Guest Post from Israel, #1

Happy Monday everyone! I'm super excited to start a little mini-guest series by my cousin Michelle. I've mentioned her a few times, even more since visiting all my Finnish relatives overseas this summer.

Right now Michelle is volunteering in Israel for 10 months or so. She's going to be here on my blog the next couple weeks to share about her experiences with us all. And, she's happy to answer any questions you have about her time, so make sure to leave those in the comments.

Name: Michelle Wiley, but I answer the name Elle in the blogging world
Age: 21
Hometown: Helsinki, Finland
Blog: LeChayim

Tell us your background in a couple sentences. What should my readers know about you? 
I'm one of E's Finnish cousins and I was born and raised in Finland by my Finnish mother and American father. Our family is definitely not standard Finnish and I actually have dual citizenship with Finland and the US, although I haven't taken any advantage of the latter by living there. Yet.

How would you describe Helsinki? Or Finns? 
During wintertime Finland is dark, bitter cold with lots of snow and grumpy Finns. Also, our winters are long, lasting usually from late October to the end of March. But after the snow melts and spring melts into summer, the place turns into a very sweet green country with lots of happy Finnish people seeking the quietness of nature and lakes. Helsinki is a nice little seaside city during summertime, and I think its people are very friendly, although getting used to Finns being a quiet folk can take time. 

Currently you are taking a year off from school, but what were you studying? And why? 
After high school I decided that my only asset to work on was my English. I sort of have an advantage over most Finns, since my family has always been bilingual, and I also attended an English speaking school for a while. So after high school I applied to the University of Helsinki to study English Philology as my major. English Philology includes studies of literature, linguistics and culture, i.e. everything that has to do with the English language. I still have no idea what I'm going to do if and when I graduate, as I would have to add some other studies (e.g teacher studies or translation studies) to my major to actually have some kind of profession. I'll get back to you on this one.

What brought you to Israel? Why there? 
After high school and before I got into the university I had a gap year. Back then I wanted to use a part of that year to do volunteering in Israel. Life was a bit crazy back then though, so I never really got my chance to live that dream. Now that I look back on it, I'm glad I didn't come at that time, because staying in this country requires a lot of patience and maturity. Before this trip I've been to Israel once four years ago for a week of tourism. I spent that week mostly in Jerusalem with my mom and my sister, but I liked the feeling of the country a lot, and it somehow stayed in my thoughts until now. Plus, my mom comes here at least twice a year to do missionary work, so I've been influenced by Israel a lot, whether I've wanted to or not.

Last October, as I was stressing a lot about my future and studies, I decided it was time to take a break and get out of my safe motherland Finland. My mom had the contact information of a Finnish co-ordinator for volunteers in Israel and I decided to ask her about volunteering possibilities starting in the beginning of this year. So, after starting to think about this trip in October, I had a ticket to Israel by mid-November, and I arrived here in the beginning of January. I plan to stay 10 months, until next October.


  1. This is rad! Thanks for letting us meet her.
    And I'll post a review about the wipes soon.

  2. Yeah, thanks for sharing this...I love hearing about other cultures!

  3. It's going to be so fun following her adventure! Thanks, Miss E.

    Michelle/Elle - I have tons of questions because I'm super nosey. But, I'm curious where you are and if you feel safe? The only reason I ask is that my one trip to Tel Aviv, I was warned that is was "dangerous". Since that was several years ago, I'm wondering how much has changed and how YOU'RE feeling wherever you are.

  4. What an incredible experience. Going to Israel is definitely on my bucket list. I can't wait to hear more about your experiences.