Finnish Bureaucracy and Japanese in the Park

Yesterday, I had an appointment at the police station to get a Finnish ID card. I had been putting off doing this (along with some other responsible adult stuff) for almost a year. I didn’t realize, back then, I was starting to rack up free burnout points and it was easier to say “I’ll do it later.”

Bureaucracy (specifically paperwork) stresses me out. I’m always afraid I’m going mess up and then get rejected. These fears are unfounded. Despite making mistakes I usually have time to fix them or the officials don’t mind a minor mistake. Finland was a new kind of bureaucratic system I didn’t want to figure out. But I’m an adult and I starting to untangle to ball of anxiety inside me so I sucked it up and did it. Well technically I made the appointment 3 weeks ago. Finnish bureaucracy be like that. Honestly, it’s not that bad – one would argue pretty good. It’s just takes a long time to get what you want. Doctors appointment – 3 weeks. Dentist (free at uni) – 3 months! So you have to know the time line.

It’s important to know that almost nothing will be done in July because the entire country goes on vacation (only a slight exaggeration). After spending two winters here I’m starting to feel it is well earned. No one wants to do paperwork INDOORS when you only have three months of warm weather.

So after a quick and painless visit to the police station to show them my face, passport, and pay a fee I was free. I stayed downtown for lunch in the park. Then I parked my butt in my favorite chair at a cafe and got to work.

In the “evening” (the sun doesn’t really go down anymore), I met up with David and we went to the park to check a Japanese get together. We ended up meeting our Japanese friends on the way there which was a nice way to introduce ourselves to a new group.

I didn’t realize that this was a regular meet up for the Oulu Japan Society. There were a few Japanese people and a bunch of Finns. We were happy to have more people to speak Japanese with. Both David and I have been worried about losing our speaking ability.

The weather was nice and people were nice. I had some good conversations and learned how to play a popular Finnish yard game. The organizers presented this year’s kanji. Every year they choose a kanji to capture the spirit of the year. This year they chose 復 (fuku) meaning restoration. It’s a nice sentiment after this crazy year.

I had a lot of fun and it was a nice way to meet new people. It’s been hard to make Finnish friends so I’m hopeful that I can make a few new friends since we share a love of all things Japan.


  1. Loved this post!
    What a happy surprised to you find so many Japanese folks to connect with.

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