16.08.10 – A new chapter begins, I hate to say it but the honeymoon is over. I don’t mean in a bad way, it’s been fun so far, but I’m ready for change and now seems the opportune time. Max and Emma started school today, rather early by the rest of the worlds standards but Finnish schools begin in the middle of August. Max’s principal even commented that his class is small now, only three kids in his group focusing on transitioning into Finnish school, because the “immigrants” will start looking into school in the next couple of weeks thinking it will start the next month.
Luckily the school days were short for both kids. Max’s school, Katajanokka Elementary School which is a Finnish School with a program which will focus on getting him up to speed with his Finnish language skills and slowly integrate into an all Finnish classroom, ended at 1215. Emma’s school, Ressu International School which is taught in English, ended at noon. I went to pickup Max and we headed over to our favorite pizza place in Kamppi to meet Emma. Both kids were ecstatic about their first day and were fighting for turns to tell a story about their day. A good sign ;)
We decided to spend the afternoon at a new “swimming hole”, The Swimming Stadium, an outdoor swimming pool located in the Helsinki Olympic Stadium. The pool actually has an interesting history. It was originally built for the 1940 Olympics which ended up being postponed due to World War II. The construction was slow due to the lack of funds and manpower during the war, plus the boat that was delivering the heater was sunk! When it was finally finished it was used to store herring and root vegetables until the war ended and finally used for it’s intended purpose for the 1954 Olympics. TGFW, Thank God For Wikipedia.
The pool was divided into three sections, an area for lap swimming, a diving board area and a separate wading section for kids to hang which ranged from about 2-5 feet deep. Max and Emma hung out wading area while I hit the diving boards. There were occasional messages over the PA system, first in Finnish and then English and Swedish. I was with Max at one point when they made an announcement which caused a flurry of commotion. Max translated before they got to the English version, “There opening the big diving platforms!” The center section of the diving area had a structure with 5, 7.5 and 10 meter diving platforms. I elbowed my way amongst the other teens for a shot at the 10 meter. I had to ask a kid what to do and I found out there was a lifeguard at the opposite side of the pool holding up paddles saying which board could jump. I waited for the 10, fought the urge to scream like a pansie and jumped. It wasn’t pretty and Max told me later I made a sound like “FaaWwwoPPP” when I hit the water but it was fun. At one point a girl about 10 was on the 7.5 meter, almost 25 ft, and everyone around the pool started to clap for her to give her confidence. She didn’t hesitate in jumping and the whole crowd started cheering and whistling for her when she came out of the water. Bazaar but it kinds of chokes me up when I think about it. I love this place!