Mount Dissertation-manjaro

There’s no snow here , it’s a blistering 1-5 degrees this last week, my bicycle tires are wrecked and the grit they laid down when it snowed pops my tires every now and again , but I’ll be damned if I’ll pay 60 euros for two new tires. But I’m just glad to have a sort-of functional bike really.Its funny how much my standards of what constitutes a fine-steed-of-a-bike have changed-in Leicester any visible damage to the tires and it’d be immediately fixed- here I’d say my tires are pretty rideable despite resembling two blistered ,shredded hotdogs, and I’d deem a bike where the braking system is either ‘your shoe’ or ‘pulling the brake cable wire by hand (actually rode like this) as ‘fairly to moderately safe’.All part of the fun!

My roommates wanted to taste English cuisine but I’m never really sure what this is- in Leicester I eat pasta, brie, baguettes, roulé, salami, chicken wings, steak and rice, and at home I eat pasta, lasagne, stir fry, an awesome Greek pie called spanakopita, falafels, lots of houmous, and yes, I guess I do have fish and chips on Fridays and bacon and eggs on weekend mornings (cheers mum). So I made them some bacon and eggs on Sunday morning, they seemed to enjoy it.

Had two exams today, which seemed to go quite well. Finnish exams are pretty bizarre- you book your exam online , go the room- a huge hall usually , you go to the front and pick up the exam papers you have booked to do ,and you sit down…and then 4 hours later the invigilators clear out the room. no-one checks if you enter or leave the room , nobody speaks , you can sit where you want , you have four hours to do whichever exams you booked to do- I don’t even know how long the exams I took were meant to be! Maybe they were meant to take ten minutes, maybe two hours each, I can only judge by the amount of paper I was issued with how much I was expected to write. The questions have no points so you don’t know how they’re weighted, and you can leave and enter the room as you please! It’s ridiculous. The exams only occur on exam days of which there are 6 (I think) per term, but you can do all the exams on any day, and you can do each exam three times. so my first exam, on Europe, I had not read the book for , but I thought I’d just test the water and use my first try for that exam , and ended up passing! The system is that you’re graded from 0-5, where 0 is a fail and 1-5 are ALL PASSES. So for this exam I got a 1, the worst possible pass- but although in the Finnish system a pass is still a pass, I read the book, and then took the exam again today to do it better.

The Majority of my exams are purely from books here as all the lectures are in Finnish, so they’re pretty bizarre but quite manageably easy. One exam today simply said ‘for the book you have read, answer these questions’-, and gave some vague questions. The Erasmus education system here feels often haphazard, last minute and poorly thought out, which does tend to give me the feeling that if the lecturers and university aren’t bothered about getting things right then neither should we , the students ; which is a bit disheartening but also relieving I guess, especially when after inquiring about a presentation I’m doing, for a six credit (important) module, I was told ‘not to take it so seriously’ and was later asked by the same lecturer what book the exam was on because he didn’t know. Also the library computers don’t have an English spellcheck, only Finnish. And 70% of my emails are solely in Finnish. But I’m still going to do my best and get the most out of it, prove my love for geography and take everything I can from Finland.

Also in Leicester, in an essay you’re criticised for not having enough references- my current group essay at the moment has a MAXIMUM amount of references! So yeah, this is good I guess, can’t complain.

Having written my dissertation proposal last semester, a thrilling tour de force that won me a solid 70% 1st, but came with the harrowing comment – ‘very well written but entirely unfeasible’, I have now the task of either trying to Frankenstein my overambitious original dissertation, and salvage some of my life’s work, or totally tear it down and start from scratch. The trick with the dissertation, as I see it, is to start with the question. literally ,read things ,in my case , walk in the environment, read , and wait and think , until something crops up in your mind like this ‘hang on a minute…why does this do this?’, or’ but wait , if this is that , why is this that!?’, or ‘ I really can’t understand why blank is blank…’ or maybe , even better ‘ I wonder if blank is related to blank’. Write these down, then Google them. If you can’t find the answer on Google, go on Google scholar and look in actual scientific literature, and begin to write down what you find out about this. When you find out the answer, you stop and go to the next question’. But if you look and look in the scientific literature and you still can’t find an answer, then you read and read till you understand how you might understand the answer, and then…. that’s your dissertation proposal. And then you go and try and answer your question by taking data, and boom, dissertation sorted, degree in the bag, off into the world of work-BON.

So yeah, I’m trying to rewrite this titan but the going isn’t easy. And as the library is telling me its closing- in the charming Finnish style of slowly turning off the lights in the room to indicate you should leave it, it’s time to Finnish this sensible education based post. And yes, here the libraries close at 7 on the weekdays, 5 on Friday, 3 on Saturday and are closed on Sunday! I really do miss the old 24 hour Leicester Library, so the message of this post is this- utilise your valuable library services people, wherever you are. x

P.S. Still , check out here for the latest photos of my non-dissertation related adventures.




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Cameron (Finland)

About Cameron (Finland)

Cameron has now graduated for the University of Leicester. I am Cameron, currently living in Oulu, Finland for my Erasmus year and studying Geography...Physical Geography (BSc) to be precise. I’ll tell you what it’s like to be me, a 3rd year geography student at the northernmost geography department in the world.

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4 responses to “Mount Dissertation-manjaro”

  1. A Tale of Epic Examinations, University of Leicester

    […] across Scandinavia.  Cameron mentioned that they have four-hour exams in Finland, in one of his articles.  A buddy of mine, who is from Sweden, told me that back home, they have four-hour exams that are […]

  2. Robbie

    Hey Cameron, I really like your blog. You’ve got a cool Gonzo style going on.

    The exams in Denmark are 4 hours, too. I think it’s common across Scandinavia. Crazy!

    I also miss the 24 hour Leicester library. It’s a pretty awesome service, now that I think about it.

    Good luck on your dissertation, mate.

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