Now on to some useful information for those Americans looking to come to Finland, the land of a thousand lakes. 🙂
Thursday morning, we took the bus four hours (one way!) to Lappeenranta, which is sort of east of Helsinki. It is a charming little town, other than all the construction, but you can read the history here. After getting off the bus at the stop, we had to take a few detours to find our way to the police station, which happened to be in the midst of all the construction work, and had a few detours of its own. We had arrived early, and unfortunately the lady at the counter had another appointment coming, so we decided to go eat lunch first, then return nearer to our appointment time.
We ate at Ravintola Ole, which is Finnish for Restaurant Ole, which was not a Mexican food restaurant, although it certainly looked that way from the outside. I was a bit leery of trying Mexican food in Finland anyway. Wellu had his usual steak and fries, while I had the four cheese pizza with smoked reindeer. 🙂 I could only eat half of it, so had the other half wrapped up for take-away.
We made our way back to the Police station, where we were seen by a nice woman, who took all the paperwork, made copies and fingerprinted me. Most of it was pretty straightforward, since I was coming here married to a Finn and not with any minor children. It took maybe a half hour in all to get that done. For this we took a four hour ride. However, glad that we did, because the turnaround time is about six to nine months. This is to get me registered as a resident immigrant in the country.
That done, we thank her and move on to kill about two-and-a-half hours before we have to catch the return bus. Naturally, I gravitated towards the Merimekko store and purchased a small sussie for myself. Couldn’t resist. That took us a bit out of our way, which was a good thing, as we saw a Kela office (where benefits are administered from), and decided to stop in and see if I would have to wait until we got the decision on the immigrant status before I could apply for benefits. The wait went rather quickly, and the good news is that since I am here as a spouse of a Finn, they will provisionally approve me for benefits as they expect the immigrant status to be pretty cut and dried. So that’s good news! I just need to wait for my Finnish ID number (about 2 weeks) and then go in to the local Kela office and apply for all the benefits. Hopefully by the end of the month, I shall be sucking at the teat of the national government.
Here’s a picture of the graveyard that we passed along the way (just thought it was pretty) and the booklets I need to read to learn about my benefits.