Rebecca Merner has recently returned from Lahti, Finland following a one-year Rotary Youth Exchange.  She talks about her experiences and lessons learned.  
Rebecca's everyday life was a challenge, especially at first, immersing herself  in a new language, education system and culture.  It was also life changing.   Here are the lessons Rebecca learned from her year away. 
1.  Make the best of every adventure, even the smallest ones.  Life is not full of big adventures, but small things and everyday life. Focus on one great thing every day.
2,  People are like spiders - they are just as afraid of  you as you are of them.  
3.  Making a fool of yourself is inevitable, learn to laugh about it.
4.  Clarity with myself and others; asking for what you want is hard. 
5.  Carona:  a lesson in finding the bright side.
6.  Always say "yes" and "thank you" afterwards.
Rebecca's year was filled with adventures large and small, and included a school camping trip, a Youth Exchange Student's trip to Lapland,  and lots of week-end and day trips around Finland.  Finnish people are quiet, thoughtful and hard to get to know.  Once she understood lesson #2, making friends was much easier.  Another cultural difference is that Finnish people are not afraid to say what they want, while Canadians tend to hold back to see what others want first.   After COVID hit in March, there was a debate as to whether she should go home or complete her year.  Her club thought she should go home, but she wanted to stay and said so, and her last few months were spent with a large family in a rural setting, with lots of hiking and outdoor activities, and lots of card games!  While this was not what she had envisioned, this turned out to be one of the most special times.  
She thanked the club for sponsoring her on a fantastic exchange.