Getting comfortable with the Finnish Way of Life
18.01.2009 - 03.02.2009
Hello again! Hyvaa Paivaa!
Some lessons learned while in Finland:
1. Never reserve a washing machine for a Thursday morning, you'll never make it.
2. When making plans with someone from Spain, expect them to be at least 20 minutes late.
3. Don't get angry with a Spaniard for their lateness; it's in their nature, they can't help it.
4. Eating lunch does not occur at noon, but at 2. (this may have some Spanish influence)
5. Finns are a curious bunch; they trust people enough to rarely lock their bikes and to always leave their coats on the coat racks provided at the building entrance before going where they need to go.
6. Finns are curiously similar to Canadians: rather quiet and reserved until you get to know them.
7. Finnish hockey teams have cheerleaders. *note - Canadian teams should not consider this option.
8. The Finnish word for "cheers" is Kippis. This is a well used word.
9. The phrase " very good vowels" is pronounced "wery good wowels" according to my Finnish language teacher.
This is but a tiny portion of the things I've been learning on my grand adventures, and I've only been away a month! Life continues to be exciting and unpredictable here in Finland! I'm keeping myself busy going to lessons, meeting new people, a bit* of partying, and teaching dance!
My classes are all really interesting. Two of them are about Finnish history and culture, and I absolutely love them (although the one teacher is a little too monotone for her own good). I even had a guided tour of the beautiful Turku Cathedral as a part of the course and I'm looking forward to touring many other places in the city with the class as well! I am also taking a Finnish language course and a history class about European integration that is actually quite fascinating. And last but certainly not least I'm taking an English class on Mondays about Monsters and Madness in the Victorian novel, which explains my new obsession with Monster Mondays... haha! Homework hasn't been so bad thus far, but I'm going to have to buckle down soon because February will be a busy month! Amie is coming to visit for a week, and Mom and Dad are crossing the pond to spend two weeks with me as well! And, between Amie's visit and Mom and Dad's I have a trip to Barcelona planned with a friend! Hooray!
I should also mention that it is not the Finnish way of life that I'm becoming familiar with, it's the life of the exchange student! Sometimes I wonder if some of the people in my building are really human, or whether they are just robots that run on no sleep and plenty of alcohol... The one thing that Really surprised me when I arrived here was the sudden appearance of a little Saturday, right in the middle of the week. Wednesday nights are the best nights to party, and that I have often found myself a little tired for my Thursday classes.
Needless to say, I've been having a great time getting to know my new Turku family from all over the world! The kitchen on the first floor of my building has become a common meeting, eating, and socializing place for me and many wonderful people I've come to love as an adopted family. Many of them are from Spain, a few from France, one from Turkey and even one from Quebec! It's so nice to constantly be surrounded by such incredible people. Whether it's cooking a common meal, watching a movie, or simply drinking tea all afternoon on a Sunday, the 3A Kitchen family is always ready to have some fun.
On January 24th, a few members of the family and I went on a day trip out to the Archipelago, which is a vast serious of islands off the coast of Finland! The island, Ruissalo, was absolutely gorgeous in the freshly fallen snow. I was so excited to be on an island, where everywhere you looked all you could see was snow, trees, rocks, and the sea! The next Saturday, my friend Monica and I adventured to a professional hockey game here in Turku and it was a blast! It was Monica's first time ever watching a hockey game, and I couldn't have asked for a more exciting game.
I mentioned in the last entry that there was a possibility of me being able to teach dance. Well, it has indeed become a reality! I meet a wonderful girl named Heini once a week for 2 hours where I teach her some new steps and work on her technique while I continue to practice my own steps. Heini is about the same age as me and has been teaching dance in Turku for about 3 years, but she hasn't had a teacher of her own for about 5 years. She's incredibly dedicated to dancing making her a willing and very capable student for me. It's really cool to see someone improve so much in so little time! And to top it all off, she's paying me for lessons! Yes!!
Here are a few more pictures from the last couple of weeks!
I've mentioned before how much I'm in love with this Cathedral, and the love grows stronger every time I see it. It was so sunny that day (a rarity here) that I had to stop and take some pictures.
We had a couple days of wonderful snow, leaving the campus in a beautiful white blanket.
The view from my window
Looking to the right over the graveyard.
Looking to the left; the housing office, the shop, and the pub.
This is the church behind my building, just behind the graveyard.
The Russian Orthodox church at the top of the Kauppatori (the market square)
Part of the family at Ruissalo!
We just wandered around for the afternoon and it was absolutely gorgeous.
There are soooo many islands. I'm planning on making another trip out here in the spring and go exploring by boat!
I was so happy to be there!
Turku's TPS vs. Tappara, it was a great game!
Monica and I!
So that's about all the updates I can think of, all there is to do now is to say what's next! First of all, I'm pretty excited to be turning 21 this Saturday in Finland! No concrete plans yet, but I'm sure we'll find some kind of trouble to get into! Next on the agenda of exciting news is that I'm going to Russia in April! There's an organization at my University that organizes trips for exchange students and they're offering a 6 day trip at the end of April to visit both Moscow and St. Petersburg! I'm also planning a trip to Stockholm, possibly in March. The city, and the ship that takes me there, is legendary among the exchange students here so I'll have to give it a try!
I think that's all for now, thanks for coming with me on this Journey!
Live, Laugh and Love always,
P.s. A few people have asked for my address here in Finlandia, so here it is:
Yo-Kyla (the a has two little dots over it) 3 A 27