Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Thankful in Helsinki

I realized a few weeks ago that I hadn’t left Tampere since I got here. Tampere is a lovely place and there’s no reason to leave… except that I’m a bit of a traveler by nature. I’m in a country with affordable trains and busses that can get me anywhere. I can even get affordable airline tickets that make travel within Europe almost mandatory. And, I was brought here by a fellowship that actually wants its recipients to travel and learn about Scandinavia. I was frightened by my stationary realization. I promptly left.

Luckily Audrey and Lea brought me to Lea’s summer cottage in Mouhijärvi, right around then. It was enough out of Tampere to remind me of the outside world. There was lots of travel talk at the cottage since Lea takes pride in her travels to 70, count ‘um, 70 countries. I ate reindeer and we roasted sausage on the fireplace! This is the local polar bear (from back when we used to have snow).

Last weekend I was very thankful to be in Helsinki eating turkey and telling stories with a collection of Finns and Americans. There’s a group of Fulbrighters there that talk about things like the role of feminism in Finnish translated English literature, complicated by the fact that the Finnish language does not specify gender, other than by context. Someone had just gotten back from a conference in Morocco, which reminded me that life isn’t always easy, but made me want to go there. Paula and I talked a lot about her dissertation topic, which was very hard for me to understand. It will include the role of imagination in the architectural experience. I learned that architechture is much more difficult than engineering. It was fun (and educational) to hang out with an architect in such a designer city like Helsinki. The city glistens with very stylish and classic designs… of all types of things, from teacups to skyscrapers, that had originated from Finnish designers.

Proof that I'm here:

If we must have security cameras, this is the way to do it!

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