Minkä maalainen sinä olet?

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

*Which country are you from?

Wow time passes quick. It’s already one month since i arrived here in Helsinki. On the one hand it feels like yesterday as I get to see new stuff every day but on the other hand it’s like I’ve been around for ages ;)

Yesterday I went to Nuuksio Nat. park for a second time, but this time there was eight of us and one even had GPS on his mobile phone … Of course that doesnt mean that we were able to follow a straight path and once again, the last thing we found was the lake, but we found a lot of other interesting things on the way. Most notably we found a trampoline that led to a fair bit of fun in the forest (until we were chased away by the owner of the trampoline ;)

[paragraph only suitable for computer science students, others might wanna skip ;þ ] Although some of you might not believe that, I’m actually learning some things at uni here, too. On of them is Python. So far the language has impressed me with a few nice features such as self managing lists, operator overloading and polymorphy, but I think it also has some serious drawbacks. One of them is how iterators are done. Why cant python have something like hasNext() instead of that stupid exception that you have to catch if you do anything else than the standard for-each loop? Also i don’t like using “self.” at least once per line, feels like python had added object orientation by a little child that is determined to get the rectangle block through the triangle hole of his toy… And never try to collaborate with ppl  in python unless everyone uses the same kind of indentation. As of now I’d say python is nice for a quick tryout, but thats it!

Apart from computer science I’m still learning Finnish here. That language also has some curious features.

By omitting one little “a”, you can turn a meeting into a murder: tapaan means I meet, whereas tapan means I kill, dangerous language. Also we learned that one reason for Finns having a less favourable image abroad is that they don’t use Anteeksi, “excuse me/please” very much, however they use Kiitos, thank you a lot. If you know that, they appear quite a lot less rude :)

But this weekend we wont need Finnish so much. We found a quite cheap overnight cruise to Stockholm that we will be taking from sunantai (Sunday) evening to tiistai (Tuesday) morning. Quite cheap means that we will have 4m² for 3 ppl but I don’t think we will need our beds all that much. We’re not quite sure yet what we are going to do in Stockholm, but i don’t expect that to be a problem, when Erasmus students go somewhere, the plan is made when they get there!

That’s it for now, more will follow sometime after Stockholm

Tallinn, Soumenlinna, National Parks & Squirrels

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Hi everyone!

I’ve been lazy with my posts once again but here it is, another piece of new from the “not-so-cold”-north.

My sister has been around for the last few days and together with other exchange students we took the ferry to Estonia’s capital, Tallinn. We get up so early that the Finns at the train station were still trying to wash away the remains of last nights partying round the train station. Once on the ferry (which is only 30€ incl. return!) we quickly went inside because of the strong wind on deck. Tallinn itself turned out to have a really stunning old town. A large portion of the city fortifications is still intact and well kept. Also the houses in the city are sometimes a few hundred years old and many of them are now embassies, restaurants, or souvenir shops (every 50 meters ;)  We were mostly lucky with the weather but it did rain in the afternoon and so we went into a nice café somewhere in the backstreets. After some more walking we went inside again, although it wasn’t raining. The reason this time was that the restaurant at market square had different prices for inside and outside. The price of a small coke actually doubles if you buy it outside! In the evening we made a short stop at a supermarket and a liqueur store to buy some beer, as the prices are a fair bit lower than in Helsinki (up to factor 2!)

Also we went to Suomenlinna Island and found a nice sunny spot protected from wind directly at the shore.Another day we went to Nuuksio National Park near Espoo. We had planned to maybe collect some mushrooms but it turned out that we didn’t know the right spots for edible ones (we saw many that screamed “eat at own risk” ). However we came across a few interesting and beautiful places as we didn’t exactly follow the marked paths around the park. We actually crossed some kind of swamp :D. Throughout the day we met exactly 1 (thats “one” spelled out) other visitor in the entire time we were there. Not very busy but thats probably a good thing ;) Another thing that we didn’t come across is animals. Most of the animals fled long before we could even see them, but that wasn’t such a big problem as there are hundreds of curious squirrels living right behind my student housing complex (Yeah I almost live in a forest)

In the evenings we tried out a few more party places around Helsinki including an Irish Pub (Molly Malones) that is rapidly becoming on of my regular destinations when we can’t decide where to go. Next week I’ll probably go see something at the Helsinki Film Festival and we are starting to plan a trip to Stockholm.

In case you are wondering If I’m actually studying anything here, well I am…. but it doesn’t take up too much time so far. The semester is divided in two sections here and in the first one I’m only doing an easy introduction to Python programming and a lecture about information theory (things like data compression). The only other uni appointment is my Finnish course, so yes I do have a lot of time to check out things from cities to Erasmus parties. That’s it for the moment, maybe I can find some time to write more soon (don’t place any bets…)

(somehow I forgot this post in the drafts section sorry for delay)

news from the north

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

While looking at a calendar I realized that I’ve already been up here for more than one week and the thought crossed my mind that maybe I should write something new here ;)

As it turns out my room isnt that bad to reach after all because I also found a train running nearby. Also I wont have to go to uni all that often for the first half. The semester is divided in 2 sections here and in the first one I will only have classes Tuesday and Thursday :D These classes include python (programming), information theoretic modelling (computer science theory) and a beginners course in finnish (the language still seems crazy).

Together with other excahnge students we already made a short trip to the Island of Suomenlinna just south of Helsinki. There we walked through the remains of a huge castle built in the 18th century and had a pick-nick. Also we went to a few parties already, but sadly thats one of the things really expensive here. One pint of beer usually sets u back 5€ at least. Nevertheless i think there will be more than enough cheaper private parties with the other exchange students ;)

Another expensive thing (there are many of those) is buying groceries. The market that is closest to my student housing complex has quite a few items that cost twice as much as in Munich. But yesterday I have found a Lidl only one train stop away that has more reasonable prices (still expensive but acceptable)

One of the few things that are actually cheaper here is public transport. As long as you don’t have to go to Vantaa (north/northeast) or Espoo (west) you get one month for some 40€ or so. There is also a student discount but it only applies if you stay for more than one semester.

What is really silly is something about the Lyyra card. That card is something like a student card and it gets you many advantages… if u have one. The problem is that it takes almost a month to get it and you need to pay the card fee with bank transfer… very convenient for exchange students that have only just arrived…. Let’s hope that it arrives at the end of September….

One thing that happens to many Erasmus students is that you mostly get to meet other exchange students. To avoid that I went for a programme called ALICE where u get to meet Finnish students who want to improve their German. My partner will be a Maikki, a finnish student of international relations. As most Finnish students she seems to be in heaps of student organizations, clubs and other stuff, so It seems im going to get to know quite a few Finns.

As I dont have a working camera charger (working on that) right now, I dont have many pictures to show you, but if you know me on facebook you can always check out the “linked photos”, there are quite a few there.

first images from the north

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Yesterday I arrived here in Helsinki and I like it already (perhaps because uni hasn’t started yet *g*)

I’ll be living in a student housing complex in the north-east of the city not too far from the uni campus. I took a few pictures of this place for you to have a look: