Author Archives: Sarah

St. Mary’s Church – Maarian Kirkko

St. Mary's Church in Turku, Finland dating from the late 13th century.

When I was using Google maps to figure out my river running route, I was zooming around and saw something labeled kirkko, which is one of the few Finnish words I recognize. I did a quick search, thinking it was nothing special and realized that I found a church that was built in the 15th century. In North America, buildings dating from the late 18th century are considered old, so I am constantly impressed by the age of things in Europe.

This would be a bit of a hike from the city center on foot, but surely there is a bus route in that direction. I have just pumped up the tires on the bike that was left to us by our landlords, and I knew that it would be easy to get to – just off my regular running trail, maybe a 15 minute ride.

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Where We Live


Our apartment building is one of the ugliest on the block, but at least the street view is nice! The mustard colored buildings are part of Åbo Academy, the Swedish University and you can see the Turku Cathedral in the background, a super helpful reference point!
streetview640Before I left for Finland one of the most common questions I got was “how did you find a place to live?” Well….we are subletting a one bedroom apartment from a Finnish couple who have gone to Boston to do postdocs and research (funnily enough). They posted their apartment on a university listserv and Tim’s supervisor passed it along to us several months ago. Some people said that they would be wary of finding a place online and not seeing it in person. Really though the couple was really easy to work with and spent a lot of time via email answering our questions about utilities, internet, and other amenities nearby and in the building. Tim needed a place to stay for a month prior than our sublease was available, and he found something completely legit and non-sketchy through a FaceBook group (of all things). I think as a university town, there is a lot of tenant movement which actually helps. There are also a lot of international students and researchers looking for school year accommodation.


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And Magically Now I’m Here

Outside of the Turku Cathedral in Turku, Finland.

So much time has passed and so much has happened. I still want to record what has been going on and daily life in Finland. A quick recap: I left Montreal on June 22 and drove two very long days with my cat to Colorado. The movers came the next day while Tim was still in MTL and packed up our stuff. Tim then left for a conference in Istanbul on June 25. He then traveled directly to Finland and has been here since early July.

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Residency Cards!


We got the email last week that our residency cards were available for pick up at the Finland Embassy in Ottawa and made an appointment to drive out there on Monday to pick them up. A four+ hour round trip drive for a 2 minute office visit was totally worth it. Now we don’t have to worry about where they are being sent and when they might arrive. These should replace any additional paperwork that we would have had to bring with us to immigration when we land in Finland which is really nice. Of course we both double checked our wallets about 3 or 4 times before leaving Ottawa that we weren’t leaving them anywhere. Also in Ottawa, we stopped at my favorite food truck in Dundonald Park. We each had a Masala Dosa with a fried lentil donut from Dosa, Inc. Soooooo goooood!

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Never Ending Story of Packing


The same story over and over! We did some more sorting and packing this past week and weekend. Finally got the suitcases out to see what we needed and Loki promptly claimed one and slept on it all day. We did buy another large suitcase for Tim. I will look for something when I am in the US. Not sure if an outlet or TJ Maxx would have the best prices. A little bit more packing will take place today.

Hard to believe that I leave in 8 days! That is the plan anyway, to leave Montreal early on Monday, June 22 and drive for two days straight to Colorado with all the stuff that I will take to Finland and our kitty. The departure date really depends in part on how organized I am but also on the weather. 28 hours on the road is hard enough without spending long stretches driving through massive rainstorms. The movers come on Tuesday, June 23 to pick up all of our furniture and boxes and then Tim leaves on Thursday, June 25. This last week will super busy and will fly by in a blink of an eye. Monday I will be going to the Canada v Netherlands women’s World Cup game at Olympic Stadium with friends and Tuesday will be my last soccer game with the Bambinos. Of course there will be a going away party later in the week too.

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Tout Doux


(Saw this sweet knitted looking sign on Rue Notre Dame. I looooove it! Tout doux for sure.)

So begins the rounds of saying goodbye. I am getting excited to head to Colorado and then Finland, but saying goodbye to such good friends here in Montreal sucks. This past weekend I had a really wonderful brunch and afternoon with women from my quilt guild and Tim and I met up with another couple for drinks and dinner. I am so not ready to say goodbye to the Bambinos and the rest of the Plateau gang, which will be the hardest for sure. We’ve been really lucky here to meet such amazing people in such a short amount of time. I am a little nervous about meeting people in Turku. So far I haven’t found any meetup groups, or FB groups that look like possibilities. Maybe once we are plugged into the academic scene a bit more…

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Let the Packing Begin!


Packing is the worst. The. Worst. I am a highly organized person. I love lists, I love knowing where things are and when to do what. I am an event planner and normally logistics don’t faze me. But packing knowing that I won’t have access to what I am taping into boxes is giving me an organizational headache. Will I need this in the next three weeks? Will I need this in the next year? Ug.

Apparently, I don’t need to do an itemized inventory to move back to the US that I had to do when we packed to move to Canada, but thinking about the logistics of storage, I am still trying to keep a list of what goes in what box. And all this organizing and list making is slowing me down. Three tiny, fast-moving weeks until I hit the road? At least I started, right?

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Mitä Kuuluu


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.

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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.

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