The nights are fair drawing in, as my in-laws would say, and we're beginning to struggle with the dark mornings and the cold weather. So, as we brace ourselves for the coming winter and mild depression that falls upon this family I'm going to try and cultivate a positive mood.
I'll start with a list of good things about living in Finland. These are of course my personal views based on our family's experiences, your life and views of Finland may be very different.
The excellent education and health care system. Health care for children is free here and they have no qualms at doing everything in their power to help a child who needs special care, even if he isn't Finnish and there's no certainty that he'll spend a long time in Finland. We had a physiotherapy session for Foo this last week. One week after we requested it. No ands, ifs or eternal waiting lists. He needed it, they got it for him. Can't ask for much more. We're currently looking for a speech therapist that deals with English, that may be a bit of a longer wait.
The family/child focussed life. Reading yet another breastfeeding in public debate on an opinions forum I frequent, I am so happy to be in a country that supports and encourages breastfeeding, has excellent facilities for child care everywhere that includes feeding space, changing areas, child-sized toilets and potties in most public toilets.That fathers get great paternity leave and take their children to play groups and are involved in all aspects of their children's lives. That there are playparks, family houses everywhere around the city and playrooms or areas in most large public places so children can be entertained.
Most of my integration into Finnish culture has been through the children and the Finns I meet at the playparks and school gates. Most of the Finnish I speak is also based around the children and their lives. Unlike any other country I have lived in, they have coloured my total expat experience.
We got our first bout of snow yesterday, not a lot. I don't hate the snow, really, just the massive amounts we get and the long time it hangs around. It brightens the short winter days. It's fun for the kids to sledge and play in it.
The extreme cold, on the other hand, there is no nice side to that in my book. But it's a good excuse for a roaring fire and hot chocolate and biscuits.
I'm trying, really, to make the most of our life here. It's a good life, just not what I expected or would have necessarily chosen myself.