The Finland Exchange
So I’m Molly Shears, I had the pleasure of spending 3 amazing months experiencing life in a little place called Jyväskylä in Finland.
Unreal. Exchange has been an experience like nothing I could have ever imagined.
We arrived on the 23rd of April and we left on the 27th of June. So to clarify ‘we’ is me and 3 other Uni High students; Ingrid Hollis, Claire Wardlor and Saja English. We all knew each other really well before coming in exchange, however the amount we have all grown together and how much closer we are now is unbelievable.
For me exchange has been super tough. My situation here was so different to all the other girls and really not an ideal one. I am so thankful for having such great travel partners with me, honestly I have no clue what I would have done without them!
When we first arrived in Jyväskylä it was around 3 degrees with a scorching high temperature of 8! There was still some snow left for the first couple of days here, but it had all begun melting. Summer came round so quickly, everyone was saying Finland’s never ever seen this happen and we were getting the hottest temperatures in over 100 years!! It was crazy to see how quickly the season changed, with flowers blossoming just days after the snow. Unfortunately, with the nearly 30 degree days, all of us were at a loss of clothes, as we thought it was going to be absolutely freezing the entire time. Luckily we all turned to our exchanges and their wardrobes.
Jyväskylä is a tiny place where you'll find that the people are different, the way things are run is different ... but it’s been really cool to completely immerse ourselves into it all! Finnish people are all so incredibly quiet and shy, so as you could imagine, us 4 already ‘loud’ Australians stood out wherever we went.
We attended school for the first 6 weeks, where we were in an English, music and art class. School is so different here in the way it runs. It was also extremely small and only had 20 classrooms. We would have lots of free sessions between classes but the school day went from 8am-4pm, with a free hot lunch everyday at 11:30.
I guess I came into it without really thinking about what I expected. The first week was full of ups and downs. Feeling really panicked, unsure and overwhelmed but then once we felt more settled it was all just very exciting and hard to wrap our heads around. I got to call a little house in a remote village called ‘Tiituspohja', 'home'. Surrounded by a picturesque view of forest and lake, it was crazy to have become accustomed to it all. It’s definitely something I really miss about being here - the daily sight of vibrant green.
Coming to the end of our 9 weeks here in this beautiful place, time had absolutely flown by. But I think we were all very ready to come home. We all gained so much independence and skills around dealing with all types of situations.
Exchange is such an incredible once in a lifetime experience. Regardless of the hard times, I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.