Finnish student Viitanen loving the American lifestyle


Foreign exchange student Sara Viitanen will spend her junior year at CHS. She moved from Seinäjoki, Finland and won’t be able to see her friends and family until June.

Tara Ansari, Staff Writer

It took bravery and courageousness for Coppell High School junior Sara Viitanen, a Finnish exchange student, to leave her hometown of Seinäjoki, Finland to spend a year at an American high school.


“Me and my mom searched for different organizations that offered to send students from Finland to study abroad in the United States for a year,” Viitanen said. “We came across an organization called Ices and they interviewed me and accepted me into the program.”


Viitanen was then followed by numerous training events and lectures provided by the program to prepare her for the move to the United States.


“It was really hard leaving my family and facing the fact that I can’t see them until June,” Viitanen said. “Especially my mom since my parents are divorced and it’s only me and her living together but as much as she misses me too, she’s really excited for me.”


The American culture has amazed Viitanen.


My high school doesn’t have football games or any sport games for that matter,” Viitanen said. “All activities are done outside of school, all my school is about is education and all we have is P.E. so it’s really cool to go to the football games here every Friday.”


CHS senior Venla Kuvaja and Viitanen had no trouble hitting it off when school started in August.


“I knew she was Finnish the second my teacher called her name out the first day of school since I am Finnish too,” Kuvaja said. “My parents are so thrilled that I met her and they love her so she’s always at my house to hang out. My mom cooks Finnish food which I hope makes her feel less homesick.”


Kuvaja enjoys introducing Viitanen to traditions the high school favors such as Whataburger after Friday night football games.


“It’s nice to have someone close to home that understands my culture,” Kuvaja said.


Viitanen’s host family is taking joy in having her around as a new member to their family.. Jennifer Hubble is Viitanen’s host mother and is fascinated with learning more and more about the Finnish culture each day.


“My favorite part of having her around is being able to ask questions and find out things that are outside the Coppell bubble,” Hubble said.