Sunday, February 16, 2014

Febuary 10 to Valentines Day

I only did two things this week. I prepared for a debate in my European Foreign Policy class were we debated on whether or not the European Union should accept more member countries to further its foreign policy. The second thing I did was much more fun. A fellow exchange student organized a ferry ride across the gulf of Finland just to enjoy the tax free food and boose on the open water. Most of my night was well spent in the club on the boat. I will end with a picture of the open sea.
To end my week I went to a special valentines party before going out for the night. The Valentines party was decorated so amazingly, three exchanges students put hours of time into decorating and it really paid off and added to an amazing night. Here is a picture of Valentines day night, the girls that decorated made a frame for kiss cam, I was lucky enough to have a Finnish girl next to me, all in all the party was fun.

Febuary 3rd to the 10th (Pikkulaskianen)

This week was dominated by the large and widely popular student sledding competition called "Pikkulaskianen". The way it works is that each faculty or club has to design and build a sled to go down a small hill in the park. The winners are based on the fastest time and the most created sled design. My team was ESN the Exchange Student Network. Our sled was a bottle of a special kind of Finnish Liquor to commemorate our love of everything Finnish. It was basically a pallet we found, with a pair of old skis screwed to the bottom. Our sled actually went very fast and took out a few people at the bottom of the run, but everyone was O.K.! Once again here are some pictures of the event


24th of January to February 3rd (The Lapland Trip)

So the most exciting thing I have done so far in Finland is go on a trip with about 100 other students to Levi, Finland. Levi is a small town that is situated next to Finland's biggest ski resort aptly named Levi. Levi is in the far north of Finland in the arctic circle. From Turku where the university is it took about a 15 hour bus ride. Before getting to Levi ESN had arranged a stop in Santa Clause's village, YEAH! The real Santa clause himself. Santa Clause's village is located right on the line of the Arctic Circle which I will have a picture of below. The other amazing part of Santa's village was that there were real people answering the Christmas letter sent there by children!! Here are some pictures!
The Arctic Circle Line

About a Third of the kids that went (I am on the top left)

So this was just one of the stops on the way to the Levi Ski Resort. For the trip our group got 7 cottages with about 8-10 people in each cottage. There were lots of activities to do doing the 5 nights we were there but I decided since this would be one of my only opportunities to snowboard I decided to do that all FOUR days. To sum it up in a few words it was AMAZING, here are some photos of the mountain.

More Trips, More Homework, Busy Times

It has been awhile since my last post so I am deciding to break up the last three weeks into three different posts. They will be organized by the 24th of January to February 3rd, then the 3rd to the 10th of February and finally the 10th to today the 16th!

 I will leave you all with this picture of Kraft Mac n Cheese I found, the only downside is it's 4.39 Euros!! Which works out to be about 6$ a box...

Friday, January 17, 2014

Arrvial and Orientation

The first thing I thought when I got off the plane at the tiny airport of Turku was "nothing could make me get on another plane". I had left my house in Pine Grove, California at 3:45am on the 1st of January to catch my first flight out of Sacramento International Airport at 8:00am. The flight out of Sacramento was my first of four, I was to transfer planes at Dallas, Washington, than from there to Brussels, Belgium, from Brussels to Copenhagen, Denmark, than finally from Copenhagen to the city of Turku arriving around 2:00pm on the 2nd of January. All in all it was about an 21 hour flight including layovers. When I arrived at Turku I was meant by my student tutor, Pirta, who through a program at the University volunteers to show exchange students around and help with practical matters. After a 20 minute bus ride we arrived at my apartment building in the part of the city called Harittu.  It was asked that all exchange students arrive by the 2nd of January so we could attend a orientation meeting on the morning of January 3rd. 

The orientation meeting lasted from 9am-330pm and it different departments went over basic things like where to find class schedules, how to enroll in classes, joining the student union of Turku (TYY), and much more. Unlike the U.S. system where class registration happens weeks before classes start and registering online is a necessity, at the University of Turku registration for classes is not compulsory. One can simply show up to the first lecture and if there is room you will be added to class; However classes that are in high demand do usually require registration online but not all of them.

The most exciting group for me and other exchange students that presented information at orientation was the Erasmus Student Network. On the ESN website the description of ESN says the "Erasmus Student Network (ESN) is one of the biggest interdisciplinary student associations in Europe, founded in 1989 for supporting and developing student exchange.We are present in 397 Higher Education Institutions from 36 countries". The network is constantly developing and expanding and it is an amazing way to meet people that are from all across the world. During the ESN presentation I saw all the amazing things they had organized for students to do, everything from organized costume parties to a ski trip to Finland's biggest resort.

Between the Student Union and ESN there was a party or some event almost every other day so students could meet each other and start to circles of friends. I could tell the next couple weeks were going to be amazing because most lectures didn't start until the 15th and there were so many exciting things planned.

For this post I decided to add two pictures, The top is from the airplane ride from Brussels where it was raining. The second is of a cathedral in the city of Turku, but it is not the Turku Cathedral which is much bigger.

The Introduction

My name is Jeff Elsman and I have created this blog to encapsulate my weekly adventures in Turku, Finland during the spring 2014 semester. I am an exchange student who has been granted the opportunity to study at the University of Turku in Finland. This is my last semester of college before earning my bachelors degree in political Science. While I complete my studies in Turku I plan on meeting as many people as I can, from as many places all while have the most fun as possible. As I have said before this is my adventure in Turku and I hope you enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy living and recording it everyday!

The best photo I could think of to start my blog is my final decent from the top of Founders Hall after turning in my last final paper at the Humboldt State campus, Thus starting this amazing adventure!