Week 1 • Arrival in Karkku

d035da17-d4ed-4b6d-bfbd-63650d86f66dArriving in Karkku was full of anticipation.

I was so excited to see all of the exchange students, suitcase in tow, wandering around, having no idea what we were supposed to do next. I remember struggling with my bags less than everyone else, and I offered to carry a few of Katerina’s bags. Katerina was the girl I had made the long trip from Canada to Finland with.

As soon as I got to my room I met an energetic redhead, wearing the same pair of sweatpants I had asked my mom to buy for me days before leaving Canada. Her name was Elyse and we became friends quickly. Before I knew, we were sharing secrets and staying up late, and giggling at inside jokes.

I met others at the camp as well. Andrew, Tess, Bruno, Stas, Martina, Saim, Angeline, and many others. My daily routine was mostly the same every day, and morning meeting after breakfast, then off to classes, lunch, then back to classes, and then finishing the day with another meeting and some sort of activity.

Other than what was on the schedule, the first few days of Karkku were spent meeting tons of new people, struggling to remember names, and trying to get as much of a grip as I possibly could on the Finnish language.

The food was not too different, I remember slowly realizing how many cucumbers the Finns eat. There were many interesting performances done by Rotex (Rebounds) during the entire week, demonstrating Finnish culture and lifestyle. When the end of the week approached, we began to say our goodbyes, packing into cars, and driving off with our host families to our new homes for the next few months.

The Rotarians had warned us to try to not fall asleep in the car, luckily for me, my family lived less than 40 minutes away. When I arrived at my new home, it was a strange feeling, and although I had an amazing time at camp, I quickly realized I definitely didn’t miss the business of it.

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