Summer Homestay Program — 2019
Jun 25-28, 2019 → Jul 26-29, 2019
Spend your summer enjoying the season of the midnight sun when the days are long and the weather is welcoming. During this five-week program in Finland, you’ll have lots of time to engage with your host family and become a part of the community. Most Finns love the outdoors, so you’ll get to explore the country’s unspoiled natural landscape. Many families even have summer lake cottages where you can relax on the weekends. And if you’re worried about the language barrier, don’t be: many Finns are actually fluent in English!
Since you’ll be around during the summer, you’ll get to experience the famous midnight sun (when it’s light out nearly all day and night). It’s an incredible season to come to Finland, and you’ll find lots of people outdoors celebrating the end of the long winter. Summer is also a good time for relaxing in the sauna, and you’ll be happy to discover that nearly every modern home or apartment in Finland has one. In fact, the Finns have more saunas per capita than anyone else in the world.
Your journey to Finland will begin in New York, where you’ll meet your fellow AFSers from the United States and attend an overnight orientation. Then you’ll travel as a group to Helsinki, where you’ll be met by AFS staff and volunteers.
Before long you’ll be ready to head to your new community. On the way you’ll likely pass one of Finland’s 187,800 lakes where people like to swim in the summer. If you’re traveling at night, you’ll notice that the sky turns a golden color when the sun lowers and drops briefly below the horizon before emerging again a few hours later. Under the glow of the midnight sun, you’re likely to see friends chatting in cafés or families returning home from a day of hiking.
AFSers have lived in communities all throughout Finland, but you’ll most likely find yourself in a small town or rural area in the Southern half of the country.
Finns are generally kind and open-minded, even though they can be a bit shy at first. Families are usually small, with only one or two children. People in Finland appreciate punctuality, good manners, and practicality. Equality is also very important, and it’s common for both parents to cook dinner or clean the house.>
In Finland the summer is a time for celebration. Because the sky is bright nearly all day and night, people tend to stay out late lounging on the beach or going to parties. There are tons of music festivals with jazz, blues, rock, and opera performances. And because of Jokamiehen Oikeus (“Everyman’s Right”), you’re legally free to wander anywhere in nature. Midsummer is the main holiday, and friends and family usually get together at their lake houses during the summer solstice. Many Finns like to light bonfires and have barbeques on Midsummer’s Eve. Another tradition involves steaming in the sauna and then going for a cool dip in the lake. Throughout the rest of the season, you’ll likely be able to take part in the country’s active culture by going cycling, sailing, or fishing. Other common sports are soccer, track-and-field, basketball, golf, and pesäpallo (Finnish baseball). You’ll discover that most Finns also like to dance, especially in open-air pavilions. You can find dancefloors (lavatanssit) all over the country that play both modern and traditional music.
Finns tend to drink a lot of coffee, and they often enjoy it with a sweet wheat bread called pulla. If you like a good smörgåsbord (a Swedish hot and cold buffet), you’ll be happy to discover that Finland has its own version, called the voileipäpöytä. At a voileipäpöytä, you’re likely to find a variety of fish, potatoes, berries, and dairy products, along with rye bread. Another common Finnish dish is makkara (sausage), which is roasted over a fire and eaten with sinappi (mustard). But don’t forget the country’s most unique delicacy—reindeer! The Finns eat reindeer stew, steak, cutlets, meatballs, and even tartare.
"Life-changing" is hard to describe, yet it’s nearly always the first thing that AFSers say when asked about their experience abroad.
"Transformed" is another one. When you return home, if you’re like most AFSers, you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and feel like you can do anything you set your mind to. That transformation isn’t visible only to you, though - others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers, ranging from language fluency to intercultural competence and critical reasoning. "Life-changing" means it’s only the beginning.
Please Note: Travel date ranges are meant to help with general scheduling and are subject to change; please don’t book any travel based on these dates until you’ve received confirmation from AFS. All programs, prices, and travel dates are subject to change without notice.