Monday, 27 June 2011

Juhannus and another happy thing

First off...I have a new job! Finally! As an au pair for a family who live in Kaarina. I met them yesterday and started working today. Obviously I'm very pleased, and I also think it's very nice to have the opportunity to be outside of the city. They live in a quite rural area, and although I absolutely love Turku and where I live, it's nice to have a bit of variety. In terms of wages and other benefits I'm also very satisfied, and the family seem very nice, including the children. There was a lot to do but it wasn't so bad. So let's hope I've now turned a corner regarding money and work.

Now, onto Juhannus (midsummer). As I said, that's not a thing in my country, but Finland makes a massive deal out of it. And it was a pretty epic weekend. It started on Thursday, when we took a trip to Pori to rescue a friend escaping from the army for the night because he wanted to see Petri Nygård. That was a successful mission, but obviously I cannot name names with this.

Friday involved drinking throughout the day, which I wouldn't normally do but it seemed acceptable. Nothing very significant happened, apart from noticing how many shops and bars were shut for the holiday, which felt very odd. I'd been warned that the city would be quite deserted, and that proved to be true. I will say that I disagree with what I was told about midsummer drinking being a generally happier occasion - at least amongst my friends there seemed to be constant fights. Which was unfortunate, but they usually got sorted out.

Saturday involved more drinking, and me taking a surprise dip into the river, which was extremely unhygienic. I also managed to break my finger in the process of getting out again. Oh dear.

But now things should be back to normal, and I'm looking forward to tomorrow and the rest of the week. Here are a few pictures from my weekend.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


I've been told before that I should go to Forte sometime, which finally happened yesterday. It was definitely preferable to Marilyn and Vegas, which I wrote about before. It was nice to have a girlie night out for a change, as I haven't done that for ages now. It's not the best club I've ever been to, but it's better than some of the other options in Turku. The interior was nice, and there were lots of friendly people there. I think Sunday is the really big night there, as all the bar staff who can't go out on Friday and Saturday apparently go to Forte on Sundays. Several people have told me I should go there one weekend, and I wouldn't be opposed to going again. The music wasn't quite what I like, but it was good enough for dancing, and better than in some other places where they seem to play "Selvä Päivä" and not much else.
Best of all, it was extremely cheap, and they had various cocktails. Some creepy old men bought us all strawberry margaritas. The drinks were good, the men were bad. It was a good night though, and I'm glad my friends called me else I would have just been at home being boring. However, I still find it a bit awkward when I go outside at 4am and it looks like the middle of the day. Yesterday was the longest day of the year too, so it was really weird. I'm not sure I'm going to get used to this.
Our night ended with eating burgers in the street, kindly bought for us by some friendly men. I have to say, if you've been out drinking in Turku you should go to Semi-Burger in Erikinkatu. The food is amazing, and it was pretty perfect after lots of drinking. I think I'm in love with their vegetarian burger. Maybe I was just drunk, but everything about it seemed perfect. It's a bit expensive (€4 just for a fairly small burger), but it's probably worth it. When you're drunk you don't really mind how much you're spending anyway. There was a long queue so I think it's a popular place. I'll certainly be going back.
So all in all it was a successful night with a happy ending. The occasional midweek night out is never a bad thing, so today I'm feeling rather cheerful.

Monday, 20 June 2011

More thoughts on Finnish people

This weekend I've noticed how much my Finnish friends love alcohol. I know not every Finnish person is like this, but a lot of them are, and I'm wondering how to keep up. This weekend it's midsummer, and from what I know that involves copious amounts of drinking. Just like every other weekend. I'm quite intrigued, as midsummer isn't a big deal at all in my country, but here it's a big party and tradition. Or just an excuse for a big party. Maybe it's a manifestation of how happy the Finnish people are to get a bit of daylight and sunshine. I'm sure it'll be an interesting few days at least.
Another thing I've noticed recently is that Finnish people, if they consider you as a friend, are extremely loyal, and will do absolutely anything necessary to help you. All along I've had a lot of help from my friends here, but it just suddenly occurred to me. If you need something, a Finnish person will do whatever they can to sort you out, whatever kind of help you may need. I have to say that sometimes English people, myself included, can't really be bothered to go out of their way. Only on a couple of occasions since being here have I thought this of a Finnish person. So we all need some Finnish friends, because they won't leave you hanging, and they will go far out of their way to make sure you're ok. Maybe I've just been extremely lucky with the people I've met. I think that although Finnish people may seem cold or reserved at first, once you are close to them they are the opposite of that.
Plus, a potential childcare job has come up, which I'm fairly hopeful about. We'll see how it goes, but at the moment I'm staying optimistic. Finding a new job would make me so happy. So everything here is going well enough - now I just need to deal with the student loan company in England, who, as usual, have made a mess of things. Ideal.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

My moment of linguistic genius

Earlier I looked something up in the textbook I had for the Finnish course I went to, and then decided to look through it a bit more. Unfortunately whilst I was going to that course I was in the middle of breaking up with my ex, and lost the confidence to keep going, which I still think is a real shame. Since then I've been picking things up in a more casual way, but today I was compelled to have a look through the book some more and see if I could make some use of it. After all, it was fairly expensive to buy, so it's much better to still use it, even if it's on my own. Other people have told me that I speak more, and better, Finnish than they would have expected, so I think I should keep developing that.
Anyway, I came to a section with a few paragraphs describing a fictional Finnish family, and was amazed to discover that, as I read through it, I understood most of what was there! Not every single word, but I definitely got the gist of it. Plus, using what I already knew and had heard in the past, I managed to work out some of the new words and sentences! I feel like I have accomplished something good today, and now I'm much more inspired to keep using the book. It's hard to use the pages on grammar by myself, as the book doesn't contain any english text or explanations, but I can definitely use it to extend my vocabulary and look up thing like how to ask questions.
Added to that, the daycare finally contacted me regarding my wages! I was asked again for my bank details, but the email included a wage slip with tax information. How they managed to get the tax card but not the bank account number, which was definitely in the same envelope, is beyond me, but who cares! Hopefully I'll get my money tomorrow and can buy some decent food. A diet of noodles and toast is getting depressing now. Also, once I have the money I'm going to call the council about selling paintings in kauppatori. I'm really excited about doing that; I think it's a really good opportunity. Today has actually turned out to be a rather successful day.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Hotter than hell

It's insanely hot! I never imagined it would get to be like this in Finland. Yesterday it was 33 degrees, which is such an enormous difference from the winter. English summers ofter get to these kinds of temperatures, but I didn't really expect it to happen here too. On Friday I even saw a rather fat old lady jump naked into the fountain outside the main library. It wasn't very attractive, but the police turned up very quickly. I can understand her feelings though. I constantly feel a bit dirty and disgusting, even right after taking a shower. I think it's going to cool down a bit next week; I really hope so because it's a bit too much now. This has been constant for about a week, and the weekend has been ridiculously hot. However, I'd rather it was like this than as cold as it was during the winter.
I've also noticed that it's not actually getting dark anymore - the sky just goes a kind of greyish-blue at it's darkest. For me it really is the strangest thing. The picture is of a very beautiful sunrise froma few weeks ago, but there isn't even a proper sunrise anymore. I'm not sure if I like this phenomenon or not.

It's now Monday morning. I started writing this last night, and apparently I spoke too soon, because I was woken up at 7.00am by thunder and torrential rain. It's not cold, just very grey and wet. I think I preferred the ridiculous heat and sunshine. Oh dear.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Something special for my lovely readers

As a special treat for being so loyal and lovely, I came up with this:

Frozen in Finland readers can have 20% off the price of any of my artwork listed on Etsy!
Please note that this is a discount on the cost of the item only; shippng costs will stay as stated on Etsy.
To take advantage of this, please contact me directly via email, with your name and address, and obviously specifying which piece you want. I will confirm the total price for you and send you my paypal details for payment. Nothing will be shipped to you until payment has been received. Now go buy some art!

Remember, if you want a discount you'll need to contact me, ot make a purchase through Etsy - they'll automatically charge you the full price.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Remember to relax

Lots of things have happened today to get me stressed and pissed off. I really overspent at the weekend, and I'm not very proud of myself. It looks like my rent will be paid in installments this month. However, if the pre-school I had an interview at could be bothered to pay me for my time, as they promised, it would likely solve the problem. The lesson we've learned this weekeend is that drunk people shouldn't be allowed to pay with cards or withdraw money. Bad things will happen.
Despite all that, I had quite a relaxing few hours sitting by the river tonight. It was very hot today, and lots of people were walking around; I felt very connected to Turku for some reason.
Another lovely thing is that the benches by the river, near to the library, have special Capital of Culture Marimekko designed cushions. There are lots of street art things around the river area, such as balloons with ships on them in the trees, and giant ducks in the river. I'm so irritated that my iPhone charger is broken so I can't take any pcitures. If I wasn't a big drunken fool I could have bought a new one already...

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Clubbing hell

This week I've found myself in a few different clubs in Turku. I've often walked past two places that are next door to each other, Nightclub Vegas and Nightclub Marilyn - I'm amused that the word "nightclub" is used, because I don't think anyone in my country actually says that anymore - and I always got the impression that those places were cheesy hellholes. Now, having gone to them both, I can say for sure that they are!
Vegas, in particular, seems to have a lot of strange, older men who want to prey on small English girls. It's never a good sign when your friends have to form a human shield around you to protect you. Both of these places struck me as a 17 year old's dream, but it was a bit tacky for me. Lots of girls wearing far too much make-up, and lots of guys who have no concept of personal space. Fun. Someone told me that Marilyn is usually frequented by 18 year olds who have just discovered the joys of legal drinking. A lot of bars here have higher age limits to keep out teenagers who don't know how to handle their alcohol, so I assume that's one of the only options for them. I suppose at least I can say I've been to these places, but I don't plan on going to them regularly.
Last night I found myself in another club, the name of which I don't even remember, and for some reason being able to skip the line, leaving lots of unfortunate people standing in the cold. That place seemed to have a bit more class, and the interior was more stylish, but I don't think it will be a regular place for me either. Again, at least I went once. I'm told it's a very new place, and it was definitely preferable to the other too. The music wasn't quite to my taste in any of these places.
It's still very hot, so I'm annoyed that I seem to have picked up yet another cold. My nose is very stuffed up, but I suspect I'm just a bit run down - I think I've been overdoing it with going out and drinking for the past couple of weeks. Hopefully I'll feel better after a few quiet nights.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Vesi exhibition

Today is an insanely hot day here, which I think set me up well psychologically for seeing an exhibition about water. I enjoyed the show, but I think I preferred the last exhibition I saw at Wäinö Aaltosen.
The picture is of my favourite piece from the show, "Sink First" by Tina Eskilsson. The medium is pencil, and it looked very impressive. The placement of the figure, with a gap at the top, made the idea of sinking very convincing.
I also really liked two films, by Hannu Karjalainen and Renja Leino respectively. Both of them used sound and image in such a way that made the water seem to really be there, like I could touch it. Karjalainen's film "Surfer", was particularly good, showing waves crashing against rocks. It reminded me very much of my home, it was very emotive and captivating.
Again, the layout of the exhibition was great, and successfully showed the many functions of water - as a cleanser, as part of recreation and sport, as a dangerous force etc. In the first room there seemed to be some emphasis on visual distortion caused by being underwater, which was interesting to look at.
My only complaint would be that this show was really focussed on photography, and I would have liked to see some more paintings and drawings. There were a few included, but they seemed like an afterthought. The previous exhibition I saw at this gallery covered a wide spectrum of media, which kept things fresh, but that was not the case today. I have nothing against photography, but it's not my primary interest, and the exhibition seemed a bit unbalanced to me.
However, the subject matter is interesting, and there were plenty of really great images and compelling works, so I'm pleased that I went. This show runs until August, and I'm looking forward to seeing what's next at Wäinö Aaltosen.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Food and Art

I just ate some lovely falafel from Hesburger. I haven't been there for a while, so it was a nice treat. Actually, I mainly bought it because I ended up having a spontaneous night out last night, and on the way home around 5am I went to Hesburger, and as soon as I got to the front of the line the woman announced that they were shutting and wouldn't cook anything else. Evil people. I really like Hesburger, I think I'll miss it when I'm back in London. Perhaps I should open my own franchise. It's a lot better than Burger King or McDonalds - their vegetarian food is actually edible for a start.
I don't really get cravings for English food anymore. When I first came here it was really annoying. On a couple of occasions when I've been hungover a fried breakfast from a greasy cafe would have been ideal, but unfortunately there's no way to get that kind of thing here. Finnish people really don't understand fried breakfasts either - when I've tried explaining it they can't accept that it's breakfast, and tell me they might eat it for dinner but it's not breakfast food. I think if a hungover Finnish person ate at a greasy cafe they'd change their minds - it's hangover heaven, and every English person knows it, especially the students.
The other day I did have some bad cravings for food from Wasabi London. Their tofu yakisoba is amazing, and they have lots of really tasty vegetarian sushi too. I recommend the seaweed, soya bean, and red pepper gunkan. It's bliss. In London I regularly went to Picadilly, one of my favourite areas, to visit the commercial art galleries, and always bought food from there on the way home.
On the subject of art galleries, tomorrow I'm planning to visit Wäinö Aaltosen again. I would have done that today but I'm feeling sluggish. The new exhibition there is by Finnish, Swedish, and Estonian artists, and is themed on water, which will be of great interest to me. I grew up by the sea, and absolutely loved it, and always felt connected with water. Wherever I settle myself will need to be on the coast, or have a large body of water nearby. I love the river in Turku, which luckily is just down the street from where I live.
I really liked the last exhibition I saw at Wäinö Aaltosen; I liked the way pieces had been grouped together, and the general layout was really good, so I think this new show will be very enjoyable.