Saturday, October 21, 2006


This is International Student Housing, where I live. It's a fairly modular building (inside and out), and it's concrete blockish nature takes some adjusting at first. The pink stripes across the front crack me up! Finland is not afraid of the color pink!

Tampere! It's Finland's third largest city, and its 200,000 inhabitants feel that they live in the city (not a suburban town, but an honest city). People continually tell me about the cultural differences between Finnish cities and rural areas. Once I asked some co-workers how to say "excuse me," in Finnish. One of them asked if I wanted to say it in the country or in the city.

"In the country you can just bump into somebody and then keep on walking. You don't need to say excuse me." Then he chuckled, and everyone else argued with him.

"Why do you always say things like that? I always say excuse me if I bump into someone."

So it might be debatable, but most people tend to agree that city folk are more outgoing. Though it seems small to me, Tampere has a central downtown area with tall buildings, theatres, clubs, two universities, lots of shops, a soccer team, and a famous ice hockey hall. It even has a Fringe Festival in November, regularly scheduled Finnish music shows, and it's (ironically) a bit of an afro-cuban salsa dancing hub. Compared to my hometown (of 300,000 people that barely makes the U.S. map), there's a lot to do in Tampere.

I'm working on a well water contamination project at the Tampere University of Technology (TUT). My adviser and one other student have been characterizing the groundwater flow, and measuring chemical and microbial indicators of contamination from surrounding farms and septic tanks for the past year. I've officially joined the project, and I'm planning to use microbial source tracking methods to show the a link between the source of the contaminants and the wells. My adviser, the faculty in my institute, and the other students and researchers have been incredibly supportive both academically and in getting me moved in. People have lent me curtains, blankets, dishes, a bike, and much good advice on getting started as a student at TUT and one of the 200,000 residents of Tampere.

So, even though I accidentally erased my hard drive installing Windows XP last night, I feel pretty settled into my apartment with (post Windows XP installation) functioning Internet access, curtains, bed sheets, dishes... avocado green vinyl flooring-- everything I need.

This is the bike that one of my co-workers has let me borrow for the year. I can't wait to cruise around the endless bike trails between Tampere and Hervanta. There's only one gear working right now, but one gear is all I really need.

These are the bikes of the people that live in my building. I noticed the nice shelter to protect them from the weather, but what's even more noticeable is that many of these bikes have no locks!

No comments: