I might be official, but it’s still complicated.

I picked up my residency card the other day (complete with horrid picture), and decided to head to the TE office and Kela the next day to start the journey to getting my benefits started. Wow, what an education.

First off: the TE office. You have to go there first, get registered as a “client”, and then you can go to Kela and tell them you are registered as a jobseeker, and start the process for unemployment benefits.

The way to think of it is this: TE makes the determinations as to what status you are (this is regarding unemployment), and will tell Kela. Kela actually disperses the funds.

In any case, I registered as a ‘client’ of TE, as an unemployed jobseeker. However, we hit a few snafus. Because I don’t have a degree, or any sort of certificate from a vocational school, there would be a 21-week (aprox 5 month) waiting period for unemployment benefits. In addition, any studying I do on my own (such as Finnish language classes) need to be cleared with TE, as that can affect payment status.

Additionally, I was scheduled a Finnish language assessment test (can’t we just skip that and go with ‘0’ as my starting level?), which will tell them where I should be placed for their intensive language course — which already has a waiting period of an undefined time.

After that, I will have my actual interview, where they will go in to more detail on my rights and responsibilities as a jobseeker in Finland, and this is when I will put together my integration plan with the TE office that is submitted to Kela.

Things I still need to provide, which you may want to keep in mind if you are coming here. Any job held in the past two years needs a certificate from the employer that states who you worked for, essential job functions/responsibilities, dates you worked and why you left. Apparently this is de rigour in Finland, but since it’s not in the States, I have to get one typed up from my last employer. And since I owned my own business in the last ten years (sold in 2007), I have to type up a statement or show that I did sell it. Good luck on me finding the sales paper, although I’m sure I scanned it somewhere. 🙂

I also have to get a certificate from the Finnish language class that I am taking now, saying that I am enrolled and what the level of study is.

Now, let’s move on to the Kela office. The wait wasn’t so bad. I was 14 numbers out when I got there, but my number was called within 15 minutes or so. They do move fast. Sat down with a nice fellow, who had me fill out an application for benefits, although he said, and this is the big thing, nothing will move forward until Social Security approves me…and they don’t start their approval process until they receive notice from the Police that my residency was approved. It shows in the system that they got the notice of approval on Oct 28, and he said it could be three months before Social Security gives their approval. THEN the paperwork that I am filling out with Kela will move forward.

He did say that I would receive something in the mail with the Social Security determination, and if approved, then my Kela card should arrive in the next week or so.

I have a doctor’s appointment in mid-November, and as a resident of Helsinki, they should accept me without the Kela card, which we have confirmed they will. Also, to cover the meds for my MS, I should ask the doctor to fill out the form to give me a “medical certificate B” type of Kela card. This way, the meds that usually cost 1912€ and are only at a 35% discount, will be covered at 100%. Much better. Keep that in mind if you have some issue like I have. If I get this form from the doctor in to Kela before everything is approved, they can send that sort out; otherwise, they send out a new card.

As for the unemployment benefits. Currently, I am looking at close to May before those would start. However, if I enroll in an intensive language course (which is defined as a 20-hour or more a week course), then they can waive the waiting period and pay me unemployment at a student rate for those months. So I am currently looking at courses. The lady at the TE office gave me her email address and said that I could send them to her and she would let me know if they qualify before I actually register.

In closing, pretty much everything is in the computer, just waiting on Social Security before anything can move forward. It’s the typical pitch of “Hurry up and wait” found so often in dealing with the government. I think I got it all accurately described above. There’s quite a bit of ‘do this first, then this, but this has to be done before that’ sort of confusion.

In fun news, Wellu and I went to the Moomin Shop this morning before my class. He loves me and bought me the silly advent calendar that I really wanted (yes, I am a fool for the little Moomin figures). He indulges me so much. And I got two reflectors, one for my backpack and the other for my jacket. I don’t care if “adults don’t wear Moomin reflectors”, as he says. I do, and I am proud to do so. So nyah!

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I’m official!

The big news for today is that my residency card was ready for pick up today! Just 56 days from the date of application; much better than the 6-9 months we were quoted originally. We went to the police station to pick it up this afternoon, and so tomorrow, I will brave the TE and Kela offices to apply for my benefits. I’ll let you know how that goes!

Residency cardSpiffy, eh?

Sleep is for the weak!

*Yawn* It was one of those nights that just never really got started. I ended staying up way too late last night, until around 1:00am, which is not the usual for me, but I just wasn’t sleepy. Then when I finally went to bed, I just drifted in and out of light sleep, finally giving up around 3:30am, and getting up, staying awake until 4:30am, when I finally started feeling tired. Went back to bed. Big mistake! Had to wake up at 6:45am so as to get ready and catch the bus to the police station to turn in my paperwork before the lines started to get really long. I felt like I was trying to think through a molasses brain. None of this was helped by the fact that hubby was also plagued by the same sleeplessness, except his had to do more with all the emails he was getting from the U.S. side for a project he is working on. Misery loves company!

But, turned in the paperwork, and that happened with relative ease. For the return trip, we decided to try and take the train back, except that the next train was canceled. And the next one after that. Apparently, there was an issue with the switch up the line. So, not knowing when the trains would be running again, we went back to the buses. We eventually got home around 11am or so, and I just crashed to back to bed. Slept until close to 3:00pm, too!

I needed to get up to head to Caisa for drama practice which was starting at 5:00pm, but I had volunteered to run by the Vero office when they closed at 4:15pm, in order to scavenge their used queue slips, to use as props in our play. Hah! That simple request didn’t go over well, with the clerk apparently thinking that I wanted them for some nefarious purpose, and denying the request. Odd. In any case, as is the case-in-point for our play, enough places use the queue slips that I can find another place to beg them from.

Our play is going quite well, and our Markku character actually did very well after just having a single night to review the script. I have some more work to do on the screen shots, but nothing too difficult. We’ve got one more meeting next Tuesday, then the performance! I encourage you all to come out and see it if you can.

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I did a couple of web searches out of curiosity earlier, and found a few oddities when searching for things Finnish.

Notice the different search themes that come up, depending on how you enter it in? 🙂

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In other news, Finns are funny! At least one of them is. Ismo Leikolan won Laugh Factory’s annual World’s Funniest person contest this year. He was actually quite funny, too.

http://m.iltasanomat.fi/viihde/art-1288756376058.html (this article is in Finnish)

(The video below is in English)

Well, I should probably get to work on my project. And I have school tomorrow! Yay for learning in a language I don’t know! 🙂

Finnish is Hard!

Wow! Today was quite a busy day and it hurt my head! However, it was an exciting day in its own way. Remember me mentioning the language class that I had signed up for through the Family Club? The one that is supposed to be for people who are illiterate, so I figured that maybe I’d be able to keep up? Well, today was the first day of that class. However, I think something was lost in translation (ha ha) in that everyone could write (at least, they were writing something down), but just couldn’t speak Finnish. So it appears we are all on the same level. Well, except for one of the older guys from Iraq who figured that the teacher would give him higher marks if he answered quicker and louder than everyone else, sometimes even before the teacher finished speaking. Fortunately, she did shut that down pretty quick. I got the impression that he has either taken the class before, or was at the very least, known to the teacher in some capacity.

The class is taught almost entirely in Finnish, and you pretty much just have to figure it out from her gestures, pointing and context. It actually wasn’t quite as hard as I thought it might be to do that. I managed to keep up with most of it. But it does make sense to teach the class in one common language (that no one else speaks!), as not everyone speaks English. The class is pretty multicultural, with 3 folks from Iran, 3 from Iraq, 2 from China, one from Cambodia, 1 from Taiwan, 1 from Afghanistan, and 1 from the U.S. Guess who that is? 🙂

I learned some words, wrote them down, and wrote them down a bunch of times each while saying them. Plus we’re going over the alphabet and pronunciations, which is where I am having some issues. I did write down one word ‘lokakuu’ and thought i was for ‘month’, when it is actually for October (close, but no cigar). However, I am feeling pretty stoked about the classes, and for ‘free’, they’re the right price.

Day 1 study notes

Day 1 study notes

After the class, I left for Elisa to try and argue my case about the service charge for technical support. Unfortunately, my powers of persuasion were not enough to sway them. I felt it was a smidge unfair that I called about unlocking a phone from the States, stated specifically that I needed an English technician, yet at no point did anyone think it was important to inform me that the recording at the beginning of the call (in Finnish and Swedish) was warning me about a 2+€ charge per minute for the help. Ah well, I will just have to consider it an ‘account activation fee’ in my mind, which makes it more palatable, since it would be nearly twice the cost back home. A downer, but not majorly so.

I did discover the Moomin Shop at the Forum, and just HAD to get myself a little something. Of course, after purchasing it, I did realize that I didn’t have anything leftover to put in it! ha ha. No seriously, it wasn’t too bad, as far as Moomin stuff goes. I think I will go back and get a reflector for my backpack. They’re just so cute!

Moomin sussie!

Moomin sussie!

Afterwards, I met Wellu for lunch at his favorite place, and we noshed there, while I tested out my new knowledge on him. He corrected a bit of my pronunciation, plus the aforementioned month/October snafu, but overall, I did well. I had some thoughts about going back to the mall, but instead decided to head home to clean up, which I didn’t do before I left (since I was running late, as is usual it seems).

I took a short nap, cleaned like crazy, and was ready to go about the time Wellu got home. Drama club! We were interviewing two potential actors for the part of our Finnish male lead, and I wanted to get there on time. We actually had three males show up, but one decided to take on the other male parts we needed, and the other two tried out for the lead. We’ve made our decision, although the guy is pretty quiet and we just hope he’ll be able to project well on stage. But he was definitely the part.

Got a letter from the Poliisi today about my application for my residency permit. At least we know it is in the system. Apparently, they want a copy of our passports to show proof that we actually did travel to see each other when we said that we did. Also, I have to bring in some form of proof that I live here. So that’s a trip for tomorrow! But it is in the system and working its slow way through the sea of red tape.