My own Finnish classifieds – please help me locate these missing or difficult to find items!
Cats I have not seen one in Turku. Not one. It’s weird.
Dark roots I’ve stopped looking. Those impossible buttery, dandelion, amber locks are for the better part the real deal.
Bottled water I thought Europeans walked around with bottled water in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Mostly reusable glasses and carafes out there.
Teen wage slaves
Text books The big, bulky, expensive ones put out by major publishing houses, or better yet- by the companies who also make the tests- completely missing here. Finnish texts are thin, paperback, reasonably priced, interactive, humorous, differentiated, multidisciplinary, engaging, sensible and –gasp! – written by practicing Finnish teachers.
Instructional strategists, transportation personnel, teacher coaches, subject experts, leaders, secretaries, receptionists, schedulers, coordinators, specialists, non-teaching administrators, non-teaching counselors, assistant administrators, SRO officers, assistant specialists, special assistants…
Inservice/PD An upper secondary teacher meets with her principal once a year to discuss what strengths she/he would like to develop. Then- he/she does it.
Graded homework / classwork I saw a teacher do a visual check to see if homework was done in a seventh grade class today. This is a first. Did she grade it? Do Finns play baseball? Did everyone do it? No. The penalty- a little middle school shaming. What really made it awesome was that this was laundry homework- the teacher said parents love it when students have home homework.
Sleeping in class Like cats, I haven’t seen this common high school class activity- even once. And not all of the instruction over here is riveting.
Ink I’ve only seen a couple of tattoo parlors. Not sure about this one- maybe it’s too cold and the tatts are hidden- I hope so. I’m curious about what a Finn would tattoo and where he/she would put it. Another reason to look forward to spring.
Horns I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a car horn. I hope I get the chance- I’m counting on one of those goofy old fashioned aruuugahhh!
More coke machines than water There are soft drink machines – especially on the university campus. But I’ve not seen them in the high schools in Turku. Almost everyone drinks water or milk.
ATT’s sticky fingers I don’t think I’ll even be able to even look at US carriers ever again. I use my phone here probably twice as much as I did in the US- and I’ve made many international calls. But I’m paying about a third of what I pay for phone use in the US.
Bundling, Supersizing Related to the sanctioned phone thievery. Even at the grocery- cant buy enough toilet paper and canned chili to stock up for the apocalypse.
Baseball Finns do like sports- ice hockey is a favorite; there are lots of runners in Paavo Nurmi’s hometown; hunting and fishing are popular. Pesapallo is a game like baseball- it sounds pretty hilarious. I understand the pitcher stands close to the batter and the ball cannot be hit out of the park. Together with looking for tats, I’ll be checking out some pesapallo come springtime.
Hard-core Atheism Although Finns are said to be casual church goers, religion is a part of the mandatory curriculum. I’ve seen a number of classes in a several of grade levels where different faiths, ethics, and philosophy are studied. I’ve watched fifth graders access the Amnesty International site and third graders talk about bullying and Upper Secondary students explore the various stands on gay marriage. Sounds pretty religious to me.
School Offices Finding the school office can be tricky. Since teachers have offices, it’s sometimes hard to understand where or who the principal/headmaster is. Especially in those high schools where principals teach a class or two. The new International School will locate the principal’s office in the center of the school. The principal says this is so he can be available to more teachers and students more often. This is one disorientation I’d like to keep.
Litter Finns are exceptionally tidy. School campuses are no exception. It’s true- kids run around in stocking feet indoors. Everything is spotless. The classrooms, cafeterias, and bathrooms are scrupulously clean and shiny. Everyone seems to participate in this cleanliness. Students move fluidly from one subject to another. When they have finished with the materials for the lesson, everyone picks up after himself. When they finish eating, everyone busses his tray, placing utensils, plates and cup in the washing receptacles. Everyone.
School Busses Most general ed students (age 7-15) go to local schools. When equality really undergirds everything that you do, one local school is just as good as another. Afterward, students choose and apply to their upper secondary schools- these may not be as close. Getting to and from school is the responsibility of the student. If the student lives a certain number of miles off, transport assistance is available. So yes, lots of waist high, front-teeth-missing riders climbing on the city bus in the dark morning with the businessmen and college students.
Living in a place where not everyone over 18 owns a car has such a different landscape. Turku buses are used by almost everyone- unapologetically. It’s really something to ride the bus in the morning- lots of adults going to work, university students on their way to class, and a passel of kids missing their front teeth chattering along. Senior citizens are still able to live independently. There’s just no need for school transportation. Americans missed out on this when we decided to let the auto manufacturers have such a big part in how we spend our money and how we live our lives.
Obesity It’s so rare to come across anyone even a bit overweight. And when I do, I eavesdrop, ears pricked for the foreign accent. In Fulbrighter Heidi Katz’s blog, she listed first impressions that Finnish children had of Americans. Both Donald Trump and “fat people” appeared more than once.
Locks How much more can be written about trust? Bikes just parked, expensive coats on communal racks. I still can’t shake my fear. I felt like I had admirably assimilated today when I left my coat on the racks in the hall and didn’t carry my laptop to the bathroom with me at the library.
Blogging mojo Viisi tai Kuusi Viikoa was a tongue-in-cheek title when I thought about this blog several months ago. It seemed that the life of most FulBlogs averaged five or six weeks. I even blogged about this in a “practice” blog, wondering what happened at that magical six week mark, noting that around Valentine’s day I might also feel the change. And yes, oh yes, blogging is not the same experience that it was when I first got off the train. I am not finding the joy in it that I once did but in the spirit of blogging, I must attempt to analyze why.
Maybe I care more than I care to admit that words thrown into the ether fall in a forest with no one to hear them. And I am bothered that sometimes I want to write what I can’t write or write too much about what I really would rather not. Often I just cannot pull anything profound or even an interesting “so what.”
But probably the biggest reason is that for the FulBlogger – the six week period seems to be that sweet spot where life becomes real. Now, I know that the little Indian place across the street does a great vindaloo and that Johanne colors better than my Aveda specialist in Lafayette. I know not to tip even though this is really hard for me. I have a great bookstore, awesome libraries and fabulous coffee/tea shops. I am an international phone and banking whiz. I can go to an Orthodox mass or walk through galleries or have a “study” session with my Nepalese/French/Mexican/Iraqui adult ed buddies. I can ask my Turkish neighbor over for a cup. Time seems shorter- nearly a third of my Fulbright period is gone. Five or six weeks into this experience, I am feeling solid and want to suck the marrow, then write about the taste later. If I feel like writing about it.
This blog is not an official Fulbright Program blog and the views expressed are my own and not those of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State, or any of its partner organizations.