Hi, my name is Marianna and I am an exchange student from Italy. My new life began a month ago when I took a plane from Milan to Helsinki. This is the bravest thing I’ve ever done in my life and I don’t regret it for any reason. I admit that the first days have been very hard for me: I missed my family and friends a lot and I was struggling to make new friends in my school. But now I’m starting to fit in here, finally. I decided to do the exchange year because I needed a big change in my life: new people, new air and possibilities. Until now my experience has been beyond all expectations.
Helsinki is very different from my hometown. I live in a small village near Venice and moving to a big city like Helsinki was a challenge for me because I’m not used to city life. Here in Helsinki, there are a lot of opportunities that I don’t have in Italy, starting with school. The Italian school system is a little bit different from the Finnish one: for example we have to choose the high school based on what job we want to do after school, but we can’t choose our own schedule for the week because we have mandatory subjects.
I really like the Finnish school because students become independent earlier and learn how to manage their time better. In Italy people become truly independent when they start university or start to work; here, instead, also children are independent from their parents and that’s amazing for me.
Relationships with Finns, also, are very complicated. Finnish people are very shy in the beginning, so the first weeks I didn’t know if my classmates were really interested in me. I just had to talk to them every day and now I have my group of friends. However, one of my biggest challenges is the language. Finnish is very different from Italian, English and the other European languages so it’s completely new for me. I really hope to learn it because this is my only chance to study such a language and I don’t want to waste it. I am really happy to have the opportunity to live a year in Helsinki and I am sure I will do my best to discover Finnish culture and customs.
Teksti: Marianna Faggin, AFS exchange student at Oulunkylän yhteiskoulu
Kuva: Eleonora Zancanaro