e-pal: finland

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 January, 2008, 12:00am

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Name Elina Tytti Karoliina Luotonen

Age 17

City Jarvenpaa

Star sign Pisces

In Finland we have four different seasons. My favourite is autumn, because I love the red and yellow leaves. Winter is beautiful, too, because the snow turns everything a pure and shining white. We get up to two metres of snow and it can be as cold as -30 degrees Celsius. But it's not always cold - summer temperatures can soar to 30 degrees!

Jarvenpaa is quite a small city. Almost 38,000 people live here. It's a very clean, beautiful, tree-lined town next to a lake. Jarvenpaa means 'lake side' in Finnish.

I study at an upper school. I study maths, history, Finnish, physics and biology. Students can choose to study English, Swedish, German, French or Spanish. We also study philosophy and psychology, which you don't usually study until university in Hong Kong.

We have a lot of homework, plus projects and assignments. My first language is Finnish, but I can also speak Swedish, English, German and a little Japanese. As I'm now on the AFS exchange programme in Hong Kong, I hope to learn some Cantonese too!

During the holidays, I often go to our summer cottage with my dad, step-mum, my little sister and baby brother. Many of my friends have also summer cottages where we hang out.

During summer, I often visit my relatives and friends in other parts of Finland. This summer I went to Rome with my mother.

I have bought my own clothes since I was 14. I'll wear all colours. I especially love tiny leather handbags. I buy lots of second-hand bags because I love vintage and flea markets and it's cheaper to buy there. I visit flea markets every Saturday morning - it's become a hobby.

My favourite sport is shooting with a crossbow. It's great fun but not very common. I haven't been able to do it for a long time. I would also like to try kendo or fencing. I like ball games and swimming, too.

What I love most about my country is the nature. There are trees, lakes, silence and fresh air everywhere. It's breathtaking to sit in our back garden after a sauna listening to the blackbirds singing, or walk in a forest surrounded by trees. Everyone should experience such surroundings so they'll understand how to take better care of the environment.

Music plays a big role in my life. I like many types of music - it doesn't matter what language people sing in. What I want to listen to depends on my mood.

With movies I'm not very easy to please. I like movies that stick out from the mainstream. They must have a message and provoke strong feelings. Without that, they're just moving images.

In the future, I want to see as much of the world as I can. I want to broaden my horizons and meet new, interesting people. That's what makes life interesting. Of course, I want a good education and career too.

Christmas is the biggest family event in Finland. We prepare traditional Finnish Christmas food. If there are young children in the family, Santa brings presents.

We also go to church early in the morning and the sauna in the evening before eating. Every house has its own Christmas tree which the family decorates together. We have so many Christmas traditions, it would take an essay to explain them all.