Archive for August, 2009

Perhaps this is due to negative and/ or salacious tales of international criminals, terrorists, and other shady characters in the media, but I confess I have a skeptical stereotype of people who have trouble getting a visa. With a half-raised eyebrow and a distrustful scowl, my mind disapprovingly contests about these folks, if there’s nothing to hide, well then, I don’t understand the problem.

My liberally-educated side, of course, stands up for the underrepresented Everyman seeking promise in a new land but caught in the bewildering throes of a foreign government’s bureaucracy and red tape, and suddenly, I’m the one with visa troubles.

Residence permit troubles, to be precise. Permission to reside in Finland for the next 10 months, as is my intention and (or so I thought) that of my financial benefactor, the Finnish and U.S. governments. The problem, really, is only a matter of clarifying health insurance coverage, but throw in postponements due to an incomplete blood test needing to be redone for medical clearance and Finnish vacation season (the entire month of July), and before I know it, I’m down to the wire. Every morning I check the mailbox, looking for an official envelope from the Consulate General of Finland holding my precious passport, newly decorated with a sparkly sticker authorizing my extended residence in Finland. But, as of yet, nothing.

I twiddle my thumbs and tap my heel on the floor. Is it lost in the mail? Has there been a problem processing the application? Have they just forgotten about it? Don’t they realize my flight is in 10 days? Don’t the Finns want me in their country? Why is this not a priority to them? Don’t they like me?  They must hate me. After all, their e-mails are all so formal sounding, and I’m just another ignorant, sneaker-wearing American who can’t properly pronounce “puhutko englantia?” (“Do you speak English?”) and doesn’t even know she’s saying it wrong. My very being insults the entire nation and culture of Finland.

Maybe I’m being irrational. After all, it is my first time living outside the U.S., and in my two weeks of “rest and relaxation” before departure, I’m bored, and the perfectionist in me needs something to freak out about. Thanks to experience, I know that the best subjects for freaking out about have to do with the unknown, the uncertain, and the unresolved. They provide endless opportunity for second-guessing and “what if?”-ing, thus enabling me to send my mental energy into a tailspin and turning minutes into black holes. Which is exactly what I want, right?

And thus, I channel my energy by commencing my official blog: a Finnglish-littered collection of writings, images, moving images, web links, and so on about my adventures, random thoughts, well-developed thoughts, culture clashes, awkward moments, triumphs, tribulations, and international havoc-wreaking. It’s a general assumption of mine that all bloggers have to be just a little bit narcissistic, so if I indulge in that side of me (come on, you know you have one too), I will begin by vowing to NOT take myself too seriously–but also to have some purpose in posts. Maybe one of these days I’ll write something mildly interesting, something mildly well-written, and perhaps even something mildly funny. Maybe even the Finns will like it. Maybe the Finns will like me.

Maybe they will give me a residence permit.


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