July 08, 2005

Watermelon and Feta Cheese, yummy!

I've had panicky phone calls and worried e-mail regarding my entry about Berlin-Wedding-ghetto.
Don't worry people, I'm still alive. As long as I keep updating my blog you know that I haven't been attacked.

Besides, I do consider myself lucky for being in Berlin now. I can't believe what happened in London yesterday and feel sorry for the innocent victims of the terrorist attack. What does al-Qaeda gain by doing that? Sick.

Tuesday 05.07.2005

Yesterday I got a chance to try this obscure combination which is apparently also a popular Jordanian national dish. It tastes actually better than sounds. I found myself in this very bizarre situation:
I sat on a sofa next to a Jordanian student who was wearing a Suomi-Finland T-shirt. I was eating watermelon with feta cheese, watching an overdramatic non-subtitled Arabian soap opera from the 80’s and wondering if the burning coal on the table was a great idea in terms of fire safety. Window decorations (or similar, not entirely sure about their function) were original: windows were covered with kitchen foil. Beautiful.

Berlin is full of interesting characters. Last Saturday me, Erika, Laura and Annika went to explore Berlin night life and bumped into a guy asking for a cigarette. He promised he and his friends would sing to us in return. Cheerful singing for the tiny expense of one cigarette sounded good so they started singing “Ich bin ein echtes Countryboy…” that was absolutely hilarious and they were really great! They actually perform as well and we were invited to a concert. I need to ask Laura if I can get hold of the video she shot that night because it possibly can’t be described how funny they were!

Other than random situations like this, my days are filled with work. My work experience is really demanding and just today I spent 10 and half hours in the lab. It’s exhausting but also fun because of our team. I work mainly with Carlos, the PhD student from Cuba who is really crazy. Carlos calls me constantly Barbara and sings this Cuban song “Oh, Barbara…”. Also apparently I’m also “Seine Grosse” and today I was also called Sandra. In return I call him Kalle, the Finnish version of his name and I have a repertoire of Finnish songs I sing to him and to the reagent tubes. Realistically, apart from this audience no one else could probably put up with my performance. Also I have discovered that it is possible to speak German, Spanish, English and Finnish in the same sentence and it still makes sense!
Yesterday I thought he is going to explode of anger as I made so many mistakes and didn’t have a clue what was going on. He even stopped singing the “Oh, Barbara” – song and that’s a really concerning sign!
Uli is a German girl who also does an internship in the lab. She was very creative today when trying to build some equipment and made a tripod-looking supportive element by bending metallic paper clips. In my opinion it looked like a halo, and I tried to explain this association in German. Tired as I was and my German is what it is, I called the little thing The Angel Circle. When the others looked a bit confused I called it a Holy Sign instead. At this point they concluded that I must have inhaled too many evaporative chemicals.
Even if the lab work in this mad team is fun, I have also learned something. I can now do protein SDS-electrophoresis by myself from scratch. I should be able to do Western Blot as well which is good for recognizing different proteins according to antibody specificity. And today we did protein isolation and purification.

Wednesday 6.7.05

Launderette is the ultimate place for socializing! Everyone who lived in Claycroft this year knows how obsessed I am with launderettes.
I had survived 13 days without doing laundry so I was dying to wash my clothes. Interestingly I had to buy a washing card + credit in our Bierkeller. Does it maybe tell something about the German culture that all the activities are focused around the Bierkeller…?
Eventually managed to find the launderette and even got some laundry done. Whilst waiting for the cycle to run I was chatting to an Italian student and met an Indian student. Can you believe the Italian guy used hand soap instead of washing powder? I learned there’s more to Milan than just fashion (apparently a beautiful city, high buildings and the roads located in the middle of the tiny gaps between the buildings) and that in Delhi there are 12 million people and no-one knows how many holy cows.

I love the internationality of the place. In my floor there is a group of Greeks, Italians, a few Chinese students, a Mongolian, a Russian, 2 from Cameroon, a Swiss and a Britton.
I just enjoyed Cameroonian dinner tonight when Christopher made me some gorgeous chicken-peanut sauce. It reminded a little bit of the Chinese Satay-sauce. I must get the recipe!
It was funny at work experience today as I spotted the BBC news about how unbearable Finnish food is. Apparently Jacques Chirac, Vladimir Putin, Gerhard Schröder and a Finnish euro-representative had enjoyed some Finnish delicacies. Or in fact our friend Jacques hadn’t enjoyed the dishes but slated the Finnish food culture and this caused a massive uproar in the self-conscious Finland. The article was written in such a funny way that I couldn’t stop laughing. I sounded like we were living on a different planet or at least in the Stone Age. Of course Finnish people live out in the sticks in a place called Pöpelikkö, surrounded by bears and lakes and eat nothing but fish, reindeer and elk meet and pick fresh mushrooms and berries from the forest every day. That’s how it goes!
Having read the article I should be even more motivated to learn the Cameroonian recipe but honestly there’s also some really great food in Finland. You can’t beat muurinpohjalettu, a pan cake made on open fire and eaten with cream and berries (fresh, picked from the forest every day!) And Karelian stew with potato mash is also really good!

I met some Christian people today as they came to our floor to discuss faith and religious issues. One of the girls, Sharon is moving to Warwick in a month and doing a Christian mission also in England and is going to be involved in the Warwick Christian Union! It’s a small world: Sharon is from Northern Ireland, we met now in Berlin and I’ll see her later this year at Warwick!

Also at the same table sat Nick, the British student, Afrodite from Greece and Christopher. Nick doesn’t know German and Christopher and Afrodite don’t speak much English. So I would interpret most of the things from English to German or vice versa. It’s so cool being able to speak different languages! My German vocabulary is not as good as my English one but I compensate this by speaking at least as much as I do in other languages. Considering the fact that I never shut up anyway you can imagine how much the others get to talk…

In theory I learned to count to hundred in Spanish today – I and Carlos got bored during some incubations. In practice, I’ve forgotten all about it now. Finnish numbers are so hard to remember that Carlos didn’t learn them despite our efforts. Also I learned quite a few lines from the “Oh, Barbara”-song, don’t have a slightest idea what I’m singing though.

I was buzzing around Berlin by U-Bahn for 2 hours trying to find a cheap and quick place to get my photos developed. For my disappointment no place would do the photos today so I decided I might as well wait 2 days to get them done and pay a really low rate for them. So on Friday I’ll finally get my pics from Salzburg, Munich and Berlin.

- 4 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Verneri

    Moikka! Tässä Ritvan kanssa lueskeltiin sun kertomuksia, millonkohan laitat niitä uusia kuvia tänne? Aika hauskaa kun kukaan ei varmaan ymmärrä kun kirjotetaan Suomeks tänne :D Heh. Palasin eilen palaneena ja väsyneenä Ruisrockista, kivaa kuitenkin oli. Harmi vaan kun piti olla kuski ees sun taas. Eipäs sullakaan tylsää tunnu olevan! Terkkuja paljon kaikilta!!!

    11 Jul 2005, 15:33

  2. Wow! Laura, I love reading your blog! It's so funny and really really interesting. I'm impressed by how much you're learning too; not just in Biology, but history, language, religion, foreign food…

    I'll re-teach you how to count in Spanish! Yay! And you can try and teach me some useful Finnish!

    11 Jul 2005, 17:46

  3. Hi Laura!

    Just to let you know my flight details. I will be arriving in Helsinki airport on the 12th August, and time after 8pm. My flight from Amsterdam leaves at 7.10pm, and I'm not sure how long it takes, but I think it should be an hour or two. Are you planning on meeting me at the airport?

    As for coming back, my flight leaves Helsinki airport at 06.20am, and I have to be there at least two hours early to check in. Sorry to be getting you up so early but it was the cheapest one I could find!

    Please email/text/call me so I know you've recieved this message. I'm getting all panicky that maybe you're lost somewhere in Berlin still and that I'm going to arrive in Helsinki and noone will be there!

    Julia x

    09 Aug 2005, 10:54

  4. Melody-Jane

    Finnish food is delicious! I actually found this journal entry by trying desperately to find in online shop that imports Finnish food to the UK.

    My lakka liquor is running low and my jams will only make me a couple of large jam tarts each. I have no way to buy rye flour and make recipes and I’ve never even tried Finnish style mustard. Then there’s Oltermanni cheese…

    16 Aug 2006, 18:50

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