Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Home Sweet Home!

The sweet sound of silence. It's not something I ever thought I'd miss, I've said this many times before, but I've really come to appreciate the quiet that comes with living in Finland. Russia was absolutely amazing. I had the most fantastic time, but its incredible when you cross the border how everything changes. The Finnish train stations are quiet, everyone is aware of their own personal space, and Finns require a lot of personal space. Compared with the hustle and bustle of Saint Petersburg, I feel like I've just found my inner zen again. Although, I'm not sure what that means entirely, but I'm calm and relaxed :) But it was bloody great to get away and experience city life, and civilisation for a few days! Although, after all the great food I've eaten, I think it's time to take up jogging again! 

 Today was a great day, again. I got to the university at around 10am, it was still dark, which is in the most beautiful building, it looks like it used to be a monastery as there is a really lovely cathedral in the middle of the complex, and the side buildings are used for the University (Lenin was there a few times too, apparently there's still a piano that he used to play on). The morning lecture was quite interesting and so was the afternoon thesis seminar. I received lots of positive comments about my thesis topic, and how it's progressing, there was even someone from the British Consulate who turned up to listen to my topic, and left after my presentation. I'm not entirely sure why she was there, but well, it was nice :) 

After classes we did a little shopping and then went to a restaurant with the whole group. It was Dmitri's birthday, the Saint Petersburg co-ordinator and plenty of beer and great food! It was rather strange to listen to many, many toasts to him, it's something that we don't really do in the UK or Finland. Although it seems like a great tradition, I think I might have to spend my next birthday in Russia! One thing I noticed, is that everyone in Russia reads! I'm not just talking about at home, but on the metro, on the escalators, people are walking around with books! Real books, not so many iPads and phones, but books! Unfortunately, I didn't get to do much exploring again today, classes and all that, so there aren't any new pictures to show. Apart from one of a British bakery I found, I refused to go in on principle, even though it's been over a year since I tasted British food… 

 Unfortunately, I had to leave the party early to catch my train back to Finland. I'm getting quite good at this travelling across the city, even though everything is in Russian! I thought I had forgotten all of my Russian, but it quickly comes back! It took me a little while to work out where the Finnish train departed from. It's not exactly from the main station, but around the corner, I had ask for directions from one of the railway staff! It's quite a famous railway station as its the one that Lenin came back to Russia from Finland. The train journey home was pretty stress free. The Russian customs woman remembered me from Saturday, but the Russian border guard was very perplexed by my British passport, examining every centimetre of it with some sort of magnifying glass, showed it around to some colleagues and after 10 minutes, he seemed relatively satisfied that I was British, and wandered off.  I have no idea what it is about us British that causes the Russian authorities to be so confused. Maybe it's because I don't fly into Russia, but rather go by Car, or this time, by train. Surely, I can't be the only one.  It's all rather strange. 

 I've provisionally found two supervisors for PhDs in Finland. One in Helsinki and one at the University of Turku. Things are looking up again, I must try desperately hard to get this masters done by April, so I can apply to start in September! I'm still looking further afield, but Finland is where my heart is at the moment, and that's where I want to stay for now! Plus it's close to Russia, which will be great for doing research, and I must go back, I didn't spend all of my Roubles :)) There was talk of a return trip to Petrozavodsk in May ! Any how, I'm rather sleepy and I didn't get home until 1,30am (or 3,30am SPB time!). I'm back at work tomorrow, as it's my final week at Finland Future's research centre, and then I've just got the part-time teaching job at Edutech, which means I can concentrate on my thesis with renewed vigour after today's thesis seminar! So, Good night all!

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