Afia, Ugo and Kanako
So, first of all, how did you end up coming to Finland?
Ugo: Well, I didn't choose Finland as my first option because I've stayed here (near Jyväskylä) already for a month last year and I would have liked to visit a totally new country. I wanted to go to New Zealand the most, but I have nothing to complain about, I really like Finland as well!
Afia: I chose USA at first, but then people from my exchange program said it'd be better option for me if I chose a Scandinavian country, so I chose Finland. It's different and it's far from Indonesia.
Kanako: I wanted to see the Northern lights and go far from Japan!
Afia: There's so much less people in Finland than in Indonesia! It feels like empty in here since in my city in Indonesia, there's 2 million people and traffic jams every day. School system is different as well, of course.
Kanako: Finland has a lot of forests and lakes and people have bigger houses than in Japan. Sauna is also something different, as well as many people's outlooks with blond hair and blue eyes.
Ugo: The school system is very different in a good way. I think life in general is not that different because Finland and France are both in Europe and not that far away from each other.
What do you think about FES?
Ugo: Everything is so new and better here when compared to my school in France. Like, we have holes in walls at my school. Also, it's good when you can choose by yourself what you want to study. We can't do that in France.
Kanako: Our school is todella hyvä! Studying in English and Finnish is hard for me, though.
Afia: People are so nice and friendly here. The Finnish school system is also great because school starts so late, I mean, at 8:30!
So late, you say? Wait, just to make sure, are you serious?!
Afia: Yeah, I am serious! In Indonesia, it starts at 6:30.
Ugo: It's the same with my school in France!
What has been the best thing so far?
Ugo: Starting school because you make friends there.
Afia: Going to sauna. It was sooo hot, but I liked it!
Kanako: Salmiakki... Haha no, just kidding!
How about the weirdest thing?
Ugo: I think it's strange when people are just staring at me, probably wanting to come to talk to me but then they just don't. Also, when I get these Facebook friend requests but then those people don't ever start a conversation with me. Well, maybe it's just a part of Finnish culture or something. I'm used to it now and actually it doesn't happen so often anymore after a couple of weeks when I've gotten to know people better.
Afia: Definitely salmiakki, it's the weirdest of all!
Kanako: Yeah, I agree with Afia!
What are you looking for the most?
Ugo: Playing ice hockey, going ice swimming and skiing, partying, and seeing my friends in Jyväskylä, of course.
Afia: I'm waiting for the winter because it'll be snowing! I haven't ever seen snow before, and I'm so excited about it. I also want to try ice swimming.
Kanako: I want to see the Northern lights and go skiing. I'd also like to try DOG SKIING?!?!?
What did you know about Finland before coming here?
Kanako: I knew that sauna comes from Finland, that people are shy and drink a lot of coffee in here and that there are lots of forests and lakes in Finland. I also knew the Moomins, of course!
Afia: Everyone knows that Finland has the best education system in the world! I also knew you have snow during winter in here and that people can be cold at first but be super nice when you get to know them better.
Ugo: Yeah, in France we are studying the Finnish and Scandinavian education systems! Anyway, I have to say I didn't know many things about Finland before my fist visit. I knew Helsinki is the capital city, I knew ice hockey is popular and that you eat a lot of potatoes here. My dad has traveled around Scandinavia and also been in Finland, so he has told me some stuff about it, mostly about things that are somehow linked to my life. Also, Finnish girls are quite famous in France, haha!
Can you say anything in Finnish yet?
Afia: I'm not sure whether you can write this to the interview because our teacher would probably kill us but.. Perkele! I mostly know some random words like jakso, and oh, tomaatti on punainen.
Ugo: I know some Finnish already, obviously because I was here last year. My favourites are makkara and Mäkkäri, 'banaani on keltainen' and 'olen banaani'.
Kanako: Well, what can I say... Huomenta, kiitos, totta kai, vai niin, sanakirja, kirjoittaa, hyvä...
The list goes on and on. Kanako knows, to be honest, surprisingly much Finnish, and when I ask how she knows so much already she says that she learns it all the time, a special thanks to her dictionary. All three say it's not tiring to listen to Finnish, even though it's a hard language and if people are speaking only in Finnish, they don't have any idea what's going on most of the time. They all are studying Finnish here in FES and their goal is to be able to talk in Finnish by the end of their year. And it seems that they are decided to get there!
This was the first introduce of our amazing exchange trio. I'm sure you'll hear about them many times in the future and get to know all three very well. We have such a great school year ahead of us. Stay tuned.