Hello! My name is Emilia, and I wanted to share my experiences about my exchange year in Washington state.
I started off my year by flying to New York at first. We spent three wonderful days over there exploring New York and hanging out with other exchange students from all over the Europe.
My teacher noticed that and asked if I wanted to work in our school’s student store, since I had been one of the most successful students in the class. I took the chance, knowing that the experience would give me a big advantage when applying for jobs later on. My experiences at the student store have been unforgettable, all my co-workers were really welcoming and asked a lot of questions about my home country and were willing to help me with everything, since I was new. Student store has been the place where I’ve found my best friends. The positive people and the atmosphere make me want to be there even during the break time.
The school spirit they have in high school is just incredible. That’s another thing that amazed me, it’s nothing like in my home country. All the spirit weeks, sport events and special assemblies every once in a while keep it interesting and pleasant to attend school every day.
Spirit week is of course always followed by a school dance. In my high school, we had three dances and I participated in all of them. The dances were another unique experience that I will never forget.
I also went to drive-ins for the first time in my life and had fun. There’s something in drive-ins that enthralls me — it might be the chilly air that appears right after the sun has set behind the mountains, or the smell of fresh baked popcorn and the feeling that you are doing something truly American.
Halloween was another big thing for me, since Americans celebrate it big. My friends and I got all dressed up in our costumes, went to trick-or-treat and got a lot of candy.
During my year here I really become a sports fan! Everyone in my family back home hates watching sports, but here almost everybody watches at least football. I became a Seattle Seahawks fan and watched some of their games and especially Super Bowl with enthusiasm. We also got to go to the Seahawk parade in Seattle and I actually got to see all the players. That’s another day I will remember forever.
My host sister Annika has become like a real sister to me during the year. We spend a lot of time together at school and during our free time. She’s a person I know I can trust and she’s always willing to help me with anything. We share so many memories and our story will definitely continue even after we go back to our own countries.
I also fell in love with volleyball and tennis during my year here and I’m sure that I’ll continue playing when I go home. If they asked me the best advice for the next years’ exchange students, I would say that they should join to a sport team, it’s so easy, and you will make a bunch of friends!
My year here has been awesome, it’s hard to imagine that I’ll be back home in just couple weeks. I think that during this year I’ve learned more about myself and grown a lot as a person. I will never forget my year over here and I think this year has been one of the best years of my life.
To see the complete photo gallery of Emilia from Finland’s year in Washington, click here.