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Things I love – A Photo Essay

Posted: April 25th, 2011, by Julie

It’s hard to tell the story of our move to Helsinki without some sadness and grief. Any change this major is bound to bring some of that along for the ride. However, as the sun returns to Finland and the flowers begin to sprout, I am inclined to focus on what I love about this place instead of dwelling on the things I could do without. So here are some things I love about living in Finland.


A photo of trees at Kaivopuisto, Helsinki, Finland

There are lots of trees in Finland

Continue reading »

Ten Random Things About Life in Helsinki

Posted: April 19th, 2011, by Julie

Apparently the post about the differences between Helsinki & Lyons redirected my attention, because I keep noticing other things I wanted to mention. These are totally random, but things I noticed that were perhaps unexpected:

  1. There are tons of lactose-intolerant people here, so their lactose-free milk and other dairy products are really superb. I’ve even had ice-cream from time to time in the past six months.
  2. The kids are picking up British accents because the English-speakers here (which is everyone) learned in Europe, so they learned English with a British accent. It’s totally cute.
  3. Continue reading »

Spring in Helsinki

Posted: April 18th, 2011, by Julie

Scooters for sale at the local grocery store. Seriously.

When I was back in America last week, my niece asked me what life was like in Helsinki and I realized I hadn’t ever really answered that question. Part of the hang-up is that I’m pretty sure half of the things that are different for us here would be different had we moved to any city, in America or otherwise.

Let’s face it: Lyons is a small mountain town. At 2,000 people, it allows for an amazing sense of community and people are open and friendly in a way that I think is fairly unique to small-town America. There’s amazing support for local businesses and artists. But it’s also quite a drive to any of the conveniences of the city.

So let’s talk about a day in the life of Julie…First, I don’t drive here in Helsinki. That means I have to harangue the kids out the door every single morning or risk missing the 8:11 tram that gets Gabriel to school a bit early but allows me to deliver Lily to her school on time at 9am. Yes, that’s a 50 minute commute. A lot of that is walking to Gabriel’s school from the Metro stop and then walking to the bus stop where Lily & I catch the bus to her school, but it’s still a lot longer commute than the 3 blocks to Gabriel’s bus stop and 2 blocks to Lily’s school that we enjoyed in Colorado. Oh how I can’t wait until next year when both kids are at the same school!

After schlepping the kids to school, I usually stop by the grocery. No car means everything I buy either comes from our once-weekly co-op delivery or gets hand-carried home. At this time of year, that’s a lot less daunting than it was in January when it was hovering around zero Fahrenheit and was dark most of the day. Continue reading »

Is it spring yet?

Posted: February 25th, 2011, by Julie

We’ve been in Finland just over three months and there has been snow on the ground since the last week of November. I can admit it, I’m sick of winter. On our recent Winter Break trip to Paris, Gabriel declared Paris was his favorite place ever. When I asked him why he thought that, he said it was because it wasn’t snowing. This was just after Lily had expressed complete glee that she didn’t have to wear her snow pants for a few days. Is it spring yet?

In short, no. Continue reading »

So this is the New Year

Posted: January 4th, 2011, by Julie

After a hectic few weeks of holiday parties, Christmas pageants, and shopping, we enjoyed a little bit of laziness and hibernation at home. Matt’s schedule at work had been so intense since we arrived that he in particular was ready for a week and a half to unwind, hang out with the family, and play. So play we did, for almost two solid weeks. And it was great.

It was interesting to watch Gabriel relax and calm down bit by bit over the two weeks. Although he’s doing great at school and making friends, he’s an angry little boy at the moment. It makes perfect sense–we uprooted him & moved him to a strange land far away from everything that’s familiar and comfortable to him. What’s interesting is that he seems as surprised by his angry outbursts as we are. He can’t really describe what it is that sets him off, and he’s always quite repentent after the fact. Whenever we talk to him about how he’s feeling, he says he loves Finland–his school, the snow, riding the train, getting to go sledding so much–and he’s completely enamored of our new flat (as are we), but there’s definitely some sort of resistance or fear lurking there that we’ll have to work through. Continue reading »

One month in…

Posted: December 16th, 2010, by Julie

A picture of some of the boxes from our move

Boxes, boxes everywhere, and more than a drop to drink!

Our one month anniversary in Helsinki passed without me actually being aware of it. In fact, I didn’t realize it had passed until the next day when some new friends asked me at lunch how long I’d been here and I noticed the date. I keep going back and forth on whether it feels like the month’s flown by or whether I feel like we’ve been here forever, and I’m still undecided.

On the one hand, the glacial pace at which I’m learning Finnish makes me feel like I’m just off the plane. On the other, I’m feeling comfortable enough with city center to get around without a map these days and have figured out most of the public transport connections I need to get through my daily routine.

The International School has turned out to be a wonderful place to meet people and although I’m being uncharacteristically reserved as I enter this new environment, it’s nice to have a network of people who have all been through what we’ve just been through. Continue reading »

Preconceived Notions

Posted: November 26th, 2010, by Julie

Picture of Helsinki's cathedral

The Cathedral

One of the first things Matt told me about Helsinki while he was still here interviewing was that it wasn’t that pretty. Considering that he was in the awkward position of trying to convince his wife to give up her rather comfortable life and move damned-near to the Arctic Circle, this may seem like a rather odd thing to say.

In his mind, I think he was preparing me for Helsinki to be unlike other capital cities that I love: Paris, London, Edinburgh, Rome, Brussels. And in that way, he’s correct; Helsinki is unlike the other capital cities I’ve visited in Western Europe. For starters, it’s about the size of Boulder (but with twice the population). There’s only one Metro line and you can walk across the narrowest part of the city in probably 15 minutes. In Paris, that might take days!

But when I walked out the door and headed into the city that first day in October, I was expecting something very different from Continue reading »

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Posted: November 24th, 2010, by Julie

Culture shock is a bit like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for me. One day, I’m flying off the handle because Matt is working long hours, I can’t find the post office, had a run in with the bus driver, the kids are fussing at me, etc., etc., and the next, I have a perfectly wonderful–perfectly normal–day.

So if you were on the receiving end of one of my grumpier/whinier/bitter emails, I apologize. Thanks for humoring me and letting me vent, and know that I’m not nuts. At least, not more nuts than I was when I left for Finland. I’m at a point where one bad trip to the grocery store (like Monday, when I couldn’t get the shopping cart to release from its brethren and lost my Euro, then forgot to weigh my leek & cucumber at the produce aisle and had to relinquish them to the checkout girl) is enough to ruin my day–Dr. Jekyll–and one good trip to the grocery store (remembered to weigh the leek & cucumber this time, successfully freed the shopping cart, AND found the granola bars that had been evading me on previous trips) makes me feel like I have figured it all out/conquered Finland/am an international traveling badass–Mr. Hyde. Continue reading »

Thoughts on Finland – Week 1

Posted: November 22nd, 2010, by Julie

A picture of Moomintroll


I just dropped Gabriel & Lily off at their respective schools for their first day of classes in Helsinki. Lily’s school is really more of a daycare I’m afraid, but Gabriel will be resuming lessons after more than a month off for our crazy travels. It’s a half day at the International School of Helsinki today, so I only have an hour or so to ruminate on our first full week here before I need to go collect Gabriel. This is in part due to the short day, and in part because of the complete cock-up that was my first experience of taking Lily to school. Continue reading »

Here and gone again!

Posted: October 2nd, 2010, by Julie

Just over a year after launching my new blog, Terminal Verbosity, I’m back here blogging at ChezArtz. Why? Because we’re off on another one of the adventures that led us to launch ChezArtz in the first place. This time our destination is Helsinki! I plan to continue my formal blog posts on Terminal Verbosity, but will be chronically our crazy adventures here too. You will also be able to view photos and videos of what we’re up to here. Continue reading »