For Port Macquarie's Olivia Jogever the last year has been a whirlwind of emotions living in Finland as part of a Rotary Youth Exchange.
She was one of 12 students from Rotary District 9650 who took part in a year exchange travelling to the other side of the world in order to experience another way of life.
The group departed Australia on January 19, 2019 and Olivia arrived home on January 11, 2020.
"Honestly it was the best experience of my life, travelling and meeting new people. Everyday was an adventure and I really tried to make the most of the trip," Olivia said.
"I can't even begin to think what the one best thing was that happened. I had so many different experiences and opportunities to see new things and go to new places.
"Living in Finland I had the chance to travel to lots of places in Europe that people don't typically think to go to including lots of the Baltic countries.
"I went to Russia which was so incredible. You see pictures and in the St Petersburg the buildings were incredible but a friend and I caught the metro 10 minutes down the road and coming out of the station it was just so sad. The level of poverty was so crazy."
Leaving Australia at the height of summer and arriving in finland at minus 20 degrees was a bit of a shock Olivia said but sticking to a routine helped her adjust to her new surroundings.
"The climate was something that I had to get used to," she said.
"Being so cold it was dark until 10am a lot of the time and then got dark again at 2pm. People would have dinner really early about about 5pm and then went to bed as it was so dark.
"That was a bit weird but I got into a routine of going to the gym in the morning and made sure I made the most of the year.
"The great thing about the climate was all the cold activities I could learn. I learned to cross country ski, I went ice swimming and things like that always made my day and adventure."
Throughout her trip Olivia kept a scrapbook of her trip and kept a video diary of her trip for her friends at home to see what she was up to.
"Before I left I decided I would make a scrapbook of my trip as a momento that I could keep forever. I just kept adding to it during the year and now I look back at all the special memories I have of my time away."
Would she do it again?
"Of course! It was a wonderful experience and one I would encourage everyone to do. Sometimes you feel homesick and at the beginning it was hard to make friends but it does work out and if you embrace what is there you will have a great time.
"I have made friends all over the world who I will be friends with forever."
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