Written originally on the 29th of January , but i’m going to publish it anyway now.Just imagine you travelled back in time or something. Also , its -0 c now.
Back in Oulu, back to The Dissertation , and back to -16 today (although the snow was falling in Germany too) , back to exams too. Having afforded myself a free week off from all studies and even thinking about Univeristy whilst I was in germany , upon my return I submerged myself into preperartion for my two exams this week. One was a book exam for a massive four credits , but I read the book on the planes ,trains and trams between Oulu and Schalm-Eider-Kreis , so I almost finished it by the time I got back. Wanted to tell the librarian that the book has travelled over 2500 km since I got it out , maybe they’de give me a little plaque in the library or something. Anyway , exams are now done and dusted , amazingly , and once again they were suitably, Finnishly bizarre. Still , the lack of an official starting klaxon in the exam hall unnerves me ;in a few exams its even been a good five minutes into the exam and I’m still not sure if its begun ,or if everyone else is answering the questions or still writing their names, terrified that if I start writing prematurely that the exam invigilator will escort me out of the lecture hall to be whipped in The Ice Chamber. Not only are the exam proceedings all announced in Finnish , but my book exam was basicaly all in Finnish too, apart from the questions , so I wasn’t quite sure if it was the correct exam , and still am only 90% certain. The other factor I encountered in todays exam , is the one word exam question. Just one word, not even a senteance or instruction. To further illustrate the concept I enclose below an experience of the Finnish Erasmus Geography Exam for you all.
PL345550 sekä toimintatapojen käyttävät
Mita kuuluu sinappia yksiköt ja vierailijat.
1. Annömpiantioppi. / Mountains.
2. Kinappiosarii./ Africa.
3. henkilökunta ryhmät kuten myös ./ Climate differences between China and North America.
You have 6 hours.Please begin.
And that may be it. Enter room, get handed this sheet of paper, no conceivable start , no rational end, off you go.
In other educational news , had a wicked practical where I got to measure load of dog and wolf skulls , so we can see how you tell the difference , and in a lecture today was again showcased the Finnish straightforwardness and pragmatism. All asked what we loved about forests , the class went through Finns, none of them had much to say , apart from maybe…profits from game hunting…they are nice…profit from lumber….biodiversity’. us passionate foreigners chirped up that they were beautiful and brought you closer to nature…the teacher stared at us for a few seconds like we’d just proposed the existence of forest sprites-just as Finnish lecturer’s do when you comment in the lectures, then said ‘so…you mean , like hiking and stuff’. No not hiking! Just walking around and enjoying being outside. For all the forests in Finland and all the Finns are supposedly connected to nature and ecological and love being in nature, you never see them just…walking around. Or looking at the trees, or sitting down. The notion of doing things for the sake of doing things seems to have frozen to death here. Yeah its bloody cold, but still they always seem to being going somewhere, or skiing, or power walking, or jogging, not really loving the landscape. But maybe I’m just a longhaired hippy.
Also I forgot to mention- here, because you need a million layers to travel to university, when you arrive it’s customary to disrobe and hang up your coat and scarf on pegs. The Finns go one step further, taking off all outside clothes and changing into new clothes, then walking round in the university in their socks or perhaps flip-flops. This also means that unlike many universities, all of the buildings are connected, so the university is a veritable labyrinth, but you can walk for 20 minutes to you class on the other side of the campus without having to reapply your thermal jeggings. Also hilariously, in airports and the university, the distances between places are deemed so long that riding scooters is permitted in the halls and corridors, and is done by staff, builders, and ancient bearded lecturers-everyone, sometimes in specially designed scooters for equipment. Also, I once saw someone riding a bicycle in the corridor too. You can also go to your department or here called something else, you can get free coffee. However- ad lets dispel a big myth here-about Finland being the world’s highest coffee consumer , in that yes several Finnish people do seem to drink a whole lot of coffee…but this is not Italian coffee, or Spanish or French of even English quality coffee. This is the weakest, wateriest filter coffee, which they still maintain is great and incredibly strong. I reckon about 40 cups of Finnish coffee converts to one real espresso, so in reality, Finnish consumption is very low, and I am quite sad about the poor coffee standards. It is also one of the few places where you can pay 2 euros for a cup of coffee in a low end establishment or notably in McDonalds in Tampere, be given an empty paper cup, and are expected to fill it yourself with the brown water. In some places that appreciate that the buyer may want real coffee, you can order most real Italian coffees by their names like latte, cappuccino, and just cafe, and then the Finnish word for coffee, kahvi, is reserved for those wanting the brown fluid. And so for the first time since I left home for university , I’v started drinking tea again..
And for photos of ice, snow, lakes and occasionally me eating the snow, have a look here….