Sunday, August 31, 2008

A delightfully unexpected feast, et cetera.

This past week of orientation has been quite fun. Although I have to say that most of the actual "orientation" was rather dull, the week itself was full of new friends and small adventures. One evening after the orientation lectures, the school held a "get-together" party in the lobby with, no I am not kidding, The Ghost of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band as the entertainment. I have to say that I did not expect to come to a Finnish University only to hear a Bruce Springsteen cover band sing American hits. Meg and I also decided that the singer curiously did look quite a lot like a younger Springsteen. The experience was strangely comforting and disorienting at once.

Later that evening, our tutor Niina picked us up and we walked over to, again not kidding, "Passion," a trendy and youthful little bar/hangout that was currently projecting soundless Spanish soap-operas onto a large screen. The orientation week included an entire 45-minute lecture on "culture shock," assuring us that it was a normal and even positive experience. We went on a bus tour of the city on Thursday afternoon and got to see some sights that probably would have been spectacular had it not been pouring down rain. Although the observation tower's view was a bit lacking in the fog of the rain, they did serve a mean donut in the cafe downstairs.

Friday night we spontaneously joined a school-sponsored pub-crawl with Isaac, Joe, Patrick, and Sebastian. The "crawl" ended up consisting of three bars and a stop at McDonald's before the bus ride home at 1 am. One bar was particularly nice and looked like it could have been a quietly sophisticated coffee house by-day, but it unfortunately played the typical Finnish heavy metal music and had Ozzy Osbourne videos on the flatscreen. However, it did have an entertaining foosball table. We are starting to become good friends with some of our international neighbors and it has been really fun to have a group of people in our same situation. They all have personalities of caricatures and are endlessly entertaining. More on that later.

Last night our French friend, Elise, surprised us all and delivered what could be called nothing short of a feast. She had mentioned cooking dinner for everyone on Saturday, but a single casserole or french roast had come to mind. Instead, she evidently spent all day Saturday in her kitchen cooking up three different kinds of spectacularly delicious quiche, potatoes au gratin, little sausage bites wrapped in puff pastry, little fried pork pastry bites, artfully zig-zag cut tomatoes and cucumber topped with a cheese sauce, and chocolate mousse, apple tart and ice cream for dessert. Oh, and like a good Frenchwoman, she brought Champagne as well. This was all served to about 14 of us in the cramped hallway of our apartment building, as our building is lacking an actual common room. Needless to say, we were all pretty stunned to be served this amazing feast with the utmost graciousness.

I was almost embarrassed that she had gone to so much trouble, especially considering the price of food here. She must have spent a fortune on all of the ingredients. Naturally, we insisted on helping her clean her tornado ravaged kitchen, but she was reluctant to even let us do that. Eventually she tricked us by asking if we wanted tea in her adorable accent. We said 'that would be lovely' and she cleverly replied with "ohhhh ok, well you will have to come upstairs with me to sit and drink it, ok?" That little French trickster, trying to get us to stop cleaning! :)

Meg went out with the rest of the gang last night to a bar on the river, but I was too tired and full from our meal to do anything except Skype the Apple Support line. Yes. My power adapter for my computer has melted and is no longer of any use. This is a problem because it is quite difficult to find anything Apple-related here in Tampere. Luckily I now have two addresses of stores that will hopefully be able to provide me with a new adapter.

We spent today in our apartment researching trips that we would like to go on this fall. If all goes well, our itinerary will look something like this:

Sept. 24-Oct. 2: Marrakesh, Morocco
Oct. 17-27: Milan, Florence, and Rome, Italy
Nov. 9-17: Barcelona, Spain
Nov. 21-26: Lapland, Finland (Snow Country! Complete with Reindeer and Husky sleigh rides!)
Dec. 3-7: Dublin, Ireland
Dec. 13-20: Paris, France

As you can see, we may not really be in Tampere all that much. This is because we really don't have to take very many classes here to fulfill our UO credit requirements and some of the classes consist of only reading and a book exam. As long as money allows, we will be heading to all of these places in no time!

Anyway, that's enough for now. I need to start doing these more often so they are not so impossibly long. I will post more pictures soon!

Miss you all!


Grant said...

I'm so jealous you have so much free time! I just have Friday's off. Hopefully we can meet up somewhere. I talked to Meg today, but we didn't really figure anything out.

raquelll said...

wow - you guys really don't have class. Sweet!