A month in Finland… not part of my original gap year plans but they say that the unexpected things can be the best, and they are right! My adventure started in the forests above Masku in a beautiful home where I met my first family and a fortnight flew by in a blur of castles, lakes, midsummer celebrations and my first ever sauna. During my time with my first family I began to get to grips with the Finnish language with some unusual google translations along the way. A highlight was visiting Naantali during the Midsummer celebrations and watching the traditional dancing and singing before having a traditional fish dish for dinner, we even went swimming with a beautiful view of Naantali church.
I loved meeting so many new people and looking at all the history of the area where I was staying because it is such a different culture from Wales! I can’t imagine many Welsh families enjoying a sauna most evenings but I am now a convert and would love one at home!
After a fabulous fortnight on the west coast of Finland I travelled a few hours east to Tuusula to meet my second family; a bustling household of 6 I felt at home as soon as I walked through the door. This family gave me a tour of Tuusula lake (Finland is beautiful, full of forests and lakes), so that I could admire the homes of all of Finland’s famous creatives.
I also got involved in the children’s hobbies most notably horse riding, which was an interesting experience when the whole lesson is in Finnish and your horse probably knows more of the language than you! I also treated both families to some Welsh cooking including cawl and welsh cakes which went down a storm, in return they showed me the typical activities at a summer cottage including a BBQ and rowing on the lake.
I would recommend going to stay with families in a foreign country if you want to meet amazing people, make memories and grow as a person because I cannot wait to return and see my host families and also for them to visit me in the UK in the future.