Arriving in Joensuu
Exactly seven days ago I was frantically preparing my thesis for printing, eventually finishing it at 3.30am and going to bed soon after, although I was unable to sleep. I remember sitting up meditating at 4am, my mind racing from the past week’s work to the coming week’s preparation for Finland. That week actually turned out to be at least as hectic as when finishing my thesis, because I spent the time rushing between Norfolk and Warwick three times, visiting friends and family, attending a workshop and packing my thermal underwear. Eventually, yesterday, I left for Finland, arriving in Tampere late last night. Coming in to land, an announcement was made over the radio: “This is your captain speaking. We will shortly be arriving in Tampere, ahead of schedule. The local time is 8.50pm. The outside air temperature is minus one degrees, and the conditions look… urm… snowy!” Not only was RyanAir on time (Vic: you should come to Finland instead of Newquay!), but I was welcomed by snow. Even the Finns on the plane – of which there were a majority – were excited and surprised by this announcement, as was I.
I soon found my way to the hotel, moving quickly through the streets to keep warm. I went for a short walk around the town but I was tired and returned to bed. It must have been my first good sleep for weeks – a good nine hours – and I needed it. By the time I dragged myself up and out of the hotel, it was almost time to catch the train to Joensuu, a journey that would take 5 hours and the remainder of the day’s daylight hours. I must have still been feeling a little weary as I decided to grab some breakfast at an internationally-known fast-food restaurant (I am too embarrassed to mention its name). When I got on the train I was relieved that I was on my way to my final destination, and so I slept again. I think I must have been abusing my body quite badly during the last couple of weeks for it to want to sleep that much. As I got closer to Joensuu and became more conscious, although disappointed at the lack of snow in the east, I was feeling more relaxed than I have been for weeks. Arriving at Joensuu I was met by Ilkka and Sari who kindly took me to my place to drop my bags and then, more importantly, to eat!
We dined at a small pizzeria next to the university. My pizza had so many vegetables that I think I have had enough vitamins to make up for the junk food earlier. Next stop was the supermarket where I quickly found some essentials: milk and Twinings English Breakfast tea. Ilkka and Sari found this most amusing. I do hope this tea is the real thing – I cannot stand that weak excuse for tea made for the European palette. We may not have many culinary delights back in Blighty, but we sure know how to make a good brew. After shopping we visited Erkki’s house where I met, and was welcomed into, his family. I was shown around the house, given more food, and given a room to stay in whenever I wish. It was a real warm welcome and made me feel that I definitely did the right thing coming here. Returning to my flat later in the evening I was really looking forward to all the plans we have made for the next few weeks. I just hope there is some snow! Actually, I cannot wait to get to work tomorrow morning – after my cup of English tea!