As most of you know, I have been uber-excited about bringing my dog, Shiva, here to live with me in Finland. She (we) got here Tuesday, and we did some exploring yesterday. Today, we decided to go exploring in the City Center. I met a friend near the ice skating rink, and we walked further into the center to meet another friend, and then to run a few other errands. Shiva hasn’t really been around crowds before, and so this was a very new experience for her. She did really good, only have an issue with a couple of people, although she was easily distracted. Most everyone she met smiled, petted her and she gobbled up the attention. There were other dogs all around, and she sniffed butts and they sniffed hers, and they all got along quite well! That’s one thing I’ve noticed — it seems that people around here walk their dogs as part of a social thing, rather than just to take a dog out to ‘do its business’. I would say that, conservatively, we probably came across another dozen dogs in the few hours that we were out.
We also went to Kamppi and inside the mall itself. That’s another amazement for me — dogs are allowed inside the buildings! Sure, there are still the same restrictions against dogs in grocery stores and in restaurants, and I am also respectful enough not to consider bringing Shiva into, say, a clothing store, furniture store or really any retail environment. But since I mainly like to window shop, that works well for the both of us.
We did, however, stop at PicNic to eat lunch. My friend and I took a seat at the furthest end of the mall restaurant, near the back exit, and Shiva pretty much just chilled on the floor. Several staffers walked by, and not a one asked us to leave, so I guess it was okay, especially since she wasn’t bothering anyone.
On the way through the mall when we were leaving, several people would stop and let her approach them, and they would smile and reach out to pet her, and she loved all the butt scritches she was getting. Many times, they would say something too me, but the best I could do was smile, shrug and say, “En puhu suomea.” apologetically. Sometimes they switched to English, and would ask things like what kind of dog, how old, and then proceed to tell me how sweet she was. Needless to say, I was thrilled. What was really cool about these encounters were that many of them were older Finns, who have the reputation of being stand-offish. They totally opened up to her, several of them smiling, and one older lady even wished us a “Merry Christmas!”, which had my friend and I just slack-jawed in wonder. Finns really can be friendly! (I already knew that, just playing up the stereotype!)
She rode the bus like she had been born to it, jumping on and sliding under the seat…although on the trip to the Center, there was glass on the floor, so she insisted in sitting in the seat next to me and looking out the window. How could I say no?
If I can take a moment to talk about my blog a bit. This is my first blog, and I am still working on a style, a format, that sort of thing. What I set out to do was provide a place for family and friends to just keep up with what was going on. Then I wanted to provide some useful information to people who might be moving here. I still want to do those two things, and I think my goal is to provide insight on what it is like to move to a new country, and the day-to-day life of integrating in to that country. Sure, I could provide you with “tourist attraction of the week” sort of posts, but you can get those just about anywhere. I want to explain what it’s like to go to the grocery store, ride the bus, even things as mundane as laundry and going to the movies. It might sometimes be boring, but I would hope that the take-away is that assimilating into a new culture isn’t all about visiting the tourist attractions, but getting to know the every day routines, and finding a way to make them a part of your life. I’m sure I will still post about some neat places to go visit–I do plan to see as much as I can, but that isn’t my end goal. I want to /live/ here, make it my home. And I will try to post links, at least, to interesting articles or blogs that invite you into the neat attractions. I hope that you’ll come to read my blog like you would a letter from a friend that has moved. There, that’s out of the way. 🙂
As different as things are, some are eerily the same. Earlier in November, I was sitting in the Kela office, waiting my turn, and I realized that the office music system was playing The Carpenters singing “Jambayla“. And then, after that came Miley Cyrus and her “Wrecking Ball” tune. If I closed my eyes, I could have just as easily been back in the States, waiting in some doctor’s office. Weird.
I forgot all about the Challenge yesterday, and almost forgot about it today (oh wee, jet lag!)
The Day 5 question is: What can you see outside your kitchen window?
Oh, that’s an easy one! I’ve been photographing it nearly every morning that I have been here!