With that song, I felt a surge of energy and excitement...and even...triumph. We made it. With a 6 month old baby. We've traveled extensively, but never with a baby. While I felt scattered and nervous for weeks leading up to the long flight and impending move, I finally felt relief that we had made it. My triumph was short lived however, and at the baggage claim, I suddenly felt like Rocky after his ill-fated fight with Apollo Creed. All traces of Elise's stroller and car seat had vanished, and we were left trying to make a claim and figure out how we would safely transport Elise and all of our luggage without the ability to place her in a stroller. Then, another KO when we found the large car we had arranged to pick us up did not arrive. This was my first cultural misstep, as I am still confused about how the email that I perceived as a confirmation for the driver really was not a confirmation at all. Eventually we found a taxi large enough to fit our massive collection of luggage and off we went into the cold Finnish evening.
The uncertainty of our lost belongs remained, but the taxi ride into Helsinki gave small glimpses into life in Finland. At 6 PM, the sun had alreay been below the horizon for several hours. In the dark, cold evening, bicyclists pedaled along, undeterred by the snow covered sidewalks. The roads showed no signs of being plowed, but drivers navigated the streets with ease. We passed a large ice skating rink, filled with families enjoying an evening outside in the snow. Arriving in Helsinki, we got a drive by tour of the city before making it to our hotel for the evening, where we rested to prepare for our train trip the following day.
The next day, we set out for the roughly 145 mile journey to Jyväskylä, Finland, the city which we now call home. The train ride was smooth and passed by quickly compared to our hours of flying. When we arrived, we were greeted by my faculty adviser and her fiance, who were kind enough to pick us up at the train station and bring us to our apartment. They thoughtfully picked up some groceries to get us started and a gift for Elise (which she already loves.) They showed us around the neighborhood and we had a lovely dinner.
What makes a new place feel like home to you?