05 November 2011

E Day + 68

Haven't posted here in ages, been having too much fun! Finland has definitely turned around for me, even if it is really dark here. The sun is down by 5 in the day now, which is insane. The earliest in Ireland was coming up to 6, and apparently in Finland it will be dark by 4 in December. The difference between November and December is that the latter has snow and Christmas lights, making it very manageable!

My lectures finally started, so I finally have a schedule. My first course was EU Political Institutions; six lectures that were an hour and a half long each. It started out OK and remained fairly consistent: informative yet dry. The history of the EU would have been much more interesting than the machinations, and that's saying a lot. It's a book, lecture and exam course with about thirty people attending it. It was about half and half - the exchange-to-natives ratio. One of the exams was yesterday but I didn't bother going as there will be another one in December when I'll be ready. I don't have the books and instead have other ones, so it's been tough.
My History and Sociology lectures started last week after the Politics one ended. The Sociology one is called Swedish-speaking Finns as a minority group. It started out very strong and interesting with a professor from Helsinki teaching it. The second lecture was over in about half the time it was meant to be on for. We don't even have it next week as she will be gone to Helsinki! The majority of the marks come from typing up a course diary for each lecture and reading, so shouldn't be too much trouble. There will also be an extended essay later on. It will go on right to the middle of December. I am a bit worried that it will continue to be weak and vague but it demonstrates remarkable parallels between Ireland and Finland, as we both are bilingual countries with an embattled language.
The History course, which is partnered with Women's Studies, is called Masculinities at war: the military age of Finland 1918-1950. I was very excited to start this course and it started out bombastically. The lecture is an absolute star and the class was packed with about 50 people from all over, mainly from Finland but the exchange group are strong and from all over the world. Each lecture is technically 2 hours and 45 minutes long but we get two short breaks in the middle. Enough time to run to the cafeteria or just to step outside. The course has no exam and is mostly assessed by course diary as well as two oral presentations. The course aims to widen and deepen our knowledge of Finnish history as well as trying to define what is masculinity and its relation to war and society. I have high hopes for this module!

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