So, I’m back in Oulu as of a few days ago, returning to a slightly different place to the one that I left less than a month ago in December. The majority of the Erasmus students that were here last semester have left- friends , classmates , and in my case , my German lady friend , have all returned to reality in their own native countries for the foreseeable future. I had thought they would of course be replaced by an equal amount of new bright-eyed and bushy-tailed youngsters that we could scare with temperature related stories , but no , after a few days here in Tirolintie towers and other student events, it turns out that there’s hardly any new students here now , creating a strange new situations were us old hands sit around ,having done most of the good things to do , whistling , drinking and mourning the lost, and the new students are left to aimlessly wander the deserted corridors, without the infrastructure of other students in their position that us first semester students had. I’ve vowed to help out any lost lookng newbie’s that I see, and in the process cautiously try to ascertain if I’m again the only true Englishman present in Oulu.
Anyway, due to global warming or just bizarre weather conditions the winter in Oulu had been skipping around the +2 /-2 mark with occasional snow showers over the holidays, so whereas I thought I’d return in January to a -40 blizzard it was a temperate 2 degrees with piles of black grityy slush at the sides of the road. However since arriving my prayers have been answered, the temperature has sailed down to a deliciously crisp -16 and dry powdery snow is everywhere-fantastic! I’d like to experience the coldest weather possible- at least -20. -30 would be GLORIOUS! And with the snow comes clear days with beautiful Scandinavian sunlight and sunsets, and clear, starry, aurora borealissy nights! I’m torn this semester- being a hopeless romantic and now separated from my sweetheart by one time zone, the Baltic sea and roughly two thousand kilometres, I was first tempted to enter a hermetic existence, manipulate my timetable to allow me to leave Finland as soon as my modules would allow and then hide under my bed until the summer and my freedom arrived. But having looked at a calendar and realised that I’m in Oulu for at least the next five months , almost half a year , throwing half a year to the dogs just to make time pass in the name of love is a bit of a grim decision. So, inspired by a philosophical phrase that I read in Germany that translates as ‘ because it is good for the health, I decided to be happy’ , I am of course , going to declare an enjoyable war on Oulu and damn well make the most of my time here. I still plan to fly back every now and then, and luckily the totally different academic timetables of Germany and the rest of Europe mean that we’re never really both in university at the same time, so she will be able to visit for some time and we can go to Lappland and Norway by car- whoopee! It’s always good to work out your priorities in life by thinking ‘ when this is over, what will I be sad I didn’t do?’, and then doing these things. If after a year in Oulu someone tops my lowest experienced temperature just because I was inside being miserable I’ll be pretty miffed, so that’s certainly on the list. So to give my semester a bit more aim, as well as studying (of course, ahem), I wish to
-experience more Finnish culture
– be outside in the forest and landscape more
– be really cold
– be in lots of snow
– swim in the sea in the ice
-go ice fishing
-in the summer, see really long days
-learn more French.
I would be lying if I said I’m not looking forward to being on a sunny , olivey, Spanish farm this summer, but here we are in Oulu now.Lets make the most of it.
Also having got new gloves from The Dove’s parents for Xmas, I do declare my cold proof adventure outfit is complete- I cycled around for about 5 hours in minus 16 degrees yesterday without feeling a thing! So any prospective students or even visitors to Oulu take heed-you need not kit yourself out with fancy stuff , just remember to dress smart. I still stand by the fact that if I’d gone into an outdoor adventure shop and described my activities in the last 6 months they would have had me walking out of the shop with £1000 worth of gear on fear of certain death.
From the horse’s mouth
-One month hard outdoor labour in +45 degrees, Sicily, August. Outfit: converse all-stars, socks from H&M, swimming shorts from Sports Direct.
-All terrain messing around in snow and ice, -16, Oulu, Finland, winter. Outfit: woolly socks and wooly jumper from H&M, timberland boots from EBay, jeans and hat- I found in the basement, t shirt my mate got free with some online purchases and gave to me (cheers Adam), lumberjack shirt and ‘super hans jacket’ both from 2nd hand shops in England , scarf: gift from aunty in Ethiopia.
The trick is to dress in layers, maybe carry a bag so you can add and remove layers , and most of all , be having so much fun you don’t realise its even cold.
And on that note ,we started the new semester by going ice hole swiming in the minus ten morning- bracing! It was a right old laugh, I used a floating slab of ice as a body board and we agreed to go again when the temperature drops below twenty and thirty.
Look here for yet more photos of me horsing around—–> here
Take care, and nähdään!!