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.
It’s warmer today, right at zero C after several days in the negatives, so I decided to leave my hair curly this morning and wear my headband instead of my hat when I shuttled the kids off to school. You know, take advantage of the “warm weather” while it lasts. Har har.
It’s been snowing since Thursday, which I’ve been told is an unusually early freeze-up even by Finnish standards. We’ve got about 8 inches now and it’s still coming down. They’ve been keeping up with the plowing for the most part but today, either because the snow was still coming down or because they finally fell behind after near-constant plowing, the roads and sidewalks were not clear for the walk/tram/bus to school this morning and the tram was late, so we dropped G off at school a bit late and headed out again to take Lily to her school.
In addition to the snow, it’s also windy. Very windy. And it’s about a third of a mile walk to the bus from Gabriel’s school, so Lily wasn’t happy and I ended up carrying her part way. By the time I got on the bus, I was frazzled, but also prepared for the usual strange stares I get when we get on the bus. First, my coat is bright pink/purple, which I think is acceptable for teens here, but not so much for adults. Second, aforementioned curly hair is a bit of an anomaly here. Third, Lily often speaks VERY LOUDLY in English as we’re getting on the bus, thus illuminating a giant “ALIEN” sign over our heads.
So I was expecting the looks. But then I caught a look at myself in the rearview mirror of the bus. Holy Arctic Medusa! My hair had been blown up in the wind and then, seriously, frozen there. I wish I had a picture (and those Finns on the bus with me probably do too!). By the time I got to Lily’s school, it had melted and returned to more or less normal, but I think I’ll be wearing a hat this afternoon when I go to collect them from school!
In other news, I’ve bought an English-Finnish dictionary and a Berlitz Finnish CD to get me started while I wait to get signed up for language lessons. Google Translate does not seem to handle the endless prefixes and suffixes that make up Finnish very well, so I needed something a little better for my studies. Wish me luck!