Tuesday, March 07, 2006
6 Things I Miss About Helsinki
We've been in Texas now for nearly 6 mos and we've had a terrific time so far.
However, there are few things I wish we could import from Helsinki -
1. Local buses with free passes for babies. Peanut gets ferried around by car most of the time now, but several times a week we still stroll. Sometimes we stroll too far - Peanut gets hungry, mama gets tired or its suddenly much later than it should be. Those moments I long for the awesome public bus service that was available to swiftly and comfortably -- did I mention FOR FREE -- take us home.
2. Coin operated shopping carts In Finland, in order to get a shopping cart, you must insert approx 50 cents - $1.00 in a slot on the shopping cart. This deposit releases it from the chain-system attaching it to other shopping carts. Where this system is really fantastic is that EVERYONE returns their shopping carts to the cart corral because you want your $$ back. This crosses my mind everytime I dodge a shopping cart parked in the middle of the parking lot at Kroger, Tom Thumb, Wal-mart, etc, etc
3. Only mildly violent TV programs. I didn't realize the difference in TV programming until we moved back. Sure, Finland has its share of violent TV, too, but its alot less prevalent. You do trade it out for more sex and nudity, but I'd take explaining that to Peanut any day over death, shootings, fist-fights, stabbings, blowing this that and the other up.
4. Delicious drinking water directly from your tap. No filter needed. It just comes in tasty as can be. Our Brita filter now takes care of it for us here.
5. Subsidized natural gas and electricity. We usually paid around $25.00 every FOUR MONTHS or so for our gas and electricity because it was so heavily subsidized by the State. In reality, we paid for the gas and electricity in many other ways through the high taxes. After gettting our first few bills here in Texas -- Yikes, talk about sticker shock. However, in a country as northern as Finland, its a neccessity not a nicety that everyone is able to stay warm. Plus, as a socialist state, priority number one is to ensure that the community is taken care of.
6. Total REAL online banking system. Nordea bank (and any other large bank in Finland) offered a true online banking system. We had no checks - all payments were scheduled and made electronicly, even when you paid your friend back the 5 EUR for a cup of coffee. Now, I've got a stack of paper bills, envelopes, my checkbook, stamps and return address stickers to coordinate. Plus, I have to remember to pay my bills on time! :-(