“I wanted to see if it’s the same,” says Vehanen. “My favorite TV shows are the “Vampire Diaries” and “Gossip Girl.”
Once the foreign exchange student from Espoo, Finland, arrived in Blue Earth, she had to change her expectations.
“This is a small city,” Vehanen says. “I was expecting somewhere bigger, but I like it.”
Espoo, Finland, is the second largest city in the country with a population of 248,355. Located on the Gulf of Finland, Espoo experiences weather similar to the East Coast of the United States.
Vehanen says they get snow sooner, but the weather is colder in Minnesota.
Despite having to make an adjustment to the weather and the size of city, Vehanen enjoys doing many of the same activities she does in Finland during her free time in Blue Earth.
“I like to hang out with friends, go to movies and shop,” Vehanen says.
Host parent Rick Scholtes emphasizes Vehanen’s appreciation for shopping “She loves to shop. Maybe too much,” he says.
The Monday before Thanksgiving, Vehanen was prepping for her first ever Black Friday experience. She will be shopping in Rochester getting presents for her Christmas lists.
Friday’s event will not be Vehanen’s first shopping event of the year, she has already made special trips with her host family to the Mall of America and to Chicago for the sole purpose of shopping.
“The Mall of America is huge, and I love it,” Vehanen says. “We don’t have any of the shops except for one in Finland.”
Vehanen especially has grown accustomed to the American stores of Forever 21 and Old Navy.
“The stores are similar to Finland,” Vehanen says. “They are bigger, which I like.”
In the spring, Vehanen is looking forward to visiting the shopping centers and the sights of New York City.
“I am excited to see the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and Times Square,” Vehanen says.
The trip to the East Coast may be a preview for her future residence.
“I don’t know what I want to do for a career yet,” Vehanen says. “But, I would like to move to America if my parents would let me.”
One of the main reasons for the move would be the language.
“I like to speak English,” Vehanen says. “Finnish is very difficult to speak.”
Vehanen says she is already losing her handle on the Finnish language when talking to her parents on the telephone.
“It’s been getting hard to talk to my parents on the telephone,” Vehanen says.
Vehanen is also attracted to the “American Dream” saying “you can get rich in America.”
During the week, Vehanen is taking advantage of her time at Blue Earth Area schools by enrolling in classes not available in Finland.
“I am taking PSA and small animals,” Vehanen says. “The only class I am taking that I could have taken in Finland is geometry.”
Vehanen misses the freedom she has during the school day in Finland.
“School is more strict here,”?Vehanen says. “In Finland we can leave whenever we want.”
Being held accountable is something Vehanen has had to grow accustomed to in her family life as well.
“She has had to get used to all of my questions,” Scholtes says. “I like to know where she is going, who she will be with and what time she will be back.”
This accountability was a shock to Vehanen.
“In Finland, my parents only know one of my friends,” Vehanen says. “Americans are weird and have a more active family life.”
With the Scholtes, Vehanen has already visited the science museum, taken many shopping trips, and went boating and tubing in Fairmont.
“I am getting used to it,” Vehanen says. “It is a lot of fun.”
For Christmas, it will be Vehanen’s responsibility to help pick out the menu for the family celebration.
“We decided to do Finnish food this year,” Rick Scholtes says. “We are relying on Rosa for help.”
Rosa nervously replied “I do not cook at all.”
Before returning home, the Scholtes are planning on taking Vehanen camping. Something she has never done before,
Until then she will focus on completing her year at BEA High School.
“I want to get good grades and not stress about school,” Vehanen says.
Rosa Vehanen, center, stands with her host family – Rick, Sue, Amanda and Malarie. Vehanen helped put up Christmas decorations for the first time ever this year. In Finland, they do not decorate their homes for Christmas as is customary in the United States.