Hannah Puustinen may by only 17 years old but the Finnish exchange student believes it’s the perfect time to travel.
“I have always wanted to do this and I think this age is the best. When I am young I think it is easier to adapt,” she told CKAT.
Puustinen was a guest at the Rotary luncheon at the Grande Event Centre in downtown North Bay on Monday. She is part of the Rotary Exchange program.
She will be spending the year with three North Bay area families during her stay. Right now she is staying with the Mitchell family.
“My wife and I talked about doing this for a long time, my wife Shawn, she is a teacher and she has seen multiple exchange students come through North Bay and we talked about it a couple of years ago,” Drew Mitchell told CKAT’s Bob Coles.
“It came up and we pulled the trigger and went for it.”
Puustinen lives in a town of 1,000, about three hours away from Helsinki. She did her first-ever speech in English at the luncheon.
“I wanted to learn a new language, a new culture and meet many people,” she said about what she hopes to learn during this adventure.
“And also learn about my comfort zone.”
Puustinen is attending West Ferris secondary school which is much bigger than her school of only 100 students in her home town.
She has not been here long but she already realizes how friendly people are here.
“People are way different here. In Finland, you have to get to know people before they will really talk to you. But here everyone is very friendly,” she said.
The Mitchells are one of three families she will live with as part of this Rotary Exchange program. They plan to bring her to Ottawa this weekend to visit Parliament Hill and the Finnish Consulate. Then, later on this fall, take her to Niagara Falls.
The Rotary Club of North Bay is currently sponsoring Kaylee Renaud, who is currently doing her exchange in Switzerland.