Well, Winter is coming, and for the last few weeks It's pretty much the only thing that has kept me going! I've continued this embracing of my inner Finn, enjoying being slightly depressed, quiet and internal. There are even days when I don't feel like talking and, because I'm in Finland, that's ok. Here, this culture of honesty and simplicity extends to talking as well. If you don't feel like talking, smiling or just making an effort, you don't have to! At first, this was the biggest cultural shock for me to deal with. I mean ME, but my very nature I'm incredibly talkative, outgoing and social, who moved to a country that values quiet time, silence and is almost reserved at times. Well, it was absolute hell at first... When the conversation faded, or when a conversation stopped, and my friends didn't immediately feel the need to start up a new conversation, those few minutes of silence felt like a lifetime for me. It was painful.
I'm almost shocked at the transformation I've undergone during the past 16 months in Finland. I'm not sure if it's the darkness of November (we aren't getting much more than 5 hours of daylight, and well, it's been so cloudy for so long, I can't remember what the sun actually looks like!), or just adaptation to the culture. But now I find myself completely comfortable with silence amongst my friends. Sometimes I even yearn for it. Just to be quiet and comfortable and not feel the need to talk. I'm even surprised when I see people smiling in the street these days, I mean, come on, it's dark by 15.00, why on earth would you be smiling it's just not natural! As for making awkward small talk with acquaintances, when in Finland, Just don't bother!
This all sounds thoroughly depressing I'm sure. It's actually not, I haven't felt so liberated before. Sure, it's a bit depressing, and I probably seem depressed, but it's not like that in reality. It's just so nice to be able to slow down, be internal with your thoughts, not have to worry about other people and just recharge your batteries before Christmas comes. There's no Rush in November, no one is in a hurry, it's almost like a blessing. Still, everything will change tomorrow, when the snow comes properly, the temperature drops and everything is just a little bit brighter outside! I'm looking forward to the proper winter, minus 20, lots of snow, so much. Words cannot describe how happy I will be!
So what else has been going on? Well, quite a lot, and nothing at the same time! I've mentioned a few times recently, that it is getting harder to blog regularly because life in Finland, has just become normal. So forgive me, should I start to bore you!
However, I've been rather sick over the past two months, I've had this horrendous flu thing. I'm never sure if I should be grateful for my immune system, because I don't get sick often, but when I do, it wipes me out. I'm pretty much recovered from this flu-bug-thing after a strong course of antibiotics and my first visit to the YHTS (Student Health Care) in Finland. That was an experience. I've never encountered anything like it. First, you go into the building at 8, and speak to the receptionist and tell her what is wrong with you, then you must be assessed by a nurse, who decides if you should see a doctor or not. On seeing me, the nurse sent me straight to the doctor, who examined me, and I struggled to contain my laughter because, well, I always laugh at doctors and at eye-doctors because it just seems like such a strange experience! Thankfully, I rarely have to go! Then back to the waiting room, before going to have a blood test, and then back to the doctor for a report of the blood test. After 90 minutes, I was able to leave, with a prescription and a week off work (paid - Sometimes, I'm in awe of this country for being able to give an intern, sick leave with full pay!). The nurse who took my blood, didn't speak very good English, so I was a bit in shock when she told me make a wish and then jabbed a needle in my arm! I'm guessing she meant for me to make a fist :) Still, pretty much human again!
I did however, get myself a pretty awesome reflector for my bag for winter. I know what you're thinking, what sort of geek wears a reflector. Well, in Finland it's the law, and now that there is hardly any light, I don't want to be messing up someone's brand new winter tires by ending up under them. So, I got myself a pretty awesome angry bird one. Which, as I'm sure you all know is a Finnish company, and now, in Finland, Angry Birds soda is outselling Coca Cola for the first time, and they are branching out into the coffee market, with Angry Birds Coffee.
Oh, and finally, I'm off to Saint Petersburg in two weeks time! I'm travelling up with Maria on the Saturday, and I'll be spending three days there. I should be there for the entire week, but unfortunately I cannot get the time off work, so It's only a few days instead! Still, now I'll have done the major cities! Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and, *cough* Petrozavodsk! :) I'm really looking forward to it, there was only minimal hassle with the visa this time, many questions about my true intensions in Finland and Russia. Seems people really can't grasp the idea that a British person would want to live in Finland and travel to Russia... I have no idea why, two of my favourite countries and I'm not in the least bit strange!
I'm a bit concerned about my financial situation, it's been so depressing getting paid for three months and not being able to spend any of it, as I have to save it up to live off for the next few months, as I'm back to unemployment (well, student life) as of the 14th December. I'm hoping to get my thesis finished as soon as possible during the Christmas break, so I can complete my Masters, soon, apply for PhD's, although I need to track down some more potential supervisors and funding sources! Hopefully, if all goes to plan, I'll finish my master's in April, be accepted onto a PhD by May, and start working in May! I'm starting to need things, still, I wouldn't change my situation for the world. Best decision ever coming to Finland and studying here!