It’s been a long, strange time since my last update, and this is likely the last blog post I’ll be able to make until mid-December. I have two essays due next week, several presentations to prepare, and exams to anticipate, so I think I’ll be too busy to write much on here for the next few weeks. I’ve also been thinking more in-depth about possible dissertation topics for next year, and I’ve been talking with one of my Estonian professors here for some guidance and advice on carrying out research in Estonia. Hopefully I can get something exciting worked out.
Despite the university work, of course, I’ve still managed to find time for two trips to lovely Stockholm, Sweden, one of which was carried out on an overnight Erasmus cruise ship leaving from Tallinn (the infamous ‘ESN Sea Battle’). More on that later. My first trip to Sweden (Nov 4th- 7th) was made possible by the gloriously, perversely low fares of Ryanair (I think my roundtrip ticket came out to around 25 Euros). The trip was made more affordable by using CouchSurfing instead of bothering with hostels. I went with two German friends (Johanna and Silvi), and we stayed with a French exchange student (Julien) in Stockholm for three nights. Julien took pride in showing us around his (temporary) city of residence, and we had a lot of fun exploring the area and seeing how many activities we could pack into three short days. The only downers were the high prices (which is pretty much par for the course there) and the grim, foggy weather, which honestly made the countryside look like something out of an Opeth album cover (who I will be seeing in concert soon!).
The second trip took place in quite a different context. Namely, it was through the ESN Sea Battle, a cruise ship operating between Tallinn and Stockholm carrying upwards of 1000 Erasmus students (!) from around the Baltics and Scandinavia. One night from Tallinn to Stockholm, one day in Stockholm, and then one night back to Tallinn. As you might imagine from what’s essentially a student party cruise, things got interesting; quite fascinating, even, from a sociological perspective. Most of the attendees weren’t in the best shape for the day in Stockholm, but we were fortunate to have beautiful weather and quiet streets (November isn’t exactly the height of the tourist season).
As a city, Stockholm, like most cities in the Nordic nations, is unnervingly clean, beautiful, and highly developed. Even using the metro system was usually downright pleasant. Stockholm benefits from a gorgeous natural setting (spread out over several islands stretching into the Baltic) and a more dynamic cultural atmosphere than other cities in the region, owing in part to its large size and substantial immigrant population. Stockholm is clean, comfortable, and absolutely worth a visit; many students (including myself) are now interested in potentially moving to Stockholm after graduation!
The next few weeks, as previously noted, won’t be so exciting. The one bright spot is an Opeth concert in Helsinki (YES! OH YES!) on December 6th. I’ll do my best to report on it here afterwards.