We finally moved into our apartment last week, and we’ve been settling in. By that, I mean I’ve mostly been unpacking, cleaning, papering shelves, organizing…. Haven’t had a lot of time to do much else, and we didn’t have the internet set up yet, so not much opportunity to read the news or check email or, you know, do silly things like blog…. However, we have internet now (we’ve actually had it the whole time – long story, next post), so how about some random thoughts I’ve collected over the last few weeks?
- While in the hotel, we had roughly 15 TV channels to choose from. They had some programming in English, but in the evenings we had a hard time finding something to watch. I can’t believe how many times we ended up watching “I Used to be Fat” or “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.” It’s like, it came on, and we couldn’t stop ourselves…. We also watched a lot of old TLC style home improvement/design shows on the weekends.
- And as long as we’re on the subject of TV – daytime TV was very similar to US late night TV: infomercials galore. One day, I sat and counted what was playing. There were 9 stations (of 15) playing infomercials, and FIVE of them were for some sort of bra!!
- I find myself sick of going to the grocery store. It seems like I go to the grocery store five times a week. I go at least four times. Some chicken here, lunch meat there. But since I don’t have a car, I have to carry everything back with me, so I have to limit what I buy. We do a big trip in the car once a week, and anything we need during the week is another trip to the store. I hope to cut back to 2-3 times a week soon, once we have some staples and I figure out how to shop.
- Yes, how to shop. I think I’ll have to do a whole separate post on grocery shopping…
- I’m surprised at how dirty the streets are. I don’t know why, but I expected it to be very clean here, because, you know, it’s Europe and they actually recycle and don’t throw glass on the streets. And yet. There’s much more trash lying about than I expected – candy wrappers, juice boxes. Cigarette butts, my god!! So many cigarette butts on the ground! And dog poop!! Just there, on the sidewalk, sometimes in the middle of the sidewalk. I wonder if it’s because all the snow is melting, and the layers of three months of snow/trash/snow is being uncovered. But still. It’s there. Snow or no snow, dog poop in the middle of the sidewalk is gross.
- Finland has these cameras along the road to catch speeders. They give you a nice little warning – a big sign with a graphic of a camera – and then they intersperse several cameras over the next 10km or so. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but speeding fines around here can be quite hefty, so it’s nice of them to post these signs. But here’s what I find funny: the cameras are HUGE. Seriously, they’re mounted on poles about 4 feet off the ground and they’re boxes that are probably close to two cubic feet in size. Honestly, I don’t see how you can miss them. They move the cameras from time to time, to keep you on your toes, but I keep thinking – if I can see it from a kilometer away, I can slow down in time for it. The camera flashes if it catches you, so you know you’ve been caught, but it doesn’t clock you until you’re almost on top of it. Still, Stephen’s been great about setting the cruise control on the speed limit and not taking any chances.
- We’re still in a rental car, which I’m not authorized to drive. I’m sure it would be a simple enough matter to add me to the contract, but I don’t have the car when Stephen’s not around (because he has it), so it hasn’t been an issue. Stephen recently pointed out that it had been about five weeks since I drove a car. “When’s the last time you didn’t drive for so long?” he asked. My answer: since I was 14.
- Oh! And we have these weird 4-way non-stops here. It’s the oddest thing. These are not roundabouts – roundabouts I get (and love). It’s an intersection, like where in the US we would have a four way stop. But here, they don’t have any signs whatsoever. I mean it. No signs. It’s this four way intersection with no signs, and apparently you’re supposed to yield to the car to the right. But how you’re supposed to know this, I don’t know. I guess it’s in Finnish Driver’s Ed. Before we knew the rule, we had no idea we were supposed to yield – we’re on a street, there’s no sign, we keep going. I’m sure there have been some Finns out there slamming on their brakes and cursing us – “F-ing tourists!”
- Many of the radio stations play English language music, and Adele is quite big over here. Stephen is in the car more than me, so he hears Adele a lot, which is fine, he likes Adele. What drives him crazy is they pronounce her name “AH-duh-lay.” Drives him nuts.
- Yes, they have Jehovah’s Witnesses here too:
Okay, that’s it for now. I’ll post about the apartment, including pictures, in the next day or two. Other upcoming posts: Our trip to Tampere, Shopping in a foreign language, Living without a dryer.