Finnish exchange student adapts to SFHS

by Verla Peichl
Falls News Correspondent

KARIINA WASENIUS, 17, of Rovaniemi, Finland is currently an exchange student at Sheboygan Falls High School. – Falls News photo by Verla Peichl KARIINA WASENIUS, 17, of Rovaniemi, Finland is currently an exchange student at Sheboygan Falls High School. – Falls News photo by Verla Peichl When Kariina Wasenius was 10 years old she knew she wanted to be an exchange student to see new places, meet new people, learn the culture of others and see where they live.

Now at age 17, the Rovaniemi, Finland native finds herself doing just that as an exchange student at Sheboygan Falls High School.

While not all of our dreams can come true, this one did for Wasenius.

“My home in Finland, Rovaniemi, has a population of 60,000, so this is different for me because it’s smaller,” said Wasenius. “I like traveling and seeing new places.

“My parents liked the idea,” she said. “They miss me, but they know I always wanted to do this.”

Wasenius is a guest at the home of Jackie and Kalvin Hinz, who have two older boys that don’t live at home anymore.

Her parents in Finland are her mom, Minna, who is a psychologist, and her dad, Sami, owns a company where different types of specialized therapists work, including her mom.

The therapists have their own offices and they also do animal therapy to help people.

“I also have a younger brother, who is 14, and his name is Aaron,” said Wasenius. “He wasn’t surprised that I left because he knew I always wanted to go.”

Wasenius admits that Wisconsin was not on her radar prior to her arrival last fall.

“I hadn’t heard about Wisconsin “so I had to look it up on the internet,” Wasenius said. “It’s not that different from home. Even the weather isn’t that different.

“The school is different and there are more activities to do here,” she said. “This year doesn’t count for school at home. I will be behind a year and won’t be with my class.”

Wasenius stated that she lives in Northern Finland and the landscape is much different than Wisconsin because they don’t have corn fields.

“We have snow and cold weather back home too,” said Wasenius. “We don’t have all the fast food restaurants back home. We have McDonalds, but not the same as here. We don’t eat as much fast food.

“I do miss having Finnish bread,” she said. “It’s a rye bread. My mom sends some to me. I like the cheese here. We don’t deep fry cheese back home, but then we don’t have as much deep-fried food as here.”

Wasenius says she has brought one of her favorite hobbies along from Finland.

“I draw a lot,” said Wasenius, “That’s not too different from when I’m home.

“I also have a photography class where we use a lot of different cameras,” she said. “I like to take pictures of the city, landscapes and people.”

She has enjoyed getting a taste of every part of American culture.

“My host mom took me and another exchange student, Merit, to Chicago in November,” said Wasenius. “We went to the art museum and then went shopping and the tower that used to be called the Sears Tower.

“I did watch the Super Bowl,” she said. “We have hockey back home but not football. I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been here. I really like it here and have had a lot of fun. I like having coffee with friends and going to movies. I like the coffee here. I was to Starbucks and we have that at home too.”

Wasenius has particularly enjoyed her experience in SFHS’ culinary class, while also taking part in other schoolrelated activities.

“I really like the school football games and the school dances,” said Wasenius. “I was to the Homecoming and the winter formal is coming and then the prom. I just go with girls, but that’s good. Now I’ve been going to some of the basketball games too.”

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