Monday, May 28, 2012

Sophomore Journal 2E.2.1


Pentecost mass spent in St. Mary's church with a decidedly international parish. 3 priests are all of different races. The profile of the parish screamed "everyone but the Finns!", though I happen to know that the bishop here is a Finn. Also postcards here are the cheapest in town.

Bunkmates in Stadion connected last night; conversation started at how loudly the guy at bed 4 had snored two nights ago. The guy in bed 4 was not present. There was a Romanian guy looking for menial jobs in Helsinki and a scientist from CERN.

Korean tourist Se-Ung landed fresh from Saint Petersburg. We went out and took 4/5 varieties of public transport with the regional card, and found out all the malls were closed due to public holiday. When I headed back there was this Taiwanese lady I didn't ask the name to, who planned to swat mosquitoes in Rovaniemi or meet Santa Claus, whichever seems more probable.

Project is looking less intimidating each day. Coffee supply has been timely, with courtesy from Mikko.


Värttinä has concert in Lappeenranta on 21 July. Item marked in itinerary.
Annbjørg Lien has concert in Ringbu, Norway on 23 June. Probably not in schedule due to friends visiting Helsinki at that time.
Some trip to the Baltic countries is probably in order.


Exam results were horrible.

Gallen-Kallela Museum did not show most works by Gallen-Kallela

Sophomore Journal 2E.1.6

Today I am writing not out of frustration but out of rejoicing. If I am really frustrated it would be because the internet at the hostel is slow and I am typing from notepad right now, but this is none of your concern. Helsinki has been awesome. Yesterday while going to the groceries I was epicly awed at the low prices that food in the supermarkets are kept at. Salami at 2.79 euros? :DDD Miso soup stock at 2.95? Smoked salmon at 2.65? PLEASE, NO MORE. When rich kid raised in Cold Storage goes across the continent to Alepa, invariably he will bleed at the nose a bit.

The Work
So shortly after concluding my tirade which is the previous post, I went to Otaniemi and Dr. Makkonen introduced me to the group. The next day I am presented with a problem which is a computer simulation of electronic structure, involving FUNCTIONALS and the FUNDAMENTAL HAMILTONIAN and THOMAS-FERMI-DIRAC MODEL and VARIATIONAL MONTE-CARLO and other inscrutably-named stuff I had to look up the whole demoralising afternoon. Two other fellas are in the same room as mine: Elmo (the physics student) has been given readings which is basically 2nd year Material Science in NUS, and Angi stretches wood.

My office is on the ground floor. My table is by the window. Outside the window there is a grass patch. Yesterday afternoon on the grass patch suddenly there was a rabbit. And it sat there munching on flowers and rolling about and just being a distracting little shit all day long.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Blogging from Helsinki

Hostel at the Olympic Stadium

I have settled in the hostel at the Olympic Stadium. Jet-lag is still in force, so I woke up at 5am to a room full of burly sleeping men. I questioned my own sanity in having let myself come here with a half-assed command of Finnish and no point of contact other than the prof Dr. Makkonen at Aalto, as well as having chosen a dormitory suite instead of one of the private rooms. Having no other outlet to express my bewilderment, I turn to blogging. You may be thinking I am blogging to boast about being able to have come through half the globe to this strange city. I would have liked to, eventually, but I am still disoriented, so this post is for complaining.

The Language
What I am up against with this LANGUAGE thing:
I reached my current command of French in the time-span of 1 year, and can converse in it comfortably enough. French is an easy language; it is in the same language family (Indo-European) as most other European languages, and shares much of the vocabulary with English.
I am expected to reach a comfortable command of Finnish in ~2 months. Finnish is a Uralic language, related to Hungarian, Estonian, Sami and random languages scattered around Russia,. Basically Hindi is closer to English than Finnish is to English and the language institute here prefers to make up native versions of names rather than borrowing the word itself.

The Surroundings
Two walks around the hostel revealed a bike shop, a supermarket (Alepa) and a Chinese restaurant conveniently positioned, and also a nice inland bay, Töölönlahti. There is a park. In the park there are patches of bare rock which are quite nice to sit on. There is a winter garden I don't know the purpose of.
The Finns seem to be avid bikers. The bicycle tracks are filled with them. I am considering this as a means to commute.

The Commute
Olympic Stadium to Otaniemi is ~7km. North Haaga to Otaniemi is ~9km.
There are direct buses.
I am going to figure out public transport today. Tip: by figuring out the public transport of a place, one mentally conquers it.
I have not yet gone around to get to Otaniemi, where the university is, but I hope I can mentally conquer that too.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


I am going to Finland for the summer for an internship.
I will be staying in Haaga District, 9km from Aalto University by bike.
I am taking up 2 new languages: Fortran 90 and Finnish
There is a church near where I'm staying at, with English masses on Saturday evenings