Hei! Mun nimi on Irene, oon Italiasta ja oon ollut vaihto-oppilas Porkkalan lukiossa tänä vuonna. I came to Finland in August and I was meant to stay for the whole year, but unfortunately my experience ended a bit earlier due to coronavirus. Now I have been back home for a month already and had time to reflect on what this special time meant for me.
Living this unpredictable situation away from home was confusing, and it got worse exactly in the week I was on a trip enjoying Lapland, to then get, two days after its end, the news that all exchange programs had been cancelled and we were soon being sent home. It’s very frustrating to end this way and imagine how everything that should have gone differently, not be able to do stuff that I had waited for, or experience the long waited summer, strengthen some relationships and complete the experience as it should’ve been, but there still is plenty of stuff that did happen that I am grateful for. And, of course, this will end, and I hope Italy and the other countries will soon reopen their borders so we can travel again and I can be back to visit, and I hope new exchange students can come there and be welcomed as nicely as I was!
My time in this country and lukio has been a rush of emotions, discoveries, enthusiasm, confusion, happiness and sadness together (that I think, in my clear non-Finnishness I always expressed very openly) that eventually made me change a lot and reconsider a lot of things in a different way.
I will thank endlessly all the teachers, the principal, my friends and all the people who talked to me even only once for everything: for kindly introducing me to a culture I did not know enough about and being curious about mine and about myself, for helping me when I needed to not minding the language barrier, for being patient with my broken Finnish or switching to English with me, for making me try and experience plenty of new stuff. I never felt left alone and I’ll remember all the people I met in this beautiful and very different country from mine, who really showed me how big the world is.
Suomi on aina sydämessäni!
– Irene Altavilla