Now half way through it!

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Hey Kim!

I'm now halfway through my study abroad and i've been having a blast! I just wanted to update you on my trip so far.

My family has been beyond amazing. I truly feel like sts put me in the perfect family. The first day when i got in my bedroom they put a bunch of chocolates and a bowl for decoration that is in the shape of Finland.

My sister and i get along very well and she can handle all my weirdness because she is weird too. Every day after school we watch "Friends" together and we love to listen and sing to music. My parents have been sooo generous and nice. They are very chill and open minded to everything. My dad is always interested and asking me questions on Canada and differences between Finland and Canada. Heck he wants me to make like a small presentation to show him my life in ottawa. My mom is the best cook ever she makes the best food and she's always asking me if i need something and gets me everything i need even if i don't ask . My older sister and her boyfriend are like my second set of host parents. They are super cool and are always keeping me busy if my younger sister is doing something. Infact recently, all 4 of us went on a roadtrip to Ruka and Oulu in the lapplands. We skiied and snowboarded all weekend. It was extremely fun and my older sister got me these amazing lapplands socks she knew i had my eye on.

Before coming to Finland everyone warned me about how reserved and shy Finns are. And i'm not going to lie I was a bit scared that there would be awkward moments and people would think i'm weird etc. In fact, I used to practice in the mirror pretending the mirror was someone super shy.

On my first day of school I became really nervous and excited and scared, cause i didn't know what to expect. The first person I met was my English teacher and she was the sweetest woman very nice and very eager to get to know me. She told me my homeroom class was small but very talkative. Which they are. But I like it I like hearing other people's voices than my own. My homeroom classmates are the coolest, funniest people. I love coming to English and Finnish class it's the class I look forward to everyday.Just to see them all together in one space puts a smile on my face. They just bring a positive energy to my day. I wish I was able to speak fluent Finnish like them so I can take part in their conversations cause they seem very interesting. And I really appreciate the effort they put into talking to me in English and trying to make me feel included. In all I think they broke the stereotype of Finns being reserved shy people because many of them aren't especially once you get to know them. They put me in the perfect homeroom class. Which I consider a second Finnish family.

Even though i'm the only one from STS in finland, one of my friends from Ecuador (roberto) from my school comes from AFS and he was very nice in introducing me to the AFS exchange students. all the students have been very nice, very eager and accepting of me joining their activities. And it's super fun hanging out with them because i get to know new cultures within my cultural exchange. Exchange students are fun and funny to be around.

Presently i'm very excited for the easter weekend because easter is a huuge celebration here. My older sister her boyfriend, our neighbour and i have built a huuuuuuuuuuge mountain of wood and sticks and trees for our big bonfire / the burning of teh witch on saturday. There will be a party at my house too.

I know i'm missing many things because i have done many things and met many people.

Thanks for everything,

Salma T

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