I returned from Eurotour and my travels around Finland the day before midsummer. I figured that I should be home to celebrate midsummer the Åland way and with my host family, the Mattsson’s. Apparently, this year (and most years) the island way was to sit stubbornly outside eating food from the grill, along with fresh potatoes and herring. To everyone’s disappointment it was quite cold but that didn’t deter people from sitting outside. it was midsummers after all and the number one priority is spending the time outside, rain, hail or shine. During midsummer day, I had the opportunity to help decorate a midsummer pole for my host brother’s judo club and in the evening, we spent midsummer with friends and family before going to watch a midsummer pole being raised.
In the month that followed I witnessed summer through the eyes of one family. We adventured to Judy’s several times, spent far too long on the ferry to Sottunga and then by boat to Marsö, spent a week away at the summer cottage on Furön, where the days consisted of eating far too much, swimming in the brisk ocean and reading (a lot). The week on Furön ended with the annual island summer party, which really just meant more eating, but this time with new people. To start the evening, we had a small challenge game that involved walking around the island to find trivia questions. I was teamed up with my host mum, Sanna, and we did surprisingly well until it came to the flag trivia.
As I approached my moving date, the weather was becoming warmer and warmer… not warm by Australian standards, but warm. That meant swimming, outdoors. We visited several different beaches, again, not quite beaches by Australian standards, but there was sand and water and that was good enough for us. One day we visited the “best beach” on Åland, which can be found in Eckerö. I’m still not entirely sure what makes it the best beach.
On the 22nd of July, I changed families yet again – such is the life of an exchange student. Before the move, my second family decided it would be a great idea to have a summer party and invite all of my host families and my counsellor. It was great to see my families, a group that rarely crossed paths, brought together and enjoying each other’s company. During this event, I introduced them all to Australian style burgers (with pickled beetroot of course) and lamingtons for desert. I’m proud to say that they all loved them and since moving in to my new family they’ve asked me to make them burgers 3 times and lamingtons once
My new family, The Johansson's, has been very welcoming and have showed me another version of what summer is like when you live in this small corner of the world. Surprisingly it involves lots of ice cream, boating and swimming, even though the temperature hasn’t once risen above 23 degrees. Much to my own surprise, it actually wasn’t so cold in the water. My two youngest host siblings (Ella, 8 and Emil, 11), who are obsessed with swimming and jumping in, always try to convince me to join them, or to jump in just one more time. They were especially excited to find out that I have my own swimming pool back home and that the water is almost always warm enough to swim in. I think they might even be planning swimming trip to Australia, in their minds at least.
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