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Monday, March 12, 2012

Fun in Finland

Yupp.  It's fun in Finland.
Lately we've been enjoying the beautiful winter/spring here.
Lots of snow, lots of sun and temperatures around freezing.
We've been outside enjoying the snow, taking walks, sledding, ice-fishing, snowmobiling, skating, skiing...
Now it looks like the winter fun is ending soon, with the "heat" from the spring sun melting the white stuff, sending it down the streets in rushing rivers of water.

It's interesting how things that seemed new and different less than 2 years ago, now start to become "normal" and familiar.
Small things I noticed in the beginning I concider normal.
Like the fact that every toilet has two flushing options, one for nr1 and one for nr2. (small flush or big flush)
We are very environmentally friendly here!
How you have to ask for help in stores (at 1st we thought they were terrible at giving service, but when you realize that they just aren't that pushy, I'm actually enjoying the fact that I need to ask for help before someone comes and breathes down my neck)
I find the service you end up getting is usually very good and staff in most stores are well trained and know their stuff. (and they speak excellent English)
In the end no one "tells" you what you should purchase, but leave any final decision up to you.
Which leaves me feeling more satisfied with my choice, rather than going home wondering
"Is this what I wanted, or what the sales person made me want??"

Today I dared myself to place a number of phone calls...
One of my pet peeves here.
I love it when I ask if they speak english, and they reply
"No, just hold on when I find someone for you!" (they say this with hardly an accent)
Or the person who claims to indeed speak English, and then really DO NOT know how :)
Oh the joys for an immigrant...
I feel brave for daring to place these calls thou, and in the end I got a lot of "musts" out of the way.
I'm starting to realize that I can't always wait for my Hubby to call for me, as he's typically away during the day, and by the time he gets home it's too late to call to schedule dentist appointments!

Finns do NOT tap their own backs, so even when they are really good at something, they will make it sound as if they barely know how.  If they do a good deed they do not bring it up in conversation and tell everybody about how nice it was that they were able to help someone or do this or that to help out.  Nobody gets impressed if you did this, it would only take away from the good you did.
A quiet humble way that I'm appreaciating more and more. 

The kids don't need a gold star at school for every achievement that they were expected to do.
IF they get praise or a sticker, it's because they REALLY did something over and beyond.
When my oldest daughter had textile class her 1st year in Finland (a year ago) and the other kids were knitting mitts using 5 knitting needles at the time, and my daughter was trying to catch up to their level, and her "mitt" turned into a cellphone holder (maybe??),  she asked her teacher what she thought.
"I'm not impressed!" was her reply.
We howled at this at home, as her response was so honest and dry.
Not any false praise.
So my daughter raised to the challenge and now she knows how to knit socks!
At least I am impressed!!

What else??
I love the fact that they have free dental care for kids up to 18!
Especially since 3 of our kids need some sort of adjustments done to their teeth.
Retainers and braces and all the check-ups that come with them are not cheep!
Same goes for our diabetic daughter.  All her diabetic needs are covered.
No more filling out forms to get reimbursed for insulin, teststrips etc.
Paying high taxes fortunately comes with some bonuses!

There are many small things that are different in different countries.
Little things that make the country uinque in it's own way.
Eating out is different.  The taxes and tips are included in the price.
So when you first think that the meals are quite spendy, in the end they are pretty much the same as overseas.
You always need to ask for your bill, and when they bring it to the table you are expected to pay asap.
This does not mean you need to leave thou!,  You can calmly stay and keep visiting with your dinner companion.
At grocery stores you need to put a coin in the shopping cart, and when you return it at the end of your shopping trip, you get the coin back when you connect your cart to the one ahead of you in the cart corral.
You also pay for shopping bags, but here they are so strong that you can easily reuse them many times.
(you just need to remember to bring them along from home when you head to the store again)

If you are out for a walk (which your average Finn seem to be quite often, they pretty much walk or bike everywhere) you don't typically greet other people.
I thought they might be shy or straight out rude when they did not say "Moi!" along the walking/biking trails, but now when I think about how much people use this method of "transportation" to get places, saying "Hi" to everyone would almost be like waiving to every car that pass you when you are out driving!
IF the person you say Hi to replies, it's typically an old lady who has the tremendous need to tell you everything that has happened in her life since 1952...  so... I don't greet people along my walks either anymore.

Well, well... I will try to keep the tidbits coming.
I should write them down as I go, as there are many little things that are neat and interesting and at times odd.
One neat thing is all the ice rinks that are open to the public all over the city.
One of our kids daycare teachers told me today that it's practically a "law" to build an ice-pad next to a school when they build a new one!  And those anyone can use after hours!  Not bad!
Over and out from Finland for this time!

5 comments:

Sofia L said...

I HOWLED at the description of the old lady... Yup! I've met her "sisters" too many times. Haha! Thanks for a great post! :)

Helene said...

Haha! Intressant att läsa hur DU, som ändå är uppvuxen i Sverige, reagerar på sånt som är det normala även här numera - t.ex. att man ska ha en peng till kundvagnen; i min värld har det "alltid" varit så, men du hade väl redan flyttat overseas när det infördes. Skumt. Också intressant reflektion över varför folk inte hejar på varann när de knatar omkring i skandinavien, och det är ju, som du skriver, att det vore ungefär som att vinka åt alla bilar som passerar.

MeWoman said...

Det fanns nog kundvagnar med penga behov på min tid oxo, men det är sånt man glömmer och blir påmind om som invandrare!! Kul att "lära om sej" igen! Jag saknar folk som packar ner all mat åt en i affären... kanske man kan införa det här??? (ibland hjälpte de t.o.m att lassa in alla varor i bilen!!) well well...

MeWoman said...

Det fanns nog kundvagnar med penga behov på min tid oxo, men det är sånt man glömmer och blir påmind om som invandrare!! Kul att "lära om sej" igen! Jag saknar folk som packar ner all mat åt en i affären... kanske man kan införa det här??? (ibland hjälpte de t.o.m att lassa in alla varor i bilen!!) well well...

Sofia L said...

När jag jobbade på Rema så hade vi skolungdomar som packade varorna till kunden vid stora högtider som jul, påsk och 17.mai - för att slippa att det blev så rackarns långa köer.
Jag vill helst inte att andra packar mina varor - eftersom jag har ett visst system... hehe. Men, jo - att betala en 5-10 för att få ut kundvagnen tycker jag är helt kalasbra! Då slipper man att kunderna lämnar vagnarna över hela parkeringsplatsen, så att man måste ut å hämta dem.
Förresten så hade de ett sånt system, att man fick betala en quarter för att få ut en vagn på ett av alla shopping centers som vi var på i Windsor när vi besökte er. :)