Joonas Rautiainen, Connecticut

I decided to go and study abroad at a boarding school mainly because of hockey, but I also wanted to explore the different culture and the student life.  I ended up in Canterbury School, in the Eastern Coast of the US where I studied for two years and became a high school graduate.

At boarding school, everything is close by: the athletic facilities, friends, school, everything, which is why specifically boarding school was a right place for me. Cantenbury School was a very good place for me, because in the mornings I was able to go to the gym, and in the afternoon after classes straight to the ice practice or to other training session. In Canterbury, during three different seasons, there were three different sports that we competed in, which was a refreshing change compared to Finland. I got to play hockey in the fall and winter seasons.

There were a lot of things to do in the application process, but it was not too hard. When filling out the forms, I was always inspired by the opportunities I will get when I first get in the school. The best thing when preparing for the year was the orientation in the spring in Finland, where I got a lot of useful information. After my destination had been confirmed, it was all just anxious waiting for the trip. Of course, I had to apply for my visa and buy school stuff including a school uniform! After all, it took me about 10 months to prepare, but it was all worth it!

Arriving the school campus for the first time was probably the greatest experience I had ever had. First, I got to see the whole campus area, but after that when I walked into the dorms, the real surprise occurred when all the other students came to welcome me and introduce themselves. I got many new friends at the first day. Later that day, although I was tired from the travelling, we had fun at the dorm, which made my first day a much better experience than I could have ever imagined.

Studying here is little different from Finland. There are normally about 12 students in one class. Usually, the school day began at 8:15 and ended at 15:10, classes were 45 minutes each. The teachers were very committed to their jobs, and it was always easy to get extra tutoring if needed. My teachers all lived at the same dorm building as I did, so it was necessary and also easy to get along with them. After school, we always had practices, which took about two hours. After that, we had dinner, hang out, and did homework.

I got a lot of new friends, mainly from my hockey team and from my dorm. I can tell that I am very satisfied that I applied to UP Program and went to boarding school. I can recommend this program to everyone who is thinking about spending an exchange year in the US!

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