It's been a great week visiting Maija Aksela at the Finland's Science Education Center LUMA, University of Helsinki, Pasi Vilpas at the Sotungin Koulu, Mujib, Jukka, and Terhi Oksanen at the Kuitimaen Koulu, and Terhi Möslä, Aki Kalliomaki, Johanna Lahti and Sonja Kuosmanen at the Fulbright Center. I have so many stories but no way to get the pictures onto my iPad and upload them to the blog. What's a blog without pictures? So you'll have to wait, and so will I, until I get back to my computer.
In the meantime, I'm brainstorming ideas for future projects in the laundry room of our Helsinki apartment. They even have a machine that irons...I think. Here is one picture from my iPad.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Saturday, March 23, 2013
I've met some pretty remarkable young Fulbrighters at the German/EU conference in Berlin: Ane is studying the successful anti-prostitution policies in Sweden, Karen is studying the different educational choices students make in Finland, Alieza is studying public policy (Berlin), and Allie is working in Jewish studies (Berlin). Heather is a English teacher's assistant in Belgium, William is an engineer interested in human physiology in space (Belgium), and Nicholas is a Schuman Fellow studying EU science policy.
Ane Mathieson, Karen Lee, Alieza Durana, Allie Brudney
Heather Annette Siegel, Allie Brudney, Alieza Durana, William Runge, Karen Lee, Nicholas Michael Bashour
And just for fun, here is a man and his dog enjoying time in the local cafe.
Friday, March 22, 2013
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
A little look at Berlin street art - with the knowledge of how it is both discouraged and encouraged in Berlin's culture. Street art is illegal but it is still a vibrant part of Berlin's "architecture." Here is a look at a few pieces I photographed on 18 March 2013 on a tour by www.alternativeberlin.com and then a look at what I created in their street art studio that same afternoon. (It was never put up in the street so it is completely legal. :) That evening we attended a Fulbright event at one of the Berlin symphony halls and I was surprised to see that the designers chose graffiti art to hang in one of their reception areas. Street art seems to be in a love/hate relationship with the people and culture of Berlin; it's fascinating.
This knitted tree and post covering are considered street art, too.
My piece of "street art," which will never be found on the street.
The artwork in the reception area of the Universität der Künste.
Sunday, March 17, 2013
This was the view of the participants as we first arrived at the sauna/ice swimming location in Tampere. We were in the area because were were attending the Living Colors Seminar for the Finnish Fulbright participants; our meeting would give us a chance to network and learn about each other's research projects. We were not disappointed!
On Friday evening after most people left, some of the Fulbright participants went down to the ice swimming hole for a celebration - a pre-arranged event engineered by Karen Lee to celebrate the arrival of Christine McCartney who had just arrived for her Fulbright experience. We're so happy she's here and there was no better way to welcome her to Finland than to give her a truly Finnish experience.
I found these stairs down to the water are a bit overwhelming. There is ice on the ground and ice on the outer rails. You need to understand that I get cold at 60 degrees F/15 degrees C. This experience would be impossible for me and I did not have high hopes of accomplishing anything other than being embarrassed. I don't even like a cool shower!
Always remember you should never swim alone.
It's a long, contemplative walk down to the water. The "bubblers" are meant to keep the water from freezing - they are not here to warm the water.
The first step in this Finnish experience is to warm up in the sauna. I mean, get HOT. This is the first sauna I've been in that is meant for both men and women. It was PACKED. Body to body. And one man was hitting his back with some kind of material or plant. (Ick. I had to move because water was flying!) It was truly the hottest sauna I've ever been in - so hot that it hurt my eyes. Surprisingly, the Finns just sat there - looking quite pleased and comforted. Relaxed. Clearly, I had a lot to get used to.
There were five of us getting mentally prepared for this "dip" - Christine McCartney, our newbie, Amanda Siepiola, the one person who has done this before, Karen Lee, Lindsay Whorton, and me. We were excited, nervous, and, I would say, as a group, "fearless." (Not me.) This is not a group who sits by and let the world roll on by - these are women who go out the world and truly experience it.
Out we went!
TO SEE THE VIDEO, CLICK HERE.
Not only did they dip, but they SWAM! Fearless, I tell you! Fearless!
Not me, I dipped. That was plenty and it was WONDERFUL. I dipped three times and then on the fourth, I just couldn't do it anymore. Clearly, my adrenaline was all used up. In all honesty, I can't wait to do it again - and next time - I'm bringing my brother. He will love it, too. :)
Here's Christine's group picture and a link to her blog:
If you get to Helsinki be sure to visit Kaffeecentralen, a lovely coffee shop and seller of all things delectable to coffee lovers. Their address is Pursimiehenkatu 23 and is right next door to the Design Museum, which I also LOVED. The people at Kaffeecentralen are warm and personable and the coffee - exceptional.
Actually, the barista served my favorite coffee - and I've only had it once before - I was in South Africa and I was allowed only one cup (with no refills) because the Africans were saving the coffee beans for the World Cup! I was in heaven to taste it again!
So I spontaneously bought a few packs and sent one to my mother and one to Bob and Anna. Well, it was a bit extravagant and WAY too expensive to send, but, well, I did it anyway. And my brother doesn't even like coffee!
(Note to family - I probably won't be sending anything else home; it is too expensive. Anna, try it as espresso or a latte. :)
Saturday, March 16, 2013
"Giving thanks for kind taxi drivers: I arrived in Helsinki at 11:00pm on the train and I took a taxi to my hotel. We couldn't find the hotel, however, because there is no address on the building. There is a phone number on the door but the sign has the correct name of my hotel. There is no hotel reception because it is after 10pm. My phone is almost dead so the taxi driver calls the phone number and then he tells me he won't leave until he is sure I can get inside. The lady on the phone gives me two codes for the hotel - one for the front door and one for a key box inside. There are two code boxes on the front door; the first one box doesn't work but the second one does. Inside we find the key boxes but they are up four stairs to the right and hidden around a corner. The sign near the boxes says, "Please only take your key." My code opens the little box and I find my key but the room number is missing. We find the room number hidden inside an envelope and then the taxi driver leaves. There's a note on the wall near the boxes that says "the second number in your room number is your floor number. " My room number is 212 and another note says to go to stairway 2. There is no stairway, much less a stairway 2 that i can find, but there is a lift with a list of room numbers and the corresponding button I'm supposed to push. I push 1. I get off the lift and there are a variety of room numbers and all of them have a "1" as the second number. I find my room. Now I know why the Finns are such good problem solvers. " (My post on Facebook.)
The front of the hotel.
The front door.
Sign on the front door.
The boxes that hold the room keys.
Directions to find the rooms.
This is the room directly outside the elevator, one floor up from the lobby.
My hallway (Notice the raised line on the floor.)
Another stairway down the hall.
I climbed to the top of the building - this stairway that was hidden in the back of the building.
I solved the puzzle! The hotel is actually the joining of two buildings and if you look closely at my hallway you can see where the buildings are joined. Room numbers have three numbers and the ones that start with "1" are in building one and room numbers that start with "2" are in building two. The second number in the room number is the floor number and the third number is the actual room. There is a stairway for building one and another for building two, but not all rooms can be directly accessed by the first stairway.
This is actually one of my favorite hotels - it is close to the city center, museums and restaurants, the price was decent (through cheaprooms.com) and the staff was very helpful. The rooms have small kitchens so it's considered more of a hotel/apartment building - that's why the reception is closed at night and on the weekends. That being said, I had a lovely stay and I enjoyed the puzzle. Thank you, Hellston Helsinki Parliament!