Today is exactly one year since we boarded the plane to Seattle! It’s been a fantastic, intense and interesting year with lots of great things happening to our entire family. The biggest thing is of course seeing the boys finding their bearings in the new environment. They’ve both gotten off to fantastic starts at school with great teachers and lots of new friends. School here is quite different from Finland, and our thoughts and experiences are enough to warrant its own blog post, so I’ll try to get around to that soon. They’ve also enrolled in sports activities such as karate, soccer and tennis, and are doing very well at that. There have been periods of homesickness, and they talk a lot about their friends in Finland although the new ones we’ve met over here are starting to become more important.
We were lucky enough to find a house we love and want to stay in, we’ve made wonderful new friends, and we feel at home. We’ve also enjoyed welcoming family and friends from Finland to stay with us, as I’ve told you about in earlier postings.
There are so many great things about this corner of the USA, but there are also a few things I can’t get my head around. So I created two lists, one with pros/great things and one with cons/could be better.
What we love:
- The people and the culture – it’s just the right mix of American and international that we hoped to find.
- The atmosphere and vibe. There is a more liberal and open culture here than we’ve experienced elsewhere in the US, and an almost European twist to many things.
- The parks and playgrounds, the cleanliness and well kept common areas.
- The library is great, much better than expected. All public services and functions we’ve been in contact with have been great.
- Our house and neighborhood
- The vast amount of things to do within a radius of a couple of hours’ drive
- The diverse, dramatic and beauuuuutiful landscape
- D likes his job a lot.
- The weather -believe it or not! It’s much warmer than Finland, and the period of really bad weather is actually not that long.
- A very “green” mindset (comes with the liberal values), and lots of support for recycling, bicycles and a functional bus network.
- I personally love how fall is celebrated, with decorations and festivities linked to the harvest and the intense colors of the turning leaves. It’s something I think would be good for Finland, where fall typically just means wrapping everything up for winter and going into hibernation mode until Christmas… I vote for more fall celebrations and decorations! 🙂
What we can’t get our heads around:
- The elections. There is so much to say on this topic, I’ll have to create a whole own posting on this. But it’s a bizarre system, generating bizarre results. So, as we can’t do much about it, we’re sitting tight watching the outcome of this crazy game.
- The school system. We’re lucky to have our kids in a great public school, but we’re part of a small, privileged group. Having seen the school system from the inside for a while, I’ll have to make some more comments on this in a post of it’s own, as I already said before…
- The sugar and the food. Especially putting sugar in virtually ALL prepared food. It’s weird and very unhealthy. Even the Béarnaise sauce tastes sweet!
- The oversized beverage containers and food portions. It’s just too much.
- The way insurance companies are allowed to run the show. And the ridiculous prices of even over the counter drugs that cost very little at home. So much for the economy of scale and free market….
- The so called “free choice”. It just leads to total exhaustion trying to map and compare all options available for everything. The people of Finland and Sweden pushing free choice in all aspects don’t know what they’re asking for… More to come on that topic later….
- The total wastefulness in so many aspects. Food. Electricity, gas and energy in general. Disposable everything, especially utensils, plates and cups in many restaurants – not even just fast food joints. But also the single-use of decorations for parties, Halloween, etc.
- The built-in contradictions of the system. More on this later, as I need to wrap up for the night.
I’ll leave you with a few pictures from last weekend when we went for a truly American activity: harvest festival at Carnation Farms, with the compulsory pumpkin patch. After just dodging what was supposed to become a major storm we had the skies clear up and turned into a great day out. After petting the animals, picking out the bestest pumpkins, getting our faces painted, and equipping ourselves with balloon lightsabers we also managed to bring home some pumpkin decorations to deck our doorstep. All in all a very successful day!