22 July 2011

12 years ago today

As I said in my post yesterday, I arrived in Finland 12 years ago on this day. I had no idea what the future would hold, but I was ready to start it and see where it would take me. I can't believe I'm still here, yet I am. I'm still in love with this country and Mr Siili. ♥ So for this anniversary, I thought I'd share some things about my adopted country that I (still) like, one for each year I've been here, in random order (except for the first one).

1. My husband, Mr Siili 12 years of living together and we've managed not to kill one another, although I think at times it was close. He is my love. We still have a lot to learn from each other, but I think we're doing pretty good. The sex is still amazing too! (In fact, we agree it's even better.) I also want to include my in laws and our cats. They have definitely helped me to love it here and keep my sanity at times.

2. Summer There is no other quite like a Finnish summer. (Ok, maybe Alaska, Sweden and other northern places might be a tiny bit a like.) The length of the summer days are just amazing (around 20 hours of sun above the horizon near midsummer). It doesn't get fully dark and definitely no need for a flashlight when camping. And I can't forget the warmth! It isn't generally so very hot in summer, but it also isn't below freezing either.

3. Winter Finnish winters are quite nice too, especially when there is snow. Snow just makes the world beautiful. It turns dark and dreary days into blue tinted days and nights that are magical looking. It also means that the temperatures are below freezing, which is ten times better than just above freezing. Give me freezing any day! I really should pick up a winter sport. I do get sick of the long winter right around the end of February or March, the days are finally noticeably longer by then and we know spring will be on its way (eventually).

4. Nature In Finland, there is a concept called "everyman’s right". Everyman's right gives everyone
the basic right to roam freely in the countryside, without needing to obtain permission, no matter who owns
or occupies the land. With this concept is the ability to pick wild berries (lingonberries, blueberries, etc), mushrooms, go for walks in the nature and so much more, so long as you don't harm the surroundings.

5. Muumi/Moomin These Finnish characters are loved by many, myself included. I was introduced to Moomin during my first trip here and I've gone crazy over them ever since. Their stories and antics are fun to read. I can't wait to introduce them to my own kids some day.

6. Door handles & water boiler I know, strange things to take note of, but they are some of the things that just felt so right when I first came to Finland. The door handles are easy to open, even if you've got something in your hands or if your hands are wet. No round knobs to slip on. As for the water boilers, I had never seen anything like this before here. It makes boiling a cup of water for tea quick and easy. Plus, I don't have to stand around watching the pot, waiting for it to boil. Or worse yet, get bored of waiting and walk off with the stove on. *blush*

7. Sauna Finnish sauna is not about sex, as many people think (but it sure can be fun). It is a place for getting clean, relaxing, hanging out with friends and getting warm after time spent outside during the winter. One of the best things I can think of is having a sauna near the lake during summer and hoping back and forth between the two. You can't get any more relaxing than that!

8. Finnish (language) Tämä kieli on ollut haastava, mutta pidän kielistä kuitenkin. Finnish has been a challenging language, but I like it all the same. It has been said that it is one of the most difficult languages to learn, but I don't believe that anymore. I've seen way too many people learn it quite fluently in 1 year (with help of some courses, but still!) Finnish is unlike anything I've come across before, but I really do like the language. Now if I would only use it more often. Bad me.

9. Health Care While the public health care here isn't always the best and sometimes there are long waiting lines for procedures, it is quite inexpensive and accessible. We do make up for the low cost of public health with the taxes we pay, but it is worth it. Especially as a foreigner (I did need to have permanent residency, 4 years here, before I qualified to get it) from the US, I've found this system to be beneficial. Dentist appointments cost about 30€ and the same with doctor visits. And a major plus for Mr Siili and I are how much cheaper all of these IF treatments have been. I'm totally impressed and I know that my tax dollars have definitely benefited me.

10. Education Again, another one of those public things here. All education (except for a few private schools) from kindergarten on up to college doctoral degrees are free. Yes, I got my Bachelor's degree here in Finland for free!

11. My friends What would life be without friends? I never would have survived all of these years if I hadn't had the support, camaraderie and fun times with my friends. Many, not all, of them are foreigners also, so they do get the whole living away from your home country thing. My friends are my family!

12. Food A very important thing that I could never forget. I love my food, sweets, cooking and baking. One of my first traumas here in Finland was wanting to make my husband a nice meal, but I couldn't find all of the ingredients I need because I didn't understand the packaging and it was different than what I was used to in the US. That experience left me in tears and also taught me to bring a dictionary with me everywhere I go, because trying to read Swedish doesn't cut it.
Some of my favorite foods here in Finland are homemade peruna rieska, Fazer chocolate, salmiakki (salty black licorice), Karelian rice pies and the tons of different kinds of sweets I can find.