Saturday, July 31, 2010

My last week. wow.

Well, since today is basically over, it means I'm only 6 days away, right? ;)
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm leaving on August 7th, and my itinerary did change.
Leaving Moline, Illinois at 11:30am > Arriving in Chicago, Illinois at 12:22pm and leaving at 2:00pm> Arriving in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 4:57pm and leaving at 8:25pm > Arriving in Frankfurt, Germany at 10:20am on August 8th and leaving at 2:25pm > Arriving in Helsinki, Finland at 5:45pm... spend a week at the language camp in Karkku, Finland > catch a ferry ride to Tallinn on August 14th.
So, if you're good at telling times from around the world, you will know what I'm doing, whether it be wondering aimlessly in an airport, flying, landing... or possibly making awkward conversation with strangers about my blazer or Estonia. :s

I'm sorry if you're reading this blog, expecting to learn so much about a country unknown to basically every American. I mean, this blog is all about my year in Estonia, but I just don't have any Estonian experiences, yet. But, you can read all about the up's and down's of this exchange fairly soon. :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Today has been such a hectic day. Last week -maybe last week? I'm not sure with time during the summer, now especially, it just seems to be slipping through my fingers. ANYWAYS! Today and yesterday, my mom and I have been running around trying to schedule vaccinations, calling the travel agent and the Estonian consulate, opening my new international bank account, buying new clothes, visiting the grandparents -it's exhausting!

For any outbounds to Estonia during 2011-2012, I really hope you have an easier time than I have. Seriously, the application for the Residence Permit is crazy!

Since my travel agent has never dealt with Estonian students before, she can't help with much. So I've just been winging this whole thing. Though, I have asked the head of the consulate... he's not exactly sure, either. Dang. But! I was given the number of some guy. Apparently he is from Estonia, but he now teaches at the University of Illinois in Chicago, and visits Estonia twice a year. I have yet to call him, but I heard him and he speaks Estonian sooo fast! Before I sound like some crazy stalker of Estonian men, please let me explain. When I was on the phone with the head of the consulate (Mr. Harkna) He starting calling Dr. Soot (the Estonian man..who teaches) and they were chatting in Estonian. I just stood there with the phone in my hand, looking so puzzled and confused, not knowing what to do. at all. xD Oh, this is going to be fun year! hahaha.
Tomorrow I was supposed to have an appointment with Mr. Harkna at the consulate, but I guess it's not happening now. Possibly next week, but since he called me apparently I don't need to. Dang, I wanted to visit Chicago and the Finnish town up there.

Oh! Itinerary!
So this is only tentative. It can be changed whenever and however.
My journey will start in Moline, Illinois on August 7th. I don't know what time, though. I don't think it will be super early, though. :)
After Moline, I'll fly to St. Louis. Still, not knowing when I arrive or how long of a layover.
I'll leave St. Louis at 1:46pm to go to Philadelphia, arriving at 5:05pm.
From Philadelphia at 8:25pm to Frankfurt arriving at 10:20am on August 8th. I know, gross. An overnight flight. I'm guessing I'll have to sit next to some little kid or baby. Just watch, just watch. I'll be that sucker. bleh.
And from Frankfurt at 2:25pm I'll finally make it to Helsinki at 5:45pm on August 8th.
Now, you may be thinking, "Marina, I'm finding some conflict in this. Helsinki is in Finland, not Estonia" And I will answer that possible thought. :)
I'm staying in Finland for one week to go to language camp. When I arrive in Finland, I will be grouped up with the other Rotary students and we will be driven to Karkku, where the language camp will be held. After the camp, me and the 5 other exchange students going to Estonia (I know! there's only 6 Rotary kids, worldwide, going to Estonia!! crazy! :D:D) we're going to be driven to the sea port in Helsinki to catch a ferry to Tallinn Estonia on August 14th! Oh, just to throw this in here.. The water between Helsinki and Tallinn is the most traveled waterway in the world! Every hour, 2 ferries leave. :) And it's just a 2 hour ride. relaxingggg.
In Tallinn, we will meet our new families and go home with them. My new home is 55km from Tallinn, so not a long drive :) (so what is that? about 30miles or so? I think so.)
Exciting! xD

Monday, July 5, 2010

33 days

I know. I shouldn't really be counting the days, but I can't help it. I'm too excited! I don't really know what to expect, but since I've talked to my host family, I relaxed a bit. They are really the sweetest people. They speak English with me, and I attempt to type Estonian. Though, they make many mistakes, it's still easy to understand them. :)
I'm very lucky to be staying with them.

I still haven't made many pins. In total I think I've made 10 so far.. haha. FAIL!
I decided I take the pins my sister didn't take for her exchange in Mexico. They are the beaded safety pins that look like American flags. Well, we have about 15 of those left. But I decided to be a little different with mine. I bought ribbon... that looks more like the French flag. None the less it's red, white and blue! Then I will glue a penny and pin to it. I made it sound really, really lame. which is kind of is. But! They will look kind of cool.... maybe.

I leave for Grand Rapids, Michigan in 3 days. My parents and I will stay at Calvin College and attend meetings. yay? Yes, yay, indeed! Grand Rapids is so much fun. I'm happy I will be able to meet new people, get more advice, meet some Fins, and see my travel agent again. Hopefully she will have figured something out by now! I just hope that I won't have to get into Estonia late..

I've realised just now. I still have so much to do in 33 days!! I still need to get my vaccines, buy some new clothes, soaps, make pins, hang out with friends, have a going away party which I really don't want to have, -PACK! gosh. I need to get on it.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

37 Days.

As you can guess from the title, I have 37 days left in the great ole' U S of A. It's kind of a bitter sweet feeling. While looking on the bright side, I see myself making new friends, going to a new school, doing new activities, trying new things, learning a new language, and traveling. But, there is always a downside. Like going to a new school, and flying by myself. I'm not going to lie, I have never been in a plane before... nor have I been out of the country. So this exchange will quite the experience.

So next week I leave for Grand Rapids, Michigan to attend a conference for Rotary Youth Exchange. It's huge! I went when my sister Michaela was a rebound. It wasn't much fun for me, because I was the little sister having to stay with her parents the whole time, but this time I'll be a student.... and the only student going to Estonia, I think. So I think I'll be in a meeting with the Finnish students :) Estonia and Southern Finland are the same Rotary district. So I get do all of the things Finnish students do.. except learn Finnish. I'll learn a very similar language though.

Anyways! I received my guarantee forms the other day. It took about a month to get here in my hands. I had to fax a couple of papers to my travel agent and I was good to go. Well, apparently I'm the first kid to go to Estonia with this travel agency since like 15 years or something crazy like that. So she called my dad and told him she doesn't know what to do. She doesn't know about the paperwork and all of the travel.. So maybe I'll go to Estonia?? Haha.. I'm sure she'll figure it out! It really confused her when I told her that I'll fly into Helsinki, Finland and not go on to Estonia. I'm going to a language camp in Finland for a week-That totally messed her up.

I just hope that I will get to ride the most traveled water way in the world while I'm in Estonia/Finland!! The water way I'm talking about is the Gulf of Finland! It is between Helsinki, Finland and Tallinn, Estonia.

Oh and in my informational packet, I found out my school! It's the same school as my host sister. In the pictures it looks so nice! Very different than United by far!