Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Brainzzz...and other Finnish foods

I know I've been lax in documenting the food I've been eating here, but for whatever reason whenever the food comes out, I never remember to grab my camera. Call it a one-track mind. I'll make a mental note to do better in the future, because I have been eating various Finnish foods from the grocery store and they have been fascinating (plus mostly delicious). My dad has been doing a great job of recording, so it's possible that I'll just steal some of his shots so you guys can get a good recap.

Anyhow, one of the things that has been coming into the temp apartment more and more, because my parents are here, is dessert. Being someone who absolutely loves savory foods and naturally thinks sweet foods aren't that interesting, the only sweet foods I tend to buy come in the form of alcohol (not an untrue statement). Obviously as my parents have been here this has been lower than it normally would (and will) be, but dessert consumption has gone up instead. Hence the purchase of...BRAINZ.

Or something that my dad has lovingly named, "brain guys." I gotta admit, he's not totally wrong:

They do sort of look like brains. Or tiny funnel cakes. In any case my parents wanted to try them, so they were purchased and eaten.

The name (tippaleipä) actually translates to, "drop bread," but I'm guessing this has to do with the fact that someone is dropping batter into hot oil and then generically calling it "bread." Nothing really to do with drops or bread, as far as I can tell. Oddly crunchy, instead of cakey and spongey. Not even that sweet really, despite being lightly dusted in finely sifted powdered sugar. Not, what I would imagine, brains would be like. :P

Definitely worth trying. Another Finnish marvel, checked off the list. So many more to try. I'll try to get other pictures so I can chronicle what has already been tasted. So many things. O_O The grocery store deli section really is a wonder of strange and wonderful delicacies.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The spreckled hen explores Finland: Suomenlinna edition

After the hustle and bustle of the last several weeks, we finally found some time to take a break and do some sightseeing. There is a little set of islands right off the coast of Helsinki called Suomenlinna (pronounced "sue-oh-men-leen-nah"), which is only a 15 minute ferry/5 euro ticket away, so we decided to go check it out.

It was the perfect day to go - a heatwave! Reached double digits in Celsius that day - 52 degrees F/10 degrees C. Pretty warm actually, and not that windy on most parts of the islands. Really pleasant.

So to give you some background - Suomenlinna was actually a military fortress used to protect mainland Finland from Russian invasions. Originally built up while Finland was under Swedish rule, it was actually home to quite a few (military) people and was quite a quaint little town of its own. When Russians came to take it over the first time, it stood its ground, and gained a reputation of being impregnable. Unfortunately some time later though, the Russians came again, and for whatever reason though the Swedes and Finns were clearly better numbered and better armed, their general waved the white flag and gave up their position. Needless to say he lived in shame for the rest of his life. Something something, ruled by Russia until Finland gained its independence later down the line.

Now Suomenlinna is a cute little historical tourist attraction preserved for the sake of posterity. There is a main road that allows people to walk through two of the five islands that make it up (you can go to the other ones if you want, but they're populated by the 900 people who actually live there) and see the historical buildings that have been renovated.

Let the slide show, begin!

First pic I took upon landing on the islands. NOT an Instagram photo, just a cool angle from the inside of a tunnel. Winter-barren trees, you do this photo some scary-movie justice.

The one church on the islands. Originally done in the ornate Russian style only to be torn down in defiance and simplified when Finland gained its independence (something something, in your eye, Russia!). Hilarious. Very plain on the inside - very...well, Lutheran.

Tomb of the guy who did lots of stuff for the island, 1788. Descriptive, I know. :) Actually he was the one who organized the build-up of the military fortifications and whatnot, plus smartly hired his engineer friend who invented everything and its mother run by windmill-power that allowed them to get things done (i.e. windmill that both sawed lumber and also ground grain at the same).

What most of their buildings look like. I think they use a lot of them for naval housing now, if they're not for historical/tourist purposes. Pretty neat looking.

MORE historical buildings. Oooo. ^_^

Look familiar? :) It's the spreckled hen in seabird-form carved in wood! Boots and all! I was thrilled to have found my nautical proxy. Just goes to show, you never know. :)

We noticed that a lot of their older buildings (most likely munitions bunkers) were built into the hillsides. The Shire! (Although very dry from winter). I am guessing they did this to hide them from view as ships were coming in. It also keeps them extremely well-insulated.

The main attraction at the end of the tourist road: The King's Gate. It's actually quite small, considering, and we're not actually sure what it was used for (a lack of signage is to blame for this). Despite it being grand on this side, it was actually not very interesting on the other side.

Kentucky-fried chicken! Or at least the closest thing I'll get, this side of the Bay of Finland. I've been told that the closest KFC is in Denmark. :( Unfortunately I didn't get to have this one, since I was still full from eating my one novelty ice cream (it was the warmest day of the year we'd had so far, after all).

Until next time, Suomenlinna!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

My skateboard saved my computer!

...actually it was a guy named Timo, but the credit is deserved, all the same.

In reality my skateboard does deserve some of the spotlight. While contemplating what in the world to do about the problem re: blown power supply, my mom had the brilliant idea of googling for computer repair shops in Helsinki. Boom, she came upon a tiny little shop in Punavuori, a neighborhood about 25 minutes walk from our temporary apartment. Only problem was, we didn't have a backpack big enough to hold my massive HP tower, and my parents (being normal-sized small Asian people) didn't want to carry it the whole way there.

Enter the skateboard.

Now I happen to own a very righteous and top quality skateboard, obtained from the amazing Muir Skate Shop. It's a Loaded longboard made from bamboo with the whole nine yards, made personally by the shop's owner, Scott. It's balanced perfectly and I love it to no end.

While at work, my parents were at my new place trying to figure out how to get my computer from point A to point B when they spied the skateboard leaning against the wall. This is what emerged:

They told me they got more than a few funny looks and smirks from Finnish skater bobby teenagers scooting down the street to the repair shop, but they did make it there and back with relatively little issue. And now I have a fixed computer with a power supply that automatically detects what kind of voltage it is being given. It even uses the same plug style so I can use my old cable when I get back to the States. Win and win.

Never in a million years would I have dreamed that the first rider of my skateboard in Finland would be a computer. But just goes to show, you never know. :)

Now if only I could find a three-pronged, 500 watt grounded transformer so my tv/monitor would stop getting electrical interference, I would be completely set...but that's for another time. ^_^

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Commenting issues?

It has recently come to my attention that several of you may be trying to post comments and have been unsuccessful in doing so. Oh noes!

If you've tried posting a comment and it's not immediately shown up on the site, unfortunately I've missed your wonderful words. If this is the case, could you send me an email/FB message/some other form of contact to let me know? I want to know in what cases this is happening so I can hopefully figure out the problem and get it fixed.

I want to know everything everyone is trying to say to me, if anything. :) Please comment on!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Exploding the wild

So I knew about the necessity of checking the voltage of all of my electronics before going overseas. My dad (being the awesome engineer that he is) checked all of my electronics beforehand and made sure that I either had the appropriate converters or that my electronics would work just fine with just adapters. Yet somehow, I still managed to blow something on first try. *extremely loud facepalm*

Things were going well - my container had arrived after just an hour of waiting, and the shippers had unpacked everything, nothing was broken, and all of my packages had arrived safe and sound from the US (not even inspected by Customs, which is a big win). They'd finished reassembling all of my furniture (part of the deal) and left with no bumps whatsoever. Apparently it was up to me to cause the first accident.

We were putting back together my computer (an HP tower, which hooks up to my TV and sound system) and making sure everything fit back together. I found all of the appropriate cords and were piecing things back together (without turning anything on), when I plugged in my power supply into the extension cord and heard a loud POP. Smell of smoke. Breaker was flipped in the hallway. DAMMMMNIT.

So now I have a busted power supply to my computer in a foreign country. Problem is, I didn't even need  to have this problem - my computer was completely rated for 220 volts...I just forgot to flip the switch to make it so (Captain Picard should have been looking over my shoulder and it would have been alright). Oye.

Here is a picture of my sad power supply:

Contacted my IT guy at work to see if he knows where I can buy one here to replace it, otherwise I'll go the online route, though shipping will be murder. If I were in the US I would just pop down to Fry's and pick one up for $50. But alas, no. Car-less, Fry's-less, and unsure, I will figure out another way to get my computer working again.

Guess things were going too smoothly - the Gnome of Fate had to throw in a curve ball somewhere. :) I stay relatively positive and hope for a fast (and hopefully not too expensive) solution.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Planning the perfect apartment

Now as you probably know, I’m a planner. But when you involve my mom and dad also, it becomes a group of super planners. Nerdy planners. The force of engineering, finance, and design combined. 76 years’ worth of experience put together (of which I contribute a measly five but you get my point). You take a minute to consider that.

Behold, THE PLAN.

Oh yes, everything large that I shipped or am considering buying has been planned out in gross detail. Measurements (in centimeters now, no longer in inches) have been done in full with included furniture expansions (like if the table has leaves or the sofa becomes a bed) and things are fully arrangeable and rearrangeable in order to get the desired layout with maximum awesomeness. We’ve been carrying this baby around and looking at it on my phone while at furniture stores in order to determine whether or not something would fit or look right. Smart, informed decisions are being made.

Unfortunately 3-D CAD drawings are not yet an option, but at some point in time I’m sure my dad will consider this an option (in the future, not likely for this project).

My family rules. My apartment will. be. amazing. You can bet on it. :) Nerdcore to the max.

Snippit: Racism in the wild

I am not someone who enjoys thinking about bad things. My philosophy generally revolves around respecting other people and leaving the rage and arguments to someone else. I’d just rather go somewhere else and live happy. So with that, here is a snippit on some racism.

My Spanish teammate and I had just finished our long work day and were headed out to dinner. She was interested in trying German food, since we were in Germany and this was her first time in Berlin, so we crossed the park next to our hotel on the recommendation from our hotel’s barman (we’d stopped at him to grab a glass of wine before heading out for dinner), and hoped to find some local fare.

To keep things short, we were refused service at two German restaurants. This is the first time I’ve ever been refused service in my life, and I’ve been to more than a few countries, even on my own. Now, I have absolutely nothing against German people – I have German friends and they are lovely people. But unfortunately I have felt the sting of racism in this particular country and city before, so I was not shocked. Unfortunately my colleague was not so familiar with it and took it rather badly.

She went back to the restaurants and demanded to speak to the managers, collecting business cards from both. She’s told me she plans to blog about them and I think it’s appropriate that she do so. If you feel the need to do something about it as well, I can get the names of the restaurants from her and pass them to you.

It is surprising when things like this still happen, but they do. And that’s all I’ll say.

The spreckled hen goes to Berlin

So like I mentioned previously, as soon as I signed my lease within a few hours I was on a plane to Berlin for my first officious business trip since moving here. Felt funny to just have to fly a short 2+ hours to get to another major European city, but such is the luxury of moving here. :) (No big deal or anything, mumble mumble, pish posh, hob nob, and what what!)

I had been to Berlin this past summer for the first and previous time. Like then, it was cloudy and slightly rainy, fairly cold. Despite supposedly being twice as warm as Helsinki, it didn’t feel any different. But I didn’t let that cloud my judgment of it (har har) and I proceeded with an open mind. It was nice to have a few days in the lap of company luxury after being a slight pauper in some regards in my normal life.

I stayed at the Radisson Blu, which had this apparently very well-known aquarium in its lobby. People kept flocking in to stare at this thing. Here is the pic again in case you didn’t see it on FB:

As cool as that was, the thing that I’ll always remember best about this trip was the amazing free breakfast. OMG I would and could get fat off of that breakfast everyday – cold cuts, sliced cheeses, gourmet cheese plate, fresh cut veggies (cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers), pickles and olives, hard-boiled eggs with lox, several types of fish in cream sauces, any type of fresh bread or bun you could imagine, 8 types of fresh juices, yogurts, cereals, 8 types of canned fruit, and the list just goes on. For being a “cold” breakfast it was breathtaking. I sat there like a total fatass and went to town every morning I was there. Did I get my money’s worth? Oh yeah.

Other than that the trip was alright – did the work I was relatively supposed to do, ordered room service (steak and red wine…uh, yeah), and had a nice Italian dinner with my colleague (sorry I was a fail and forgot to take pics of these things). Here is a pic of my plush room:

The negative thing about the trip was the “incident,” but I’ll blog about that next. Until we meet again, Berlin.

Finding the perfect apartment

I went to many and more apartment viewings, more than I cared to share with you all. And after seeing a revue of disappointments (especially as previous mentioned "charming orange toilet," which turned out to be "scary mold-infested orange fridge"), I finally found my One.

Located just a 10 minute walk from the center of town, it’s located in the excellent district of Etu-Töölö, just north of Kamppi. In other words, a cash-money neighborhood. It’s a quiet little side street, just off of a main drag which will take me to work, feed me, and provide me with much needed (cheap! :D) groceries.

And I’m just getting started. Though a bit smaller than I was looking for, the apartment is heavenly. Renovated in 2010, it’s 30 square meters/317 square feet of awesome. Take a gander below:

This is the hallway one would come into upon entering my den of comfort. The bathroom is the door on the left, and I have very convenient coat hook racks on both sides of the hallway (very necessary as everyone here wears coats). The accordion door you can slightly see is so there is an inner door to my front door – this is so I am not disturbed when my mail is delivered (apparently they deliver at all times of the day or night).

This is where my glorious bedroom/living room will be. Notice its excellent lighting. More will be written about this in a later post.

My glorious kitchen! Huge and well-equipped. "Full"-sized oven, four electric burners with hood, microwave, ¾-size fridge, and cupboards…oh the cupboards! So much space to store my myriads of kitchen gadgets, pots, pans, and other goods. Yes and yes.

My kitchen facing out. The long cabinets you see on the left are where I will likely have to store all of my clothes, since there is no other built-in storage. No jokes. Clothes in the kitchen!

And last, but not at all least, the main event: the bathroom. Along with the mirrored cabinets there is an additional storage cabinet to the left (out of the picture) plus storage beneath the sink (total win). The white machine to the right is my standing washing machine. Dryers are a rarity here. I am sure I will blog about my adventures of drying sometime in the future. It has been…interesting. And of course, the focus feature: the shower stall with closing glass doors. Heaven. I can shower in peace, knowing that I won’t soak my toilet paper.

And that concludes the tour of my newly-signed apartment. Entry coming at you soon: furniture/space planning this baby.

Explanations for my short hiatus

Apologies to all for my week-long hiatus, there are several reasons why I disappeared, and I will explain as such:

  1. I signed a lease for my new (soon to be "perfect") apartment this past Wednesday then immediately flew to Berlin for a business trip.
  2. I was on said Berlin business trip for several days.
  3. There was unfortunately some racism in the wild, which I will write a small snippit about. For those who know me very well, understand that I'm not one who likes to dwell on unpleasant things, and this counts as one of those.
  4. I have been reading A Dance with Dragons (Game of Thrones book #5, i.e. A Song of Ice and Fire #5) for a week now and I'm already half way through. Nuff said.
  5. All of my other time has been spent planning out my new apartment.

Because of all these reasons, plus the fact that a new security update makes my laptop hate my temporary apartment internet even more, I was kept from updating all of you wonderful people. I do indeed apologize and will hope to be more diligent in the future. To make up for this, I will now post several entries in succession so you'll be all caught up. Rapid fire...go!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Potato slippers

...or things I assumed to be potato slippers.

There were these little potato pastries that we kept seeing in the grocery stores that seemed to be very common and rather popular:

Eventually we actually remembered to buy a few of them and took them home. They were in fact, not potato. Or at least not most of them. We looked up the words for them and it turns out that they were a mix of different ingredients (mostly not potato).

The light one on the top left was actually filled with rice, the orange one on the top right was carrot, and the one on the bottom was a sort of buttery potato. They are, in general, called Karelian pastries, coming from the region of Karelia. What we thought were potato skins are actually made of different types of flours which are then rolled out and then stuffed with various (mostly grain/carb) fillings. Pretty tasty, though not at all what we expected.

The rice one was the traditional Karelian filling - not seasoned almost at all and rather plain. The carrot one was actually not much like carrot and reminded me a lot of Spanish rice Rice a Roni, if you've ever had that before. And the potato one was like really buttery mashed potatoes - very smooth.

More mysteries solved at the grocery store, though so many more to unlock. :) There is a wealth of things I am very excited to try at the deli counter. Slowly beginning to recognize some of the common words that are floating around (limppu = loaf, vesi = water, maito = milk, voin = butter, etc). Not too shabby. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

The quest for the mythical Asian grocery store

Before I even came to Helsinki I had heard rumors of a large Asian grocery store in the middle of town. Something of the magnitude of 99 Ranch. Oh man! I thought, with glee, I'll be able to carry on with my lapcheung and ridiculous Asian cooking with no problems - what an unexpected surprise! Well, let's just say the reports of this "huge" Asian supermarket were not exactly what they seemed...

First of all, it took me several weeks to track down this supermarket in the first place. Though several people seemed to know of its existence, no one actually knew its name or exactly what street it lived on. "Oh I think it's on this street," or "I heard it was on this street." Eventually I did get concrete data on what street it was on, and low and behold - there were three of them! A white one, a yellow one, and a red one. A trusted source (read: an Asian Canadian who had been living here for 6 years and who was very conscious of all of the Asian supermarkets in town), told me very clearly to go to the yellow and red supermarkets, NOT the white one, stating very specifically, "the white one is know, WHITE people. O_O". Hilarious in my life.

So, last weekend my parents and I went on the quest to find these Asian supermarkets. My Asian Canadian friend sent us the Google map as to what streets they were on, and we realized why we hadn't been able to Google them and find them initially: they were labelled as "Oriental" supermarkets. *facepalm* Right, yeah, okay, hadn't tried that...something something *grumbles*...

Anyway, we walked through town to the right neighborhood (oddly enough it's located near the local college campus), and spotted the first market: the yellow supermarket:

I wasn't allowed to take pictures inside, so you'll have to bear with me, but imagine a very small and not particularly well-stocked tiny Asian grocery store. Like one of those small corner grocers you'd find in San Francisco. I bought some staples - dark soy sauce, sesame oil, thin egg noodles, and oyster sauce, and figured I should check out the red store before going too nuts.

The red store was definitely where it was at. There was a lot more selection (like a slightly bigger, not-on-the-corner grocery store), things were cheaper, and it felt like home. Things were even appropriately mislabeled, as they would be back at home:

Neither of the items pictured is actually white radish, but I do give them a D for effort. :) At least the prices were correctly printed, and it was very clear. I bought a bunch more stuff from this store and felt quite satisfied. Some people in line were going nuts - I assume this was because of the Easter holidays (we get Friday and Monday off - they take Easter super serio here...something I'm very happy about because I'm still recovering like a gross recluse at the moment).

I found no lapcheung (aka Chinese sausage) at either of the stores, but my Asian Canadian friend tells me I can sometimes find them in the freezer sections (which is odd...because it's vacuum-packed and doesn't need refrigeration...but whatever, I'll take it where I can get it), so I'll look again next time.

I'll do a more thorough reporting next time I'm there, there was so much to see I know I didn't catch it all the first time. So happy I can get some of my staples here!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A first experience with socialist medicine

Sorry I've been away for a couple of days - as many of you have noticed from FB, I've been grossly ill, so much of my days have been spent sleeping, drinking hot liquids, or otherwise being incapacitated in my bed. I even took days off of work (this is a shockingly weird thing for me to do...I'm diehard when comes to going into work, even in the worst of personal conditions). But finally my body got the best of me and I was barely keeping it together, so I decided to make use of my new medical insurance: i.e., my sweet new socialist medicine.

Having heard quite a lot about this, I was quite excited. I emailed my HR contact and she gave me the number to call in order to get an appointment, and I got one that very same day (this was on Monday). I dragged my feverish ass onto the bus and got myself to work and actually found it without too much ado. Oh, I forgot to mention - my medical peeps are actually on site at work - we have doctors and nurses there 24/7 from what I understand, you just need to make an appointment and come on in. It's pretty amazing, especially for someone like me who has a serious lack of car now.

Anyway, I was in the waiting room (which was surprisingly comfy, not at all like a hospital...which I guess would make sense since it was at work), for maybe 5 minutes before the doctor called me in. She took a look at me, decided I had a throat infection and prescribed me antibiotics (plain normal cefalex, 500mg, nothing out of the ordinary), I complained about not being able to sleep at night because of my coughing, and also prescribed me cough syrup. She then also gave me a get-out-of-work-for-the-week-free pass, which I thought was absolutely hilarious (complete with rainbow!):

After that, free to go. Well, free to go to an apteeki (pronounced "app-techie"), aka the pharmacy, in order to pick up my now-prescribed meds. So I hopped back on the bus again and popped into my local apteeki to get my drugs. Unfortunately since I don't have the printed version of my Finnish SSN card yet, I didn't get the cheapest price ever, but I have a form to get reimbursed the difference (since I have a SSN already, just not the card), so, I'll be doing that to get my moneys back.

Finally, I came home and took my meds. Here is a pic of my not-terrible-tasting menthol cough medicine (the liquid is also brown-colored):

My take-home message about their medications so far: weaksauce. Definitely need twice the dosage of cough medicine in order to get any reasonable results. Antibiotics are slowly starting to work (day 3). My conclusion: I miss American drugs. (No wonder everyone tries to smuggle our drugs everywhere else!). I would too...and probably will, in the future (only half-serious...maybe.)

In any case, my first experience with their medical system: quite positive. :) Fast, good care, and overall quite friendly. Overall expectations met. Now if only this sickness would disappear...

Monday, April 2, 2012 the wild :/

So like I mentioned in my last post, coming here has really made me appreciate the awesomeness of American bathrooms. Not that the bathrooms here are horrendous or anything, they're just...different. I've had several conversations with my ex-pat friends, and they all said the same thing that I was thinking: it took some getting used to. And since I have the tendency to fall on this side of crazy, surely they can't be as nuts as me about it (surely!).

Observation #1: They're wicked small. This is not a surprising phenomenon, as most things here in Europe are a lot smaller than our American counterparts, but alas, there are bathrooms so tiny here that sometimes you can be touching all four walls while sitting on the porcelain throne and still have so little room that you can continually wash your hands while doing so. I suppose hurrah for cleanliness but I've spoken to my apartment agent about it and she says even the Finns are getting sick of it - their newer apartments have huge bathrooms (even to the point of overcompensation).

Observation #2: There is a small nozzle next to every sink I've seen, and no one seems to know what it is for:

I assumed, on first sight, that it was some sort of modern bidet, but on thinking about it a little bit more, I'm not sure how this would always work. Plus they're not always near toilets. you sit in the sink? That doesn't seem very hygienic. I asked my apartment agent about it yesterday and that's what she thought it was but when I asked her more closely about it she admitted she had no idea either. So even the Finns are confused! O_O My dad, having seen them in men's restrooms as well, assumes that they might be for washing your hair in the sink, in case you don't want to shower. Possible, but none of these seem very practical or reasonable. Thoughts?

Observation #3: Showers don't seem to have any sort of borders, so when you shower, water gets EVERYWHERE. The first time I showered in my current temporary apartment I figured this might happen (since it's just a shower curtain and a drain hole), and I showered as carefully and daintily as possible. See the setup here:

Utter fail. Water, everywhere. One of my friends even said he got his toilet paper wet the first time he showered (complete fail). There are little tweaks you can do to make it less devastating over time, but overall, it seems the only solution is to mop it up afterwards (I've seen apartment listings now with mops in the shower stalls), or squeegee it to the drain (similar technique). Naught can be done! O_O

Now I'm sure you understand why I am searching for the perfect apartment with the perfect bathroom. Yes the kitchen is important, and yes, having an apartment that is big enough for all of my crap is important. But man oh man, a great bathroom is worth fighting for. O_O

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The search for the perfect apartment

So a great deal of my time these past few days has been spent searching for the perfect apartment. The rental market here in Helsinki is not that big, and as such, competition is quite fierce. I went to my first ever public-ish apartment viewing last Thursday and it was kind of nuts. I'll explain:

First off, apartments are listed on several different sites. There is no master site that will give you all available apartments, all at once. Even some of the best sites don't have them all, and even though their engines are pretty good, their UI really isn't optimized to give you all results all the time (I realized from looking at the map-view of my current favorite site that I'd been missing listings all along *facepalm*). Second, public viewings are offered for some apartments, but they're only 15 minutes long. Meaning you better be there when the apartment agent shows up to open it, and you better be there on time, because it really will be open for only that long (really, truly). Third, at every viewing (assuming you did not get a private viewing, which is hard to get and you need to make an appointment with the apartment agent who is trying to lease it) most people it seems, will in fact apply to get the apartment, so you have a snowball's chance in hell of getting picked unless you're awesome (financially, employment-wise, or otherwise).

Luckily, I am one of those people. My work has graciously given me some papers which will guarantee me as a rental-awesome person (something something permanently employed by a real and large company,  something something other perks). Swoot to the max.

So this week my calendar is filled with apartment viewings, since the beauties for May are finally starting to be listed. Wish me luck! I still need to strong-arm the competition out of an amazing place to live, and I intend to fully do so. Here are the places that I will be seeing this week (thusfar...and to give you some flavor for what the Finnish housing listings are like...btw if you use Google Chrome you can translate the whole page into English, which has been my savior):
(charming orange toilet!)
(oddly placed fridge but luxurious bathtub - these are totally a rarity in Helsinki)
(spacious and glorious...notice the strange small window near the kitchen though?)
(on the smaller side but very cute...really excited to see that shower stall)

The things that have been swaying me the most: neighborhood (location, location, location!), bathroom style (I never appreciated how much this meant to me until I moved here...entire blog entry coming your way on that super soon), size and awesomeness of kitchen, and general size of apartment overall. I am basically going from my townhouse down to something 1/4 of its size...I gotta make it work somehow.

Anyway, glory to all that I will find an exceptional place to live, and soon. Stay tuned!