Hi again!

>> Friday, June 08, 2018

Well, it's been a while! I do hope some of you are still out there, after so many months. It's been a busy time, but I now feel things are settled enough that I should be able to blog somewhat regularly.

The move to Helsinki has gone really well. I optimistically gave myself a month after I arrived to find a place and move in, and it worked! I think it helped that I'd booked an airbnb studio flat for that first month, so while I was comfortable enough, I was started to feel cooped up and really needed a bit more space! I actually applied some techniques for the flat search from a book I'm planning to review soon which I read on my holidays in Uruguay, and that was super helpful. So I was all moved in and unpacked by early March.

My new neighbourhood in the winter, taken from a little island right across.

It's taken a bit longer to settle into the new job, but it's all good. I actually started the day after I arrived (no point moping around the house being miserable and missing my friends, best to keep busy), and it was a bit more challenging than I expected. The work itself was not a problem, as it's stuff I know I'm good at doing and have plenty of experience at. It was more that it was a shock to go from being the expert (I'd been at my previous organisation for almost 10 years), to being the newbie who knows very little about how things work. I still know very little, but a bit more than I did before, and I've made my peace with having to ask many questions :)

Helsinki itself has been fab. I was lucky enough to already have a good friend who lives here, and she's been wonderful at helping me settle and introducing me to people. I also joined one of those social groups online, which has lots of expat members but also quite a few Finns, so between my friend and her friends and my online group stuff, I've been able to start building a fun social life. There's plenty to do, and I try to do it all.

And I've thrown myself into exploring my new country and its culture. I try all the foods (the pastries are particularly to-die-for), I use the sauna in my building every week, and I have even gone ice swimming! I've also started learning Finnish, which I'm loving. It's a super hard language, but I'm enjoying the challenge. I didn't remember how much fun it was to do language classes, as I hadn't done it since I was in my early teens. It's going to take me a long while to be able to have a real conversation with anyone (good think almost all Finns speak excellent English!), but I'm making progress and starting to understand what's around me.

Two of my favourite Finnish pastries. The one on the right (called a laskiaispulla) is unfortunately available only for a limited time in the winter. The other one is the classic cinnamon roll called korvapuusti (which, strangely, translates literally as slapped ear -maybe that's what you got from the baker if you tried to eat them straight out of the oven?)

Ice swimming. That's me on the right in the grey woolly hat diving in!

I've been quite lucky with the weather, too, which was one of the things I was most worried about, given how people complain about it. It had apparently been a bit of a crap, dark winter up until February, but right on the day after I arrived, the snow came. I opened the door to leave for my first day of work and got hit in the face by a massive blizzard (and I have no experience with snow, so hadn't thought to wear waterproof mascara. I introduced myself to HR that morning with racoon eyes). There was a lot of it, and it settled, and from then on, we had a lovely white winter. It did get super cold for about a week:-20+ degrees C and it "felt like" -30 with the Siberian wind. That is about 0F to -20F, which is probably nothing to some of you if you're in Northern North America ('not too bad', according to the girl from Wisconsin in my Finnish class), but pretty damn cold to me. But it was fine. I'd bought the appropriate clothes and shoes, so I was warm enough when outside. And then the temp settled just a few degrees below freezing point, which was lovely and crisp. Mostly, it was all blue skies and plenty of sunshine, and that has continued now, when we've had the warmest May in a very long time. We even had about a week of 30C temperatures (85F or so?). I was not expecting that, and I'll try not to be disappointed next year when it's probably going to be a lot colder. The best thing about the weather, though, is the lack of rain. I have had to use an umbrella exactly once, and that was just drizzle. I got used to always carrying a little one in my handbag when I was in Liverpool, even when the weather seemed fine, but I've broken that habit. I might have to pick it up again in the autumn, which is supposed to be a lot wetter, but hey, I'm enjoying it all for now!

My neighbourhood in the summery spring!

So anyway, that's what's been going on lately. Book reviews next!


Kelly 8 June 2018 at 11:16  

Welcome back, Rosario! I have been reading you since 2004 and have missed your voice this year. I'm so happy that you are back on the book blogging scene.

Susan/DC,  8 June 2018 at 18:12  

Glad to hear you are settling in and enjoying your new job, home, and country. I'm planning my first trip to Scandinavia this summer. I'll be with friends who have an apartment in Stockholm for August. They've invited me to join them for a week or so and have also talked about taking a side trip to Helsinki. I'll let them know of your positive review of the city and its food.

Look forward to your upcoming book reviews; I've missed them.

Li 8 June 2018 at 20:43  

Good to hear from you Rosario, am glad you're finding some time to blog again!

Helsinki sounds fascinating and I'm glad you've had good weather (a few degrees below freezing still sounds VERY cold to me).

meljean brook 9 June 2018 at 06:01  

This sounds amazing! So many new things to see and do (and eat!) I'm so glad that your move went smoothly and you're settling in.

Bona Caballero 10 June 2018 at 12:18  

I'm so happy for you. It looks like a real adventure, to start again in a new country. Yes, lots of your readers are still here, don't worry. Your opinion is always one that I value a lot, so I'm glad you are going to review again.

Sunita,  11 June 2018 at 13:17  

Great to hear from you! I wondered how your move had been going, and it sounds fabulous. I'm looking forward to reading your reviews and more on your new life.

Rosario 26 June 2018 at 06:25  

Argh, blogspot decided not to notify me about comments any longer, so I completely missed yours! Better late than never, I guess :) Thanks so much for the welcome back to all of you, it feels really good to see I haven't been forgotten, lol!

And Susan/DC, please do get in touch if you end up coming to Helsinki in August. I'm taking my summer holiday in September, so I'll be in town, and I'd love to either get together for a coffee if you have time or share some recs for things to do if you don't :)

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