Moi! My name is Renee Arledge and I am from Upper Arlington, Ohio. In August I will have the honor of traveling to Finland and being a Rotary Youth Exchange Student for the following eleven months. Currently I am 16 years old and a sophomore in high school, and so will be spending my junior year abroad. I am very excited to be able to have this opportunity, and hope that it will be the first of many new experiences for me. In my first two years of high school I have been involved in choir, along with various different art classes. I am also a part of my school’s Interact Club. Outside of school I like to do yoga, paint and take photographs, as well as volunteer in my community. I am normally a fairly introverted person, but I have always tried to push myself past my comfort zone. This will be an amazing opportunity for me to continue doing this, as well as meet new people from all around the world. I have always loved to travel and learn new languages; I have also always been interested in other cultures and their arts and I believe that being surrounded by Finnish art as well as European art. While it will be hard to be away, I am thankful to my friends and family for supporting me in this experience. A big thank you also goes to D6690 and Upper Arlington Rotary Club for sponsoring and supporting me in this wonderful and unique opportunity!
October 1, 2017
I found my second host family. I became really good friends with their daughter and I didn’t have a second or third family at the time and her mom said they would be willing to host me and so now they are my second and probably last family. They are so nice and I love them already. It’ll definitely be nice having one of my closest friends as a host sister.
I also made it through the first term at school and through the exams for my classes and I did pretty well. Especially with my Finnish exam. I have also taken up running, it helps me with any stress I have and helps me to stay in the moment. I have made it a goal to run 5K before it gets too cold, so by the end of the month. I eat a lot more in Finland than I do at home so running will also help balance some of the exchange weight. I made a friend a while ago who is helping me with my running, giving me advice and “training” me in a way. It’s a fun way to bond. I have surprisingly made a lot of friends here; I used Be First a lot these first few months. Making friends has been awesome because I get to hang out with them and talk with them a lot and it makes me miss people from back home a lot less because I’m making my own little “family” here.
November 1, 2017
Well I just moved into my second and last host family’s house, after we went to a Club For Five concert; which is very exciting for me. I also have been improving in my finnish and everytime I go shopping or go to the ATM I can do it all in Finnish. This past month was very exciting and very busy. At the beginning of the month I got to go to a birthday party for three of my finnish classmates, we all gathered at someone’s house for cake (which was amazing) and then we all went to this indoor playground called Hoplop, and most of us stayed there for a while and we played and had a ton of fun. The next weekend I went with my friend- and now host sister- to see my now host grandparents in a little town about an hour north-east from Helsinki. We stayed about five days there and we got to go to another town and we went shopping. And we also got to go to Helsinki, where we visited a museum, did some more shopping, and we went to the Hard Rock Cafe (which was actually my first time at one of the famous Cafes). We came back on Wednesday, half way through our autumn break. After we came back I spent the rest of the break, and my birthday, with different friends (both finnish and exchange). School has been going really well for me, and finnish has also been going well. All of my finnish friends get excited when I can say something in finnish, or when I understand something.