There’s something slightly magical about autumn. The crispness of air, blushing of trees and the falling leaves always remind me of the beginning of the school year – my absolute favourite time of the year – when everything was new and full of anticipation. I absolutely loved the smell of new school books, buying new pencils and other school stuff. At the university I am always a little jealous for the first year students, since they have all the wonderful things just ahead of them. My time in Jyväskylä University was the best years I have had and it also determined so many of my future relationships.
1st of January doesn’t really have this “new beginnings” sensation for me, but it is 1st of September, the official end of summer – although the past few years the summer in Finland has left us waiting and it lingers on longer than the calendar actually says.
It is also autumn, that usually brings new beginnings at work. At university the school year is still the same (might explain my career choice), and this year autumn also brought me into a new country. I was invited as a visiting research scholar to the University of Stockholm already some time ago, but my graduation and funding resources were delaying my visit in Existential Research programme. I will be traveling back and forth in two or three week periods until January 2016, which allows me to keep my teaching and lecturing commitments both back home as well as benefit from the visit in Sweden.
Day after tomorrow it will be the final day of my first visit here and so far I have been enjoying myself like a terrier with a new tennis ball. Coming from Finland to Stockholm does not cause a big culture shock, since the language is already quite familiar, the city is more than just familiar and the Swedish culture altogether is so welcoming. I also had the pleasure of staying with a lovely family with pets, which has helped immensely missing my two pups who – despite our efforts – do not seem to understand my voice via Skype.
I am extremely happy for this opportunity to be “abroad” but not weeks or months in a row, since it is difficult to be away from your family and home, despite how much the visit is benefiting your research (career). Many big funding associations in Finland are encouraging (and partly forcing) researchers to add long-term international visits in research plans, which in some cases might be very good, but the associations do not seem to understand that some of us have families and spouses who are forced to stay home. For some being away from your loved ones might not be difficult, but for me it is very unconfortable and in a long term it also directly affects my work. This practice just is something that never seizes to amaze me.
Nevertheless, I am really looking forward the following months, since this arrangement is just absolutely perfect. I have the pleasure of working with talented and amazing people, which have the same research interest that I have, and it is a great opportunity to engage ideas about digital death, mourning rituals, hate and all that “happy stuff”. The past two weeks I have also taught a master’s class about internet ethnography and teaching is just what I would love to do more. The moment when the face of your student lights up, when they realise something and they go “aHA! Now I get it!”, that is what motivates to me to teach.