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Last updated : Nov 2009
Helsinki, Finland 2005
Rating: (4.2) (12 Votes)

Helsinki, Finland
May 26th, 2005

Pros: A great place to explore
Cons: Cold Water

Hello everyone! We arrived in Helsinki via ferry boat from Tallinn, Estonia on May 18th. We have had a great time so far with the Oranen family. They live in a very small village about 35 km outside of Helsinki called Veikkola. There are four kids in the family, Ilu (23) is the only boy, then Ilona (19) who was a rotary exchange student in Tulsa last year, Linda (14) is quiet but as sweet as she can be, then the youngest girl Asta (11) who has more energy than you can imagine. Mr. & Mrs. Oranen are both teachers and very smart as well as incredibly gracious. The family is hosting an exchange student right now from France, her name is Lea who is 17 and just as crazy as the rest of the family. Everyone here speaks English very well, even Asta. They learn it in school along with Finnish and Swedish. But this family speaks a ton of different languages, Mrs. Oranen is from Germany so sometimes we hear them speaking german instead of Finnish or English.

It has been suprisingly warm here, probably around 65¤ each day, so we have been spending most of our days in various parks around Helsinki just hanging out and soaking up the sun. We have met most of the Rotary exchange students who are in Finland this year and had a great time getting to know a few. Last Friday we went to meet them on an island for a picnic and a game of crochet. On Wednesday we all met at a beach in the city, it was pretty hot so we laid out but didn´t get into the water because it was SO FREAKING COLD!

Shannon (Erin´s younger sister) got here on Monday evening after visiting her host families in Belgium from her exchange year. She had a great time but I think she was very glad to see us. We are all getting really excited for the VodkaTrain, which we start on Monday May 30th.

We are in Tallinn Estonia now and we have slept for a record 15 hours. that's all we've been doing is sleeping, the 8 hour time difference has been hard to get over. today we woke up at 3pm to start our day. We walked around Old Town, an old city with barricaded stone walls 20-30ft high and dates back to the 13th century. oh and did i mention that the sun goes down at 9pm but it is sooo bright that it doesnt get dark till 10:30pm probably cause were soo far north on the globe. and then it gets light at about 5am so there is lots of daylight to do things and little night-time. there is a medieval feel to the city with stone buildings and castles, stone walls, and little dungeon cellars that jut out left and right while you walk down the street. today we saw the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, a russian orthodox church. tallin used to be part of the communist russia but now it is part of the EU. we also saw The dome church, the oldest church in estonia where we got a watercolor painting for Jennifer. then went to "Kiek in do kok" which is a 6 story cannon tower that still has 9 cannon balls from Ivan IV back during the livonian war. then we ate lunch at an itallian place in the town hall square and had of course our favorite PIZZA!!! and erin had pasta. We are getting ready to go to Helsinki on a ferry boat that crosses the baltic sea about 3hours to see Ilona Oranen, an exchange student Erin got to hang out with in the US before she went home. Shannon is going to join us in a few days then we will be on our way to Russia to take the Trans-Siberian Railroad to China. Hope all is well with everyone, we are having a great time.