Taylors in Finland

The Grand Adventure

Mary Ann's Fulbright Exchange to Oulu, Finland
August 2001 - June 2002

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6-11 August 2001

11 August 2001
Sunrise/sunset 0450/2157
Oulunsalo, Finland

We arrived in Oulunsalo on Monday, the 6th. It has been a fast week. The Fulbright Orientation in Washington, D.C. was very informative and we really liked the Perttunen Family. Because we had e-mailed so much before we met, it felt like we were old friends right from the start. We had many cultural workshops and lots of time to meet with our partners to discuss our school situations and home information, but it was very intense, with little down time. The two days following the workshop were spent doing errands. We did a little sightseeing, but it was quite hot and muggy, so we ran out of steam pretty fast.

When we arrived in Oulunsalo, Henna-Laura, Raija and Allan's daughter, picked us up at the airport. She brought us to our new home and showed us how to use the appliances, etc. She also took me to the grocery store and showed how to weigh the produce; punch a number for each item and then an adhesive bar-coded tag is printed with the weight and price. Not so different, you just need to know what to do. Many of the younger people speak English, but people in their 50's or older usually don't. We crashed after Henna left; didn't even eat dinner. I'm using a sleeping mask, because it is dark only from 0000 to 0400. That is changing daily. I should appreciate the sunlight for it will be dark soon enough.

Tuesday we just took a walk around the area, unpacked and started making this house our home.

Wednesday Henna-Laura and her boy friend's mother came to take us to set up our Finnish bank account, set up our cell phone service, rent a car for the first week or two, and to the library to get cards (they have a great English book section). She was a great help, speaking in Finnish and getting things taken care of much more quickly.

Thursday we took the bus into Oulu, about half an hour ride from our house to my school, Myllytulli. We went to my school and met the headmaster, Olli Nenola, and the English speaking Coordinator, Johanna Nousiainen, who I'll be working very closely with, along with Outi Tuovinen, the other Second Grade teacher. They were all very friendly and helpful. The building that they are moving the English Speaking Classes into was not finished as of Thursday. They were painting the rooms and putting up the chalkboards and they are supposed to move the desks on Sunday. I'll be meeting with Outi on Monday. to divide up our Second Graders, doing some setting up and planning. I'm glad I sent five boxes of my own things; three have arrived. They had a hot water pipe burst this summer in the prior building and it ruined the English texts and many of the teacher's personal files. The replacement books they have ordered haven't arrived yet. It is good I am used to having things never go smoothly at the beginning of school. This will help test the saying, "go with the flow." 

Friday we spent the day in Oulu, trying to track down a power cord for the computer. We finally got the cord problem solved today, so now we can start e-mailing. Hooray!

Today we went back to Oulu and walked through a lovely park that goes along a river, down to the waterfront, over bridges to an island back to the main land. The weather reminds me of Hawaii, right now. It was about 19C today, (around 68F). There have been rain showers on and off. Nobody lets the weather stop them at all. They just keep going about their business. The city has cobblestone or brick everywhere. It seems very clean, but does have graffiti on overpasses etc.

We found a wallet during our walk today. We couldn't find any policemen around the city, so we got in the car and located the police station. When we finally figured out how to get inside, the policeman behind the desk was our age, so you know what that means; he didn't speak English. We gave him the wallet which he opened and found a phone number and called; we could tell the owner was happy by his facial expressions and changes in his voice. We gestured to leave and he made us realize that he wanted us to stay. Then he called the dispatch department elsewhere in the station and two younger police officers arrived. We explained what had happened. Then the older officer said something to them and they asked "Do you want 10% of the findings". We shook our heads No!, of course not. Then he wanted to see our identification. The young officer asked if we were vacationing. I told them I would be teaching for a year at the English Speaking School. Then the other officer shared he had lived in New Jersey for two years and the first had been to Los Angeles, so we had a nice visit. Our not finding a policeman at first indicates our safety in Finland, not the lack of policemen.

Food wise, we have tried Swedish meatballs from the deli and we bought a smoked white fish that we used for two meals. We went out to dinner in Oulu for Chinese on Thursday. John did dinner on Friday - rice, lihapiirakka (piroshki), salad and Thai frozen vegetables; very good. Tonight I had "roni" and John had scrambled eggs. We could spend a lot on food, but we will figure it out. It is great that most items in the grocery store have pictures on them, so you know what you are buying. We are going to try to go the farmer's market next week.

The four television channels that we receive often have shows from England with Finnish subtitles. The young people say it is one way they learn to pronounce English so well.

Mary Ann

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Raija, Mary Ann, Matias, John, Santtu and Allan. (2171)

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Henna-Laura and Mary Ann in the kitchen. (2194)

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Mary Ann and Henna-Laura in the living room. (2195)

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Mary Ann starting our evening walk. (2234)

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Henna-Laura and Mary Ann in the Oulu library. (2229)

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Produce section at the market. Note the tag-printing scales on the column for weigh-your-own. (2251)

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Johanna Nousiainen - Oulu International School Coordinator. (2236)

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One of the bridges into Ainola Park by Mary Ann's school. (2237)

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Pikisaari - an island in the Oulujuki (Oulu River) where the first homes were built by the early settlers. (2238)

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Looking across the river to the library and theatre. (2239)

Last Update 2003 11 14

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