Rotary Exchange Student Fergus Tod tells of his freezing arrival in Finland

FAMILY: Fergus Tod, right, holds his Rotary Exchange Student jacket while standing beside his family, Ian, left, twin Scarlett (who was also an exchange student) and Sophie at the club meeting.
FAMILY: Fergus Tod, right, holds his Rotary Exchange Student jacket while standing beside his family, Ian, left, twin Scarlett (who was also an exchange student) and Sophie at the club meeting.
THANKS: Former Rotary Exchange Student Fergus Tod is thanked for his speech by Rotarian Pam Menadue.

THANKS: Former Rotary Exchange Student Fergus Tod is thanked for his speech by Rotarian Pam Menadue.

Fergus Tod was punished by the weather when he travelled to Finland as a Rotary Exchange Student.

This was revealed when the Year 12 St Mark's College student reported on his trip at a recent meeting of the Rotary Club of Port Pirie.

"In 2019, I was the exchange student to Finland and left in January from Adelaide. My twin sister, Scarlett, had left earlier for an exchange placement in Brazil," he said.

"When I left Australia there was a heatwave with a high of about 40C, but when I arrived in Finland it was minus-32C.

"I only wore a shirt and pants and caught the bus from the airport so it was out in the open."

Communication at first was daunting, but he learned the language.

"Finnish is nothing like English. I learned that the hard way," he said.

"I learned Finnish and some Russian from my host father. Finnish is among the top five most-difficult languages to learn in the world.

"I passed my Finnish test. I was not quite fluent, but they said I was good enough.

"The most important thing I learned about myself during the trip was my determination to learn the language."

While describing the country itself, he said the nation had 1000 islands and people could walk on ice over waterways.

The days were sometimes four hours long, but could range to 16 hours.

"It was fun. I got to make lots of new friends there," he said.

"The schools have five terms without holidays in between. We got a hot meal that was provided every day by the school and government.

"You don't have to pay to go to school."

He said his host families covered the whole range of "life".

"One was a doctor who delivers babies while her husband checks corpses at the Coroner's Office and another man makes coffins," he said.

Fergus misses Finland particularly now because he does not know when he will return there.

He hopes to join the Royal Australian Air Force to become an aeronautical engineer or mechanical engineer.

The club suspended its exchange program this year because of coronavirus.

It's a way to share experiences between nations.

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