Tuesday 24th Nov.
I woke up at 4.30 AM. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel tired. The morning went by fast and soon I was in a train towards Tampere and finally Tikkurila. I’d never gone to the airport by train before, so it was a whole new experience for me. Most of our group were really tired and it could be heard in our conversations while we were eating hamburgers at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport.
On the SAS airplane I and Sanna did the mistake of drinking airplane coffee. It was pure poison and we didn’t feel so well, mentally or physically, after it. Never again. The landing to Copenhagen was scary because I’m not that fond of the sea. It looked like we were landing straight to the waves. Gladly everything went absolutely fine. Everyone else had exams to do while we waited four hours for the next plane to Stuttgart. I walked around by myself for a while but it got boring pretty quickly. Once my friends were ready, everything was funnier. I ended up buying a few magnets and two mugs from the airport. It’s probably the most expensive place in the world, so I regret the magnets a bit. It was really hard to evaluate the prices because they were all in Danish crowns. We were pretty scared that our next plane would be a super small and crappy, but it turned out to be just small. I avoided even looking at the coffee.
Everyone was tired but pretty excited when our plane finally landed. I’d talked to my host Vivien before, but I was still nervous about seeing her and her family. Vivien, her little sister Livkea and mother Silvie were there to pick me up. The conversation sparked immediately. I was a bit scared that my huge suitcase wouldn’t fit in their tiny Smart, but it somehow it did.
I can’t remember anything that happened after that, because I was so tired. All I know is that I went to sleep happy and excited.

Wednesday 25th Nov.

I had familiar Lion corn flakes in the morning. Vivien and I went to school by the local metro/train thing. It was weird to go to school like that. The school was just like any other one. Not that much surprises there. Some boy showed us around before we left to meet the mayor of Ostfildern. My host-mom, Silvie, had previously told me that she works for the mayor. She spoiled me that we’re going to get pretzels and apple juice. The mayor apparently always has those around. And we did have them indeed.
After our visit to the mayor, we left to Stuttgart. There we went to a history museum. It was visually amazing and had a lot of modern technology. It had this amazing floor map that lit up from different areas, when you stepped on it. Our tour guide was this really old guy who kept saying ”Follow me” in an old-man-voice. We found it pretty funny. We got to taste their local little cookies. I think they were called ”the little women” or something like that, because pf their shape. Basically, they looked like breasts. They tasted pretty good though and I ended up with the bag, after everyone had had one, and got to keep them.
Stuttgart was a big city. We had a little walking-tour around the centrum. We saw the castle and the Christmas market and a lot of other cool places. I had my first sausage from the Christmas market, but I was pretty disappointed, when they didn’t give me a bratwurst.
I spent the rest of the evening just eating and getting to know my host family.

Thursday 26th Nov.

We we’re in a German class in the morning. It was pretty boring, since we didn’t quite understand what was going on and no one really explained us. I’m pretty sure I just doodled the whole time in my notebook. The most striking thing I noticed in the classroom was that there were no visible clocks anywhere. It made me feel a bit uncomfortable, but I guess it prevents the students from distractions.
This day was the most boring day of the whole trip in my opinion, because we went to a valve factory called FESTO. When I first stepped in, I could already see how clean and organized everything was. We had to switch shoes and we were given wireless headsets, so we could listen to our guide. She showed us around in the factory, again very clean and organized, and told us about working in there and what they do. They had some very odd systems like timed breaks for just resting and to solve problems. They also had boards where they had to write all the results. If I remember correctly, they were actually timed with an hourglass. I felt like it was a little too systematic. I actually had to leave for a while from the tour, because the noise was really getting on Sanna’s ears and she wanted company. After the basic tour, we went to workshops and just basically twisted wires to weird shapes and tested some valves and how they work. They also showed us one of their robots. We were pretty tired at that point and the shoes had started to rub our feet in the wrong way, so unfortunately, not that many could give their full attention to the work anymore. The food they gave us was really good though.
Late in the evening, we went back to the school for a get together. We ate some finger foods like one of the best paprika chips I’ve ever tasted. We also played board games. A game that was calledScotland Yard, I think, took most of my night. I was playing with Sanna, Saara and two German guys. It was really fun, even though we lost to one of the Germans, who was playing as “Mr. X”. The Scots also spontaneously taught us a Scottish dance.

Friday 27th Nov.

In the morning we went to see an art class with Saara and Aapo. We had fun playing with German Photoshop. The teacher actually thought that we’d used it before, because we were better than the other students. It was weird that we were better, because we had a disadvantage with the language. They could actually understand what they were doing on the computer. At least we had a good laugh when all the completed works were shown to the class.
We were a little late to the International Forum and Tourist Information-part due to the lesson, but we got the hang of it, and managed to understand what was going on. I thought it was pretty fun to discuss about things in English, but I could see many people struggle with it. At least I got a lot out of it and it was good practice to discuss about important topics. Later we went to eat in the school canteen and I was positively surprised about the quality of their school food. Of course, they have to pay for it, unlike us, but it was still delicious.
We actually weren’t that sure of what museum we were going to go see, but were pretty thrilled, when it ended up being a car museum. We had so much fun venturing there, because at least Sanna and I are pretty excited about cars. There was a wall that had a lot of world famous driver’s names on it and we spotted a few Finns here and there. We also went to this machine that replicated the driving experience in a race car. The museum was all in all pretty amazing and definitely the best one of all the three we went to.
We made plans with a few other students to go see a gig in the evening. It was actually a local band. I think Aapo’s host Fabian actually knew them. My host-mom drove me and Vivien there. The band was pretty good, but I think the company made the experience a lot better. I think it was a good and relaxed environment to get to know other people. I actually got to know most of the Italians and a lot of the Germans there. The Estonian guys were pretty much hanging out with us since the beginning. Ah, they were funny guys.
On the way home, I started talking about our last names with Vivien. I explained what mine meant and we continued the same conversation in the kitchen after our arrival. Her mom pointed out that their last name also meant a certain type of forest environment. Long story short, I ended up putting my last name to Google Translator and it turned out that their last name was the German translation I got. We were so creeped out about it and everyone just decided that it must be fate. At some point I think someone started singing “We are family”. Yeah, that’s the story of how I got an almost legit family from Germany.

Saturday 28th Nov.

We went to a museum again. This was about literature and children’s books and drawing etc. We had a fun little workshop, where we cut and colored some moving figurine-things from paper. We also saw a video of what I think was one of the most famous or possibly oldest children’s stories in Germany. It was in German, but at least the illustrations were nice. The building in Esslingen, where the museum was, also had a pretty amazing view. It had just snowed a little over the night, so the city itself also looked like something out of a storybook.
After the museum, we were let loose in Esslingen with our hosts to accomplish some missions. I and Vivien united our forces with a German girl called Jennifer and the Italian girl, Abigail, she was hosting. We went around the city and searched some historical places. I think we actually came last or second last in the whole rally. But at least I got my first bratwurst. Vivien ordered me one that was half a meter long. It was actually good, considering that I’m normally not a big sausage fan. The medieval Christmas market was also beautiful and it was fun to see how even normal people were going around with medieval clothes on.
Vivien went home to rest, because she was getting sick, but I stayed with the rest in Esslingen. We went to eat in Burger King. Later we had to get ourselves home. I didn’t have Vivien with me, so I thought I’d had to survive alone. Fortunately Aapo’s host wasn’t there either and we happened to live a few hundred meters apart from each other. First we had to take a bus from Esslingen to Stuttgart, I think, and then the local train/metro to the part where we lived. It was very confusing, all being in German, but we survived. It was a little scary to go home alone after we had to go on our own ways. We both lived in an area where there are rows and rows of houses that all look the same. Aapo’s was pretty easy to find, but the only way I recognized mine, was because of the Christmas lights they had on their little front yard.
Almost immediately after I got home, I was out of the door again to go eat with Sanna and her host Hannah, who’d become one of my best friends there. Vivien was still pretty sick, so I went alone. Nevertheless, we had pretty fun without her too. I think we ended up talking for over two hours in the restaurant. Hannah’s dad gave me a ride near my home, but I had to find the Christmas lights again.

Sunday 29th Nov.

This was the free day with our hosts. I got to sleep late, which was amazing. Then I had a great breakfast consisting of a roll with a chocolate kiss smashed inside. They actually taught me that and it was in a whole new level compared to my normal morning porridge. By the way, they didn’t even know what porridge was. I found it pretty funny.
We went to play this super fun version of mini-golf, where we were inside these dark rooms with some kind of 3D-glasses on. The walls had neon paintings on them and every room had a different theme. One of them was the ocean, one was superheroes and then the last one had like an enchanted forest theme. I wish they would’ve made the toilets as cool as the other rooms, but they were just plain white. Well, can’t have everything I guess. It was pretty amazing though. I was winning most of the time, but just in the last few holes literally everyone went past me. Sanna and her host family were also there as well as Saara with hers. The other seemed pretty tired, but I had a lot of fun and embarrassed my host sisters by being all in with the parents and their cheering. My host brother Oliver wasn’t there, because he didn’t fit in the car.
When we got home, I finished my other travel diary with the help of Vivien. We had to write in German. I described German to them from my point of view as Swedish on drugs with consonants everywhere. I think they were amused. They actually had a grill-thing that you could stick a tiny pan in. We had potatoes and then a lot of different thinks to stack in the pan and fry on top of them. Germans really eat heavy, because all of then ate over ten pans of food, while I managed about three. Then a few hours later they had more for a night snack.
We had fun, but at the same time we all were pretty sad that I had to leave. Livkea, the little sister of Vivien literally wouldn’t let go of me for the whole night. I think she was about 13 years old. She was so sweet. She still sends me hugs through messages pretty often.
Monday 30th Nov.

I had to wake up super early for the flight again. We had to be on the airport at 4:30 AM. It was so sad to say goodbye, even though I knew that I’d be seeing Vivien again in Finland. My dramatic side got the best of me when we had to separate, but at least I made almost all the escorts laugh with my gestures. I was also almost late from the body search and, as always, was left behind because of the groping they had to perform on me after the scan.
When we arrived in Copenhagen, out connecting flight was cancelled. We were surprised and most were also a little angry about it. I called my dad and he explained about the bad weather conditions that must’ve caused the cancellation. We wondered if we’d be getting home even on the same day. My dad wished me merry Christmas in advance (it was pretty funny). Personally I was okay with everything, because I had nowhere to be on that day. Better to fly only when it’s safe. We got a whopping 100 Danish crowns (about 13€) each as an apology from SAS. Being the most expensive place on earth, eating in the Copenhagen airport cost us over 80€ even with all out coupons.
We ended up waiting for nearly six hours for our flight to Helsinki. Then it was a hustle to buy new train tickets in Tikkurila. Fortunately, all went well and we even had time to dine at Hesburger before our train left. I dropped out in Tampere, because I live closer to it than Vammala. I have no memory of coming home, because I was probably so tired. At least I slept pretty well.
I’m so happy that I ended up going to Germany. I definitely consider that week one of the best weeks in my life so far. I’m trying to save some money, so I can go there again, maybe even this summer.