Monday, May 7, 2007

Hello from Hyytiala!

(Note: I'm trying to copy and paste into a Finnish version of, which is tricky. Apologies if this makes no sense, or if the photos don't come out!!)

So I arrived in Finland late last night. I was pleased to see my hotel room full of Ikea furniture. I was less excited to see that all the buildings looked like Ikea stores (i.e., large blocks). However, after a two-three hour drive north, we ended up in Hyytiala (pron. hoot-ee-ala), the field site where I'll be staying this week.

This lady in the photo was located in the breakfast room of my hotel - she held a sign directing us where to leave our dishes...

The drive up was fascinating. I learned all sorts of things about Finland. There are thousands of moose, and hundreds of wolves - so many, that they're trying to cull both populations. Climate change is noticeable over the last five years - longer growing seasons, and they can see the movement of the tree line, and oaks now populating the southern forests.

On a historical note, I learned that Finland was actually part of Sweden for hundreds of years, before being taken over by Russia for a century. It finally gained independence in 1917 during the Russian Revolution. As Finland didn't have a monarch, but was modelling it's government after Sweden, they actually nominated a German prince to be their King. Due to various political events, the prince never turned up to claim his crown.

The course has been good today - learned lots about soils and isotopes. My fellow students are generally pretty interesting. There are people from everywhere from Bulgaria to the U.S. Though my favourite comment today was from an american: the ukraine? what, is that, like, some part of russia? - when i explained it was former Soviet Union, and now its own country (and even reminded him of the poisoning during the election a few years ago), the response was: really? nope, never heard of it. I managed to bite my tongue, but the other people in the group seemed as amused as I was.

Finally, my first Finnish word is kitos - which means thank you....

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