Our own lovely Jenni from Finland is about to finish her year abroad, hosted by Southtowne Rotary and shared her experiences today.

Jenni says this has been the best year of her life. She left for Eugene on August 5th and started the biggest adventure of her life. She looks at a picture from one year ago and realizes how much she changed.

Before she came she had an orientation camp in New York. She met the other exchange students from Finland. She saw the Empire State Building, a broadway show, and many other cool things.

During her year, she had three AMAZING how families. Lallie and Steve McKenzie were her first family. Her second host family was Charlie and Sanice Wilshire – Charlie was her cross country ski coach. Her current host family is the Ball family and she was able to live with one of her best American friends who is also now an exchange family. She can now say she has four families.

She’s collected over 14,000 images and tons of “stuff” over the course of her year.

Jenni participated in lots of sports as it is a really good way to make friends and get to know people. She played soccer in the fall and then cross-country skiing in winter and lacrosse in spring. Skiing was the easiest because she knew how but the other sports were quite new, especailly Lacrosse.

She’s traveled so many places while in America including Seattle, Portland, and Oregon Coast and all over Oregon and especially to Florida for Thanksgiving with her host family including Disney World!

Jenni loved meeting exchange students from all over the District both inbound and outbound and during the meetings, she really made a lot of friends from all corners of the world. When she goes home she will be able to say she knows people from all over the world.

She really loves school especially IOP (Integrated Outdoor Program) where she was able to do hiking, biking, rock climbing, etc. She especially loved Smith Rock and rafting/camping.

She loved celebrating the holidays especially Halloween which isn’t really celebrated in Finland like it is here. Christmas was really hard because she missed her family a lot.

She was able to go to lots of Rotary events like the duck race and one of our Actor’s Cabaret performances.

She has been able to come to Rotary every week and she loves seeing everyone and is always looking forward to it.

She loved going to two Ducks games with Deanna and with Kate. She loved going to prom, which does not exist in Finland. She went with lots of friends and had a lot of fun.

Jenni feels she has grown up and learned independence and many things about other cultures and has gained lots of self confidence and not to mention all the friends. She goes home in one month. It will be harder to go back than it was to come here.

She will definitely come back. 🙂

She wanted to say thank you to everyone who made the year possible and made her dreams come true.