As I headed into the Collegium today, I realized I'd passed that first threshold in getting more comfortable with a place--a threshold that, I should note, is often completely false given that it hits when you've only been in a place for a few weeks. Being quite willing to indulge my delusions, though, here's my tribute to gradual comfort!
You know you're getting more settled into Helsinki when ...
1. you start to know instinctively when your tram comes in the mornings (the afternoons are still a mystery);
2. your response to finding yourself without an umbrella or raincoat during a rainstorm it just to glare at the sky and shrug it off;
3. you have an official government id number;
4. you laugh when you give a sales clerk the last 4 digits of that number and she can pull up your full contact and employment information;
5. you get a monthly tram pass (needed that id number for that!);
6. you get a Finnish cellphone (more need for the id number) and are appalled at how expensive American calling plans are;
7. people stop you in the street for directions and you can actually give them;
8. you can communicate with someone speaking Finnish through a lot of sign language and good will;
9. you cut through shopping areas, underground passages, and the maze of buildings at the university weaving through the slower, more lost people and shaking your head;
10. you notice when the lady you usually see working at the Market Square is working a new booth closer to the train station (ymmmmm);
11. you walk into the train station, take a look around, and go, "Oh, okay. It's just another European train station. I can deal with this"; and
12. (in a special homage to the Towers) you hear a high pitched beeping and think, "Ah, they're going to explode something again."
Made the mistake of discovering that the Finns make something like my all-time favorite French treat: a thin, pasty casing wrapped in martzipan and filled with custard. The Finns fill it with something more like cream, but it's still decadent. Thank goodness the only place that I see it near my normal walking patterns is in Stockmann's bakery, and I'm way too lazy most times to stand in the type of lines they get there!