Bye bye first semester…

Ahh bloggity blog blog. Again I’ve been pretty rubbish at keeping up with this thing, but take that as a sign that I’m busy busy and having lots of fun, which is better than spending my exchange missing home and spending all my time on a computer right?

I’m now nearly at the end of my first semester-I’ve survived more than 3 months with the Finns, and it’s gone by so fast I can’t believe I’ll be back on English soil in a bit more than a week. I have really mixed feelings about leaving, I’m looking forward to seeing my friends and family of course, and to spending less than 5E on a pint…and to a bath…and houmous…and the Saturday newspaper. It’s weird the things you end up missing! It will be really sad to leave though, because there’s quite a lot of people here who are leaving after one semester, and who I probably won’t see again. Everyone’s been full of talk about visiting and summer plans and all that stuff, but we really won’t all ever be in the same place for so long ever again…which is a very strange thought. I’ve got so used to seeing my flatmates every day, it really won’t be the same facebooking to Croatia or Belgium or whatever. Only two of us are staying, and four new girls coming, which is also kind of exciting that there’ll be so many new people to meet. I’m interested to see how it goes though, because obviously I already know people and have friends who I hang out with, and I met a lot of people through the tutor group thing in first semester, which I won’t have next year, so I’m not sure how easy it will be to meet the second lot of exchange students. I’ll be living with four though, so I guess that will make it easier.

Since I last posted I’ve been to Denmark (I know, another month, another country!), to visit my friend who is on his erasmus there. Two other friends came over from Berlin at the same time, so it ended up being a little Edinburgh erasmus-y reunion, which was really lovely. Obviously all of the students here speak English, but normal kind of banter can be a bit difficult across language/cultural boundaries, it was great to be able to relax and talk rubbish without worrying about being understood. Copenhagen is a really cool city, and felt much bigger than Helsinki, although it was reaaaaally expensive. Coming from someone who lives in Finland now, that’s saying something. We went to Christiania, which is a weird kind of hippy communey idyll right in the middle of the city, all full of murals and art and semi-legal drug dealing. Apart from that we did lots of drinking rubbish beer in studenty bars, and wandering around the streets and the harbour. And drinking Fisk. Which claims to be the most popular shot in the world, according to the fisherman on the label. But doesn’t seem to exist anywhere outside of Denmark. It tastes a bit like a mixture of Jagermeister and toothpaste. Delicious delicious Fisk. Oh and trying not to get run over by the bikes. Everyone in Copenhagen rides a bike. I don’t. This was about the only thing stopping me upping sticks and transferring to Copenhagen right away, I really liked the city, and it felt like there was much more to explore. Maybe it’s because I’ve been here a while now and got a bit stuck in my ways, but I feel like I’ve seen a lot of what there is to see in Helsinki already. Before I go home I’m going to try and do a bit more exploring, and maybe a day trip to another city in Finland like Turku or Porvoo, but from what I’ve heard the other Finnish cities are pretty small, and a day or so is about enough.

It’s the 2nd of December, and I’ve finished my exams! Well, kind of-I still have Finnish to go, but that’s not til next week, and we’re all pretty bad still so I don’t think they’ll be expecting too high a standard in the exam. Well, I hope not anyway. To be honest, and I was told this before I came, but the standard of work is much lower here than at Edinburgh. Maybe part of it is to do with being a native speaker, but I seem to be able to get away with a lot more here than I could at home, my marks so far have been pretty high, and I really don’t feel like I’m expected to do a lot of reading or extra work or whatever. That might be partly to do with the courses I’ve ended up doing, because I know some people have been set a lot more work, and next semester I’ll have a project for Edinburgh to work on, but this semester I really don’t feel too stretched. Fourth year is going to be a shock I fear….

We did have one presentation and big committee report due in last week, which was a lot of work in the end but seemed to go okay, our professor was pretty enthusiastic. Well…I say that…for ours he was enthusiastic. He fell asleep during the other group’s presentation. Like actually asleep. Three times. I didn’t think it was that boring! I would have been pissed off if it had been ours, but since it wasn’t, it was pretty funny. He then went on to tell us how both groups were the best he’d seen in ten years. Which is kind a bad sign surely?

So..hmm…Sitsit was fun, and not as drunken as I’d feared, but involved lots of very filthy songs (if the ones in English were any indication) and banging on tables, and eating really quickly before another song started because it’s against the rules to eat while someone else is singing. Apparently it’s actually a Swedish tradition, but I’m not going to split hairs. I keep meaning to go ice skating, and i WILL go before I leave next Thursday, but so far rain or work or sleep have got in the way. It’s getting pretty dark here, although it’s not too cold, and suddenly home and bed seem more appealling than going out and seeing more of Finland. I’m looking forward to January, when it’ll be a whole new world of cold, but at least we’ll get a bit more bloody daylight.

What else? There have been parties and birthdays and international dinners-next week it’s our turn to do something English, I’m thinking shepherd’s pie is kind of easy and authentically english, but I’m also feeling the pressure to do something really good, since the stereotype of English food is so bad. Kind of need to impress on this one…

On Sunday my German friend did gluwein and gutzle (cookies and cakes and things) which was goood…but her Dad is a chef, in my defence, so she knows good food. It’s all getting christmassy already, the unicafe has started selling glogi, which is like mulled wine, and there are christmas decorations everywhere, even though it’s only the beginning of December. I guess it starts early everywhere now. But now my exams are out of the way I can start looking for christmas presents!

Ryanair had one of their crazy flights sales so I got a ticket to riga and back for 12E for the end of January, so when I come back I’ll already have another trip to look forward to! I’m almost regretting coming home so early, but I never learned to drive so I figured it was a good use of a month off to get some lessons out of the way. I can’t help feeling like I’m going to miss all of the goodbye parties and everything though! Now my classes are over but everyone else still has stuff to do. Oh well, you can’t win I guess. Right…enough for now. I’ll probably end up writing again when I’m home and bored of marmite and cups of tea, and longing for salmiakki and erasmus life again!

Categories: Helsinki

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