LAPLAND TOUR 2007!!! + MY 17th! :)

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November 30th 2007
Published: December 17th 2007
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Look! Look! Look!

Stephanie and a Reindeer!
Friends. Snow. Huskey Dogs. Snow. Reindeer. Snow. Long bus rides. Snow. Snow. Snow. SNOW! So I spent this last week in Lapland with 130 other Rotary Exchange students! The charter bus picked me and a bunch of other Turku Area exchange kids up at 7:10 Friday, November 31. I met up with Rick (from Illinois) first then Dorothee (from Germany) and Eddy (Mexico) then we met Eric (Germany), Max (America), and Jess (Australia). We headed north, and picked up many more kids on the way. Ellen and Sarah got on in Pori and Nonqaba (South Africa). Ellen and I sat together for a while, Max and Rick sat together behind us, and Sarah, Non, and Jess were in the seats sorrounding us. We talked and got hyper and crazy from all the candy, listened to our ipods, talked some more, we ate junk food, picked up more kiddies and played games like Ten Fingers! At 12am December 1st Ellen yelled to everyone "Its Stephanie's Birthday, lets sing for her", so everyone started singing Happy Birthday in Finnish, then English, then three Spanish versions, then French, then German, then South African, then Italian, then Jess sang in Hebrew!!! It was beyond amazing.
Me and Jess!Me and Jess!Me and Jess!

on the bus!
It was the best birthday morning EVER! I was crazy hyper for a while, but then after a few hours I got tired again and tried to sleep on the floor under Ellen's, Sarah's, Rick's and Non's feet! I slept for an hour or so, but then I woke up because the bus stopped in the Arctic Circle!!! I got my boots on SO quickly and Ellen, Sarah and I ran out side and took pictures near the "Welcome to the Arctic Circle" sign. It was -13 degrees outside, and there was at least 1.5 feet of snow!!! It was really nice to strech our legs though! Anyway, when we got back on the bus I realized it was only 8pm at home so I called and Seany picked up the phone! It was fabulous talking to him, then he gave the phone to Jamsie for a while and we caught up on everything! They were hanging out with Mathilde (my families Danish exchange student!). Seany talked with Ellen for a couple min, and she told him about her plan to marrying him so she could be my relative! haha! I tried to fall back asleep after because it was
Canadian CowboyCanadian CowboyCanadian Cowboy

Woo hoo! jess and i!
only 5am, and we still had hours to go until we arrived at our hotel at 11! Finally when we got there we unpacked and got our room keys. We were the first bus, so we ran outside to meet the other three buses coming from all over Finland. We were finally all back together, after 4 months all the Language Camp Crew (plus MANY more Aussies, an Argentinian, and a South African) was all together. It was great to see everyone again! Erica, Rachel, Sarah, and Bryly (all from America) were my room mates. Hurray room 108! We ate lunch then left right away to Olos Mountian at 3pm (in the dark), to go skiing! Ellen, Sarah, Cheese (Zach, USA), Eddy Mexico, Gaston (Argentina), and I went cross country skiing while everyone else hit up the down hill slopes! I fell in love with crosscountry skiing. It was amazing. It was a little difficult the first time I went down hill, but after that first learning leap I positivly enjoyed it. Cheese, Gaston and I taught Sarah, Ellen, and Eddy, and kept them alive behind us! They were falling all over the place, but laughing all the time! We
Arctic Circle!Arctic Circle!Arctic Circle!

met a woman from Switzerland going the opposite direction which was pretty cool. We stopped at a huge sign covered in snow that said we could continue for 12 km to the Sweden boarder!!!! It was already 4:30, and we had tobe back at the busses at 6 so we turned around and started back to Olos! We had went 4.5 km total! It was great! The dark, snowy scenery was breathtaking, and from time to time Ellen would yell for all of us to stop and not move so we could enjoy the silence. It was snowing the entire time! We got back to Olos by 5:20 so we went sledding for a while, and bought some hot cocoa in the lodge. We caught our bus back at 6 then went straight to Ellen and Sarahs room for snuggle time. I have to say, if youre not an American (or Canadian) exchange student in a country where they dont hug, you may not understand this, but we spent a good two hours snuggling. Hugging, cozying, spooning, talking, more hugging. It was the best. We all really needed it! Then we caught our bus to dinner at an ourside camp

we fell over...and decided NOT to get up!!!
like place. It was an open campfire where we sat on reindeer fur and ate reindeer soup and pancakes! It was cold, but a lot of fun! We caught the bus home pretty quickly then went back to snuggling, then to sleep! DAY TWO LAPLAND TOUR 2007! We woke up at 7:30, ate breakfast, then hit the ski slopes at Olos! We all rented out some ski's or snowboards, and spent the day on the slopes! It was a blast! It was a small hill (compared to like Taos or something), the same size as Sipapu (if you know what I mean), with two surface lifts. Cheese and I spent some time teaching Sarah and Eddy Mexico to ski, then Ellen, Max, Matt, Lane, and I skiied together a while! It was so fun having like 100 exchange students (some stayed back at the lodge and made ice sculptures instead of skiing) owning the ENTIRE mountian! Anywhere you went you would see them!!! It was fabulous! at 11:30 they started surving lunch, so we could stop near this little campfire near the lifts and get some Makkara (sausage), cookies, and hot cocoa! After we more, until we had to pack
yeah those dogs...yeahyeah those dogs...yeahyeah those dogs...yeah

thats steph and dogs
it in at 2:15 to catch the last bus at 2:30! When we got back we went to sauna and the jumped into the snow naked. Which was ffffff...cold by the way. We did it twice though, so it must have been addicting or something, we would get all hot and steamy in the sauna then run to the door and jump into the 2 feet of snow outside and roll around and freeze ourselves, then come back into the warmth of the sauna. We had dinner after then piled into the buses again then headed to a local school where we packed the gym and watched a dance performance/band performance/exchange student talent show/mosh pit/fun time/hug fest. It was awesome. Lots of jumping around and pushing people. And laughing, and ahh just having a good old time. When we got home we snuggled some more, then went to sleep! DAY THREE LAPLAND TOUR 2007 We woke up early again, ate breakfast, then boarded the buses and went on an hour or so drive to the first hotel ever in Lapland, and the nature/visitor center near it. We watched a video about Finland and Lapland in the visitor center then looked around for a while. We bused to go see the reindeer! We went to an old reindeer ranch where an old (so sweet) Lapland lady gave us a tour of her 17th centry home and reindeer ranch. We went outside and acutally got to hand feed the reindeer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! yes. I was EXTREMELY happy. I was so hyper and excited I couldnt believe I was actually going to see the reindeer up close, let alone FEED THEM!!! They were awesome. They are SUCH characters. They have huge feet, to walk on the snow, and big eyes that are always looking in odd directions. I took SO many pictures of them! We bused back to Harriniva for lunch, but on the way Awesome Bus Numero Yksi decided we wanted to run away to Sweden, so we took a short 4 km detour, and ended up on this really huge bridge over a very dangerous looking icy river, the boarder between Finland and Sweden!!!! We pretended we were running away from Finland, and I took the lead with the rest of the bus running behind me toward the boarder! We took many pics there and made funny videos and did the whole half
standing on the boarderstanding on the boarderstanding on the boarder

between Finland and Sweden
in Finland/half in Sweden thing!!! It was so excited! Now I can say I have been to Sweden!!! Ok so THEN we went to eat lunch then Bus #1 (my bus) met outside near the Huskey Dog place. We were first given a tour of the dog's houses and a lesson on what the sleds are used for and how fast they can go, just think, one dog sled can go 200 km in one day! is that not insane? Anyway after our little talk we got into groups of three and four and actually got to ride around on the sleds!!! It was so neat, the dogs were so powerful, and they turned so well, and it was snowing, and it was gorgeous out. When our entire group had had a chance to ride we hiked in the snow for a while until we met up with one of the other groups on snow shoes, we switched with them, so they gave us their snowshoes and then they headed to the huskey sleds. We got our shoes all hooked up, which took a little while considering i was wearing these huge moon boots that actually looked just like astronaut
Reindeer Farm!Reindeer Farm!Reindeer Farm!

yay! so much fun!
shoes! We went for a kilometer or so hike, through the back country of lapland! We were falling ALL over the place, and having a blast! Rick and I were pulling the branches on trees and flinging snow into the air, of course aiming at others, but the piles of snow kept landing on OUR heads instead! It was SO very cold to get snow down my coat! It was getting dark by then (2:45ish haha), but we kept going until we met up again with another group, and gave them our snowshoes. We were guided into a TP thing with a camp fire in the middle. It was freezing by then, I was wearing fleece long underwear and my ski pants and my snow coat, and I was still cold. We hung out for a while singing songs then we went outside and rode the reindeer sleighs!!! In the dark! This was my favorite thing we did the entire time!!! There were three guides dressed in all reindeer skin coats and boots leading us. The group before us warned us that out of the three reindeer we could ride one was really fast, one was really slow, and one
Reindeer and Me!Reindeer and Me!Reindeer and Me!

they seriously rocked!
was crazy and stupid and didnt stay on the track. Max and Mackenzie were in my group, so they got on first, then I basically fell head first into the front of the sleigh. We were laughing so hard we didnt really realize what we were doing until the lapland man leading our reindere hit it on the bum and threw the rope at me! I grabbed it and we started going so fast, I was freaking out and laughing really really hard because we had no idea what to do. We debated for a while if we should use the rope and hit the reindeer to make it go faster, but we decided agianst it (just in case we had the crazy reindeer), and kept going at our slowing pace. Soon Max was screaming and looking behind us because another reindeer sleigh was running after ours!!! It was basically 6 inches from our sleigh, and it made us freak out laughing and it made our reindeer go really fast all the way back to the TP!!! After staying bye to the reindeer and the reindeer men we hiked back on the road to Harriniva for dinner!!! We ate mashed potatoes and (ironically) reindeer. Which (I feel so bad saying this) but it is my favorite food in Finland. It is seriously awesome. So very good. After dinner we had another Rotary "information" in the conference room. The tutors put on skits for us about prior exchange students excuses to being out of their room after cerfew! They were really funny, and all true. They handed out our Poroajokortti (our reindeer drivers liscenses), valid for two years, then we had a suprise visit from a Talent Suomi star! A lapland man (sorry I dont know his name) came in and right away I recognized him from Talent! I yelled it out pretty loud "he's from Talent" and everyone laughed and got really excited! He sang traditional lapland Yoiking songs for us. He didnt speak english, so one of our tutors tranlated for him. He told us that his first song was about trying to get a girl you cant have, then the next one was about his grandson or something, then the next one was about making love, then the last one was about the breeze in the mountians. The tutor did a hilarious job translating, and told us about
Ellen, Chachie and I! Skiing! Ellen, Chachie and I! Skiing! Ellen, Chachie and I! Skiing!

Down hill! Chachie's beard is frozen!!!
"bling" and "tapping" women, it was so funny. It was very cool music though, he got very into it. After we had some freetime before bed, so Rick and I (dodging all the drunk, partying exchange students) went to sit and talk with Lane and Erin and some other (non drunk) exchangees. We sat on this really big bed in Rick's room, and had some real (needed) heart to heart conversations. After we headed to our rooms and slept. YEA FOR SLEEP!!! LAPLAND TOUR DAY 4/5/who really knows anymore: We all woke up at 7, ate breakfast and packed. We said our crazy goodbyes, then Bus number 1, (my bus, yes) left at 9:15 and the others shortly followed. We drove a couple hours to Roveniemi (where Joulupukki lives) and visited the Santa Park!!! We shopped there for an hour then got back on the buses and drove into town, where we ate dinner and said our REAL goodbyes. It was really tough saying bye to the oldies (the aussies, south africans, and an argentinian, who came last january and are now finishing their year this january). They were fabulous mentors for us, and such a fun group of

view from the top of the slope!
kids! We were hurried back onto the bus by our Rotarians, then spent the rest of the trip home singing to old music, watching the Italian Job, Meet the Fauckers (spelling help someone?), and an entire season of Friends. Then we ate snacks, WAY to many cookies, played little kid games, slept, snuggled, did make overs, laughed, and had a jolly good old time. Ellen got off in Pori with Non, and I was SO sad to see them go! I will see Ellen again OF COURSE..but Non...ahh! She is my amazing South African older sister, AND her dad owns a pineapple farm! 😊 When we got home to turku at 4am Eric, Rick, and I caught a ride home with our Rotary president, who dropped Rick at the airport to catch his plane to the Aland Islands, Eric home, then me home last. I went inside, left my bags near the door, walked upstairs and fell asleep...TO BE CONTINUED... (next blog.) (MORE PICTURES COMING!!! AND VIDEOS!!!)

Additional photos below
Photos: 27, Displayed: 27


Texas, Washington and ITexas, Washington and I
Texas, Washington and I

together again!!! woo hoo!
Matt and IMatt and I
Matt and I

Crosscountry Skiing!Crosscountry Skiing!
Crosscountry Skiing!

i fell in love with it! the BEST exercise in the WORLD!!!
Snuggle TIME!!!Snuggle TIME!!!
Snuggle TIME!!!

Sarah, Ellen, and I!!!
Outside Dinner!Outside Dinner!
Outside Dinner!

it was SO much fun! Reindeer stew and the campfire! "aww. now my reindeer fur is getting cold" -rick

Rick and I chillin in Ellen and Sarah's room!
More Snuggle TIME!!!More Snuggle TIME!!!
More Snuggle TIME!!!

Sylvia and Sarah (Canada), Steph and Rick (America).

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