Stockholm Syndrome, Vappu, goodbyes start….

The last six weeks has gone by in such a blur, I’m actually looking at my calendar to work out what I’ve even been doing. We went to Stockholm, which was beautiful, felt much bigger than Helsinki, and incredibly was even more expensive, which I wasn’t sure was possible. Apparently it is. We got the overnight ferry from Helsinki which was rather drunken and messy, and weirdly South African themed. Not sure what that was about. The ferry hangover was followed by a few days wandering around Stockholm, eating meatballs, getting our coats stolen, visiting war ships, getting drunk with strange Swedes, that sort of thing, and then I headed off to Vasteras (insert squiggly Swedish as and umalauts and things that my keyboard doesn’t like) to see some friends. In a brilliant piece of planning, the day I got back was another International Sitsit, where everyone dresses up all fancy to sing filthy songs and drink shots, with some speed-eating in between when you get chance. I felt like a bit of an old pro at it, looking at all the blank faces when people started banging and standing on tables, and speeding up and slowing down and getting louder and quieter at seemingly random points. There is some method to the madness.

My sister came to visit, and we did lots of shopping and eating cake, plus a little bit of culture in the shape of the Finnish Photography Museum, which is in a big old cable factory that has been converted into a kind of artsy culturey centre, which was rather cool. Vi is only 16 so pubs and clubs were a bit beyond us, but we did manage to sneak her into a gig which was nice. This was followed by a week of studying and work on my edinburgh project before my flatmate and friends’ joint birthday, and then my nan and 10 year old cousin shipped in from blighty for the weekend, luckily once all empties and chaos had been dealt with. Word of advice, if you end up in Helsinki and living in the wonderland we call HOAS apartment buildings, it’s not the place to host nice old ladies and young children. Think cigarette butts, old BBQs, suspicious stains on walls and floors, random objects in the lift, that sort of thing. Basically, no one stays past a semester or two, so no one cares about keeping the place half decent. Anyway, they came, we did nice familyish things, went to the zoo, dinner out, and I somehow managed to convince them that I actually know a little bit of Finnish, which I was quite proud of. Having family to stay in the same flat was kind of hard work, but it was lovely to have them, and when they left I had to do a bit of knuckling down and real life stuff, before heading off to Jvaskyla (insert more umlauts here too) to stay with a Finnish friend in his log cabin in the woods. It was about as idyllic as it sounds, and even though it’s still not exactly warm here, it is finally nice and light, and looking out over the lake with a cold beer reminded me how awesome Finland can be once you get out into the countryside. Oh, and then we went to a strange heavy metal gig, full of middle aged men with long hair and beer guts. I fitted in pretty well obviously.

The big thing that happened was VAPPU. It gets capitals because it’s about the biggest festival in Finland, 30th April- 1st May, and it basically means lots of students, and a few real people, all hanging out and drinking in the centre of Helsinki, in parks and streets and anywhere else you can think of. Brief highlights: what seemed like the whole of Helsinki around the esplanade watching a statue being given a white graduation cap. The same number of people crammed into senate square. lots of crazy vappu hattus, wigs and generally ridiculous attired. Tango in kaviopuisto park. Hungover picnicking on Saturday morning. It was all a lot of fun, and my Finnish friend’s advice turned out to be the best- don’t plan, just buy booze, put on some warm clothes, and go with the flow. Quite a few people who’d been here first semester came back for it, and it was one of those weekends where you manage to lose and find everyone you know about twelve times, and no one ever really knows what is going on, but you’re enjoying it all anyway. I’m definitely planning to come back to Finland, and I think Vappu would be a pretty good opportunity, if it wasn’t for the fact that May is kind of important, and next year is my final year. Oh well. One day…

Recovering from Vappu took a good couple of days, and sadly by the time I had it seemed like goodbyes were already starting. I leave on the 19th, and I’ve already said goodbye to quite a few people who are going away and won’t be back until I’m already back home, or else who are just quick off the mark and leaving early. The first goodbye party was Friday, the last ESN party a couple of weeks ago for me, and one of my flatmate leaves on Friday…the dream is definitely ending…

We’re having a goodbye party on Weds, just to make the big clean up before we move out even more fun, but there are already people who will be long gone by then. Don’t say it too loud, but I think I’m actually going to miss them. Erasmus is such a strange and brilliant experience, and there are so many cool people here who I probably won’t ever see again, despite promises to come visit, do the grand european tour etc. Well, time will tell.

Edinburgh and home and fourth year had felt kind of far away, but once people started talking deposits and flights home and grant applications and course registrations it hit me that it really isn’t, nine months has gone like a dream, and before I know it I’ll be back in the burgh househunting all over again. At least this time I’ll make sure I get a place with a bloody window.

I’m sure there’s be a final nostalgic and morose post from me before I leave, but that’s all for now.

Categories: Finland, Helsinki

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