Helsinki ice and sunset

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I walk alone to this Helsinki beach to look at the sea, listen to some Depeche Mode, and think about my research, which is exactly what I used to do when going to this beach in 2005.


Helsinki stairs


Have a cup of coffee at the touristic center of Helsinki, the Senate square.

What a perfect antistatement to my solidary scholar work to see tourists wandering around and to enjoy this part of Helsinki; in a company of sorts albeit I am certainly  sitting alone.

Right now for my life plans, for the kinds of people I’d like to meet, or for where I would simply want to spend my days, I can see not many other doable options than travelling.

The good thing of it is that being a scholar, there is at least some chance of combining travel and work.

And if my lively contacts with international researchers and great experiences from conferences abroad are anything of a measure, this is going to be a very good period indeed. 🙂

Biking in Helsinki

Starting this week, I’m on a half holiday, half work, some other part (?) start doing those projects you have promised to do and should be doing again. In a couple of days we are off to Moscow which I can’t wait. However, Monday before I pick up the visa is just sightseeing with a bike.

It is curious, having lived here for 15 years, that you can find new places here by just driving. This can be as fun as traveling abroad albeit you have to pick a new route every time to keep it interesting. The route this time is from our home in Ullanlinna to Itäkeskus, then the vast green parks, beaches and a golf course of Vuosaari…





(The nets are for catching the golf balls.)

…and then to Mellunmäki where I note the back tire is broken.  I find a bike shop near the metro station and the repairer changes the tire as I wait on a steel bench outside the metro station and watch the people that pass by. The tire is great but as I peddle the chain comes loose. I place it back, as always. Now I note that the bike has started to make a rattling sound. Back to the bike shop where the same man fixes it for a good while, does not ask for extra charge, and says I should have it checked properly some time. Next a flea market in Mellunmäki, another in Kontula, and finally do some shopping in a bargain shop in the same place: this is a SCART switcher to connect the many game consoles to one in the same port in the TV, plus a cordless mouse for the laptop, a “Nano Receiver” (which I am happy to find out works in Ubuntu right away).

Take the bike with the metro and am just on time in the travel agency to get the visa and the train ticket to Moscow.

The carousel


I frequent Cafe Karuselli in Helsinki to write, like a lot of people. It is on a beautiful location and certainly has good spots to do writing. Having said that, it does occasionally get difficult to concentrate. Most naturally people generally do other things than write, like talk… Last week, when the above photo was taken, I went to the place to read other people’s papers. This worked great, it is different to comment other papers rather than revise yours.

However, no cafe working for now because I am sparing money for two hauls abroad, one to Moscow and the other to Berlin. Add with the gym cost, the student loan return… plus due to conference traveling, I am now waiting for several hundred euros that I paid myself and will be reimbursed. Certainly it is not always cheap to be a scholar… 😉

A gym

I bought a membership to a gym recently. It seems like a nice concept. That is: you pay, they tell what to do with the equipment. Now the instructor has made me a program which requires: a) minimum 2 times a week one hour work out, b) 2 times a week stretching at home which lasts literally over an hour.

In practice, I try to go to the gym which near where I live every other day. I really can’t bother to stretch the same day even if it was useful… so I guess I make that the days I don’t go the gym. I think that’s pretty impressive: if I follow this program through, I will do about one hour of some sport every single day. That is more than I have done my entire life.

No irony intended at all… I think this is a great way to spend your time for someone who spends too much of it finding new “interesting” ideas for his dissertation 🙂 And, we’ll see how long my interest lasts and when it vanes, but at the moment this also feels more structured than swimming (and at least the single exercise takes much less time, I calculated that my swimming at a remote location, 2100 m at a time was starting to take more than three hours per exercise including the trips), and less repetitive than running.



Well, over the recent six month, I have really not written here. I am not sure why. However, I am trying a reboot it now. The reason for this was quite clear somehow. Namely, it is summer and I noted I want to write now, arguably the best time of the year. Secondly, my dissertation is turning into its finishing steps (which means… about 4-6 weeks of proofreading, a small empirical analysis on a new interview, the pre-examination, the comments, the corrections… :)). Nonetheless, this is such a major relief, and now I may have more time and maybe more confidence to write. We shall see.

Recently, I’ve continued the search for the ideal writing spot. Suffice to say: none is ideal and all have their strong points. Cafe writing helps you going somewhere rather than staying at home. The sitting costs you no more than a cup rather than a rent. But you can never sit long in one cafe, or at least I don’t have the nerve. Sometimes though quite infrequently it is hard to concentrate.

With this in mind, library is the more peaceful place for sure. And you are anonymous which is somehow compelling — a library in a large university means no-one will know who you are (at least if you choose a location that is remote from your courses etc). But at 15 years since I first started studying, I also feel a little bit old for a library. Maybe the library also got old for me?

Staying at home the whole day is taxing. I am not sure why, might have something to do with a basic need of some social interaction. I’ve noted that even going for a run, and seeing a couple of people, although never talking to them, is better than being inside.

Hence, no best solution emerges. However, I thought I could still write about writing in Helsinki.

This afternoon, I went to the cafe in the bottom floor of Kiseleffin talo (“The House of Kiseleff”). The above picture is from there. I don’t think I’ve been to the building after it was renovated some years ago, probably seen it only once before. A very peaceful place and not that many customers which is ideal for taking a laptop. A five euros pot of tea and I got a lot done (and erased afterwards… which makes me think that maybe cafes are better for copy editing then writing :)). The building is directly in the center, and looks great with sunlight descending from the roof windows. The people who frequent seem to include tourists, bus drivers, guides, clerks from touristic shops, and so forth. A great diversity of interesting people which motivated me to sit and write.

In the weeks that follow, I will try to keep up these markings, not least because I don’t  have the nerve to sit in the same cafe every day!

Also coming up… Starting from 4 June or so I want to write an article, and plan to keep an article diary here.  I have never marked what it requires to try to write an article. Given the great number of academic practices that go undocumented, it might make sense to take notes.


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