A student, living comfortably in the deep south (Minnesota, U.S.) experiences the thrills of true northern living, whilst attempting to define the syntactic category of "Subject". It's just one of the things you do for a love of agglutinativity.

lauantaina, huhtikuuta 08, 2006

Spring: Season of Light and Syntax

Well, I've heard from some of the readership that I'm being lazy, so I thought I'd at least make a brief update and advertise the existance of yet more photos, which I do actually update with some more startling sort of regularity.

Spring is coming to Finland, though as I keep hearing from some of the locals, it's horrendously late and we're experiencing unseasonably cold temperatures (for more than 40 days, so far). I guess to me this seems warm, but then perhaps my harsh Minnesotan upbringing of camping out on the hot summer nights where the temperature nearly crawls above freezing have affected this.

Implicit in the idea of spring are longer days, which I'm really loving, even though the sun has only come out once in the last two weeks. Now the sun sets around 8:20PM, and a slight glow of twilight can still be detected through the city lights an hour after that. As I mentioned though, I've really only been able to enjoy this once so far, but I expect the next time the sun reveals itself for a whole day it will be lighter for much longer.

Classes are going well, or as well as they can go. I'm taking a Syntax course again, but more or less because it's in Finnish and I'd like that perspective in my understanding of syntax for the purposes of the paper I'm working on writing. Syntax, basically put, is about word order, though it goes a lot deeper than just that. Syntax is necessary for this writing, as a result of the strangely tricky task of trying to figure out what exactly is meant when some word is described as the "subject" of a sentence. It's easy in English, and a number of European languages as a result of linguistic theory having originated within their loving embrace.

Basically, life is continuing as usual in Helsinki, and that's precisely what I want. I'm glad to know that as well-- that I can like just being somewhere even though I'm not doing something amazing all the time. For the most part, I'm doing fine here, and though I do look forward to returning, it's a mixed bag of emotions, as I'd expect it would always be when you're living on two sides of the ocean. So despite this all, I've decided on a departure date, although it might be affected by a music festival going on in July. So, I guess we'll see what happens, but, I will be home in summer for at least a couple years. ;)


  • At 8:02 ip., Anonymous osg said…

    Please answer these questions:
    What about being in Finland will you miss the most/least?

    What about returning to the US do you look forward to the most/least?

  • At 11:04 ip., Blogger Ryan said…

    It's somewhat confusing, but...

    I will miss that I can be myself without it being a huge controversy, and that I can live without needing to waste money on a car, without shooting myself in the foot. I like that I don't stand out here, aside from not speaking the language fluently, and that I can otherwise seem completely normal while riding the bus or walking around the city.

    I like how safe it feels here, and that I really don't worry much about getting mugged or worse, even when I'm in neighborhoods that feel somewhat sketchy ('cause I certainly live in one here). Also, this is kind of the neighborhood to be in for my linguistic interests.

    Going back, I look forward mostly to friends, and otherwise not feeling out place in social situations. Here I can understand about 70% of what goes on conversationally, and more in my lectures, but it's harder for me to respond. So basically, I miss being able to interact fluently without it being hugely difficult. On the other hand, having that back and friends I relate to most easily means I'll give up feeling completely safe walking around at night, and I'll have to deal with jerks who shout at me from their cars again while I'm walking around with someone.

    Of course, when I describe everything in short paragraphs it may all seem better or worse than the reality is. In truth, I don't worry all the time about getting mugged or harassed, but it's still something I really worry about much less in Finland. So it's a tossup, really. In a way I wish I could import my friends, but I don't think they'd enjoy it as much as I would, and I can't say my experiences equal those of anyone else living here for a year as a student.

  • At 8:37 ap., Anonymous osg said…

    I am fairly certain that after a year in Finland, you kick my ass in Finnish so don't worry about the fluency part. Maybe you can visit SF at some point and we can speak Finnish with a fake Texan accent. That would be most enjoyable.

  • At 11:19 ap., Blogger Ryan said…

    I can handle that. Be nice to see SF without being stuck in some sort of school band tour group thing.

    I guess what's improved about my Finnish now at least is that I hesitate less once I'm in the right language mode. On the other hand it'll be a few years still before I feel like I could claim fluency of any sort :P But then, that's my crazy linguistics freak perspective, I guess.


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