Driving 5300km, 7-9h hours a day, 10 days total. I must admit, it gets quite exhausting after you´ve been sitting in the car for days and days. Rough, but also the best spontaneous trip I´ve ever done. I would recommend it to anyone, given that you´ve got a drivers licence :D. So what me and my friend have been up to is that we drove up the west coast of Finland, to Vasa, then to Rovaniemi and then crossed Sweden to Narvik in Northern Norway. From there we drove to Å in Lofoten and then up to Tromsö and Alta in the north. During the finale day in Norway we went up to Nordkapp, the northernmost point of Europe, and then down to Skoganvarre, Kuusamo, Savonlinna and finally back home to Ekenäs.

We stayed in hostels mostly, but also in hotels and other kinds of accomodations. Some where better and some weren´t that good XD. For instance in Ballstad in Lofoten we had an entire cabin for ourselves, but no electricity after 10 pm :P. It was freezing cold outside and with no electricity we had no heating either. So we just had to manage sleeping in freezing temperatures... Another interesting hostel was the one in Tromsö. There we had to share a dormitory with other people. There was a German guy who was travelling the world, an Australian hippie, a British nerd and a Korean guy that didn´t say a word. Even though the Korean guy was shy, he decided to play games with me and woke up to my alarm in the morning just to get the shower before me XD. And there he spent a good 45 minutes before he decided that it was my turn. The German guy decided to boil eggs in the kitchen without turning the fan on, so the fire alarm went off early in the morning... I took my jacket and started making my way out of the building, but got stopped when we found out that there was no real danger :D. So yeah, the hostels were of different qualities. Tromsö was a nice city though XD.

Lofoten was absolutely the highlight of the trip. Not even in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that a place could be that beautiful. Like, WOW!!! We did a short hike in Festvågtinden, overlooking the town of Henningsvaer (pictures below), which was actually quite dangerous. There wasn´t really a designated trail for the hike, just a steep rocky mountain, where we had to try and find our own path. We climbed the Festvågtinden and up there was beautiful small crystal clear lake, absolutely stunning. After we had made our way down the mountain safely, the trip continued to Reine and Å. The view over Reine was after maybe Glenorchy in New Zealand the most beautiful view I´ve ever seen in my life. It´s so hard to believe that those beautiful places are this close to where I live :). I think the other highlight was Nordkapp. There was a big museum and the famous monument that marks the top of Europe there. I have some pictures of that below :)

The long drives in Northern Norway never got boring. There was always something new to see and something new to experience. Even the weather was on our side. Blue sky as far as the eye could see everyday in Norway. Even though everything sounds perfect, we had some rather dangerous speedbumps too. For instance driving for 5 hours straight without eating anything, and when we finally get to a restaurant, they don´t even give us the menu. We sat there for 30 minutes without even knowing if there was anything for us to eat. The waiter just told us to wait. XD... A couple of days after that we were inches from driving straight into a reindeer. Another time we drove 25km in the middle of the forest with the fuel meter on zero. A third time we lost the oil lid for the car without noticing it, and drove for 6 hours without it. Lucklily we found a car service store where they sold a new one for 15 euros :).

So yeah, a trip with ups and downs but certainly worthwhile. Not too expensive and a true adventure I will never forget. What´s next on my bucket list? In the near future I´d love to go and visit my friend Jasmine in Italy, see my host brother Luk in Switzerland and do a long hike in Iceland. It´s a big world, but now I can at least strike Northern Norway and Lapland off the list :D.

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New times, new life, new adventures. I would like to say that my life is back to normal, but when is life actually "normal". I´ve been on two major adventures during the past year and I have sure enough noticed that life is always unique. Constantly, we ge thrown into new situations, not knowing how to handle them. Maybe we don´t always have to handle them. Maybe it´s better to just go with the flow and live a little. I once again decided to write a short post, mostly to give my international friends an insight on what I´ve been up to, but also for the joy of writing in itself.

My time is right now occupied with studying, studying and more studying. I have my matriculation examinations in history and Finnish in two weeks and I´m doing everything to get myself properly prepared. During the summer I have mostly been working and spending time with my friends, and now it´s time to widen my horizons with new knowledge and new adventures.

I love always having something to look forward to. Therefore, I´ve been planning my next trip now for a couple of weeks, and it´s soon going to become reality. I´m going with one of my best friends on a road trip through Finland to Lapland and northern Norway. In ten days´ time we are going to see as much of the most northern part of Europe as possible, including Lofoten, Tromsö and Nordkap. I couldn´t be more excited about this trip, and can´t wait to finally be off.

So how does one do it? How do you live on the other side of the world, move back, move out again, just to come back to little Ekenäs and start a new life from scratch? Good question, I haven´t figured that one out myself yet. But what I do know is that the learning curve is tremendously ambiguous. It´s not possible to be on cloud nine for 12 months straight. It´s a question of adapting yourself to new environments, and learning to let life live itself. It is absolutely possible to be in control of your own life, but it´s impossible to control what happens around you. That´s why I think it´s important for us to accept our own obliviousness and not worry too much about what happens around us. In order to live a stable life we need to develop ourselves and not let our surroundings affect us negativly. We are all unique and the environment plays its part in shaping us, but we should never let it control us.

In order for you to adapt to new environments, it´s vital to be yourself and live a social life. The only way of developing yourself is by not being dependent of anyone else and by doing your own thing. Surround yourself with people you love, and people who like you for who you are. That is the only right way of actually adapting yourself to new situations and finding the best kind of new people. to make friends with. That is what I´m trying to do, and what I´m trying to stick to.

This was a little bit deeper topic than usual, but hopefully you managed through it all :P. I´ll probably post something again after my trip to Norway. Below are some pictures from the last couple of months :)

"If you live an ordinary life, all you'll have are ordinary stories. You have to live a life of adventure."



This is it! My last blog post, the end of my journey. I am right now sitting on my air mattress, awaiting my departure back to Ekenäs. A day full of emotions and gratitude. Oh my gosh what a thrill I´ve had. I´m going back to Ekenäs as an entirely new person with memories that last forever. Not a day will go by without me thinking about the wonderful friendships I´ve made and the memories we´ve made together.

During these exchanges I´ve learned about what it takes to live by myself and all responsibilities that come with it. I´ve for instance learned how to take care of myself, cook my own meals everyday, handle my downs and lows, and above all; appreciate every single thing in life. Of course I´ve in addition to all these things also improved my language skills, but when it comes down to it, that hasn´t actually been my priority. Experiencing and learning have both worked out coherently together, which has been awesome. I´ve had the thrill of my life and at the same time improved both my Finnish and my English skills. Couldn´t have been better!

It´s weird that everything is coming to an end. When I left for New Zealand my life changed completely. I was really happy with my life in Finland at the time, and I was forced to start a new life from scratch. When I really started to feel like I fit in 100%, I was ripped out of that life to go back to Finland, expecting my old life to be waiting for me. I was going back to Ekenäs overjoyed. Soon I realized though that my old life was long gone and everything really crashed around me. My exchange in Hämeenlinna was on the doorstep, and I was on the brink of a mental breakdown. I came here with mixed feelings, not really knowing what to expect. On my first days here I met a couple of wonderful exchange students. Little did I know that they would change my view on life completely. Our acquaintances became friendships and soon we had a little squad of our own. The group grew and more wonderful people started making my everyday life so much better. They´ve really inspired me and shaped me to be the person that I am today. I don´t think I´ve ever grown this much mentally as I have these last couple of months. And today I am going back home, ready for my next adventure. There is no going back to my old life, and that is absolutetly not what I want. I am looking forward to starting a new life again in Ekenäs with my beautiful old friends back in the picture.

My friends are graduating on Saturday, while I still have one year left of school. It´s going to be a great day, and I am really happy for all of them. Of course it´s going to be weird to go back to school after summer, but I´m sure it´s going to be fine, given that I have awesome friends there. It has definitely been worth it, and I would recommend this to everyone. I now have friends for life all around the globe and I have no regrets. There have been ups and downs, but everything paid off in the end. Thank you everyone for making this journey amazing!

"Exchange isn´t a year in a life, it´s a life in a year"



Happy Easter everyone!

It´s hard to imagine that my exchange year will be over in just a little over a months´ time. I've developed as a person tremendously and I´m really starting to find myself and realise who I want to be as a person. Life is a journey of endless experiences that ultimately shape and lead us to who we want to be. There is only one way to go, and that is forwards. Still, it is up to each and every one of us to choose wich path we want to take. We are the masters of our own fates, and we shouldn´t rely on anyone else to choose which paths to follow. Friends and family will always be there to help and guide us through both good and bad times, but it is only by our own commitment that we can truly find lasting happiness in life.

My exams are over and my life is starting to get back on track. I have met some beautiful new people in Hämeenlinna, and I´m so grateful that they have become a part of my life. From exchange students to former exchange students to plain Finns. You probably know who you are and I would like to thank all of you that have made my months in Hämeenlinna awesome :D! Even though I´ve been speaking English a lot with the exchange students, I really do hope that my Finnish language has developed to some extent. At least all my matriculation examinations and such are finally over so I can focus 100 percent on language studies. It is hard to stay away from exchange students cause they are always the people who are the most social and understanding. I love all of them. There is no doubt about the fact that you have to possess a certain kind of bravery to go on an exchange. I admire everyone who does it, since it really changes who you are and makes you open your eyes to what life is truly about.

I love setting goals for myself. Always having something to strive for makes me feel like life has some kind of meaning. I want to constantly make myself a better person and learn to see life from different angles. I´ve discovered that travelling is what I love to do and that´s why I always love to have a new trip to look forward to. Of course I aspire to be a lawyer and have a family and all that, but in my oppinion setting smaller milestones for yourself on the way is cruical to live a good and healthy life. Making plans for 10 years in the future is absurd.

My next thing I have thought about doing is some kind of longer hike. I´ve looked up the "Laugavegur trail" in Iceland and it really looks fantastic. People always say they want to travel while they are still young, but they don´t realize that they are young now! Never say no to an opportunity! You won´t be young forever and if travelling is what you want to do then do it. Planning for the future is as I already said a bad idea, plans can change and disappointment is inevitable. Money shouldn´t be a problem. Money is just a number on your bank account. You can always work for your money if you really want to do something. The only problem is the set of one´s mind.

I´ll post some pictures of my last couple of weeks in Hämeenlinna and from the amazing "Laugavegur" track I would like to do below. Someone keen? :P



Hello again everybody! I must admit that it´s been a while since my last post. Considering the fact that I´m back in good old Finland, there hasn´t really been anything interesting to write about :/ I would like to say that everything is back to normal, but it really isn´t...

There is a lot of stuff going on in my life right now. I have for instance just started out with my matriculation examinations in eg. English, and moved out of town to the Finnish-speaking city of Hämeenlinna. I´m staying here with my friend Riku to improve my skills in the Finnish language and become more independent as a person. I´ve decided to keep writing blog posts maybe once a month to keep all my friends and family in New Zealand (and all around the world) updated on what I´m doing. Blogging is a tough habit to break :P. I´m very grateful for all the postive response I got for my blog while I was in New Zealand, so I decided to keep on going :). Atleast until June when my exchange ends...

So have I integrated back into my culture? Yeah, I guess so... I never actually felt any kind of "culture shocks" or whatever they´re called! Maybe they´re nothing but myths, I actually don´t know. However, I need to be honest! If I could go back to New Zealand or even go back to the time before my exchange I really would. Before and while I was there I felt so happy about everything. To put it another way, I felt blessed of all the wonderful things I had in my life. My life has now taken a turn and it feels like it is falling apart... I´m stressed about my exams, stressed about my car license, stressed about being in a new town with limited friends, I´m still sad about my grandmother´s passing (which I still haven´t processed), my friends going off to other schools, and other problems with people I really love :(. I really hope that these bad times are followed by better times cause I´m really not feeling too well at the moment. Luckily, I have lovely people around me who help me as much as they can to get me back on track.

I´m right now sitting in mine and Riku´s newly furnished flat, wondering how I´m going to get used to this "new" life. We´ve got everything we need here and I really can´t complain about the company either... So yeah, most people would probably say that we are living the student dream or whatever, but considering the circumstances, I´m not really enjoying it at the moment. Now I just need to focus on speaking and connecting with other people and hopefully establish some good friendships :). Below are some pictures of the last few weeks, including pictures of our flat, our "penkkis" day and general pictures from Hämeenlinna.

“Never regret yesterday. Life is in you today, and you make your tomorrow.”



(Written a couple of weeks ago)

I´m back in Finland, Christmas has passed, and everything is back to normal. It doesn´t even feel like I left my front door. It is overwhelming to look back at all the things I´ve done during the past 5 months. It feels like a dream that I´ve now woken up from. I´ve climbed up the rabbit hole and where am I now? Back in the arms of my girlfriend, in the comfort of my family, and the amazing atmosphere of my friends. I have nothing to complain about. I loved every single second of New Zealand, and now I´m going to enjoy every single moment of winter in my home country Finland. I just need a little bit of snow and then everything is perfect :D

So we have celebrated Christmas and all that, but I´m not here to write about what I do in Finland, so I´m just going to leave that out. I have some pictures from our Christmas celebrations down below if someone would like to have a look... This post is mainly here to conclude my blogging in New Zealand and say thank you to everybody who has read my posts. I am grateful for this amazing opportunity and I´m sure it´s going to benefit me in the future. I´ve certainly broaden my perspective on life and my understanding on different cultures. The Kiwi culture was something really unique (both the "Pakeha" and the "Maori" perspectives), and it has truly become my second nature.

Of course I will miss all my friends in New Zealand, but I´ve realized that I just need to be thankful for the time that we were given together and now point my goals elsewhere. Thank you Lyn, Bruce and Barry for being the best hostparents possible. Thank you Luk for being a brother and one of my best friends. Many thanks to Sian and her family for being like my second family and my best friends!

I would definitely recommend exchange to everybody! It is the perfect opportunity to experience something new and experience a new culture! There are only a couple of downsides, but millions of benifits! So, DOOO IT!!!! If anybody has any questions about exchanges, I´m more than happy to answer them for you. So once again, thank you!



Hey guys! This is an extra post that I should have posted months ago, but haven´t been able to. So when I was down the South Island I did lots of things that you might have read about. Two activities that you haven´t read about are my skydive and my bungy jump :D. I did my skydive up in Motueka and my bungy jump at the Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown. New Zealand is famous for bungy jumping and the bungy at K-bridge in Queenstown is the first ever bungy that is open for everybody. Even though both of these activities were very expensive, I don´t regret doing them at all :D

Skydiving... I can´t believe I´ve actually jumped of a plane :O! Everything went so fast! From the moment I got dressed in my suit to the moment I jumped of the plane felt like minutes. And guess what! I was first to do it XD. They instantly led me to my tandem jumper and to my camera guy and started filming me :D. I got dressed and then they led me to the small plane that we were going to use, and it was crooowded. I didn´t even have space to sit properly. I had to lay down in another guys lap in order to fit in to the plane. We flew around for like 15 min with a view of the Abel Tasman National Park and then my tandem jumper opened the doors and told me to lean forwards facing nothing but the clouds. I curled my legs around his and then he let go of the plane. Our legs flew forwards and in a second or two my legs were above my head. My tandem jumper had decided that we were going to do a backflip!!! :O. I felt sick, but there was no stopping now... We flew down through the clouds and soon I spotted the ground. We free fell for about 45 seconds, even though it felt more like 15... :P Before I knew about it, the parachute was out and we were slowly gliding down towards the ground. It took about 10 minutes before we finally were just a couple of meters above the ground. He told me to put my legs up in a sitting position, and then we hit the ground! That was my first ever skydive :O What a thrill! Pictures below :P

And bungy jumping :O. Jumping of a bridge into the river head first 43 meters :D! I stood on this wooden plateau with the entire bungy rope´s weight pulling me forwards. They counted to five and told me to jump. I jumped right away without waiting or having any second thoughts, and felt the ground coming closer and closer to me every millisecond. It took a couple of seconds for me to hit the water surface, and then I flew back probably 20 meters up in the air. After they´ve let me swing there for a while they then untied me from the rope and dropped me down on a small boat that took me back to land. I am proud that I jumped straight away and didn´t wait for like 5 minutes that some of my friends did :P. Proved my non-cowardice and it looked good on camera XD.

Both activities were awesome and I would definitely recommend both of them! Loved every second of them!



I am right now sitting in the plane from Dubai to Stockholm, feeling very tired due to the long flights and the time differences. The flight from Auckland to Dubai alone was about 17h long... I think I slept for a couple of hours but I am actually not sure :P. I am very bad at sleeping in planes so I thought I would write about my last days in New Zealand instead :D

This Wednesday, me, Luk, Riku, Bruce and Barry went for a road trip up to Northland, in other words, the part of New Zealand that is on the peninsula north of Auckland. We went there mainly to visit Cape Reinga (the northernmost point of NZ), where the Tasman sea meets the Pacific ocean. The drive was hell but it was definitely worth it. I got some very good photos of the scenery around the coast and the beautiful lighthouse at Cape Reinga. We also went to the sand dunes by Ninety Mile Beach, which was a total surprise for me. I didn´t even know there were any sand dunes in New Zealand :P. Many people go sandboarding there but we just went there for the view :D. Standing there on top of the hills of sand, it really felt like being in some kind of a desert. I took some really great photos of both me, Luk and Riku. Can´t wait for you to see them :D.

As you might have noticed, I haven´t shared any of my videos with you guys :D. I´ve actually made a film with both pictures and videos that I might share on facebook at some point :P. It´s about 50 minutes long though, so nobody would probably watch through the entire thing, haha ^^. I have been working on this film for weeks and I just finished it a couple of hours ago. I can´t wait to share that with you either :D.

So what am I feeling right now...? I´ve said goodbye to all my friends and the beautiful wonderland of New Zealand, and now I have a new adventure ahead of me! Spend time with my friends and family before I go to Hämeenlinna with Riku. That is my adventure right now, and that is what I am going to focus on. I have to prepare myself for my matriculation examinations too, but right now, I am going to prioritize my loved ones. I am feeling both sad and happy, I can´t wait to see everybody again, but I am certainly going to miss everyone in New Zealand. Thank you Lyn, Barry, Bruce and Luk for being the best hostfamily ever, and thank you Sian for being the best friend possible! I will truly miss all of you!

I am just going to write a couple of more posts before I might have a small break with my blogging :), I am going to cover how it feels to be back home and stuff like that, and then my next post will probably before I go to Hämeenlinna. Well, thank you again for reading everybody :D.

"Tane Mahuta". The biggest Kauritree in New Zealand



My amazing journey is soon coming to an abrupt end... It has truly been educational, and has probably been the most adventurous time of of my life :D. I must say that I am having mixed emotions about leaving due to my immense love for this country. I can´t really say that I am not looking forward to going home, because that would be a lie. I am really looking forward to seeing my wonderful girlfriend, my friends, and my family again. I have experienced so much during these 5 months that I am really starting to get ready for my next journey back in Finland. More about what I am feeling about going home in my next post, because this post is going to be about something quite different :).

One thing that many people back home might not realise is that it is summer in New Zealand right now. As we all know, Christmas i approaching very quickly, and so is it in New Zealand. In other words, they don´t celebrate Christmas with all the winter traditions, instead they might have a barbecue at the beach or something like that XD. Yesterday there was a Christmas parade in my town, but I still can´t get the Christmas feeling as I usually have in December. It would surely be very interesting to experience Christmas here, but for me, I´m quite happy to go back home for the holidays :D.

I am still going to have my hostfamily try out "glögg" before I leave :D. It is one of my favourite things about Christmas, so I am happy that I can share a little bit of the Finnish Christmas with my hostfamily. Of course it´s not the same to drink glögg in the heat of summer as in the cold of winter, but still... :D. I´ve already had them try out "salmiak", and at least Luk wasn´t a very big fan, so it will be interesting to give them a sample of something else :D

As I told you, yesterday there was a Christmas parade here in Paeroa, which was actually quite nice. Many companies and corporations joined in, even though it might just have been for the free advertising :P. The parade was packed with kids, which was good, because they really seemed to enjoy it. I have some pictures of the parade below!

Another thing I thought I would mention is that Bruce´s daughter invited us to have a tour around TV NZ in Auckland. You see, she works there as some kind of an editor or something and she was directing the news at 6 o'clock that day. We had the opportunity to watch her doing her work and we also actually got to sit in the studios live when they recorded the news. That was something really unique that not everyone gets to experience, so I am very grateful that Bruce took us up there :D.

Alrighty, this was one of my last posts in New Zealand. I will still blog after my trip up to Cape Reinga and after I´m back in Finland, but for now, goodbye :D



Less than 3 weeks left until I return back to Finland :O. I can´t imagine that 5 months have passed this fast. My wallet is in pain, but with very good reason... I have seen much more of New Zealand than I have even seen of my own country Finland. I have only one more place I want to go to before I feel ready to go home, Cape Reinga. I want to visit the famous light house at the top of NZ and look to the horizon where the two oceans meet.

This weekend we drove down to Wellington, the capital of NZ, with my organisation. The weather left a lot to be desired, with rain pouring down and wind almost blowing us away. Wellington is actually nicknamed "Windy Welly", due to its constant wind. Even though the weather wasn´t the best, I really enjoyed it all. The bus trip down there was about 8 hours, which was more than enough to see the countryside XD.

In Wellington we got a guided tour around the "beehive" (the parliament building), rode up the hill in a cable car, and went to the "Weta Caves" studios. Luk and I also got to meet our Norweigan friends that we met down the South Island :D. It was very nice to see them again after a couple of months. We are planning to do a reunion in Switzerland in a couple of years, so I can´t do much more than hope that that will actually happen :/

The highlight of the trip was certainly the Weta studio tour :O. For you guys that don't know what the place is, it is the studios where they made all the costumes for eg. The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, District 9 and Avatar. With an experienced guide, we got to see all the original costumes and props that they used for all the movies. With me being a LOTR fan and all, it was really extraordinary to see all the original swords and pieces of armor that they actually used in the movies. With all the props belonging to the different movie companies, we didn´t own the rights to take photos of them, which was a shame :/.

Another place we visited in Wellington was the Te Papa national museum. One exhibition was very interesting in particular... Weta studios had cooperated with the museum to make these huge statues of soldiers from the first world war (pictures below). So all in all it was a very nice trip and I got to see much more of the North Island. If you want to see what way we drove down, you can click on the link below and follow my journey :D Thank you again for reading!