18 March 2011

Finland and happiness!

I got accepted! I'm going to Finland in August for two semesters of Sociology & Political Science. I'm not sure if I'll be required to learn History there as well but we'll see. I was waiting a almost a month for this email and I was absolutely delighted when I got the good word. Finland will be very good for me!

Finland was my third and final choice so I'm slightly disappointed I didn't get accepted to the Netherlands or to a lesser extent Sweden. I wanted Leiden in the Netherlands simply because it would be infinitely warmer than the Nordic countries! I picked the other two simply because they did Sociology & Politics as their primary subjects. Soc & Pol is my best subject compared to my mediocre History results and performance, so I don't mind - it makes sense! The month of waiting was good for me. They said the end of February, then mid-March, then they delayed by one day... so I had loads of time to think Finland would probably have been my primary choice after all. I love Finland and its concise history, as well as its marvellous shared history with Sweden and then Russia, both countries I find fascinating. Sweden edged out Finland in terms of preference because I assumed it would be better to live in with regards roads and living.

I will miss Ireland dearly. Not only will I be ripped right out of my comfort zone in Galway, but I'll be away for two semesters! Who knows what will happen in that time. I'm going to miss my family obviously but I have to be a bit more selfish when it comes to my friends. A lot of time spent away can erode old bonds and whatnot. There is also the chance of me coming back different, or indeed, everyone and everything will be different when I come back. There are two things I can see here - I should stop talking about coming back when I haven't even left and I should have faith and be optimistic when it comes to my friends. I'll have Formspring, Facebook, Blogger, Twitter and Skype to keep me clued in!

I have read up extensively on Finland in the last few days and I am very impressed. Most of the population live in the south coast where I will be going. I am attending University in the city of Turku on the west coast. It is the place where the Swedish-speaking minority of Finland go to learn their language, so it is really called Abo Akademi or the University of Abo, which is the Swedish for Turku. I have always had a slight affinity for Finnish history; as I mentioned earlier I am a sucker for early modern Swedish and all kinds of Russian history. Finland tends to come up quite a bit, either as East Sweden or the Grand Duchy of Finland. They also fought the Russians to a standstill in the period 1939-1944, which is kind of brilliant. The university itself is a collection of old Russian manors that were bought and converted, so it'll be an interesting campus experience I'd say. The price of food and drink is quite expensive but the Erasmus people make sure I get accommodation no matter what while the welfare system makes sure I get a warm meal a day. Sweet!

I can't wait to actually pick my courses and become genuinely involved in the Erasmus program. I'm going to reply in the affirmative by Sunday at the latest, sooner if I can help it! I know I will definitely be doing Sociology & Politics mainly with a little bit of History thrown in, perhaps? From almost all accounts, the course is actually quite easy. I don't know how to feel about this, exactly. On the one hand I could become the top of the class and make a name for myself - something I want to do very badly anyway - while on the other I could become lazy or not be challenged sufficiently. Regardless, I feel I will do well, enjoy my courses and hopefully get the respite I need before stepping into Final Year. That whole "two-thirds of your degree" thing involved in FY intimidated me so much I knew I wouldn't make it fresh from Second Year. I'll do really well and feel good enough to take on the end of my degree!

Still can't get over the fact that I'll be leaving everyone in five months. I plan on enjoying my remaining time here to the max, as well as using the next 30 plus days to study for my exams. After that, I will make sure my friends and family know that I will miss them so much!


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