Foreign exchange student arrives safely home in Finland, says ‘she’ll be back’ to America


PHELPS, N.Y. (WROC) — An exchange student who was staying with a family in Phelps has arrived safely back home in Helsinki, Finland. News 8 told her story a couple weeks back and we caught up with now that she’s settled back in at home.

When Milla Immonen arrived in Phelps back in August, she was expecting to stay until June. But COVID-19 forced her back home to Finland a few months early. Immonen was rushed home because Finland wanted all its residents back in the country by April 1.

“I guess it’s finally starting to hit me and the so-called reverse culture shock is definitely here, I’m definitely feeling it and it’s really different. I was warned about it, but it’s nothing like I’m feeling right now,” Immonen said.

She took three flights to get back home. From Rochester, to Washington D.C., to Miami, then to Finland.

“Before I actually got to leave the airport I needed to go through all these different securities and filling out paperwork showing that I’m not showing any symptoms and I’m understanding what I need to do when I’m back.”

She’s now in quarantine now at home in her room and has started online school back in Finland. She said restrictions there are similar to the ones here in New York, and she only goes outside to take walks. Immonen said she misses a lot about America.

“My family of course and my friends and Phelps in general because it’s so different from where I live because I live in a city so being on the countryside and that experience is something that I miss a lot,” she said.

Even though it got cut short, her exchange student experience is something she said she’ll never forget.

“I see all these places that have been a big part of my childhood for 17 years and now they don’t feel the same at all they feel a little bit different and I don’t know how because they’re completely the same, nothing has changed, but something inside me has changed.”

Immonen says she’ll definitely be back to explore more of the country she loves so much.

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