Just when I thought that my paperwork and bureaucratic processes was coming to an end…ug. The first day I was here, I applied for social insurance at the Kela office in Turku as a spouse of someone who was eligible. The application was straightforward and I wasn’t worried. But yesterday, exactly a month later, I received a letter in Finnish denying my application. Thanks to some google translate and our supervisor at the university we figured out it was because we hadn’t registered our marriage in Finland. This all comes down to the apostille. Remember that?
My new position is with the Research Unit for the Sociology of Education (RUSE), which is part of the University of Turku, which is within the Pharmacity building, which is part of the Science Park in the city of Turku. Got it? Good. The office is in a mixed building, with some private offices and other research groups affiliated with the university but not a classroom-type building. However, I am super curious as to what goes on at the Functional Foods Forum down the hall!
The office building is called Pharmacity and is part of the Science Park, not technically part of the main campus of the university but close by. I did have to negotiate campus to get my university logon and a key to the building and wandered around like many other students during this first week of school. This part of the city feels more like a central business district than the main city center, which is more shopping and restaurants around the square. Science Park feels more like where people work instead of play. Now including me! In addition to the keys and logons that I was able to get on campus, I also had to get a tax rate calculated by a municipal tax office (helpfully close to Pharmacity) using my contract which is very different than the US system. It took about 25 minutes of waiting and about 2 minutes of actual calculations and official paperwork which I then had to turn into someone in my office.
I’ve spent the last two days working with data in Excel, so nothing to really write home about but still fun nonetheless and I always enjoy being part of a team. The walk from our apartment is about 15 minutes or so and the most important thing is to try to not get hit by a bike. :O
One of the first things I did when we moved here was search for a running route. I don’t need variation or even dramatic sights. I do need something that I can vary my distance and that I can start running once I walk out my door and punch the button on my watch. I don’t want to take a bus or the metro somewhere to run. In Montreal I spent a lot of time running a very urban path even though I circled several parks. While I am not exactly running in the country here in Finland, the path along the river feels rural especially compared to crossing Rue St. Laurent at mid-day. I haven’t quite been here a full month and already I love this route and I can’t wait to see it in different seasons. The river here is similar to parks in Montreal, in that it is really the heart of the city where people go and hang out to read or socialize, and not something you visit just when friends or family are in town visiting. If I turn left at the river, I am in the city center in just two minutes. But if you turn right, you can quickly be at a spot like above that doesn’t even feel like a city. Not a day goes by that I don’t make one turn at the river or another.
Further internet exploration led me to Eurokangas, a fabric store on the 3rd floor above my regular grocery store in the city center of Turku. From their website, it looked like mostly home dec fabric, which there was a lot of, but this store is really amazing. They have a huge selection of apparel fabrics, including fancy bridal and formal fabrics, but also some clearance fabrics starting at 20 euros a pound, significantly more expensive than Jätti-Rätti, but still a pretty good deal. Out of all the fabric on bolts there, I was drawn to the amazing selection of printed jersey knit, which I have almost no experience sewing with. But on my sewing bucket list is a jersey knit dress and the patterns were soooooo cute (foxes! tiny umbrellas!) that I was really tempted. The price was about 12 euros a meter, but the width was wide. I don’t normally buy this type of fabric, so I am not sure if this is a good price or not.
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.