First Impressions of Finland

A photo of our coat collection here in Finland
You'd think we moved to a cold country or something. All those coats for 4 people???
Yesterday, the kids & I arrived in Finland for good. A one-way ticket is always a little bit of a scary thing, but it didn’t really hit me until I checked in at the airport and the guy asked me when we were returning. I told him we weren’t, then proceeded to freak out a bit. I mean, what were we thinking moving to a country where we don’t speak the language, a country that I know next-to-nothing about in terms of culture, history or tradition, a country where it is dark for so much of the winter (it’s 3:50pm here and almost completely dark).

As with most things, my sense of adventure won out over the doubts and I got on the plane. I’m not yet qualified to make any grand pronouncements on Helsinki, yet, but here are a few of my first impressions:

  • We need warmer socks. We obviously stocked up on coats & hats/mittens are in plentiful supply due to my knitting fetish, but regular-weight cotton socks are not going to cut it. It wasn’t even very cold today (probably low 40s and plenty of sun while it lasted), and my feet were cold, which means Lily’s feet were like ice.
  • Even though we’re in Finland, common sense still applies. I already kvetched about my laundry experiences on Facebook, but applying a little common sense would have helped with that load of jeans that took 2 hours to dry. Namely that the tiny little lint trap that barely accumulated any lint should have clued me in to the fact that there was a great big lint trap on the door that had an inch-thick layer of lint on it. Removing that (after a long laugh with Matt) helped the clothes dry a little more quickly.
  • Glogg is awesome. This fruit drink spiced with star anise and cinnamon is warmed and either mixed with wine or taken by itself. Either way, it is delicious, and a great way to warm up after a brisk walk.
  • I don’t know any Finnish, and this is a problem. Yes, everyone speaks English, but I’m starting to get annoyed that I can’t read any of the signs on historical monuments or labels on food at the store. You can bet that I’ll be asking our relocation agent about when I can begin language lessons tomorrow when we meet tomorrow.
  • My food preferences are going to take a little research to replicate here in Finland. Although Matt has done a great job of figuring out the milks & cheeses so that we don’t end up with whipping cream on our cereal or fat-free cheese on the kids’ sandwiches, we have not yet figured out where the best places are to buy organic, or better yet, local. I am hopeful though–we got a flier on the door this week advertising what appears to be an organic vegetable & fish CSA (it seems that the guy who runs this lives in our building). At this time of year, the veggies are mainly root crops (potatoes, carrots, beets, jerusalem artichokes & parsnips), but the prices seem really good. As for the fish, does anyone have thoughts on cooking perch? And oh, how I miss Ann’s awesome eggs. *Sniff*

Tomorrow, I get access to our bank account, register with the government so that I can get my Finnish ID number (which enables me to get discounted bus passes, national healthcare, and other public services that I hope very much will include a rec center/gym like it did in England!), get a Finnish SIM card for my mobile phone, and get to walk through the apartment & collect the keys!

Considering that there are no light fixtures, window dressings, or rugs, I think my first trip to Ikea will be happening really, really soon. I’ll save that until at least next week though, because the kids will be starting school next Monday!

8 thoughts on “First Impressions of Finland

  1. Cool about the Glogg! I just bought some at Cost Plus World Market – they had quite a bit of stuff from Sweden there for xmas and since my Norwegian MIL will be at my house this year for xmas, I bought that and some other Swedish beverage and treats. Can’t wait to try it.

    Also very cool about the delivery of local food – I bet he’ll have mushrooms when they are in season! I wonder if the oceans in the arctic circle are a little less polluted so the fish will be cleaner there?

    Have fun shopping – I love shopping in foreign countries 🙂

  2. Sounds like a fun adventure guys! 🙂 I was thinking about you all this morning. I went out in search of wild turkeys on a hike. I have been seeing them a lot lately. So cool. The kids haven’t seen them yet.
    If it helps at all, our hens are hardly laying now. We lost one of our older girls, Fluffy. And a younger one, Ginger. We have been getting only 1 egg a day with the minimum amounts of light every day. I think I am oversleeping a bit too which doesn’t help them any!
    Have fun reading labels in Finnish.

  3. love, love, love! your blog. i’m looking forward to reading more… especially about the kids first day of school. xoxo

  4. Hi Julie! Glad you made it there safely! I loved living in Finland- it was 15 years ago, but it is a great place! Even back then, I recall there being large food markets on a regular basis. I lived in Turku but I’m sure Helsinki has one too. For reading food labels, you may sometimes be able to tell what it is by looking at the Swedish also on most labels since Swedish is a Germanic language it is a bit easier to figure out what something might be. And yes, warm sock! Sounds like you all need some smartwool!I hope you’re going to take the kids up to Lapland to meet Santa clause! He’s from Finland, you know.

  5. Perch is best coated and fried or broiled. Dust in seasoned flour, egg wash, then a nice cornmeal coating is best or brush with butter, season, then broil. Perch can be applied to almost any white fish recipe like cod or hake, sometimes even trout. Perch likes lemon, perch likes sage. Perch loves butter. I think it also does well is soups and stews.

    Love and miss you.

  6. What an adventure!! I’ve never been brave enough for this sort of thing so its exciting to vicariously experience your big move. Thank you for sharing it.

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