Monday, April 25, 2011

Jyväskylä, Finnish Easter and Circus

taking a photo of taking a photo
Haven't posted in awhile because have been quite busy. Along with the usual study, job search, work, school, etc. Niko and I have had many adventures. First off, earlier in the week we visited Jyväskylä. Jyväskylä is a city in central Finland, about 2-3 hours from Kouvola. It is one of the larger cities in Finland, not as big as Helsinki but still quite large. We drove and walked around the city a bit, had some food at a pizza buffet, then continued our journey. It was raining (and yes, even had small snow at points), but that didn't stop the checkers from finding someone parked in a pay spot with their ticket expired. The checker left them a ticket a minute later.

This past Sunday was Easter. I already posted previously about the children witches and their magical wands and how they get giant chocolate eggs with toys. But I HAD to try the traditional Finnish Easter food of Mämmi. This strange food is a dessert made out of rye, sort of porridge like and can be eaten with sugar and cream or ice cream. It has been around for centuries in Finland. It is sold in almost every store or you can make it yourself. But it also has the worst reputation of any Finnish food, because of it's horrible appearance. It is the source of endless jokes and horror for those who don't have knowledge of it or understand it. And not only that but many Finns can't stand it. In fact, I don't think even Gordon Ramsey would eat this stuff. It's one of those foods that if you ask ,What does it taste like, there is no real answer, but to me, the closest thing I could come up with was that it reminded me of raw gingerbread dough. So I think I'll pass eating it in the future, but it was fun to try.

There is another holiday in Finland, starting in May (or April, or last week, depending on where you live) called Vappu. It's a festival mostly for those around student age, lots of parties and the students get to wear their graduation caps and pants that show what they study and like many holidays it has it's own food and drink including Sima. It can be either alcoholic or non, the version we got was store bought and more of a soda type drink. But it's a fun time for students to take it easy before and after exams and it's a big deal in Helsinki, especially.

The last adventure of the week was going to Sirkus Finlandia (Circus Finland). It was fun. There were acrobats, horses, dogs (watch the video!), clowns and all the music was from a live band.

The weather here has gotten much warmer. The snow is completely gone from the roads and walkways, only the big piles that the plow and machines piled up are left. I have put my woolen coat away, though I did wear it on the trip to Jyväskylä, the snow boots are gone, no more hat or scarf or gloves and I even wore shorts today. I have made quite a few treks (walks) to the city center, which is about a 20-30 minute walk and it is much nicer to do so now than trudging through snow. As you can see in the photo, Finland now has blue skies and grass and even flowers begin to show. It's so warm here (60-65F btw, 20C today) that everyone says ,Kesä tulee kohta, (it will soon be summer), which I find absurd, but still enjoy the nice weather and sunshine. On the other hand, it also means the day is longer. The sunrises around 5:30am now and doesn't "set" until after 8:30pm, but it doesn't get dark anymore. The nights are now a shade of dark blue and as the days progress, it will get lighter and lighter longer and longer. It means you can stay out, go out, do things later than one might normally in USA, and since it never gets dark, the weather doesn't drop much, so it doesn't get that much cooler in the evenings than during the day.

Hope you enjoy reading.  Have some Sweet and Sour chips...

Vocabulary (links to come when forvo returns)
city in central Finland : Jyväskylä
Happy Easter : Hyvää pääsiäistä
Easter food porridge dessert thing : Mämmi
holiday in April/May : Vappu
Vappu drink : Sima
circus : sirkus

Friday, April 15, 2011

Häät keväällä

Haven't posted in awhile, haven't taken many photos because I've been so busy since married! That's right, Niko and I went to maistraatti Friday morning (8th), had a nice short and sweet ceremony and so now everything is official. We had a fantastic meal at Rosso's and had some profi photos taken at the lake where Niko proposed to me and relaxing sauna in the evening.

Since then, life has been a flurry of forms, deadlines, trying to figure out what needs to be done before form a can be filled out and whether form b needs copies at the same time as form a or if we should wait until form a gets approved, and then there's form c which needs to be filled out together, etc, etc, etc. There have been many walks to the library to make copies and print-outs.We also put in our bids for apartments in August-should be interesting!

The most interesting forms so far have been the residence permit ones. Finland requires that both Niko and I have separate forms to fill out and our answers should match (well, why wouldn't they). Even though he fills his out in Finnish and I am filling mine in English. It asks the basic information: name, address, background, how long have you been here, but then there are questions about how Niko and I met, when I have visited, in which languages we communicate in. And in the end I get to write my own essay to convince them I am a good candidate for resident permit. It's possible they just approve me based on the paperwork or there's a chance that we will be required to go in for an in person interview. If approved, I get a permit for one year and then can renew it every year thereafter. Wish us luck!

In weather news, it is much warmer here and the snow is melting! I actually went outdoors for the first time without my heavy woolen coat and the walking paths (well 85% of them) are free of snow so soon I can actually retire my snow boots and wear...sneakers!

For a bit of entertainment, enjoy this video of my cell phone service provider, Saunalahti.
It's astounding the number of Finns who think this is a real advertisement until the end...

Mistä minä saan oman laamaessun? ... Where can I get my own llama apron???

spring: kevät
wedding: häät
married: naimisissa
lake: järvi
where from: mistä
to get: saada
llama: laama

t. Kati

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spring, Lappeenranta and Battle Swiss Roll

Since the first day of spring it has snowed many times, as you can see by the photo. Some were light snows, some were quite heavy and windy. So here it is April, and the ground is still covered in snow. I didn't find it so strange until I found out that even in Canada, the snow is gone.

Welcome to Finland.

walking path

The other day I walked to S-Supermarket in Lehtomäki in search of Nutella. Since it snowed again, the walking paths were covered in snow again. S-Supermarket is the furthest market, with Siwa being about 5-10 minutes away and K-Supermarket being about 15-20. But it was a nice walk and I bought some snacks for the road for our trip to...Lappeenranta.

you are here
LUT logo
click photo to read sign. note the swedish also

Niko had to get a stamp for his ID card and get some books from the university library so we took a day trip to Lappeenranta. We took care of the stamp and books and then had some lunch at the university cafeteria. After that we drove closer in to the city, as the university is actually on the outskirts, and just wandered around, visited a cafe and then headed back. It was warm outside as you can see on the sign. +4C (39F). On the way back we stopped by an ABC (gas station with market inside) and we considered going on the swingset outside but decided there was too much snow.

i promise there are swings under the snow
In other news I decided to announce Iron Chef Finland (sorry, no such thing) and declare Battle Swiss Roll and try my own attempt at a swiss roll, but this time with Nutella, strawberry jam and bananas. I think it turned out ok. It was definitely fun.

In side news I made a donation to Doctors Without Borders and just wanted to mention them and their site for anyone that isn't familiar with them and their work. I'm also posting a link on the side of the blog if I can figure out how.

tuuli  tuulee : the wind blows
Lehtomäki : the area of town S Market is (could only find person with last name in forvo)
Lappeenranta : city where LUT, Niko's university is
ilma : weather
tie : road

...and for your viewing entertainment: America's Worst Driver