I left for the Toronto, Canada at 6 am on July 31st. We arrived at the airport around 11 am. There was an issue with my bag weight but it was resolved. I said goodbye to my parents and headed through security around 1 pm. I boarded an Icelandair 757 around 2 pm and we took off at 3 pm. The flight lasted 5 hours. It was uncomfortable, although perhaps all flights are like this. I attempted to sleep, but instead had an experience similar to delirium. We landed in Reykjavik, Iceland and had a 10 minute layover. We boarded boarded another Icelandair 757 and were soon flying to Helsinki. The flight lasted 5 hours. The experience was roughly the same as the previous flight. We landed in Helsinki at 7 am, Helsinki time. I met my host family at ~8 am after attempting to reclaim my baggage. One bag was lost, but I alerted the airport and they will get it back to me when they find it. My host family and I immediately went to their hotel room to have breakfast, then drove to Kajaani. I did fit in their car.
Their house is small, nice, comfortable and functional. I have been given a room upstairs. I do fit on the bed surprisingly well.
The US and Finland are similar overall. There are some differences in the way things work and are done, but these are minor. It is enough to separate Finland from the US. Things here are generally smaller than they are in the US. Cars, meal portions, utensils, doorways (ouch), etc. It’s pleasant, though- I do not mind. Driving is more aggressive here, but it seen as being normal. It’s not scary, really. This is due to the fact that everyone drives a small European car which is much more maneuverable and the drivers seem more alert and conscientious of pedestrians. I am not used to it yet, but I imagine I will be soon. Finns seem to speak slower and may take a bit longer to understand spoken English. I find I am automatically adapting my speech to accommodate for this. I give everyone here full marks for effort though.
I find that I am able to understand a bit of Finnish spoken by others- already I can pick up on the basics of a conversation if it uses words I know. This is encouraging, especially after only my first full day. If I work on expanding my vocabulary I expect to be able to understand most conversations by the end of my time here.
Thus far I have been mostly comfortable and happy in this new location. I do not feel terribly homesick yet. Unfortunately I am actually sick with a fever, which has prevented me from being as helpful as I would like.
My host family has been very hospitable and pleasant. Kalle (the son and the older of the two children in the family) introduced me to his friends Anti (sp?) and Hans (sp?). They are nice to be around.
The time difference has not been hard to process. The light outside helps. Speaking of which, the shadows cast by the sun are noticeably longer here.
Overall, Finland has been great.
I shall continue to update the blog as I am able. At this point, I have only occasional access to the blog and my email. Feel free to send me emails, etc.