Well folks, this somewhat highly anticipated yet undeniably bittersweet point in my journey has finally arrived….I can now say that I have officially crossed the “finnish” line of my first overseas experience. Yesterday I left Helsinki Airport and started my trek back to the great USA. I am actually currently typing this part of the blog post as I fly through the air, on my way from London to Chicago….the second leg in my journey home. To be exact I am right now crossing the Atlantic Ocean with a little over 5000 km to go until I reach American soil (as I look up at the screen imbedded in the back of the seat in front of me) :). Before I officially “wrap up” this final blog post, I am going to reminisce, very briefly I promise, on a few of the highlights and possibly low-lights of my time in Finland.
But first off, I would just like to again give a great big “kiitos” to every single person that I had the amazing chance to meet and get to know during my time in Turku. And yes, that plus a few other words / phrases is still all I have learned while living here for over 6 months. I do think that my teammates would say they are somewhat impressed, however, with the amount of the language I did end up learning. Taking into consideration how severely difficult it is to learn…I think I did a decent job. I know I sure had fun learning some funny phrases and words that I will try not to forget. Possibly my top one being (that is blog appropriate)….”Se on ihan ok” haha it is somewhat an inside joke, but means “it is quite okay,” it became a quick “funny” amongst my teammates and something Britt and I started saying quite a bit.
Here are some quick little lists of some of the different things that will make up the most of my Finland memories and forever have an imprint on me (these are in no specific order):
Top 5 “activities”:
-Sauna / Palju
-Dancing at the clubs with my teammates
-Weekend trip to London
-Cruise to Sweden
-“After parties” with my teammates, especially in Salo
Top 5 Finnish things that I ATE:
-Mammi (yes, I know, I’m weird)
Top 5 things that I WON’T MISS (ha sorry Fins):
-The winter weather (snow, ice, temperature)
-Riding my bike with above conditions
-Hanging my clothes up to dry
-Taking unnecessarily long rides on the city bus, EVERYWHERE
-Waiting in the cold for the unnecessarily long bus rides
Top 5 things that had a huge IMPACT on me:
-My teammates / sisters
-Becoming a better basketball player and learning even more about the game
-Being a role model to so many young girls
-Experiencing / living in a foreign culture in general
-Getting to see more of the world
I could honestly go on and on and probably left out some really great things / memories, but there are just WAY too many to mention and remember. So that is just a few of the things that came to mind right away, and a few of the things that I will again, remember greatly about the great country of Finland.
My second to last day in Finland was awesome! We went to an old town outside of Turku where the famous Moomin cartoon characters “live” and got to walk on the Baltic Sea! It was breathtaking and such a beautiful day…honestly couldn’t have asked for a better day than that one. It only took us the second to last day in Finland to tour most of the main sites in Turku, but hey, at least we did!
(Vio took a bit of a spill walking up the hill) haha……”Those damn boots!” -Britt
(View of part of the city of Turku)
I also couldn’t have asked for a better last day in Turku with my teammates. The sun was shining and it was just an all around amazing day to walk around the city one last time.
My last night in Finland was also pretty great. Brittany, Vio and I then headed to Helsinki the night before our flight for one last Finland experience. It was so fun to walk around the capital city. It was a great night to end on, with two very special people.
As I write this post it saddens me even more, because now that I have finished my time overseas, it also means that I have finished my time with this blog! It’s probably kind of silly, but I have really enjoyed writing this blog and sharing my experience with you all. I am definitely going to miss it….and I hope at least 1 or 2 people besides my parents miss reading my random thoughts as well. BUT, it also excites me to see what the future holds and that there possibly is another blog that will be in the making in my near future…getting to share with even more people the crazy and blessed journey that is my life.
During the last few days in Finland, the following saying was one that was said a lot, and has kept the tears somewhat back….”Don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened.” I think this is so true and how I try to live life…positively! Life can be too crazy to dwell on the negatives or sad things in life, but instead, we must focus on the positives. So that is exactly what I am going to do; think of all the great memories and times I had and smile :) There are so many things that I know I will randomly look back on and burst out laughing about. Laughter was a common activity amongst my team, we definitely had a lot of funny moments together. I also couldn’t have asked for a better last few days in Turku. The weather was finally starting to get nice and the sun shining late into the evening; of course, right as we leave!….what a tease Finland! sheesh. ;) Most importantly, I also couldn’t be more proud of this team. Making the playoffs the first year this team was in the league is a great accomplishment and I am so glad I was able to be a part of that. This team really improved as the season went on and showed we could play with the best of them. So I am really happy and proud of that, we definitely deserved to be a playoff team. :)
Thanks again to everyone in Turku that was so kind and hospitable to Brittany and I. Speaking of!!! Brittany, you were an amazing (ridiculous at times) roommate / teammate. We had a lot of fun together and laughed more than I have in a LONG time….especially when the Fins didn’t get our humor. I couldn’t have asked for a better first overseas “partner in crime.” I can’t wait to see you again soon, in a warmer climate! :) haha. Thanks for putting up with all of my odd/weird/craziness, you seriously are the best! :)
It sure does feel great to be home though, and I couldn’t have been welcomed home any better than I was! I honestly have the best family! And a special shout-out to my brother’s girlfriend Andrea, who sweetened my arrival home even more! You are amazing :)
Again, hopefully this is just the first of many journeys ahead….but it is without a doubt going to be a very hard one to beat and has set the standard pretty dang high! It really was a “FINE-land”, as they say ;)
Love and I WILL miss all my Finland/ European loves so much!!!
Until the next journey,