Taylors in Finland

The Grand Adventure

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

Click on photo or photo id in parentheses to view larger image.

11-14 August 2001

14 August 2001
Sunrise/sunset 0500/2146
Oulunsalo, Finland

Mary Ann took the bus today (Tuesday) for her first day with students. We have had fun walking through the lovely parks with great cycling and footpaths. The Oulu waterfront is gorgeous. Oulu has over 350 Km of bike and walking trails that are very well maintained. During the winter some of them are groomed for cross-country skiing.

The Perttunen (“PAIR-two-nen”) home is very nice and we know we will enjoy our year here (including the sauna). Mary Ann is having fun in their garden. It took me two and one-half hours to mow the lawns today. Because of the long daylight hours, plus rain, things grow quickly and are very lush. It reminds me a bit of Hawaii; everything green and grass grows right to the edge of the trail or pavement.

The Finnish language is a real challenge, because the vowels are pronounced so differently from ours and every letter in a word is pronounced, i.e. our street Kellonsoittajankuja (KA lon so it tah yon koo yaa)[we think]..

Today school started for Mary Ann with students; it was very laid back. The children were only at school from 0900 to 1130. They are in a new building that is being changed from office space to classrooms; it is still in construction mode, so they are teaching around workmen and hammering, etc. What is new! 

The children seem to be more into being kids. They are very active, at least the ones in our neighborhood. They are riding bikes, roller blading, playing on teeter totters, bars and slides in the nearby park we can see from the kitchen window. They usually have been playing outside until 10:00p.m., but tonight they have gone in earlier because of school.

We have enjoyed the people we have met so far. They have been friendly and very helpful.

We drove out to a beautiful lake on Sunday. It was made by damming the river Oulu which flows through Oulu.

The streets in Oulu are cobblestone. No lane lines on 99% of them. You spot where to drive because the tires have worn shiny lanes. Must be a bit-- to stop when it is below freezing, slushy and someone steps off the curb. We are told some people ride their bikes year round.

Finland has Markka for currency. By the time we get used to it they will be switching to the Euro. Everyone here uses plastic, no checks. Pay bills by Internet if your account is set up for it or at terminals set up in the lobbies of banks.

I had arranged with Allan Perttunen to get a DSL line installed by Opoy Oy. We were being picked up at the airport when they first came to the house, a week early. When we arranged the second appointment they arrived at 0850, ten minutes early, and left at 0920. I was up and running. PacBell (our telephone company in California), eat your heart out. That's service!

Everyone has cell phones. I have been told the national average is 78%, so it probably means only the seniors ("I don't need them newfangled things") or children under ten don't have them. They even issue them to salespeople in stores to use rather than walkie-talkies. You only pay for outgoing calls and I've been told the monthly rate is low. I'll know next month after we get our first bill.

It has been two and one-half months since I quit work (well, at least work at Elypsis. Little did I know what the next two months would be like. It started off with me misplacing my newly-issued updated passport. When I had the Finnish forms to apply for my Residence Permit I couldn't find it. I spent six days tearing through my office, closet, files, office again, etc. looking for it. Finally admitted to myself that I wouldn't find it and went to San Francisco and applied for a replacement. For $95 the Passport Office will issue you a new passport in one day (vs. the usual $35 and four weeks by mail). So in on Tuesday to apply, pick it up Wednesday and straight to the Post Office for Express Mail to the Finnish Embassy in Washington.

The next seven weeks, of June and July, were filled with cleaning house, new roof, arranging finances, clearing closets, packing up my office (partly done while looking for lost passport so not a total loss), appraisals, insurance discussions, shipping school supplies, cleaning the garage (whew! - don't let it get away from you, it takes forever to get straight again), organizing the workshop, storing clothes, records, transferring programs and files to the new laptop, etc., etc., ... ...

It is one thing to go away for the weekend - you just grab a few clothes, lock the door and you're gone. For a few weeks, add a few more clothes and arrange for someone to watch the house, bring in the newspapers, water the plants, etc. But when it is for a year, and you are exchanging houses - it is totally different.

You have to leave notes on how things work (here in Finland the clothes dryer water tank needs to be emptied after every load - they don't vent because it would be a loss of heat the rest of the time and the vapor would freeze in the vent pipe during the winter), where to shop, who to call if something breaks, arrange who will pay what bills and how, and on and on and on...

It has been a learning experience. We never, ever, want to go through the last week of preparation again.

My next project, after getting settled in here, will be to build a web site. I have not done that before so something new to learn.


Click on photo to view larger image

The Perttunen home. (2688)

Click on photo to view larger image

It took me three weeks to spell it without looking it up! I'm sure that pronouncing Vallejo was just as difficult for the Perttunens. (4885)

Click on photo to view larger image

Mary Ann off to the bus for her first day at school. (2252)

Click on photo to view larger image

See the children in the playground? It is raining and they just wear a coat while the mothers visit. (2859)

Click on photo to view larger image

Oulujarvi. This man-made lake, east of Oulu, is about 60 Km long. (2244)

Click on photo to view larger image

Cobblestone streets, note wear in lanes. (2258)

Click on photo to view larger image

Oulu City Hall. (2250)

Click on photo to view larger image

I am waiting on the corner for Mary Ann to join me for dinner. (2255)

Click on photo to view larger image

A street in downtown Oulu. The restaurant is to my left. (2257)

Click on photo to view larger image

There she is! (2256)

Click on photo to view larger image

The wood pulp and paper mill. Sometimes I am reminded of Eureka, California. (2259)

Last Update 2003 11 14

return to top ^