Spring update and photos

It’s been a while since my last post. In that time, spring has very slowly come to Turku and although it’s still not very warm and the trees aren’t in full bloom yet, it’s a nice change from the winter weather. I’m hoping that it will get warmer over the next month and that I’ll be able to go away somewhere and relax for Midsummer, which is an important holiday in Finland.

I’ve had a few good things happen to me this spring. I edited two full length manuscripts in the same month and had my first magazine publication for a Finnish language learners magazine. I’ve also gotten a part time book reviewer job contract and one of my articles on my writing blog was selected as a teaching resource.

Even so, the last two months haven’t been that great for me. Some of the things I was hoping to avoid when I moved abroad ended up happening. I didn’t handle them particularly well and I went through a bad period of anxiety and depression. Things are starting to improve now and something that does make me feel better is going out and taking photos.

Practicing photography was one of my new year’s resolutions and it came at a great time as I was asked to submit some pictures with my magazine article, so I guess I could say I’m a published photographer as well as a writer. Here are some spring pictures from the area near my apartment block. I foolishly forgot to take any of the same area during winter. Although it was a pain to get around during that time, it was at least very pretty. I’ll have to wait until next year to get those. Until then, enjoy some pictures taken on a much sunnier day than this one:

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A fishing wharf near my flat. I like to go there when I want some alone time to think, read, or pray.

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Random coloured things because why not. Clearly I still need to practice my photography because I spent ages getting the right angle and still forgot about the electricity pylons.

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Tiny daisies growing on the ruins of what I assume was once a church or temple. There are still religious services held there sometimes.

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8 Ways to Enjoy Autumn in Finland

I don’t think I need to tell you that autumn is here. Even if you live in the southern hemisphere or  your country is going through an Indian summer, the obsession over pumpkins and skeletons on social media has probably told you. I think autumn is a great time of year to visit Finland, but many attractions such as guided tours and theme parks close up shop on August 31st, which make it seem like there’s very little to do. But I’m here to challenge that. Whether you live in Finland or are just visiting, here are some activities unique to the season:

  1. Go exploring.

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I’ve only just arrived so there’s still a lot of Turku for me to discover. I haven’t even been to the castle or the landmark archipelago yet. Autumn walks are great to warm you up and you can see some lovely autumn colours at the same time. Ponds and puddles are already starting to ice over here and when winter comes, it’ll be both too cold and too icy/snowy to take a walk or use your bike so it’s best to do it during autumn while you still have the chance.

  1. Practice your art.

This season seems to awaken something in artists of all disciplines and inspire us to create something new, ironically enough at a time when nature is dying. It’s a great feeling to wrap up in a blanket (I suggest a blanket fort) with a hot drink (most likely a pumpkin spice latte) and do something creative.

I’ve been using the internet’s obsession with autumn photos to practice my photography, with mixed results. You could even practice your painting if you still have any feeling left in your fingers.

  1. Stock up on winter clothes.

Even in autumn, you’re going to need a good supply of warm clothes in Finland – long johns, leggings, thermal shirts and a good coat. And a hat of course.

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On the bus, I like to play ‘who has the best hat’. I always win.

You don’t want to be left without them when the weather takes a turn for the worse so it’s best to be prepared for when autumn arrives. If you’re visiting from abroad, you can stock up on some thermals which are much cheaper than they are in most countries.

  1. Wear a miniskirt and cute tights.

Even so, the change of season is no excuse for not wearing the cute clothes you want. As long as you make sure you’re warm enough and have enough layers on underneath, you can pull off almost anything. I gladly and proudly wear a cute mini and patterned leggings while everyone else is wearing their boring thermals. If it works for Japanese school girls in anime, it can work for you too!

  1. Eat an ice cream outside.

As the largest consumer of ice cream in Europe, the chill of autumn doesn’t stop Finns from enjoying an ice cream. You’ll often see someone walking down the street happily enjoying one. Soup, stew and coffee is all well and good, but don’t think that you have to survive off of them or that you have to deny yourself an ice cream just because of the season.

  1. Go for a walk on the coast.
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This is actually a river but you get the idea.

I grew up on the coast and I can tell you there’s nothing like a walk on the beach or cliffs with bracing wind in your face. As long as you wrap up warm it feels great. Just because its autumn doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the beach in some way. And coming in from the cold and enjoying a hot chocolate is an equally satisfying feeling.

  1. Air out your sheets.

Freshly aired out sheets help you sleep better and most apartments have these wire frames outside to beat the dust off of your sheets and blankets. I’m often woken up by the sound of someone beating a blanket 15 yards away from my bedroom window. Once again, you won’t be able to do this in winter so it’s best to do it now before your sheets turn stiff from ice.

  1. Have a bonfire.

In the UK we have guy fawke’s night where we have a bonfire and light up fireworks for slightly creepy reasons we’ve long since forgotten. Finland doesn’t have this tradition but you don’t need an excuse to have a bonfire, cook marshmallows, drink soup and have a sing song. (Damn, that last one sounded very 1950’s!)

 

Don’t let the cold and darkness of the season depress you or stop you from visiting our lovely country, enjoy autumn any way you want to!

More autumn photos and big news

In my last post I mentioned how nervous I was about my right of residency being rejected. Well, it was accepted!! You have no idea how relieved I was to receive that piece of paper. I actually thought I would be fretting for weeks before they posted it to me, but the officer just handed it to me.

It was a good thing I applied based on family ties, as my fiancee and I have been living together for three years now. They seemed a bit iffy about my freelance income, even though I made a record profit from my business last month.

But still, now that’s done I only have a few things to worry about, like applying for an ID card and health insurance and my tax card. Ok, that’s actually quite a few things to worry about. At least one big worry is gone.

On the trip to the police station to get my certificate, I saw more wondrous autumn sites that I wanted to go back and get pictures of, so here they are. Starting with-

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Wait…What is that?!

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That’s the Piduck, a pig/duck statue just around the corner from my flat that greets visitors arriving in the city from the Helsinki road. It’s even been featured on Cracked.com! The locals are just as confused by it as the tourists. Anyway, back to autumn photos:

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Turku cathedral surrounded by autumn leaves. I arrived a few hours too late to get a perfect shot of this, as it looks much better in better sunlight.

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I love how this memorial stone is propping up all those leaves:

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Food restaurant, as opposed to a normal restaurant that only serves dust and rusty nails. Also, what happened to Bruno one?

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Looks like a mermaid tail. Or maybe it’s a fish tail?

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Restaurants and cafes have blankets outside for customers to use. Frankly I’d rather just sit inside!

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Autumn in Finland

This would look much more impressive if there had been any wind.

This would look much more impressive if there had been any wind.

It’s been over a month since my last blog post, as I’ve been busy settling in, getting all the paperwork for my right of residency appointment and working on a ghostwriting job. In that time, while my home country is going through an Indian summer and trying to destroy human rights, there’s been a dramatic change of seasons here.

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As demonstrated by this artsy shot of some leaves.

Last time I took some photos of my flat and some of the places I found in town so today I wanted to take some pictures on a walk I took near my flat. But really it’s just an excuse to take artsy autumn photos.

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That tree in the foreground is the sad little tree I can see from my bedroom/office window. It’s lost almost all its leaves in about two weeks. And all the other trees around here are the same.

Some trees hanging on tight to the rock.

Some trees hanging on tight to the rock.

The birds are also very loud as they gather together to migrate. There are a large number of magpies near my flat and I think I saw a pheasant cross my path on my walk.

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The river bordering the student village where I live.

I crossed the railway bridge and explored across the river a little. It was mostly apartments and an old factory that had a sign saying ‘Reebok’ on the side. It was very quiet and lonely, even the building site only had about three guys on it. But I remembered it was 3pm on a weekday so everyone was probably at work.

I love this little house nestled in the trees.

I love this little house nestled in the trees.

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My right of residency meeting is on Tuesday and I’m starting to worry a little. Even though I’ve gotten a writing job recently and have a few more coming up, I’m still worried that they’ll say I don’t meet the requirements. I want to take a language course but I’m afraid to book anything in case I’m forced to leave the country.

But I know I shouldn’t panic too much. I just have to wait and see what happens. At least I’ve been learning to cook some Finnish foods, such as egg butter. It’s literally just hard boiled eggs mashed together with butter but it’s delicious!

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I should really focus on exploring some more and trying new things, instead of worrying so much.