Heeeeey, I’m still there! I’ve been wanting to do this post forever, but I didn’t have enough things to say. Then my laptop got stolen. So, you, know, that was inconvenient. But now more stuff happened and I got a nice Bluetooth keyboard to go with my excellent Nexus 4 smartphone, so I think we can make this work.
So what exactly happened? Well, first of all, the first semester gave way to the second semester. I planned to write about that, but it was a pretty sad time and all in all, there wasn’t much more to say than “Everyone I know is gone, it’s a strange combination of old places and new people, I feel so weird”. Luckily I got closer to my VIS colleagues who tend to stick here, but other than that, all my closest 1st semester friends packed their things and moved, so I was really lost for some weeks.
Speaking of VIS, I was involved in the organisation of two trips this semester. The first one was a 3 days trip to Stockholm. I haven’t been to the city in six years and, needless to say, things had changed. It was an entirely different feeling and I had trouble recognizing even the most obvious landmarks. But I’m not surprised since I know that, while travelling, I tend to put the emotional and social side of the trip on the forefront and let the scenery become… well, a backdrop. By coming here for an entirely different reason with a different group and different expectations, I ended up with a completely different experience, even though I’m sure most buildings were already there when I visited in 2007.
The second trip took place in Lapland. Specifically, Finnish Lapland. Specifically, there:
I like the warning about crossing through the Aland Islands. Thar be dragons ere!
It lasted for nine days (including, and I’m not kidding, SIX days of travel), and involved crossing the arctic circle, visiting Santa Claus’
tourist trap village (complete with tax-free reindeer fur shop), sledding for hours, freezing for hours, not seeing the northern lights (but almost), and going all the way up to the arctic sea to take a bath. And by bath I of course mean “diving and then jumping the hell out of here like a cat in a bathtub”.
The landscapes were out of this world. It was also really interesting (if painful) to experience sub -20°C temperatures, and the never-ending bus travel by night was one of the most eerie moment of my life. Racing at 100 km/h toward north for hours and hours on end in the middle of nowhere, seeing hundreds of kilometers of forests, radio towers and old bus stops and wondering what the hell they were doing there, driving past an old lady pushing her bike in the dead of the night, and staring in disbelief at a gas station shop containing an entire shelf of pineapples and watermelons. There is a guy, right now, whose job entails driving every week to the arctic circle to deliver 3 watermelons to a gas station.
But that was probably the last big trip I’ll take part of, at least this semester. Next week I’m going to Warsaw, but that’s unrelated from VIS, as I go there to meet some friends from last semester. And by some friends, I mean “one friend”. Yeah, those relationships don’t age as well as you think they would. Enjoy them while they last, folks!