Monday, 27 December 2010

Late Christmas presents

I got Becky's lovely box of stuff from the post office today, and it was very exciting! Crisps, trashy magazines, sweets, some very exotic tea and a pretty card she made because she's a genius. I've already eaten all the crisps, which is very greedy of me, but they're so tasty. The magazines are so wonderful, I don't think Finland sells such trashy, horrible magazines but I'm addicted to Take a Break, Pick Me Up etc etc. I've got plenty to read now. The tea is Jasmine and Chrysanthemum, I think it's supposed to cleanse me out or something. I probably need it. It smells bad, tastes good.
I was in Tinatuoppi when I opened the parcel, which is a bar very similar to The Dev in Camden. For some reason lots of people seemed very excited by my box of English crap - an old man was reading Take a Break over my shoulder, even though he seemed to not understand English very well.
So I'm very grateful to lovely Becky for all this nice stuff. This evening I feel very rundown and ill, it might just be stress or a bug, or it might be that I ate the crisps too quickly.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

A Finnish Christmas

I've had such a lovely day with my Finnish family. We went in the morning to see the declaration of peace, which is some guy reading some stuff in Finnish and Swedish, and then the national anthem playing. I didn't understand it, but lots of people were there, and it was quite nice to be in a crowd, it made me feel more christmassy. I even saw a dog wearing socks! I wasn't feeling too festive when I woke up this morning but that got me more into the mood because there seemed to be so much happiness and goodwill.
After that we just hung out and Tommi dressed up as Santa to visit Emma's neices, who apparently were a bit scared and shy, although I thought he was very convincing. I remember I was always scared of Santa when I was very young, and these children are only aged three and five. I'm sure they were pleased to get their presents though.
Once they were back home we started getting our Christmas meal ready. Emma's friend Katri was also with us, and she'd done most of the cooking. I'm going to have to describe the meal very well, it's so different to the Christmas food I'm used to having in my own country, but I enjoyed it very much.
First we had a salad course (the bottom picture.) Emma and Katri had apparently planned to keep it small and simple, but things got out of hand somewhere along the line. There was a great deal of food:
Mixed salad
Mushroom salad
Cod roe (not for me)
Salmon (again, not for me)
Herring (Again...)
Pickled onions
Finnish cheese
Boiled potatoes
Cream (For some reasons, the Finns put whipped cream with beetroot. It wasn't that bad though.)

I think we overate seeing as it was all so tasty and there was so much to eat. We could barely manage the main course, which was:
Karelian pies and egg butter
Meatballs, made by Tommi
Vegetable balls for me
Porkkanalaatikko (Carrot casserole)
Lanttu (Turnip casserole)
Peruna (Potato casserole)

All the vegetable dishes were made by Katri and were really enjoyable. The usual meat is ham, but Emma never ate it as a child and had meatballs instead, which is why that's what was made for our little family. The food was so different to the English roast my mother usually makes, and this is the first Christmas I've spent away from my family, so it was a really new experience. After our meal we just hung out and drank; also we had a very civilised cheese and crackers course in the evening. I spoke to my parents too, which was really nice, and they are apparently having Turducken tomorrow. (Turkey stuffed with a chicken, stuffed with a duck!) I guess they thought that as the family vegetarian was out of the country they should go crazy with meat! the Finns laughed their arses off when I told them this, my dad was very confused about why they found it so funny! I usually have nut roast along with the potatoes and vegetables, but my dad certainly seemed to be looking forward to his lunch. It got a bit emotional with my dad telling me how proud he is that I've been making it here, despite things going a bit wrong for me. Being away from them at this time has made me miss them a lot more.
It's been so nice to see what Christmas is like in another country, although I still can't get my head around it being a day earlier. I've had a really lovely day, full of food and friends, and I don't think I'd have it any other way.
I hope everyone else has/had a lovely day, whoever you're with, wherever you are and whatever you're doing. I'm really grateful for the food and hospitality, and if everyone has as nice a time as I've had they should be very happy. Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Suburbs and Forest

I just went with Emmi whilst she walked her dogs, and got to wander through a Finnish forest. It was beautiful, all covered in snow. There were a few streetlamps nearby so it wasn't too dark, and it looked so clean and glittering. There were even people skiing there. It was a nice experience, and the forests look quite different to the woods in England, so it was something new for me. I'm sure it would be even prettier when it's well-lit during the daytime, but it was impressive as it was. Nothing but snow and trees all around me.
I've also now been able to see the suburbs of Turku, which hasn't happened before because I've always been right in the centre. It was much snowier because there are fewer people walking around, so the snow doesn't get trodden down so much and there's less need for snow ploughs to clear the area. It was so quiet compared to the middle of the city, it was quite strange. On the bus it's only roughly a 15 minute journey to market square, so it's not in the middle of nowhere. It was a lot more peaceful, but as I prefer busy areas I think I'd rather be in the city centre. I guess it's much better if you have pets to think of though.
I also finally got the Christmas parcel my mother sent me! I can't get Becky's yet because I don't know the tracking code, but my mother's got to me. She thoughtfully sent me a lot of thick tights, my grandparents say it's such a surprise that I suddenly live in "Findland", and my aunty sent a set of gloves and a scarf. The gloves are fine but the scarf is way too thin for these temperatures. I suppose they're lower than she could ever imagine, and at least it's a thoughtful gift. Now I'm just looking forward to getting Becky's parcel - I know it's arrived but I need the tracking code for it.


The teenagers here scare me a bit. They're all a bit loud and lairy. I expect many of them just discovered alcohol. They tend to sing and shout and spit and dance. That's not so different to the English kids, maybe it's more intimidating when they're gabbling away in foreign.
When I was in the line at Hesburger tonight there were three boys, who were probably only 13 or 14, and I'm not sure why they were there because they made no attempt to get food, but they were noisy and it was a bit horrible. One of them liked to spit on the ground a lot. Fucking teenagers.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Finnish TV

Due to a Phil Collins hangover on Saturday I spent a lot of quality time in front of the tv. I discovered that Saturday afternoon tv here is mainly cookery shows and shows about dogs. I discovered the joys of Sikke Sumari, the happiest tv chef in the world. She was so happy and peaceful, it was very soothing. Her show needed to be translated for me, and it seems she was very frustrated when her pancakes weren't perfect, and yet she was still smiling and happy. I love her.
In Finland there are a lot of subtitled foreign tv shows, so I can understand a lot of stuff. Sadly I had to miss out on the German soap opera and Danish documentary about high speed trains in Japan. What a letdown.
There was some slight drama after this gentle afternoon when I found I'd lost my purse. We called Olkkone, where we'd been the night before, but they hadn't seen it. I asked my mother to cancel my cards, and went out to meet Emmi. After a while Petteri appeared holding the purse! The man sitting behind us had found it and given it to him, and he was sitting where we'd been at the start of the night before. It pissed me off I'd already cancelled the cards but it's a bit late now. Once my Finnish card is available and my wages have been paid I'll have enough money to manage with.
After that Suski, Emma and Tommi came to meet us from a party with some of their friends, and the rest of the night involved various people trying to teach my to roll my r's, so I can shout perkele in a loud and threatening manner. It didn't work, even after the Finnish army got involved with trying to educate me. Also, in a conversation with three Finnish people this came up:
"Tamsin, what's a curry?"
"What the fuck?"
"I've never had a curry."
"Yeah, me neither. What does it mean?"
"What? Someone get me some planes tickets, we're going to school."
Seriously, what the fuck?
Due to my massive hangover I didn't drink any alcohol until last orders in Olkkone, when I gave into peer pressure. Until then I couldn't have stomached alcohol but being sober in a bar made me realise how loud and annoying drunk people are. Not my friends but various old men who want to shout very loudly and argue and pass out. It was definitely a Phil Collins krapula. I remember leaving the bar on Friday, and then waking up fully clothed at 9am with an untouched Hesburger meal on the floor. I'd passed out before Emma even got back from market square with food.
I'd planned on a nice quiet night and ended up going to bed at 6am...

Friday, 17 December 2010

Today's news

I went to work and my boss gave me a bottle of wine as a christmas present. Sweet. Unfortunately, it tastes horrible. If I mix it with Karpalo Lonkero it's much better, and more alcoholic. Anyway, nice one Tatu!
Then I walked home in the snow and when I got back Tommi asked me if I'd got the text he sent me. I looked at my phone and the estate agents offered me the room I wanted in the flat I viewed! Which is a good thing but I'm also quite sad because that means there's no going back when it comes to Jussi. It's the end of an era, and it's difficult to accept. Maybe I need something definitive like that in order to move on. I'm happy but also sad. It would be nice to move out of limbo, but it cements everything, and that's hard to deal with. At least they didn't care about me being foreign, which was a concern for me.
I'm going to start looking for a second job too. This week I only had to work today, and Tatu doesn't think they need me at all next week, and I can't live on only one day's wages per week. We talked about it and he said he would understand if I left the company, but I do enjoy my job and would be happy doing that and another part time job. I hope I won't have to leave Suomen Filateliapalvelu but, like he said, if someone offers me a full time position I ought to take it.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Free beer and cheese!

Oh god I'm hungover. Olkkone had a Christmas party last night that included vouchers for free beer. Then the barman gave us free beer even without vouchers. I think we were there for around 8 hours. This morning everyone wants to die.
As well as free drinks they had a little buffet, so everyone was eating free cheese, meatballs, olives, pickled onions, chocolates and biscuits, so it was like a real party. There was also free non-alcoholic glögi on tap. For English people, it's like mulled wine but the Finns prefer to add rum or vodka. As this was without alcohol, it was warm, spicy fruit juice. I can now say with certainty that making a cocktail from glögi and Karpalo Lonkero does not produce very pleasant results.
I've never been to a bar in England that made such an effort just to make everyone happy at Christmas. On New Years Eve last year The Dev in Camden gave a free shot of Jäger to the first 100 people through the door, but as you had to pay £5 entry for a bar that's normally free it didn't really make much difference. It just meant you'd bought a very expensive shot, and apart from that nothing happened. I'm told this really isn't unusual in Finland, and that lots of bars do it for Christmas, New Years Eve and the bar's birthday.
It was nice though, it involved some drunken phone calls to England and it was nice to hear some English voices again. I think everyone was very happy.
I ought to go to Maistraati to finish sorting out my social security but today is more a day for sitting down quietly.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Social security part 2 and cool supermarkets

Today we took another stab at getting a social security number. We walked to the police station, and were told we need to go to Maistraati. (A registry office basically.) Not cool, since that's on the corner of market square, two minutes away, rather than 20 minutes away like the police station.
We went back and went to this place, which bizaarely is in a department store, along with a wedding room and the office of the Brazilian consulate. Where's the sense?
However, I filled in my paperwork there, showed them my passport and work contract, and got approved! Woop! But as things can never go 100% right in this country the computer system wasn't working and I have to go back on Thursday so they can process my application and generate a number.
I think the only practical thing I have left to deal with is registering to pay tax. And deal with my boss seemingly forgetting I'm alive - Suski asked him about my work hours yesterday and he'd said he'd call me to ask me to work today and give me the rest of my hours - still haven't heard anything! Not that I mind getting a day off but I'd like to earn some money. I suspect someone brought in some really nice stamps to sell and he got distracted. I'll call him eventually. Just not today, fuck off am I going to work in the cold now.
When Emma and I went to S-Market earlier to get some lunch I noticed the deli counter for the first time. Most English supermarkets have one, but this was an off the scale, food porn deli counter. They have regular stuff like burgers, pastries, salads etc but they have stuff like mashed potato, macaroni cheese, other pasta dishes, pizza, and you just have to heat it all up when you get home. I had a very exciting feta cheese and olive burger and some couscous salad. It's not the cheapest part of the shop, but they had so much stuff. Much nicer than the slightly soggy and greasy samosas and onion bhajis I always bought in Sainsburys in Canterbury.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Finnish films and flats

I just went to view the flat we found. They do things differently here - everyone who's interested turns up at the same time and looks together. It was very nice, and spacious, and the other people were all girls around my age or a bit younger so that would be fine. It's 30 seconds walk from Emma and Tommi's front door, and would make no difference at all for getting to work or the shops. I hope that my foreigness won't be a problem and that they wouldn't purposely choose a Finnish speaking person over me. In all other ways I'm just as suitable as anyone else - I have a job and an income and would be responsible about it all. Right after that I got a Finnish bank account! It was much more straightforward than opening an account in my own country for the first time, so I'm proud of Finland for being simple for once.
Yesterday we were planning to see a Finnish film, Rare Exports, but ended up watching Twin Peaks for seven hours instead. The film is in Finnish and English, and is a slightly strange story about hunters capturing wild Santas in Lapland, and training them to be nice to children. There are two short films which are meant to be seen before the full length one, you can see them here. Youtube says you have to be a grown-up for that.
There's another Finnish film I'd like to see, which I think will be released soon, called Iron Sky. It's about space Nazis. Excellent.
The first Finnish film I ever saw was Paha Maa. For reasons that remain unclear, that film was what made my friend Katie want to go to Finland, which in turn lead to us boarding a flight to Helsinki in August 2009. I only saw the film after we'd been there and Jussi had come to London, and if I'd seen it beforehand it would have convinced me to never, ever go to Finland. It's one of the most miserable, depressing things I have ever seen. Why it had the opposite effect on Katie remains one of life's unsolved mysteries.
Whilst Jussi and I were together he showed me a few Finnish films. I would advise everyone to avoid Mosku at all costs. It's basically five hours of a miserable Finnish bastard hunting reindeer and moaning about Russians. Nothing actually happens. Matti is hilarious, but then Matti Nykänen is quite a hilarious guy. It's funny but tragic the way things turned out for him. I also really like Pahat Pojat, which I understand to also be a true story. Another film I'd like to see is Saatanan Radikaalat, which is about four dead Finnish guys who have such a great time in Hell they get sent back to Earth as a punishment. It's from the 1970s but it would be nice to find a subtitled copy or download.
Of all the films I've seen, only one did not have Jasper Pääkkönen in it. He's quite nice though. Not so much in Matti but in Paha Maa he was quite tasty. Ding dong.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Life sorted

Tommi found an advert for a room in a flat last night that's a minute's walk from their place, still Yliopistonkatu, and the monthly rent was half of what I'm earning in a week! It was living with a few girls, but house sharing is normal to me, I think in Finland people without much money and students usually live alone in studios, but it would be nicer to be with some other people.
Rent seems to be a lot cheaper here; it might be because furnished flats don't really exist. Everyone said they could help me with furniture, I think all I'd really need is a bed and probably a table and chair for drawing. I'm going to possibly view it on Monday, but if that or something similar works out I'd have a home, a job and some friends here. Do I need anything more?
Also, I have a huge hangover and it's not good.

Friday, 10 December 2010


Yes, I work at a stamp dealership. Yes, that's hilarious.
I kinda find the people who go into the shop funny because almost every single one is an elderly man with glasses. They also seem a bit shocked when I say "Minä olen Englantilainen", and scuttle off looking scared. However, I have to admit to a nerdy stamp-loving moment today. I remember when I was a kid being taught in school about the Victorian period, and in that time the first British postage stamp was issued, and they showed us pictures of it. Today, when I was making up an order, one of those was part of it! I had a nose at it for quite a long time, and was a little bit excited. I'm officially a nerd.
Work is going well. My boss took me for lunch yesterday, which was a bit of a shock because that's never happened in any job I've had in England. He walked into the room and informed me he was taking me for pizza. Obviously I wasn't arguing with that.
I think Finnish workplaces are a bit more laid-back than English ones, although possibly I just got lucky because I work at a very small company. The only really chilled out job I had in England was working in the Oxfam bookshop in Canterbury. The boss was an aging hippy who was usually stoned, and tended to disappear mid-morning for a fry up. It was a good job.
I need to adapt to getting up early every day. I'm exhausted, my back and legs ache so much, I feel like an old woman.
Finally, I guess I'll be staying in Turku because things have gone sour with Jussi, yet again, and I'm not prepared to tolerate it anymore. I have friends here, I have a job, and I'm sure I can eventually sort out my own place to live. I don't need someone who only wants to drag me down.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010




We might move to Vantaa next month, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. I could, of course, stay in Turku on my own, but that would be pretty difficult. My main concern is to be in this country and continue my experiences here - at first Jussi actually wanted to return to England, but I did not go through all this stress for a 7 week holiday!
I've only been to Vantaa because that's where the airport for Helsinki is. I don't really know what it's like, but Jussi is keen so he can work at the Koff brewery again. It's also commutable to Helsinki, so there would be plenty to do and there would probably be more employment opportunities for someone like me.
All of this would be just fine were it not for the fact that I love Turku, I like my job here, and I'm starting to feel quite settled. I was walking home from work at 9am this morning, the sun was just rising, it was snowy everywhere, and it all just seemed so lovely, I wanted to cry just thinking about leaving. I'm not saying I'd want to live here forever but it's such a nice place, and I don't really know what Vantaa is like, and maybe I wouldn't like it there. I haven't had enough of a chance to live here and explore. I'm not really in a financial position to stay here alone, and Jussi is very set on the fact that he wants to leave. Why he feels like that when he bitched and whined for months in London that he wanted to come back here is a mystery. And obviously, I'd like to be with him too, but I don't think I can have both him and Turku. I'm very worried, and very confused. If I really couldn't stay here then I'd choose Vantaa over England any day. Maybe it would be another good opportunity for me, and it would make my overall experience much bigger to have lived in more than one city in this country. I think I need a Finnish person to tell me the whole dirty truth about each place so I can work it all out/give me a coin to flip.
I'm sorry to have this big old emotional rant - this blog was not intended to be for such things, but I guess it is relevant. It's been a bit of a difficult day, thinking about all of this and feeling so uncertain. Any advice is welcome on this one.
On a lighter note, tomorrow I'm meeting a girl who reads this blog, so hopefully I'll end up with a new Finnish friend. Also, in the photo of Turku at the top, the grey building in the top left hand corner is where I live! Not for long apparently, but never mind. Our flat's on the opposite side though.

Happy Independence Day, and my thoughts on Salibandy

Although I'm a day late, Happy Independence Day to all my lovely Finnish readers! I don't really understand Independence Day, and it doesn't matter much to me, but I hope you all enjoyed it, whatever you were doing.
My weekend, including yesterday, was spent being forced to watch Salibandy on the Yle website. I understand the world championship is being held in Helsinki this week, and Jussi is very keen. I didn't really see much difference between this sport and indoor/field hockey, and as I went to an all girls school, I've played a lot of hockey.
Finland beat Canada 12-2 on Sunday; the best moment was when the Canadian goalkeeper, rather than moving the ball away from the net as he should do, smacked it right into the goal, and let Finland score. Other than that, I most enjoyed it when the commentator was interviewing some guy, and some cheeky kids were standing behind him waving, dancing and sticking their fingers up at the camera. Nice one.
Yesterday I was made to watch Switzerland play Poland. It was funny that when Finland played the arena was absolutely packed, but for this game there were about 10 spectators. I don't think anyone outside of Finland actually cares about Salibandy. I'm told there is a British team, and that they're actually pretty good, but I'd never heard of them until Jussi mentioned them. To be honest I'd rather watch the football or a nice bit of ballroom dancing.

Saturday, 4 December 2010


I've just noticed this lovely little blog has been viewed over a 1000 times now, and in only about 6 weeks.
Thank you all.


Yesterday I wrote about Little Britannia, and claimed that the price of two bottles of Lucozade and a packet of crisps was 16 euros, and therefore a complete shocker. I would now like to clarify that the 16 euros on the till was change from 20 euros, making the prices reasonable, and me a moron.
This was clarified to me on Facebook by the genius man who opened the shop, and although the cost is still a little higher than the regular British prices, it's hardly unreasonable considering the import costs and the fact that food prices generally are higher in this country. So if anyone was put off by the prices, it was my mistake and had nothing to do with the actual shop.

Today the snow has gone completely bezerk, and even Jussi was saying he'd never seen anything like it. Overnight it went from nothing except ice and sludge to about 10cm depth, and it continued to snow until about an hour ago...

Friday, 3 December 2010

Little Britannia and the Kauppahalli

I've been to the Kauppahalli, which is a very sweet indoor market type thing. It reminded me of Covent Garden market, but with more food. Most of the kioskis and baby sized shops were selling fresh cheeses, bread, meat etc, and there were also some foreign shops and delis, such as Chinese, Indian, and British!
Kauppahalli is where Little Britannia, the British food shop is. My timing is perfect because it only opened last month. I've actually been in Turku longer than the shop has! Oh my god, it was lovely! I only got Lucozade and Walkers Salt & Vinegar today, but that was enough to put a massive smile on my face. They also had Monster Munch! But no pickled onion flavour today. They had loads of Cadburys products, including Dairy Milk and Whole Nut, shortbread biscuits, and lots of other British sweets. They also had canned haggis, custard and corned beef. Not for me.
I'd like it if they had more things like canned soup, but as they're new they probably don't have a full product range yet. The downside is the price - two bottles of Lucozade and a packet of crisps cost €16, as opposed to about £2 in Britain. Maybe it's not a surprise as everything is directly imported. However, it was so nice to see some familiar products and brand names, and really nice to have some comforting food from home.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

This is the happiest day of my life!

Today has been insane! I was woken up by Emma telling me "I'm sorry, you have to get up now, you have a job." So I thought, what the fuck? Our friend Suski works for a company that buys and sells stamps to stamp collectors, and her boss had asked if she knew anyone who could help out around the office, doing stuff like filing and putting things into envelopes. Thankfully, she thought of me, and language wasn't an issue.
So Emma and I walked over there, and in I went. Obviously, on the first day in any job you have to have an embarrassing moment, and here's mine: I met the boss, whose name is Tatu, and when I was introduced to him he just said "Tatu." At first I thought he was speaking to me in Finnish, then I thought he was talking about tattoos. Eventually he said "That's my name." I apologised, but thankfully Finnish people always think the language barriers are their fault.
We had a chat for a while, and it became apparent that that guy fucking loves stamps! On a slightly insane level. Then it gets better.
He said "I have an idea, and I think you're the only person who can help with that." So my immediate thought was, oh shit... Then he asked me to teach him English! Which is a coincidence, as I'd placed adverts online earlier in the week as an English or art tutor. He asked how much money I would expect for doing that, and I hadn't really considered that. I suggested he could help me with my Finnish in exchange for me helping with his English, and his response was "Yes I'll do that, but I also want to pay you." So I'm not arguing with that. Now, I'm working in the office for €9/hour, and teaching him English most mornings for €10/hour. How ironic that the shittiest job I've ever had is also the most highly paid.
After about an hour of chat I was put to work, and all I had to do was fold invoices in half, put them in an envelope, seal said envelope. And they're paying me a shitload to do a monkey's job. I don't really see how I can fuck up such a simple task. This cannot possibly go wrong! (Famous last words...)
The work might not be that regular, because I'm only there to help out with general, slightly shitty jobs, and he said that if things aren't very busy I might not need to work. That's ok though, because I'd like some time to do my own things rather than having to work constantly. I'm going back tomorrow at 8am to teach him English for an hour, then do the office work for the rest of the morning. On Monday it's Finnish Independence Day, so there's no work for anyone, but next Tuesday I only have to teach for an hour, then on Wednesday to Friday I'm working full days. This is pretty sweet. I'm very proud, even if my work is very modest, at least I'm working and contributing like a normal person, and I'll also be able to have a social security number, which as you all know will solve a lot of problems for me.
After work Suski and her boyfriend took me for a drink to celebrate, so today worked out very nicely for me. I have Suski to thank, because whilst she was arranging work for me I was fast asleep. I haven't worked for this at all.
She also showed me a picture of a pre-prepared salad she's been eating recently - the brand name is...Tamsin! It's available in Siwa. I apparently taste delicious and crunchy. I guarantee that the jokes about eating me are never, ever going to get old.
So I hope tomorrow will be just as good and that the teaching will go well. I'm really really happy.

Rule Britannia

Turns out there's a British grocery in Turku! I'll be there tomorrow! I've looked at their message board on Facebook and various people, both British and Finnish, have requested a lot of products I'd like to buy, such as pot noodles, Paxo stuffing, Quorn, salad cream and Cadburys. I don't really miss England but it would be so nice to have something from home.
I'll spend a fucking fortune in there!
And in the Irish pub tonight I got salt and vinegar crisps! They tasted dead sexy after all my cravings. The guy working there tonight was English, but he seemed like a twat so I didn't want to ask him about working there. I'll email the owner tomorrow when I'm not drunk. I think it's bedtime...

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Damn the doctors

As predicted, the trip to the doctor was an experience. I didn't even get as far as the doctor. Just an elderly assistant with a very limited knowledge of English - thank god Emma was around to translate, if I'd been alone I'd have been screwed. Even when she asked for my date of birth Emma had to translate the month and year for her. Even the names of the medication were a problem, because although the name is the same it's pronounced differently - in Finnish "y" is generally pronounced as "oo".
The EHIC card actually is useless here, but the assistant also claims there's not enough time to treat the Finnish patients, let alone the dirty immigrant skanks. She probably didn't use those exact words but whatever. Again they had to check we were in the correct place, and didn't seem to have a clue, no one seems to know what's going on.
As things were so awkward, her only suggestion was to ask my doctor in England to contact a pharmacy in the area and arrange to send a prescription for me directly to them. When we got home Emma called the chemist to find out if this would be acceptable, and they said no. Because my doctor has no license to practice in Finland his prescription would not be legal here, plus they've probably never even seen a British NHS prescription, so how could they possibly know if it was genuine? Someone could have knocked it up on a computer for all they know. I think it's completely understandable from their perspective, even if it's annoying for me. To be honest I'm feeling ok so maybe it's not that important to get the proper medication after all, and I don't think I really need to be taking the contraceptive pill right now...
But really, communication within the health service here seems to be shocking, and none of the staff seem to know what's going on. I cannot possibly be the only person in this country who's ever needed medical attention and didn't have social security, and I'm quite shocked that the provisions for such people are so pathetic. For now I'm not worrying too much, and I guess if things get too bad I can go to the emergency department and cause a big old scene. At least I don't have a problem like diabetes for example, where going without medication could be a disaster. Have I really found a health service worse than the NHS?
I'm still applying for jobs and advertising myself: and
Bloody Finns don't seem to be taking the bait though. Although there is an Irish pub here and the majority of bar staff are English, so tonight we're going there because it could be a real option for me. I've been there once for a drink and it was quite nice, they even show the Premier League matches! So let's hope for the best, because if I'm working I'll get social security and Finland will treat me like a real person.
Finally, today it's only 0 degrees, and I really was comfortable in that, I must be adapting. On the day I arrived Jussi and I went to get food in market square at 2am, it was the same temperature and I was freaking out. I think when I go back to England and everyone else is in winter coats I'll probably be skipping around in flip flops. I'm very glad the temperature has increased and that I'm more comfortable, last week it was getting extremely painful for me to be outside.