Not much news to report at the moment, but a few bits and pieces that may be of use or interest:

  • I went to the Malmi Immigration Police last week to apply for renewal of our residency permits, and learnt a few things. First, at present the processing times to permits is 5 months – so rather go early than waiting for a later date! Second, the doors of their office open at 8am, but there’s a queue forming long before then. You might want to arrive early enough in the morning to be in the front of the queue – I’ve heard about people queuing for the whole day… Third, don’t worry if you have forgotten a document as you can submit any outstanding information by post within two weeks of your application. However, don’t forget to have the cash at hand to pay for the application fees. One very pleasant surprise was how easy it was for me to submit Brigitte’s application on her behalf – one simple power of attorney letter was all that was required. Remember to get your application forms from the website of the Finnish Immigration Services, and that the photo you provide with your application should be less than six months old (the lady next to me was getting trouble over this).
  • I also had to pop down to the Kaarti police station to collect my Finnish drivers’ licence this week. As a foreigner living in Finland, I have had to exchange my South African licence for a Finnish licence – when we leave I’ll be able to reclaim my original licence. If you are going to be swapping your licence for a Finnish one, my one tip to you is that you won’t receive a notification when your new licence is ready – you just have to go and ask for it.
  • On a related topic, it was interesting to see that a recent PhD study had shown that three quarters of immigrants with higher education qualifications are unable to find jobs in Finland (reported by YLE).
  • The festival of Lucia was celebrated on Tuesday (13th of December) – it’s an interesting tradition, particularly amongst the Swedish-speaking Finns, celebrating Saint Lucia. Otherwise known as Saint Lucy, she was a third century martyr in Italy. This year’s St. Lucia was crowned at the Helsinki Cathedral and will now be visiting hospitals, old-age homes and day-care centres to bring some cheer to those around the city – you can read more here and here.

 

And in other news…

  • Research has proved that babies sleep well in sub-zero temperatures (see news item here) – but Finns could have told you this long ago. It is not uncommon to see a pram or two parked outside houses on a cold afternoon – didn’t seem quite right to me at first, but thinking about it, I definitely also sleep best on the coldest nights.