Saturday, June 5, 2010

Tässä sitä taas mennään - Helsinki, Finland

Here we go again! (or "tässä sitä taas mennään" in Finnish - as translated by Google translator:))!

Nathan and I both arrived in Helsinki this week - Nathan on Tuesday and me on Thursday.  Nathan has been here many times, but I've never been to Finland, or any of the Scandanavian countries for that matter, so I have been very excited for this new adventure!

With that being said - the first 48 hours have been a little challenging so bare with me on this first post - okay?:)

I arrived in Helsinki via American Airlines on Thursday morning at 8:30 am - a very easy and uneventful flight.  I then hopped in a cab to our new apartment (too heavy of luggage for public transportation AND I had no idea where I was going:)) where Nathan was waiting to greet me.  The cab ride was about 20 minutes - the first thing I noticed was the lack of Alps.:)  Of course I know I'm in Finland not Switzerland - but I had gotten so used to that view!  Anyway, for what I could tell, Helsinki is very flat and green - lots of trees and (at least where I was) not a whole lot of buildings.

Nathan magically appeared when the cab pulled up in front of our apartment building (thank goodness), because I had no way of calling him down to get me.:)  He carried my 50 lb suitcase up three flights of stairs (no elevator in this building) to our new home for the next 4 months.  I had no idea what it was going to be like because I didn't get to see any pictures before I got here - I just knew that it was 40 square meters (about 400 square feet) - 20 square meters less than our old place.

The apartment is what it is.  We have a bedroom with three twin beds in it, a kitchen, a bathroom where one faucet controls the washing machine, sink, and shower, and a sitting area with a couch, two chairs, a TV and the "Becker Command Center" as we like to call it (essentially the kitchen table with our three computers on it).  I'll get back to all of this in a later post when I give you a video tour:)

We live on the top floor of a three story building on a very quiet tree lined street.  No Hookah Bar downstairs.  No train station noise in the background.  Actually, no noise at all.

Nathan headed out around 9:30 am for work and walked me to the grocery store and train station, so I would have my bearings.  The grocery store is a little bit farther than the one in Oerlikon, but we have a place to store our bikes on the ground level of our apartment, so I will be able to ride there (yeah!). 

For lack of a better word - we basically live in a village - I can't say suburb because that would give you the wrong visualization.  The "village center" has an R-kiosk, a market, another market that is also the post office, and a hair salon.  Not a lot of action out here, which is slightly depressing me right now, but I haven't been able to get on the train to go into Helsinki proper, so I won't go into a full on "I need prozac" tailspin just yet.  Nathan said it is only two stops to civilization (I mean Helsinki) and we are going today so I will get back to you on this subject. 

Now back to the apartment - the corporate apartment - that isn't cheap.  Seriously - this place gets a big WTF from me.  The company that rents this place should be really embaressed.  It was DISGUSTING when I got here - leftover food on the dishes in the cabinets (gross), an inch of hair and lint on the bathroom floor (double gross), bottle tops and other stuff under the couch, brown goo and other marks (possibly food?) on a lot of the walls and doors - and I could go on.  First of all - who lived here before - a neanderthal?  Food on the walls - really?  And WHY wasn't the place cleaned before we got here - or possibly ever? 

I mentioned a few of these things to Nathan before he left for work the first morning, so he sent an email to the apartment people.  They sent over some 20 year old girl to "clean" about an hour later- I'm not sure she knew I would be there b/c she had a guy with her - possibly her boyfriend? - not sure.  Anyway - he left when he saw me.  She apologized for it being "not clean" and asked what the problem was.  I pointed out the two things I had noticed (food on dishes and hair on bathroom floor), but at that point I hadn't had a good chance to check everything out.  She spent about 20 minutes cleaning those two things and asked if there was anything else.  I was too tired to deal with her and obviously if I had to explain what was dirty it was going to be pointless.  I decided to finish my nap and then take on the cleaning myself. 

I took me about 8 hours to clean our tiny 400 square foot apartment, but I feel a lot better now (just for the record the cleaning took place over two days - Thursday and Friday - since I also slept, unpacked, and worked on Swagger stuff as well). The kitchen was the worst.  I washed ALL the kitchen stuff by hand (we don't have a dishwasher) and cleaned out the cabinets and refridgerator so our food would be "safe":).  I then put everything I thought was gross into the storage area including the pillows and bed linens with random stains (we brought our own stuff - thank God).  I can gladly report that both our mothers would be proud of the clealiness now - I know it would pass the white glove test! 

Not sure what it is about moving to a new country that makes Nathan and I argue.  Possibly it had something to do with when Nathan came home from work and wondered why I hadn't gone to the grocery store because he was hungry and wanted me to make him dinner. Seriously - I almost killed him - like boom - dead.  Of course when I told him he could go to the grocery store that was completely out of the question - figures.  I also said that since I had been working so hard the least he could do was take me into Helsinki and buy me dinner.  Nope - that didn't work out either - "we're going on Saturday" he said - "can't you just wait"? Seriously?!  He's lucky he's still alive - especially since I did go to the grocery store to buy stuff for dinner and they don't even sell wine there! (I came home and looked this up on the internet and apparently you have to go to a special alcohol store to buy wine - which is fine except that there isn't one in this village!)  Could be a long 4 months people:)

Anyway - enough venting! Sorry guys - I think I'm just sleep deprived, wine deprived, and a little cranky from all the dirt and the fact that my computer died last night (literally) and doesn't look fixable:(. Hopefully I'll be back to my normal self by the end of the weekend after I "go into town" and see Helsinki.  I need civilization - it makes me happy.  I'm sure that will take me out of the "I miss Oerlikon - with all the people and stores" feeling.  Hell - I'm even thinking that I'd take the Hookah Bar right now (did I just say that?)! But if I remember correctly the first couple of days in Switzerland weren't so fabulous either - shock of moving to a new culture and place I guess.  I'm sure I'll be on the "I love Finland" bus soon - so stay tuned!

For the next post I plan on taking you on a tour of our new digs and showing you the picture that I took at 4 am when I couldn't sleep - gotta love being this far North!:)



Lisa said...

Eeeek, I can NOT do gross and dirty. I would not have been able to do anything until that task was demolished. Good idea you brought your own linens... that would have been double disastrous! PS - Maybe it's the 400 sq ft that encourages the arguing? Nick and I have 2500 and it is not nearly big enough for the two of us sometimes!

Mandy said...

Yes - maybe it is the 400 sq ft:) Although, I will have to say - I was talking to one of my German friends yesterday and told her our new apartment was pretty spacious - ha:)! My how our perspective changes!

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