Most people living in Turku speak both Finnish and Swedish as well as English. I am studying at Åbo Akademi University which is a Swedish university so Turku, in general, has many Swedish speaking individuals. Some even choose to speak Swedish over Finnish and some don’t even know Finnish (I am not alone!).
The bus system is great - I live quite a bit away from the city center and the lab so I will be taking the bus every day. Most everyone is very helpful with giving me directions. Those that aren’t as helpful are older folks who don’t speak English. As you can imagine, it’s very difficult to understand directions from someone speaking a foreign language. All in all, I get around quite easily.
A surprise to me was that you have to pay for bags that you use at stores. I found this out after walking to the supermarket (about 5 blocks) fresh off of 22 hours of travel and not having a bag to put my things in at the checkout. I asked and they explained that a bag will cost anywhere from 0.20-0.30 euro. (Cheap but a cost nonetheless.) And here I am, used to double bagging at Walmart! I bought a frozen pizza for dinner, milk and cereal for breakfast (I was hoping it was milk - everything is written in Finnish), toilet paper, hand soap, dish soap, shampoo and conditioner (a bottle of tresemme was 8 euro), a bath towel (15 euro), and a set of sheets for my twin sized bed (25 euro). I was quite overwhelmed by some of the costs but purchased the items along with my plastic bags and walked home. From now on, I will bring these bags along with a backpack when I do my shopping.
My apartment is quite nice. One surprising thing I found is that there is no bath tub. The shower is just in the corner of the bathroom with a semi circle curtain and there’s a drain right in the tile floor. Believe it or not, the entire bathroom floor gets quite wet after a shower.
My roommate will be here Monday. She’s from Poland and studying at the University of Turku - a larger university. Within our apartment, we share a kitchen, living area, and bathroom but each have our own bedroom that locks. We also have a nice large balcony that looks towards the street. Unfortunately, my apartment is in Varissuo. Everyone I tell that to says “sorry”. I guess it’s the “worst” part of Turku to live in because it is far away from the city center and not very clean. It’s not a dump by any means but it does not look as nice as the rest of Turku. It still works quite nicely for me. I’m sure I’ll spend quite a bit of time in the city anyway.
I’m looking forward to exploring Turku and will let you know what I find out!