Monday, September 13, 2010

Hanging on for the ride

I'm sitting in the evening course school, or Iltalukio, waiting for the office hours of the instructor to begin while my roommate Christine attends the actual class.  I'm hoping I can get into her class as well, since then I would have Finnish courses four days a week.  Perhaps this way I can get an intensive language study that really gets my confidence up enough to actually use the language - most of the grammar is already there in my head, as is a decent amount of vocabulary, but I just don't have the conversational practice to really be able to put it together in spoken form properly.  Well, unless there's a few drinks involved, that way at least I have enough courage to try. :)  But as most of my practice has thus far been using the reading and writing parts of the brain, that's where my best fluency lies.  It sometimes feels that my command of the language is comparable to someone who only lifts weights with one arm...

I've noticed that a lot of the immigrants around here seem to pick up Finnish fairly quickly.  It shows, I think, that Finnish isn't an objectively hard language, as it's often advertised by English-speakers - just that it's quite different but fairly logical once you get to know it.  Of course, most of the immigrants also don't have English to fall back on, and I think that the fact that most Finnish people around my age are already so fluent in English (and enthusiastic about practicing it with me) that it's easy to simply be lazy and use this as a fall-back language.  If, of course, you even find yourself in a situation where speaking is necessary at all!  Of course, a little practice gets those wheels turning, and once they start it will become easier over time to get used to actually speaking in Finnish.  But still, at this point my self-consciousness more often than not gets the best of me, and in my nervousness I revert to English.  However, I'm also signing myself up for a tandem language study course, where you have a partner and sort of trade language skills with each other, so hopefully I can work with someone who is interested in improving their English, and at the same time improve on my Finnish or at least focus on conversational skills.

I've already managed to get my first cold for the year, and after not being sick since... well, the last time I was in Finland, reminds me that my immune system also has a long way to go in getting used to an entirely new geographic selection of bugs.  However, I've been reluctant to get a flu shot here, as it's been linked to narcolepsy in a few cases here and in Sweden.  The vaccine was probably developed as quickly as possible because of the H1N1 scare and the demand for thousands of vaccines, and its long-term effects are finally coming to light.  The only real frustration with being sick are the severely limited open hours for the pharmacies around here (at least compared with the states).  Luckily I have my own stash of medications to hold me over until I have some free time during the day.

Tomorrow should also be interesting in that some of the boxes I'd packed to be sent via post have arrived, but are being held in customs.  Apparently the lines are annoyingly long and it's something that you should try to have done as few times as humanly possible, perhaps akin to standing around at the DMV, but that remains to be seen.  Tonight I still have to get myself signed up for this Iltalukio course!

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