‘Sorry, I don’t understand’ (that’s what the post title means, and is pronounced: uhn-tayk-si en ewm-mar-ra). Story of my life. My “incomprehensible curse” continues in Finland – this is the phenomenon where I will be saying the right words, and yet I’m still incomprehensible to the person I’m attempting to communicate with. It should be noted that this curse extends even to my mother tongue, so even when I’m speaking English to people, I cannot be understood. Really?!? I was hoping that this would be the ONE country I’ve visited/lived where I could escape my accursed lack of communication prowess, but alas, blank stares and scrunched/confused faces are my bread and butter. Sigh.
In lighter news, I’m living in Finland! I did very little sleeping on the planes over here, which meant (perversely), that I had very little jet-lag, as I passed out upon arrival at my hotel, and only woke up 13 hours later. My internal clock was thusly reset. Praise be.
Tonight I’m writing from Kilpisjärvi, where I’m visiting the University of Helsinki’s Biological Field Station to check on possible field sites for my study this year. So today I climbed a fell (what they call a mountain), because I heard tell there were wetlands there. Unfortunately, all the wetlands were super shallow (bedrock was only about 2 inches below the surface), but it did afford these gorgeous views from the summit! Below is Saana fell, which just so happens to be the highest point in Finland! You can also see the little town of Kilpisjärvi at the base of the fell along the lake.
The other direction – Norway and Sweden! Those snow-capped mountains are Norway, and Sweden is to the left of there. This is the point where all 3 countries meet!
And here’s the cottage I’m staying in at the field station. Funny thing: all the buildings here have these ladders up to, and then extending onto the roofs. I was going to ask someone why soon, because this seems to be a common feature. Something to do with snow? For watching the northern lights? Where you send the children when they’re whining?
The field station’s mascots are Arctic lemmings, which are more characteristically colored than the Alaskan ones I’m used to. I am planning on asking for an explanation of the kiss/hugging/fighting nature of the mascots’ pose, shown in the pattern on the curtains in the main room of my cabin…
Tomorrow I travel back down to Rovaniemi, and then on to the Kevo Field Station (near Utsjoki) for the next few days after that. And then to Helsinki for 3 days for the Fulbright orientation. I feel a little travel-tired just thinking about it, but other than the nagging fear of missing my bus connections and exit points, the bus rides through the Finnish countryside have been idyllic.
I’ll leave with a picture of a reindeer in the middle of the road – I had to stop my car at least 4 times in 20km because these guys were hanging out. I got my own back, though, because I definitely ate a giant plate of reindeer stew on mashed potatoes for dinner! Muwahahaha!