Welcome to my blog. I write about fitting in, sticking out, and missing the motherland as a serial foreigner.



You guys, it has been so cold here the last few days. I know, I know, it's February (ahem, March) in Finland, what do you expect? But even the Finnish Meteorological Service put out an Extreme Cold Warning for Monday - Friday this week, which tells you that this is really, really cold.

Yesterday morning, it was -20C (-4F) outside and the "feels like" was -29C (-20F). So I drove the girls to school rather than have them walk through the forest. I was feeling pretty weak-sauce about it but then the school decided to have the two morning recesses indoors, which is the first time that has happened since we've lived here, and I felt justified. (It warmed up to -15C or so after lunch, so then the kids played outside; Sterling's päiväkoti kept the under-5s inside all day.)

I've still been riding my bike to work, though. My GPS watch tells me it was -18.9C on my ride in on Tuesday. My core was warm - even overheated - but my hands, face, and toes were frozen. I then had to cycle into the center during the workday for a dentist appointment. My headphones cord was frozen. My rear gear shifter was frozen. My iPod Shuffle freaked out and exclaimed "battery low!" even though it was close to fully charged. And yet I was far from the only one out there on a bike! It never ceases to amaze me how crowded the bike racks stay here even on very cold days.

My favorite nerdy exercise activity, Street-O (rogaining), went on as scheduled last night, but only barely. The organizers had announced that they'd check the temperature at 5pm and if it was -15C or warmer, the event would proceed. It was -13.1C so Jeremy and I bundled up and headed out to run around in the dark for an hour with a map and a Sharpie. And guess what: I now have a new record for the coldest I've ever been in my life! I could not. get. warm. Usually (including last week, when it was -10C) the running warms me up enough that I'm fine. But last night, even with wool socks, pants, a t-shirt, long-sleeve thermal shirt, hoodie (!), buff, head wrap, double gloves, and coat, I was cold. My brain made questionable route decisions throughout the 60 minutes of running that suspiciously kept pointing me toward the finish, and warmth. But once I had finished, I couldn't even get warm in the car on the way home, with the heat going full blast and the seat warmers on. My body was just so mad at me for being outside in that weather for an hour.


After all that, I had only just gotten warm again (or so it seemed), when this morning around 9am, in the middle of a lesson, the fire alarm went off. Turns out this is a thing in Finland, to the point that it has a name: tulipalopakkanen. There wasn't an actual fire, it was just really, really cold. A fire alarm in this weather is dangerous! I had to walk to another part of the building to get my coat, which is against evacuation protocol but the alternative (freezing to death outside) seemed equally horrible, especially considering last night's experience. And standing still outside in these temperatures for even a few minutes is just coldcoldcoldcoldcold.

Now I'm back inside, relatively warm, and looking forward to the temperature creeping up in the next few days. I can't wait for -5C!


March 2nd, outsourced

Camping in the UAE again

Camping in the UAE again