Mitä Kuuluu

A new non-Latin language can be a mouthful. #Finnish #Suomi

A photo posted by @sarybow on

Most of Montreal, and especially my neighborhood, is throughly Francophone. Signage, menus, and most people on the street are all communicating in French. And while I have been hesitant to use my conversational French, I’ve been lucky enough to have studied it in college, so I can get by with basics and do almost all the reading that I need to do.

I’ve read that many Fins speak English, for which I am already thankful because there are so many words in French that any English speaker can instantly identify…danser, visiter, le fruit, la soupe, le docteur, octobre, parc… The list goes on and on. Finnish is not only not a Romance language, but it isn’t even an Indo-European language! This beautiful language family tree shows related languages, and Finnish is on it’s own little tree of Uralic languages. The closest related language? Estonian! I’ve started using Mango Languages app and some websites to start practicing the basics and it is hard because it doesn’t resemble anything I’ve ever seen. So with very little to instantly recognize, it is a lot of just rote memorization. While I’m glad at least one app has Finnish, it doesn’t do a great job of explaining grammar.  The same illustrator has another comic showing what an outlier Finnish is for the region.

In other happy but not related news, Tim successfully defended his dissertation on Wednesday in Bloomington, Indiana. He started this process a long time ago, and has worked really hard and has overcome many obstacles. I am so proud of him and his huge accomplishment. It doesn’t quite seem real!

Paperwork and Purging

I was watching some Scandal while I was going through some paperwork last night and could have died when Olivia Pope decides to move and of course, even her packing looks perfect. There isn’t anything out of place and no piles of “keep”, “donate”, or “sell”. She does have one open box with some perfect throw pillows peeping out, which I guess counts for “messy”.

Tim and I did a huge purge when we moved to Canada from Indiana, but things accumulate and it is time to go through things again. I had binders full of print outs with recipes or patterns for quilts and other craft projects. I think I have successfully transferred most of those to pinterest that I could find online. I did have to type out a few recipes and add them to my google drive. I also had some quilt patterns from magazines that I scanned and added to my drive as well. I have a few other files that I will shred right before we leave too. Even if you aren’t thinking about moving in the next 5 years, start with your old files! When we left Indiana, I couldn’t believe that I still had bill stubs and bank statements from 5 or 7 years ago. Even if you are moving across the world, it is time to get out the shredder, people. Next up, my closet.

On the paperwork front, Tim was able to send our marriage certificate to the Secretary of State’s office in Texas while he was in Indiana to get our Apostille. Included in the package is a return envelope with a US stamp that will make it here to Canada. They promise a return of 10 business days, so fingers crossed.

On the apartment front, we have renters for our apartment here in MTL, and have had ongoing communications with the Finnish couple who we are subletting the apartment from. They are meeting with their landlady on Monday and we will know more then. They aren’t expecting any problems, just wanted to make sure everything is legit. We have a few things to sell to the new tenants moving in here, and our current landlords are going to buy our appliances from us, so that is good news too.

Next up, once the purging is done the packing begins! Ug.


Finding a one euro coin in my building felt auspicious. And then I tried to unravel the world of Apostilles and it felt like 100 steps backwards. Warning, you might be bored by in-depth coverage of government paperwork, but trust me, this condensed version is 1/1,000 as painful as the real time.

When we were at the Finland Embassy in Ottawa, they said we needed to legalize our marriage certificate. She said that had we gotten married in Canada, she could have taken care of that at the Embassy. She made it sound like it could have happened on the spot at the Embassy, so I think I was originally confused about who does the legalization. She told me to contact the Finnish Embassy in the US to figure it out. So I was still under the assumption that the legalization was something that came from the Finnish government. Well, several calls and emails later I finally figured out that the Apostille, which is an international legalization of an event (marriage, birth, death) comes from the state in which the event took place. Maybe this was obvious to some people, but it took me awhile to figure out. With that information (tipped off from an email from the Consulate General of Finland in NYC – super nice to quickly respond to emails on a Friday afternoon!) I finally was on the right track. First I called Bexar County Clerk’s office, where we got married. They passed me on to Vital Records (part of Bexar County Health Services). They do not answer their phone and at this point I was totally out of Canada-US phone minutes. So after some more digging, I figure out that they can’t really help me, that the Apostille comes from the Secretary of State because I already had the original certificate. Sooooooo I sign up for a month of Canada/US skype calling (2.99, unlimited all month!) and call the Secretary of States office. Magically someone answers right away and knows exactly what I am talking about.

Yes, I can get an Apostille for my marriage certificate, just send it in with the form and a $15 US check. No problem. Oh, but wait. Since my marriage certificate is over 5 years old, I might have to get a new one from Bexar County because the clerk from my 2003 marriage certificate might not be in the system. At this point, I am ready to cry. Well, thank goodness for Bexar Co municipal employees who apparently never leave their jobs, both the County Clerk AND the deputy clerk are both still the same and still in the system. A phone call later, and the nice person at SOS said I didn’t need a new certificate.

Ok, so now I am super excited. I know exactly what to do and it all seems manageable and the time frame still is ok. But at the Canadian Post office, we realize that I can’t buy a pre-paid trackable envelope that has US postage on it. So I can get my documents to Texas from here, but I can’t get them back to Canada. Looks like I might be driving across the border tomorrow to get this sent with the proper return postage-paid envelope.

On the bright side, I think we’ve found new tenants for our apartment so no more showings! Yay!

Movers Booked

I lied. Apparently Mayflower and United are still different companies in the US, but in Canada they are the same. Anyway, they work with the same local company, Martel Express, that we worked with when we moved here from Indiana. They were easy to work with then and have been most responsive. They gave us a reasonable estimate, which is almost exactly what we paid to move here. I guess that makes sense, I was just worried about some crazy number. We now have a reservation for them to pick up all of our stuff on Tuesday, June 23. Last step on that front is to call them a few days before to get the exact time. I am glad that is crossed off the list. Now on to box hunting and then the packing can begin.

I think I’ve found the right marriage certificate, notarized by Bexar County Texas where we got married. I emailed it to the Finnish Embassy in Ottawa, but haven’t heard back. On my list tomorrow it to call back and check.

We are still in the process of showing our apartment here in Montreal. I hope someone soon signs on the dotted line. Continuing to schedule the visits and clean isn’t a lot of fun. Trying to wrap up additional things here in MTL, realizing that we are moving in just over a month. Sometimes it feels like one step forward, and one step back. I got the winter tires taken off the car yesterday, which was on the list, but realized that the place where we rented our ice skates is closed for the summer. Back up plan might involve asking someone to return them for us when Poubelle du Ski opens up again in September.

Embassy Visit

Finland, you'll totally let us into your country, right? #Suomi #kiitos

A photo posted by @sarybow on

Today we drove from Montreal to Ottawa for our required visit to the Finnish Embassy. As legal residents of Canada, we were allowed to go to the embassy in Canada which is by far the closest for us. The embassy is tiny, and I guess I’ve never been to an embassy before so I didn’t know what to expect. Instead of being a separate building, it was an office in a large downtown building. There were no security checks, but we did have to get buzzed into the office, and then all transactions took place behind glass.

Overall the visit went smoothly, but if you apply with a spouse, you must pay in person. And if you pay in person you can’t pay by credit card but only by money order, certified check or cash. Thank goodness for a cash advance on our credit card. That combined with our debit card limit was enough. Tim also had to get an envelope with tracking on it instead of just a regular envelope for the return documents. We did successfully bring the right passport photos and remembered all of our other paperwork (Tim’s diplomas, job offer letter, passports), and provided our fingerprints. Of course there was one problem that still needs to be resolved…our marriage certificate needs to be legalized for Finland. I read that a marriage certificate in English, Finnish, or Swedish would be acceptable, but I guess not. Of course, since we were conveniently at the embassy in Canada, she couldn’t do it for us because we got married in the US. The staff person explained that they had to verify marriage certificates because they come from all over the place. IDK, but ug, more hoops! On my list for tomorrow (before the weekend!) is to call the embassy in the US to figure out how to authenticate our marriage certificate. Hopefully by mail!

Did you know Mayflower and United are one in the same moving company? You do now! I have an appointment for Monday to have a local mover who works with these companies to come and give me an estimate for our stuff. Early July is a big moving time in Quebec, so I am happy that this is finally moving forward. Note for next time: preferred method of contact for movers? Phone. Don’t bother with those online forms!

Americans move from Canada to Finland

#lokicat is looking forward to cardboard box season.

A photo posted by @sarybow on

We had a month to mull over the possibility, and then one weekend to decide. Tim was offered a post-doc research position at the University of Turku in Finland for approximately the academic year of 2014-2015. With his research position ending in Montreal, and not many real options in the US we are packing our bags.

Of course before the bags can be packed there are approximately one million things to do here in MTL before we leave. So I have lists and sub-lists and am trying to keep organized about all of the details. I feel like we made the move 14 months ago from the US to Canada, so we certainly can figure out how to get to Finland.

On the Finland front, we actually have a furnished apartment lined up. Most of the furnished apartments that are searchable online are crazy expensive, and/or many of them far outside of the city. The researcher Tim will be working with sent us a few postings from the University intranet and one of them looks perfect! The location is great, both for Tim’s new office and also downtown. We are just waiting to confirm dates when we can move in. Also not exactly sure how we can pay a deposit in euros…but will figure that out when the time comes.

On the list this week is to head out to Ottawa to finalize our applications for residency and for a personal identification number. We are lucky that as Americans who legally reside in Canada, we can go to the embassy in Ottawa instead of our country of origin. This week, I also hope to connect with movers who can ship our stuff from Montreal to Colorado for storage at my gracious parent’s house.

Speaking of my gracious parents, the saddest part of this move is that Loki will have to take an extended Colorado vacation instead of making the trip to Finland. This was probably the hardest part of making the decision to accept the job. But I can’t see dragging my squirrelly 13 year old cat across the ocean and back. I also don’t think we would have found a furnished apartment that allowed for pets. In late June (probably, hopefully) I will drive him out to Colorado were we will all have some time together to help with his adjustment.