Traveling Out of Her Comfort Zone

Colton Mefford, Reporter

Have you ever tried something new that took you out of your comfort zone? Seventeen-year-old Saara Nori went out of her comfort zone, leaving her family and friends in Finland to spend nearly a year in the US. A fifteen-hour plane ride flew her right out to Lodi, Wisconsin, where she stays at the Hatley household. She has been here for three months and has already experienced many new things that seem normal to Americans.

When Saara first arrived, she was very nervous about experiencing the unknown. She explained, “At the time of arrival, I was thinking about what I had done, and it was either the best or worst decision I had made.” This experience takes a lot of courage and anticipation for something that was not her usual day in Finland. Although the thing that topped this nervousness was boredom. “The days kept repeating themselves at home, so I wanted to do something completely new, and the year abroad came to my mind.” This opportunity allowed her to learn about a new culture.

Within this culture, many things that we think are a normal occurrence, Saara and other Finnish people believe to be out of the ordinary. In school, every morning we pledge allegiance to our flag, but in Finland, that is not a normal occurrence. In addition, Saara explained that “people wear shoes inside” was abnormal, as well as “Taxes are not included in prices.” Both things we believe to be everyday occurrences that we don’t even question when we do or see it. However, one thing that isn’t in Finland that she enjoys in America is Culvers. She said her favorite restaurant in Wisconsin was Culvers, and she likes their cheese curds as well.

With six months left of her exchange in Lodi, Saara has many more opportunities to experience American culture. During her time away from school, Saara occasionally watches American shows and films and said, “I’ve always liked them and watched mostly American shows and movies. They’re just so much better than Finnish ones.” In America, there is a lot of money that goes into film and a lot of effort around it. Another thing America puts a lot of money into is holidays, and Saara explained, “Holidays like Halloween that Finland doesn’t really do” is something she will miss when she returns. She also included that after she returns home, “I will miss my friends and all the Friday night football games and school events.”

All in all, even though Saara had to go out of her comfort zone, it yielded great rewards and memories for her and her new friends in Lodi.