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!
Before 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.