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Monday, August 15, 2011

First Day at the Collegium

Well, today I gritted my teeth, told myself that Ted and I were as well settled as we could be at this stage, and took myself to the Collegium.  It was a good idea for lots of reasons, not least of which was that it's been gray and lightly rainy all day (think San Francisco with fog).  Horrible day just to sit in the apartment and work.  So I shut Ted in the apartment, dug out my umbrella, and headed for the tram.
Helsinki has this killer public transportation system, but I got especially lucky because I can take the tram instead of the bus (I don't get motion sick on the tram).  Here's a route map for the trams; I'm near the big lake, and the Collegium is where a bunch of the tram lines converge down and to the right of the late.

In fact, the tram by the Towers is 3T, which is the one all the guide books tell people get on if they want a cheap tour of Helsinki's main sights.  Here's the ole 3T in all its glory.

I already feel like quite the veteran given that people from all over are hopping off the tram and looking completely lost almost anytime of day.  It's those little power-trips that make me feel more at home! :-)
In any case, once in downtown I headed the whole three blocks from the stop to the Collegium.  Although these pictures make it look quite barren, it's actually full of shops and restaurants until you get to the last block.  It makes sense, because this road runs parallel to one of the main shopping streets in Helsinki.

The funny part was, as I was walking, when I hit the building at the corner right next to the Collegium, I knew I'd made it to the university quarter (Universities on the European continent rarely have "campuses" like American ones do that are free from traffic.  More often than not, the university is a series of buildings in town.).  I mean, 60s-style cement, multicolored flags, and (unfortunately invisible here) rather institutional looking food services ... it HAS to be a university!

And just to the right past this previous building was the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (Fabianinkatu 24, Helsinki, for all of you who like to play with Google maps).  What can I say?  After all these years, I have good radar for university institutional architecture.  (although I wouldn't class the Collegium this way; it's very 1930s from the outside.)

Brief aside here: is it evil for me to admit that I remember things through the weirdest word associations?  Most of the time, too, they make me giggle.  For example, whenever I think of the Collegium's address (Fabianinkatu), the 50s singer comes to mind; the Finnish word "ravintola," which means restaurant, sticks because I think of ravioli.
Back to more "official" musings! :-)  I took the old style elevator to the Collegium's main offices --old style = metal grates for doors--and the staff who were there today were very friendly and helpful.  The office manager, Kaisa, gave me a tour of the facilities on multi-levels and walked me down the road to the office where I got my key (which was kept in a safe, something Kaisa seemed to think was hysterical--she's got a point!).  Everyone was so nice, but I'm sure that I've already forgotten half of what they told me.  They also made a big point of asking me when I was going to bring Ted; I found out later that they'd surveyed the incoming fellows to find out if anyone was allergic (no one is) so that I could bring him! :-)  Clearly, after that kind of reception, Ted is going to have to make some appearance in the Collegium.
That'll probably not be a big deal either because the office is huge and away from the main traffic pattern.

This picture really doesn't do it justice either; it's as big as the biggest offices at USC, and I love the huge windows.  Even on a gray day it looks bright.  Once I unpacked the boxes of books balanced on the desk, I at least had something on the shelves, but I'm clearly not going to make a dent in them.  It turns out, too, that the computer was already set up, and the tech support guy (Aarno) came in asap and got me authorized to access all the university websites, etc.
This whirlwind ended at 11:30. :-)  After that time, the staff left me alone so that I could "work on whatever schedule suited me."  :-)  :-) 
I could get used to being so special. :-) :-) :-)
Oh, almost forgot.  My excuse for typos this year is the keyboard that comes with my office computer.  See if you can figure out the difference.

1 comment:

  1. I'm getting a bit homesick seeing the familiar streets in your photos.. I'm glad everything's working out fine there! Enjoy!