So, I’ve finally made it! I can now cross ‘live in a foreign country’ off my bucket list. And I must say, so far all the fears I had were for nothing. Everyone has been very friendly and welcoming. The only real trouble was buying spices with Finnish labels. But it was worth it because the spiced eggs were delicious!
The only worry I have now is my right of residency, as I still worry that they’ll think I’m not making enough money to meet the financial requirements. But my appointment at the police station to register isn’t for over a month so maybe I shouldn’t worry about it until then and just focus on my writing.
I’m more or less settled into my new place and am just waiting for my boxes from home to be shipped over. I’m sharing a flat in a student dorm building with my fiancé, who is studying a master’s degree in pop culture and North American studies. It sounds very interesting. I might apply for it next year.
But anyway, our flat. For the last two years we’ve been living in a shared house which was practically falling apart. I’ve had a lot of different roommates but the people I shared that house with were just awful. Every roommate you ever have will either be compulsively neat and bitch at you for leaving a single teaspoon by the sink or will be almost proudly messy and leave their own dishes to rot. There is no in between and we had both kinds living in our house. They would leave greasy pans in random places and one fell on my fiancé (he was my boyfriend back then) and permanently stained his shirt. They sneered at me whenever I said hello, or even smiled at them. They would never close the windows, even in the middle of winter. They had sex very loudly. (Seriously, no one wants to hear that!) They smoked in the bathroom and left their cigarette butts floating in the toilet bowl. They even complained that my boyfriend laughed too loudly. He’s had depression in the past so if he wants to laugh until his lungs ache, he damn well gets to! I did get my revenge, though. Once I heard them calling my boyfriend a freak so I stole all their mail. Nothing official looking like bank statements or anything with a government logo on it, but otherwise you don’t call my boyfriend a freak and get away with it.
Wow, that got a bit ranty. This wasn’t meant to be a ‘bitching about my awful rommates’ post. So, our flat. I did love living in Bath but the rents were so expensive, which was why I had to live in a shared house. A place this size in Bath would cost at least twice as much. I’m glad that we’re finally living alone and that my money will go a lot further.
Turku is a beautiful city full of old buildings that are even older than the state of Finland itself. Back when Finland was still a part of Sweden, Turku was the capitol city, as it’s only a boat ride away from Sweden, and the Swedish influence is still felt here. Most signs are in both Finnish and Swedish, much like the signs in Wales are in both English and Welsh.
As a university town with students from all over the world, in fact my fiancé is the only Finnish student in his class, Turku is probably one of the most multicultural cities in Finland. This suits me just fine as I can eat all of my favourite types of food – Thai, Chinese, Indian, Italian, etc. There’s even a shop called Little Britain (Ha ha!) selling British goods like PG Tips and Heinz baked beans. And most importantly for me, the bookshops have English language sections. I’m just disappointed that there don’t seem to be any writing magazines published in English here.
Some places in town even feel more like Paris or Vienna than Finland. There are even classy little cafes with tiny tables outside, complete with pretentious hipsters sipping their overpriced cappuccinos and judging you.
Even so, there is an amazing sense of freedom that comes from living in a foreign city. It’s like I’ve finally reached the stage in my life where I’m mature and financially independent enough to have the lifestyle I really want. I’m working for myself and not for an employer. I’m no longer financially dependent on my parents or the government. I think that sometimes we do need a change in our lives to get away from things that brought us down in the past and start afresh.
So now that’ I’m settled in and the headache of moving is gone, I can finally get back to working and writing, and hopefully find some time to explore the city and the country more.