Monday, June 29, 2009

The first few days in Finland


So now I’m in Finland. And what can I say? It’s about 10 times as good as I had ever imagined. Not talking about the air, the green nature, the bird’s song, the extended hours of sunlight, the fact that you can drink the tap water, or the selection of non-sugar/low fat products in the grocery stores… Oh no, I’m talking about the fact that it’s summer over here. Real, warm, 28-30 degrees warm SUMMER!

You see, there’s this thing about summer in the nordic countries. This unwritten rule. This Scandinavian summer mantra, that goes something like: “hope for the best but expect the worse.” It’s a way for us to comfort ourselves, just in case the summer ‘rains away.’ Every single Scandinavian knows that even though we treasure summer, it’s kind of na├»ve to dream of sunshine and 30 degrees. Scandinavian summers aren’t really known for being ‘hot,’ and I can name numerous years when the summers have been cold and rainy (there was this one year when I still wore my winter jacket in June, and then that other year when there was still snow on the streets in May…), when umbrellas have sold gold and ice cream kiosks have hit bankruptcy. So, to step of the plane and be greeted by a clear blue sky, a bright shining sun at 28 degrees (and people in shorts?!) last Friday was kind of awesome. (A sort of summer novelty that I could totally get used to). Although just to remind you guys (and myself) of how rare this kind of weather is over here: this is the first time it has happened in the last 3 years…

I spent the weekend by a lake close to our flat (it’s like a 10 min bike ride… hah!), swimming, sun-bathing and catching up with friends from the past. On Saturday night we went out for some glasses of cider and I was sort of stoked by the fact that you can order yourself everything from dry, to normal, to low-sugar, non-fat cider from the bars?! Europe surely is a place of choices! Also, being able to sit outside in the sunlight until 11pm was kind of cool. My friend was laughing at my excitement, saying I reminded her of someone who’s never been to Scandinavia before. Funny how easily you forget.

On Sunday it was grocery-shopping time. I had been purposely avoiding it, knowing that I might not be able to handle it. And very well. As soon as I stepped into the store my heart started beating faster, and my mind felt kind of wild, almost as if I wanted to buy the whole shop and try to eat everything in there in one go… as a result of this, I came home with all kinds of strange things (5 different kind of cheese, salmiaki flavoured chocolate, gluten free biscuits and soy yoghurt?!) and none of the things that I really needed (potatoes, chicken, toothpaste and milk). “It’s the novelty of it all!” I comforted myself as I unpacked my bags. But seeing how much these ‘products of novelty’ in fact costs (yikes, it is expensive over here!) it better wear off sooner rather than later. Otherwise I’m going to end up spending every single euro of my hard earned salary on food. And that wasn’t really the plan…

Actually, speaking of food. I better go and get my lunch box ready now. When I spoke to my bf last night he reminded me to bring some lunch to work. First I just laughed at the idea, saying something like ‘come on, there’s a lot of Chinese people working there, of course we’ll go out for lunch!’ but then he reminded me of how expensive it is to go out for lunch over here, and I when he said it I did remember: you can’t really ‘go out for lunch’ over here like you do in China (well, at least now if you’re working with my salary). So, lunch box it is: salmon salad (!) with avocado (!!) and mozzarella cheese (!!!). (Actually, who needs to go out for lunch when you can eat food like that?!)

Today is my first day at work and I am feeling a little bit nervous but excited. Anyways, better get ready. Gosh, have to dress for the office now, rather than a lazy day at the lake/a day of Chinese classes at the university. This might take some time…

17 comments:

TERI REES WANG said...

It is a wild ride following your trail of food frenzy!!!. ... big fun and now an all night long Sun!

Tarja said...

Good luck with your new job! My huspand has told me that he's chinese co-workers allways eat their own stuff at a hotel. It's just too expensive eat at a restaurant. And maybe the food isn't so good for their taste.

Blank-Socrate said...

welcome home dear, glad you having this nice time
but I don't understand you will live and work in Finland ?! or it just a temp. work

flyingfish said...

Cool and rainy? Jackets in June? Snow in May? Are you sure you're not talking about New England? I arrived at my parents' house near Boston last week and it has been raining pretty much ever since. I am now sitting here in a wool sweater, about to get up and make some tea.

Oh, well, that's New England: "Nine months of winter and three months of bad sledding."

Good luck with your first day of work. I'll be thinking of you and keeping my fingers crossed for a perfect, wonderful, best-ever first-day-on-the-job.

Nino said...

You see? I knew this will happen. You'll have a great time and you won't be able to go back to China again. ^^ I'm expecting your blog name to chanhe into SHE in Suomi :P

Pete In Syracuse said...

Oh! it sounds great! The type of nervous you speak about isn't to bad it's a good kind of nervous, where you learn & explore. It sounds like you are having a wonderful re-entry into Finland!

waqarabro said...

you have been working like a trojan. i am too much impressed with your art of writing,i wish i could share each and every moments of my life on my blog.

Brad F. said...

Your lunch sounds better than most meals I've had in the last few weeks. I can't even remember the last time I ate an avocado. Hmm. Next trip to the Philippines and I'm going to get a few. I like to cut them open, drizzle them with virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and just eat them. ^_^

Good luck on your first day of work!

By the way, I went to a grocery store today that is rather upscale. The prices were certainly upscale anyways. I found quite a few products I hadn't seen since before I left the US and spent 30 bucks on a handful of things. I know how you feel. A taste of home is so nice.

Jonna Wibelius said...

teri -gosh, reading your comment made me realize that I might be a bit too crazy about food... haha!

Tarja -thanks! Yeah, my bf told me the same thing about his colleagues filling their suitcases with instant noodles when going to FI. However, not because it's too expensive in FI, but because they don't think the FI food is edible. I personally strongly oppose that...!

Black-Socrate -this is just a temporary, summer vacancy I am doing. People take long summer holidays over her (1 month is not unusual) so a lot of companies (especially media companies) hire summer journalists/writers to fill in while their permanent staff is gone. So right now I am filling in at the company where I used to work before I moved to China (in 2005).

flyingfish -hahahha, sorry but I couldn't help but laughing when I read about New England... it sounds like last summer in FI, when it just rained and rained and rained... I hope u get some sunshine soon!! And thanks for your nice comment. First day at work went well! :) U know what, u should really try to plan to go to FI or some of the nordic countries during a summer, teach Eng at a summer camp or something... I'm sure u'd love it here!

Nino -no no no.. not moving back.. U know, it's always like this. For the first one or two weeks in Scandoland I am floating around on clouds thinking everything is 'so fantastic...' but then I get used to it, start feeling restless, and then I suddenly find myself counting down the days until I'm going somewhere else.. I love it over here, I really do, but I am not ready to move back to Scandinavia just yet. Also, the winters over here are depressing.

Pete -yeah being a little bit nervous is good, it helps keeping things fresh! :) But it went well!

waqarabro -thanks a lot, what a nice comment. I am sure u could do the same thing. I'm so passionate about writing that blogging is something I really enjoy. Can't believe it took me so long to get a blog going.

Brad -yeah, there's nothing like a 'taste of home'... sometimes it is worth all those pennies... :) I also love avocados, they are just the best thing there is to eat. Goes with everything, can be used as a substitute for butter on bread, as a substitute for salad dressings in salads, or just eaten 'plain' like u mentioned... mmmmm... I'm pretty sure I'll have one/day now when I can! When I lived in Australia I used to eat loads of them.

Brad F. said...

I never thought about putting avocados on bread as a spread, but now that you mention it that sounds pretty good. For salads they're great, especially if you use a low-key dressing like a vinaigrette or oil & vinegar. ^_^

Jonna Wibelius said...

Brad -try it, I'm sure you'll love it! Another favorite is focaccia bread w a lot of avocado, cheese, tomato and ham (optional) and then into the oven for some minutes... yum! Gosh, I have to make that myself sometimes soon!

Brad F. said...

Ovens are rare in Singapore. Best I've seen so far was a toaster oven. Sounds good though!

Little Tiger said...

Good luck with your new job! I'm curious....what language do you speak when conversing with Finnish people?(English I presume?) I read they learn Swedish in school but are they reluctant to speak it?

alan said...

Enjoy your days in FI, Jonna. I can imagine how different the life between China and FI are. I am looking forward to reading your thoughts on the difference between China and FI.

Jonna Wibelius said...

Little tiger -I'm so impressed about your Finland-knowledge?! U sure u haven't had a Finnish girlfriend or something in the past?! ;) because u r right... many finns are reluctant to speak Swedish.. Among the Finnish population only 6% are Swedish speaking. So yes, I speak English to Finns. Some are reluctant to speak English too, but at my work it's OK since we are a big international team.

Phoenixkidd said...

It must be so wonderful to be back home, or at least in common surroundings, I know when my Mom came back from after 5 years living in Indonesia to Japan, she just went wild over the food and shopping. It was good to see her taking time out to enjoy those things in her busy lifestyle with so many children.

Little Tiger said...

hahaha, no I haven't had any Finnish girl (not that I can remember anyway ;) )
I just like to learn a little about each country in the world....wikipedia is a wealth of information for someone with a lot of time on their hands! I am particularly interested in Scandinavian countries as they seem to have got society 'right' so I am curious as to how they operate. I'm dying to visit Denmark, Sweden and Iceland.