Linnea Piilila: from Finland to California

From Finland to Leigh High School, Linnea Piilila has had to make some big major adjustments. Piilila has been living in California for nearly a year now, trying to adjust to the dramatic change in scenery, education, and climate.

Q: When and why did you move here?

A: In March 2016, I moved to San Jose because my mom got a job here and wanted to experience something new, so my family followed her.

Q: How is the weather different?/ How was transitioning to our heat?

A: Half of Finland’s arctic so the weather is almost the opposite compared to California. We have four seasons and the highest it gets is about 28 C (or 82 F). It wasn’t that bad at first to get used to the heat but during the summer, it was rough, and I pretty much die every time during PE.

Q: What are some main differences in our education system vs Finland?

A: A main difference is that students apply for high school, much like students here apply for college, so the students are usually more motivated. We get homework, however, not as much and it’s for our own benefit: teachers don’t collect it. Communication between students and teachers is much more casual. We call them by their first names and we talk to them as if they are our friends. I thought school in California would be less stressful even though I knew that students typically have more homework. However, school here turned out to be one of the most stressful things I’ve ever experienced.

Q: Is it difficult communicating with native english speakers? How did you learn English?

A: It’s not difficult. However, slang words, words with unfamiliar accents, or people talking too fast throws me off. Students in Finland start studying English in 3rd grade, so I learned through school, YouTube videos, and movies.

Q: What were your expectations coming into California? And have those expectations been met/ how do they differ?

A:  I thought California would be dry and yellow, which in some places it is. Yet, I didn’t expect the mountains and the forests to be so beautiful.

Q: Do you like it here in California or would you prefer to stay in Finland?

A: I can’t really say which one I prefer more. Finland has always been my home, yet I do like California. I could stay here longer if it wasn’t for the school systems. I’m not myself because of the amount of stress the school creates. For good food places and activities I would choose California, but the education system is more enjoyable in Finland.

Q: What do you like about California/ San Jose?

A: I like the diversity of the nature. You have dark forests, beaches, fields, and beautiful landscapes. I like that people are willing to help and that you can talk to almost anyone. You have great food places and it’s nice that teenagers can drive when you turn 16.

Q: Describe some difficulties you’ve faced transitioning your life to fit in our school/ your new home/ California in general?

A: Homesickness is something I dealt with almost every single day when I came here. Now it’s not as bad. It was also very difficult for me to express myself at first. I am very talkative and love to make people laugh. Because I couldn’t speak English well enough to show people what I’m really like, most people assumed I was shy and quiet.

Q: What are some foods here that you love and hadn’t tried before? Have you been to In-n-Out?

A: Chipotle was delicious! Although overly greasy, I also like Panda Express. My friends took me to Cream which was so unhealthy yet so good. Starbucks is another place I know I’d miss a lot if I moved back to Finland. I have been to In-n-Out multiple times; I love their burgers and milkshakes.

Q: What do you miss most about Finland?

A: I miss my friends, family, the public transport, and the village I used to live in.

Q: What are some things you still want to experience here?

A: I really want to try surfing and it would be awesome to skydive here.