Monday, November 17, 2008

#2.4 Fall Break

We had a a week off for a fall holiday in the middle of October. I didn't feel like spending the whole week at home alone so I decided to visit Yesim in Ranua. I checked the bus schedule and talked to my dad about it and he said it was alright, so i packed myself a small bag and set off. Ranua is a small town about an hour south of Rovaniemi. It's only claims to fame is that it is home to one of only three zoos in Finland, as well as having a berry called Hilla that looks like a yellow blackberry. Not much to offer.
I got off the bus in front of the Zoo and there waiting for me was Yesim. We went inside an tried to buy our tickets in Finnish. Once inside the zoo i realized just how special this place was. The zoo only has animals that are native to Finland + polar bears (just for fun i guess...) The entire place was spread out on the side of a hill that was still completely covered in trees. You had to follow a wooden path through the Forrest and all of a sudden you would run into an encloseure of wolves or beavers or bears. The funny thing was that the inside of the enclosures looked pretty much the same at the outside. They also had reindeer and moose, Owls and a huge crow that said "Jaska" if you said it first. (Jaska is the name of Yesim's host dad, who found the bird and
nursed in back to health, taught it to say his name and then donated to the zoo.)
After the fabulous zoo we went to the Fazer factory. Fazer is like the Finnish version of Hershey's, only 20 times better! Finnish candy, particularly chocolate, is like the best I've ever had. SOOOoooO0 good! and at the factory you could get things discounted :)
Then we went to a second hand store (my favorite) where i found the most amazing green plaid coat for only .50 euro cents!! You can't get cheaper then that. Everything here is normally so expensive. A decent coat, nothing special, would cost you a minimum of 60€ which is pretty expensive when you think of it in $. Plus you have to add the crap exchange rate on top of that, so it comes out to about 75$ for a decent run of the mill coat, and i found a really cool one
for practically nothing!! i love thrift stores.

One thing that annoys me about Finnish stores besides the prices are the business hours. Nothing opens before 9, weekdays shops are open till 6 or 8pm, but on Saturdays shops close up at around 4; and don't even bother to go anywhere on Sundays, every things closed.

After our adventurous day out, her host dad came and picked us up. He was younger then my dad by a decade or two, and he spoke English! They had a nice house full two the brim with 5 nice little children, the oldest one of which had just turned 11. They were really sweet, but after an hour they were climbing all over me too, begging to play games and such. I don't know how she deals with it, I know i couldn't.

After an eventful dinner, Yesim took me on a tour of the little town. All it really was was a collection of grocery stores, a bank, a bar and a post office. I really don't know how she lives here! But she says that she really likes it, which is good for her. We went back to the house and read a Finnish bedtime story to the little ones. They only corrected our pronunciation a few times, so i guess we were doing pretty well, even though i didn't know what i was reading half the time.

Yesim still had school that week, so i went with her the next morning to her school. Her first class was English, so we figured that it would be ok for me to tag along. we talked to the English teacher before class and she was over joyed to have me there. In the first class they were just working on grammar stuff, but once the class was over she invite me to talk in her next class. I agreed.

I've kinda come to expect certain things from a Finnish audience of students, and these didn't let me down. As I was talking about where i was from and why i was here, no one said a word. They just stared at me with their impassive faces, which i was used to at this point so it didn't bother me much. I ended up getting a bit carried away, and the teacher kept prompting me. So the teacher and I ended up having a pretty good conversation in front of the class.

One topic that came up was the recent school shooting in Kauhajoki Finland. It was the second shooting in about a year. It was a very sad affair. I remember that day they they flew all the Finnish flags at half mast. She thought it was the fault of the school system and i thought it had more to do with the psyche of the individual. I don't know how much of the conversation the kids in the class got though. When I asked for questions, there was only one. "Can you do my homeworks for me?" I told him to see me after class. He never did. Figures.

After school I said good bye to her family. They said that i was welcome back any time.
The rest of the week i Spent at home or with my Sister and her friends.

One event that was fast approaching was Halloween, already! I was very disappointed that they don't do much for Halloween besides watch horror movies on late night TV, and they had a very small section in the grocery store dedicated to Halloween kitch. I was especially disappointed because the only thing better then Finnish candy would have to be FREE Finnish candy, but no luck there. No one i talked to was going to dress up at all but I couldn't let the day pass unmarked. I got up early the day of and drew some fabulous blue scales under my eyes. I was a fish or something.....Everyone stared at me in school, but everyone though it was supper cool, so that was fun. Later on that night I went to a friends house to watch a scary movie, and then October, my second month here, was over.

1 comment:

Gregg said...

Well, this is all pretty interesting. I loved Finland, but I never tried to learn any Finnish. It must be hard to be in a class like history there. What about literature? Do they have a lit class there or is it more about grammar and spelling, etc.?

Your mom is here giving stressed teachers chair massages! I have an appointment tomorrow morning.