Thursday, August 16, 2012

Introduction To Me, Finland, And This Blog

A Brief Introduction

My name is Nathan and I am...about to be very cold. More importantly, though, I am a junior sociology major at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. On August 21, 2012 I will leave my native San Antonio, Texas to spend about five months studying abroad in Turku, Finland. At the University of Turku, I will take courses in the Finnish-Nordic Society and Culture program (in English) which include:
  • Finland in Northern European Contemporary History
  • Nordic Welfare State from a Comparative View
  • Education and Equality
  • And possibly: a Finnish language course or Nordic Gender System and Cultural Representations of Gender in Finland
I am taking these courses mainly because my curiosity was piqued by all things Finland, and I want to learn as much about it as I can while I am there. I will be living in an apartment about 2.5 km (1.5 miles) from campus at a complex called Haliskylä. I will probably do some combination of walking and riding the bus at first, but there may be a bike in my future, too. 

Finland Quick Facts

  • Finland (Suomi in Finnish) is located in Northeastern Europe, and is home to about 5.4 million people.
  • Finnish is one of two official languages but it is spoken by most people (90%); there is a Swedish-speaking minority (5.4%) present, too. 
  • Finnish is regarded as one of the most difficult languages to speak in the world, and I swear each word is 40 letters long (kahdeksankymmentä, anyone? It's Finnish for "80"). Luckily, most Finns speak English, too.
  • Finland is one of the five Nordic countries; the others being Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Denmark.
  • Finland is a member of the European Union so their currency is the Euro. 
  • Finland is 8 hours ahead of Central Time in the US. When it is 4:00 PM in Texas it is midnight in Finland.
  • Finland is roughly the size of Montana. The state. Not the Hannah. 
  • Some notable Finnish productions: Nokia phones, Angry Birds, Finnish folk metal and Finnish saunas.
  • Weather in Finland while I am there will range from as high as 70 degrees Farenheit in August to as low as below 0 degrees Farenheit when I leave in December.
  • It snows frequently in Finland and then kind of looks like Narnia
  • In December there will be only 5 hours of sunlight each day. I might come back SAD.
  • Finland is the world's leader in education

About This Blog

I'm not keeping this blog for any kind of credit (to my knowledge). Instead I will be keeping it for a number of personal reasons:
  1. As my mother-turned-travel agent can attest, there is not a whole lot on the internet in terms of pre-departure instruction for an American student going to Finland. I plan on beginning this blog with a number of posts detailing everything from getting a passport, applying for a residence permit, visiting a Finnish embassy, buying clothes, applying for housing, packing effectively, handling prescription medication abroad, managing a cell phone, opening a bank account, and more. Hopefully, between my posts and outside resources I link to, future American students headed to Finland will have a thorough guide.
  2. I want my friends and family to be able to follow my adventure in Finland and (hopefully) communicate to me through comments. 
  3. I think blogging is a great way to compile photos, videos, stories, information, set goals, and then look back at it all when it is over. 
Aside from the early pre-departure posts, I hope to keep this blog funny and light. Also, this is my first blog ever so any feedback would be much appreciated!

At Highline Park in NYC I tried to catch all the sun I could before Finland

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