played Finnish baseball. I wasn’t good but it was fun. And I watched my first ice hockey game and I need to say that I really liked it.”
Before arriving in Finland, Paola was worried about whether people would be racist towards her. She soon noticed that she didn’t have to be afraid of that.
Cameron also had some first thoughts before he came here but having arrived in Finland, he noticed that Finland has something in common with Canada.
Cameron: One of the biggest differences from what I was expecting was the weather: I was expecting it to be -40°c in the winter. I was also expecting to eat fish for every meal. But now I see that Finland is similar to Canada in a lot of ways. Finland is an amazing country with a very interesting culture. The Finnish people are very kind and friendly once they open up. It can take a little time for Finns to open up but once they do, they are great people.
Wadi: “I could come to Finland again, of course! I’m in love with this place for real. The winter is amazing!”
Also Wadi got some first-time experiences during his exchange year in Finland. For instance, he saw snow and snowboarded for the first time in Lapland.
Another reason why Wadi likes Finland is the people. He’s amazed by the fact that even people who don’t know you are sympathetic and treat you in a friendly way.
Even though our exchange students enjoyed their time here, it’s possible that the first months here have been a time of adaption because of totally different culture and climate.
Iroja: It was a bit hard to be here at the beginning because I couldn’t understand English and the different culture made me shocked. Especially the weather was very different. Winter was dark and cold, so I often had fever. But my host families and teachers helped me. I’m full of gratitude towards them!
My life studying abroad started with anxiety, but I think that I was able to have so much fun every day because I was with shy but cheerful, bright and energetic guys. I can’t believe that I’ll leave Finland soon. I feel very sad to do it. I really love Kuopio!
It’s true that Finnish culture is different when compared to Canadian, Mexican and Japanese cultures. Our climate is cold, our days can be grey and dark, and our school system is dissimilar. Despite of all this, our exchange students adapted well and experienced new things like sauna and ice swimming. They studied a year in our school even though they didn’t understand Finnish in the beginning. Now they’ve become a significant part of our school and it’ll be weird not to see them walking in the corridors of our school in the autumn.
Even though we won’t see you next year in school, we’ll remember and miss you! We hope the very best for you all! <3