Saturday, August 6, 2011

August 5

   Sandra and I woke up at 11 and rushed out the door since we woke up pretty late and we had a fun-packed day in front of us. First we headed to a harbor where Sandra bought us blood sausage (which was common to eat around here) for me to try.Although the name and the look of it was quite daunting, I actually liked it. We also bought waffles in addition to our brunch. After that, we quickly went to the food store to find the proper cheese for the pierogi that I planned to make my family later that day. The problem was though, I wasn't exactly sure what type of cheese to use, but after inspecting all the cheeses, and talking to the cheese lady about which cheese would be the best to mash up, we finally agreed on a cheese. After quickly buying it, we boarded the bus home and bought potatoes and onions at the store nearby the house. At around 1, we (Sandra, Lina, and I) went to work making the pierogi. It was a pretty strenuous job, as rolling out the dough very thin required a lot of effort, as well as making the filling and everything else. Finally after 3, they were ready to eat. Fortunately, they turned out to be a success and my host family liked them. Originally, I had felt a lot of pressure, as I had never made pierogi, and if they came out bad, then I would be forever scarred for leaving my host family with a misunderstanding of true polish pierogi (so thank the lord that I succeeded). However, our feast was cut short, since at 4 the bus which was taking us to a theater show in Helsinki was leaving. The show called stage, is from this television competition, where different Finnish schools competed, each week performing different parts of a play, and each week one school was eliminated. In the end, it was Sandra's school that had won, which was why her school organized buses to take us from Tampere to Helsinki. Many of Sandra's friends were there and we were able to get front row seats.The show, a musical, was very entertaining even though I didn't understand Finnish. Sandra explained the plot more or less beforehand, but I still asked a few questions to her friends sitting nest to me. The musical was basically about these kids that were in this special school for troubled kids with this mean princepal where they basically try to deal with the situation there and unsuccessfully planned to escape. The show ended with standing ovations, and then our bus left at 10.

August 3-4

      Today Sandra and I met up with Sanaa downtown to have coffee at 1pm. After we bought our drinks, we went to the Moomin museum that was located in the basement of the Tampere library. I was quite excited as I had watched cartoons about the Muminki (Polish way of saying Moomin) when I was younger in Poland and read books abut them as well. The museum contained different mini models of scenes from different Moomin episodes as well as sketches and drawings by the author, Tove Jansson. After we walked through the museum, we headed  back to town and spent some time in the bookstore. Soon Saana had to leave us to meet with a friend and then with Sandra, we went to the library and spent some time there before Sandra had to go to her Spanish course at 5pm.
     After Esko and I picked Sandra up from her Spanish course and ate dinner, Sandra and I left for her friend's house around 9pm, where we would sleep overnight in a big tent. There were seven of us there, most whom I have met previously a couple days ago by the lake. It was fun; we had a bunch of candy and chips and talked. We ended up going to bed after 5pm (we thought that we could pull an all-nighter, but it didn't work out). We woke up around 10, but we basically moped around, ate candy, and napped some more until we finally put away the tent around 1. Soon after that, one of Sandra's friends gave us a ride home. After we had washed up and ate, Sandra left for town to meet with friends and then later to her spanish classes, while I hit the Werstal museum downtown (in order to go through it thoruouhly and not leave any descriptions and whatnot unread). After that I walked around town before heading back home. When I arrived, Lina was already back from her trip and Joonas was there as well. We decided to make blueberry/raspberry muffins and even though we added 2x a much berries as we were suppose too and forgot to add the 2 eggs, they turned out pretty good. When Sandra came back, we went back to town as it was the day of events in Tampere, and first we saw this popping-hip-hop street dance performance and then later a fire performance in the park. We also met a few of Sandra's friends. We walked back home after 11 and went to sleep soon after that since we didn't really sleep too much last night.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

August 2

     Today I had lunch scheduled with my YFU support person; we were to meet in front of a bank downtown at noon. We went to eat at a Thai restaurant, which made me somewhat excited, as I had never had Thai food, although after eating it, I concluded that it tastes like Chinese. Anyways, we spent about an hour or so in the restaurant, eating and discussing my stay in Finland, our travels, and anything that would come to mind. It was nice talking to my YFU person, but after 1, she had to go back to work. We exchanged farewells and I thanked her for buying me lunch and then I continued to walk around the city. In the center square, there was a French market, selling items such as backed goods, crepes, churros, candy and fudge, pickled foods, soap, deli, and bags, shoes, and jewelry. The lines for all the food stands were outrageously long, so I take that the baguettes that everyone were buying must be delicious.
     Eventually, I returned home after 4 to signal that I was still alive (I temporarily lost my phone when I went with Sandra to that family gathering a couple days ago, and thought it was lost forever, so we disconnected it. It was found the next day, but since it costs 10€ to reopen the account, we decided to just keep it closed since I would be leaving on Sunday anyways.) and then I went back to town for an hour or two. When I came back, Anita's mother and her sister with her set of 5 year old twins and 2 year old were home, as Anita was driving them to the airport the next morning. I also skyped my mom.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

August 1

     After waking up quite late (after 10), I ate breakfast and then helped out with painting the fence planks that my host family and the neighbors were working on installing in the backyard. I've never painted before and it was somewhat fun. However, later I went to town only for a short while (I bought a postcard and then walked around a market primarily composed of clothing, honey, baked goods, cheese, and candy stands) before returning back home before 3:30pm, as we planned to leave then to pick raspberries from a raspberry farm with the neighbors. The raspberry farm system worked this way; if you pick raspberries, then you must pick at least around 2 litres of raspberries and then pay by weight, but you can eat as much raspberries while picking as you want. So our plan when we got there was simple: eat more raspberries than you pick and eat until you can eat no more. I was never ever in a situation were there were more raspberries than I could handle, but before long, my stomach was feeling quite queasy. Nevertheless, they were good raspberries. Once we got home, we put the remaining raspberries in the freezer, and after allowing the raspberries to settle inside our intestines, Anita and I went to viewing tower in Pispala, where you could clearly see the two big lakes which Tampere is in between. After that, we went to town to pick up some chinese food; I chose chicken and broccoli to see wether Finnish chinese food beared any resemblance to American chinese food. And if you would like to know, it tasted similar to American.

Monday, August 1, 2011

July 30-31

    On the morning of July 30th (Saturday), Sandra and I packed and left around 1pm to this family/friend gathering of Sandra's friend, Irene. Irene told me that it was a yearly tradition, where her relatives as well as friends of relatives would gather at a rented cottage house by the lake, friday to sunday, and camp out in tents. We arrived to the site with Saana and we first set up our tent. We sat around, played some Finnish game composed of standing wooden logs that you had to hit with a throwing log, went to a food store not far from the cottage house, ate, and eventually we used the sauna (at around 10-11pm; none of us had any clue what time it was and its hard to tell  what time it is judging from the sky, as its pretty much light for the most part). I also met these two girls from Helsinki, whom I enjoyed talking to and spending time with. After we used the sauna (meaning that we sat in the sauna for a couple of minutes, went out to jump into the lake, came back to the sauna, and repeated the process several times), everyone gathered into a room inside the cottage to watch a couple films produced by one of the individuals who rented out the cottage; they were quite interesting. After that, we decided to go sit by a camp fire to grill sausages as well as to warm up (it was pretty cold; those prepared had on coats, scarves, and sweatpants, unlike me, who had to borrow a cardigan from Saana). After spending some time there with other people, we decided to go to bed, as it was already past 2am, but not before spending some time dancing inside with another lone guy and only the dj playing music.
     Although the ground wasn't bumpy, it was pretty cold, so I kept on waking up in the night from having my foot too cold. At one point in the early morning, I woke up confused; wondering if I am finally comfortably warm after a chilly night, or uncomfortably warm from the sun shining on our tent. It turned out to be the latter case and eventually we woke up at 10 am, as the heat was becoming rather a nuisance.
     We went to use the sauna for a while before eating breakfast. After we ate, we had to rather quickly pack up our stuff as well as the tent in order to catch the next bus home.
     Once at home, I chilled and read for the most part, before joining Sandra's friends by the lake; we had a mini picnic. Eventually, we had to go home, as it was already late and went to bed.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

July 29

This day had so much excitement that I have to break it up into 2 parts:

Part 1:
     We attempt to wake up pretty early so we could have a tourists' day in Tampere and manage to do everything before 3:07pm, when Sandra and I have to catch the train to Helsinki. First we go to an art museum where there was an exhibition titled: Is This for Real?. The exhibition basically went through the history of Tampere, including various native paintings, while also going into the future and predicting the art of the future. It was interesting although it was slightly annoying that all museum workers on the floor watched your every move, giddy inside, waiting for that moment to say 'don't touch!' (Sandra said that school trips to the museum are very common, so summers can be quite slow). Anyways, after that we stopped by a cathedral which had paintings from a famous Finnish painter before going to a museum  (Finnish Labour Museum: Werstas) for a tour in English at 1pm. (We also stopped for ice cream along the way.) As it turned out, Sandra, Anita, and I were the only ones waiting for the tour, so in a sense, we had our own private tour guide. Our tour guide took us through a museum which was basically about the workers in an enormous factory, Finlayson, in Tampere during the early 1900's(Tampere used to be a major industrial city). The museum was divided into general outlook of life and jobs of labourers in Tampere, textile industry, food of Tampere, and steam engine (in the factory). At the end of the tour, we got samples of the barely bread that was common among the workers during that time. After that, we went to Sokos (a department store) to eat lunch before we quickly bought a camera bag for Sandra's new camera and then ran off to the train. We had 3 minutes to go before the train zoomed off; Sandra said we were early (contrary to the popular stereotype, I have noted in several occasions that Finnish people are not for the most part so punctual (we were told at several orientations that Finns valued punctuality, so much in fact, that they are usually early)

Part 2:
     Beyond all, the reason why we went to Helsinki was because one of Sandra's friends, Veris, wanted to see a band that was playing at a festival in a park in Helsinki, so she asked us to join her. When we got to our stop in Helsinki (or rather a stop before the main Helsinki stop, since the park was on the outskirt of Helsinki), Veris was there waiting for us (she came a hour or 2 before us). We were there around 5pm, and the first band  that we wanted to see played at 7:30, so we had some time to spare. We went into town to buy some food for a picnic, and Veris and Sandra also bought a tube of Ben and Jerry's ice cream (I refuse to indulge in any American food while in Finland) so we went to a playground and sat on the ground to eat ice cream. After that, we walked around a bit, but decided that it was too far to walk to the center of Helsinki, so we walked back to the park so that we could begin our picnic. A band began playing at 7:30, but the band that we came specifically to see started at 9:00 (the bands were kind of electronic/pop/techno). When that time came, several people went to dance up in front of the stage, so we decided to go as well. It was fun, since there were several hippies and drunks with unique and funky dance moves, so no one judged how you danced. Eventually, we had to leave since the band stopped playing at around 9:45, and we wanted to catch the next train to Tampere, which was at 10:12. We made it, and after the apprx. 2 hour ride, Veris' father picked us up and drove us home.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Jul7 28

     Today we woke up pretty late and had a brunch. I stayed at home reading, and then went to the garden with Anita to get vegetables for dinner before going downtown around 3pm. I don´t really do anything special downtown, just walk back and forth on the main road, go into different stores, although each time I go to town, I venture out father from the main road and central square. Nevertheless, I hopped on the bus to go back home at 5:45  since we agreed that everyone should be at home at 6pm to eat and met Sandra on the bus (Sandra was with her friend Saana running; I declined the offer to go because it was too hot. I think it was in the low 80's. :).) Anyways, we got home, ate, and then went out again to a department store so that Sandra could buy make-up (since she left her cosmetics bag at her relatives when we went a while back). When we came back home, I decided that I would go out for a jog since it was cooler than in the day. After I came back, which was before 11pm, I stayed up a while longer and then went to bed.