Today was going to be a productive day: Go first thing in the morning to the Poliisi station to apply for my ID card. Then to the TE office to get starting on my Integration papers, so that when I would receive my Kela card in a couple of weeks, I could go apply for benefits. Go to lunch with Anna at Itäkeskus. Get some maroon pillow cases at the mall. Come home and clean, cook, etc.
So Wellu and I got up early this morning, so that we could be to the Itäkeskus Poliisi station when they opened at 8am. Hah! While on the bus, he’s reading the paper, and he shows me a little blurb and comments in a sarcastic voice, “Well, that’s just great.” Of course, I can’t read Finnish, so I have to ask what it says. Apparently the police station that we are heading to is closed today. And not just today. But from here on out. It was open yesterday. Closed down today. Moved all its operations to another location elsewhere. Gee. Thanks.
No worries, says I. I’ll just kill another hour, then head to the TE office and start there. So I ride the Metro to take Wellu to his stop to catch the bus to go back to work, and I head back to the mall/TE office. I get a number, find out I am not a ‘customer’ of the TE office, get an English application and wait for my number to be called as I fill it out.
“May I see your ID card, please?” Uh-oh. I explain that I have applied for one, but I don’t actually have one. Well, I can’t be a TE customer without an ID card. But…but…the man at the Kela office in Lappanranda said that I could start this paperwork before I got it. As is with most bureaucracies, one division does not speak to the other. The man at the other Kela office had no idea what he was talking about (more on him later). Nope. Until I get my physical residency card, I can’t start this paperwork. However, the lady was very nice and gave me a paper with a list of schools of Finnish language, and some helpful websites.
So, I decide to head to the Kela office (also there at the mall) to get some clarification on all this. I get a number, take a seat and wait for my number to be called (this is a common theme in Finland for almost any service. take number, sit down, wait, get help) The nice gentleman behind the glass barrier who was to help me patiently looked up my information in the system.
“We have nothing. Your file is empty. You say you went to a Kela office? When was this?”
So, I explain the trip to Lappanranda, and he types in some more stuff, then shows me a screen (all in Finnish, I might add), “See, nothing there. Nothing about a visit to Lappanranda.”
So he works with me some more, gives me a new application, chats with me while I fill it out, takes it and tells me that he is going to note our visit today in the system, He even shows me on his screen where the proof of my visit today shows up. He also gives me ‘bad’ news. The agent in Lappanranda was wrong. Not only did he not enter my information, but Kela will not provisionally cover me for services while waiting for my residency to be approved. Oh no. They will wait until it is approved, and then about a month after that, they will send my card.
Le sigh. So in basic terms, this means it could be six to nine MONTHS before I can apply for services. This bites. So, as far as integrating into Finnish society ‘governmentally’, I can just kick back for the winter and relax. Spring is when it gets serious. However, I will likely try to take some Finnish courses over the winter, and at least try to get my language skills started.
Let’s move on to more cheerful thoughts.
I walked off a bit of my frustration at the mall, until it would come closer to the time that I could text Anna and meet her for lunch. I found this ADORABLE pair of boots, that I need to talk someone into getting for me (PS: size 41, in Kookimie). 🙂
Oh, and did you know…they have casinos, right IN THE MALL!! G-ma would have loved it!
(right next to an ATM machine, ironically enough)
After doing my walkabout for a bit, I texted Anna and told her that I was ready if she was. I got a bit turned around trying to find her apartment, so she came out and met me. We went back to the mall for Chinese buffet, which was pretty much the same as any Chinese buffet. We chatted for a bit over lunch. She’s pregnant with her second baby, which she thinks might be a girl. She’s also writing a novel, a fantasy tome set in the Shadowrun world. In addition, Anna is a witch, so she’s very keen on New Orleans, which we talked about for a while on our walk, later. I had a really good chat with her, and enjoyed it quite a bit! Afterwards, we went to the bookstore where I got this awesome kid’s book to try and learn Finnish:
This should only take me about six years to accomplish. 🙂
We then headed out for a nice walk in the woods and park, along the lake. It was really nice, and today has been gorgeous (again!).
We saw a squirrel, who held his pose several seconds as I fumbled shot after shot, and as soon as I said, “Okay, Mr. Squirrel, this one works!”, he scampered away.
After leaving Anna’s, I realized that I needed to head back to the mall and pick up some long socks. Nice as it’s been here, wearing just ankle socks in Helsinki in the fall is not the best thing. So I went back to Antilla, and picked up the socks. Level of Achievement: Lame, but practical.
Finally, I decided to come home again, hopped on the bus, and made it back. Along my walk, I had a few more sights that I pass along this particular path which I thought I would share with you in closing: