Sunday, September 27, 2015

Finnish History

Alajärvi Cemetery
My week started out learning about the Winter War and how it affected the Finns. I got to see an airfield that was used in the war as well as replicas of the defenses that the Finns used against the Russians during the war. Our car might have gotten stuck in the dirt along the way... but we pushed it out.

Then we headed to the cemetery in Alajärvi where I got to see the gravestones of those who died in the war as well as memorials for those who fought the war in their own way, such as the women who stayed back while their husbands, brothers and sons were fighting on the front lines.

Memorial in Alajärvi
We even drove by a memorial (so I couldn't take any pictures of it) that was for men from Alajärvi that had to walk 14 km to get to the train station to be sent off to war.

On Monday, I took my math test before I headed home for the day because I wasn't taking a test for my mother tongue class. I had my usual Finnish lessons and hockey practice.

On Tuesday, I didn't have a test so I stayed home and worked on my Finnish and cleaned my room.

On Wednesday, I started my new classes. I had math first thing, but I didn't know which class I was in (there were two long math classes and I wasn't sure which one I was in) so I went to the one that had my classmates in it. I was wrong so we talked to the teacher and he switched me into that class. Then I had my history class which was a culture class where we will be learning about different cultures around the world. Then I had chemistry where we went over what we will be learning for the year. After that I had psychology where we went over what we were going to do for the year before I missed my art class and had Finnish lessons. I also had my usual hockey practice.

On Thursday, I went to the school's library and got the textbooks I needed for school as well as a library card since I didn't have one. I had the classes that I had the day before (except I had physics this time instead of art). The only difference was that instead of having psychology for the whole 55 minutes, we left about half way through to take pictures. First we took a class picture before we took the individual pictures. I have no idea what the photographer was telling me to do, but I figured it out. Then instead of having hockey practice, I went to Härmä. Two Rotarians from Alajärvi drove me there. It took about an hour. When we got there, we met up with other Rotarians, exchange students, rebounds and Rotex while we have coffee time. We headed to a lecture room where we introduced ourselves before we split off into groups. I went into a room with the other exchange students and a few Rotex where we had candy and hung out. Then we headed upstairs and watched people sing karaoke and dance before we headed home for the night.

On Friday, I went to school and had math, art, psychology and physics. My friends taught me how to say psychology in Finnish: psykologia. It may not seem that hard, but they say the p. So if you want to know how to say it then say pss (like you are trying to get someone's attention), then su-ko-lo-ge-ah. The pss sound was honestly the hardest part for me, but I got it down now. :)

Today, I hung out with Raisa's friends. We made pizza and sang Finnish karaoke. We ate chips and candy while we looked up songs on YouTube and Spotify. It was very fun.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Exam Week and Mölkky

On Monday I had normal classes. My exam week started on Tuesday. I had my first test: history. We had to put our bags in the front of the classroom and our phones on a desk in the front. We had four hours to complete the test. It took me about two hours to write two essays (in English).

The next day I had my philosophy test where I did the same thing. This time, I defined a few vocabulary terms and wrote an essay (again in my mother tongue).

Then I had my music test which was fun. It was basically a game of battleship where you had to answer questions about music.

Then I had my English test. I didn't do so well on the translating from Finnish part, but the reading comprehension and the essay went well.

On Friday evening, I met my "aunt" Niina. She is currently studying in Helsinki, but she came up for the weekend. She gave me a bunch of gifts, from candy to a marimenko fabric. We played games from card games to board games to Mölkky. Mölkky is basically a game where you throw a wooden block to knock down other blocks. There is a picture of me and Raisa in the upper left. 

Then today, we went shopping! We went to a small little town with a population of about 1,000 people. What do you find in a town of that many people? A large shopping mall of course! I got to see that horseshoe sculpture (the second picture) as well as the largest shoe store in Finland. We did some shopping before we returned home.

Next week I will finish my exam week and start new classes! :)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

There's a Chill in the Air...

On Sunday, we baked a bunch of awesome Finnish desserts. They were awesome. The temperature has started to get cooler here, so it's time for the jackets to come out.

On Monday, I had to go to school at the normal time since my half math class and the half Swedish class switched places this week (but that meant I got to come to school later on Friday, so I was okay with it). The third year students were doing testing this week, so we had to be quiet during break. I had the usual classes before I headed to my Finnish lessons after school. (One note: we learned about indefinite pronouns in English. To any non-English speakers that want to learn English: indefinite pronouns are hard.)

At my Finnish lesson, the Tunisian student showed up again and two Thai women also showed up and we went over some more Finnish. Then I went to hockey practice. The next day I had school again and I had Finnish lessons. I had been studying my book and I asked a lot of grammar questions. I think my teacher learned more Finnish from me. After school, my host mom, Raisa (one of my host sisters) and I went to a spinning lesson. It was fun.

Wednesday was the very fun day. In music class, we went over how to read rhythms. In America, we read them like this:
A whole note: 1-2-3-4
Two half notes: 1-2 3-4
Four quarter notes: 1 2 3 4
Four eighth notes: 1& 2& 3& 4&
Four sixteenth notes; 1E&A 2E&A 3E&A 4E&A

In Finland, they read rhythms like this:
A whole note: ta-a-a-a
Two half notes: ta-a ta-a
Four quarter notes: ta ta ta ta
Four eighth notes: ti-ti ti-ti ti-ti ti-ti
Four sixteenth notes; ta-ka-ta-ka ta-ka-ta-ka ta-ka-ta-ka ta-ka-ta-ka

(A note: also, in Finland, they use the letter H instead of the letter B when it come to note reading, For example: A H C D E F G. However, B is used as H♭)

After school I had hockey practice. We practiced on the ice for a while before we took off only our skates, put some shoes on and went out to the soccer field. Wearing full gear, we played American football-with a soccer ball. I got to teach them how to play and it was very fun (and very funny). We ended up with a tie game.

The rest of my week consisted of school, hockey and tongue twisters. On Friday, during a free period I sat with my friends and we talked about different tongue twisters. One of them was able to say "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" by the end of the day.

Today my host dad is working on the dog house (as pictured to the left) while I study for next week because next week is exam week. In other words, starting on Tuesday and going until next Tuesday, we have one exam everyday. Each day is for one class. After the exam, we study for the next test in the afternoon. After exam week is over, our classes change.

Exam week here I come! :)

Sunday, September 6, 2015

September Has Arrived

September came before I even knew it. But before it did, I still had a few days in August left. Here is what went down in my last moments in August:

Sunday, August 30th: My host dad asked if I was good at math, I said yes and he asked if I could calculate the volume of a cylinder. I did and then converted it to milliliters for him. He wanted for the dog house he is building.

Monday, August 31st: School was school. I had philosophy where I learned about philosophy, in English I learned some grammar, in history we learned about Ancient Rome and in music class we played instruments. After school, I had a Finnish for foreigners lesson. I was a little early and waited a few minutes before the teacher came in with another student from Tunisia. We went over basic Finnish (which I had already know) but it was fun since I got to help the other student. I then went to hockey practice.

Then September came. I started Finnish lessons during school with one of the English teachers. I also had my normal classes where I played music, did math, learned philosophy, read English texts, learned about the Middle Ages and worked on my Finnish. In my mother tongue class (Finnish class) everyone is working on writing an essay, so the teacher asked me to write something about myself in Finnish. It ended up being two paragraphs and I only needed to look up how to say and write a few things.

Outside of school, I went to hockey practice, did homework and worked on my Finnish from my Finnish books (one of them pictured on the left).

September, watch out, because here I come!