Final Words on Turkey and Some Thoughts on Academic Life in Finland

I’ve now been back in Finland for over a month after my exchange period at Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey, and have gotten some perspective on my time there, as well as to my future here in Finland.

First, I promised in my last Turkey Diaries post that I’d tell my final grade for the course Culture and the Environment. Well, I’m happy to report that I received the highest possible grade, A1, for my studies there.

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Credit from the oldie but goldie British comedy The Fast Show: http://phillbarron.wordpress.com

With over a month gone, my experience in Turkey stands out as the brightest time of my studies in a long while. At Hacettepe I was part of an inspired group of people working on issues dealing with culture, literature, and the environment. The university is a so called state university in Turkey, meaning that they are funded by the state. In Turkey, the state has so far seen it worthwhile to support this kind of research and teaching. In Turkey.

Back in Finland, my own University of Vaasa decided last summer to take cue from our current, hostile-to-education government and quit being a real university and instead kick out all of their humanities students, staff, and scholars and transfer us to the University of Jyväskylä to make room for more business and engineering students.

I was also forbidden by the university to use any of their infrastructure, meaning computers, workspaces, printing, etc. for research purposes. This was done because I refused to pay 1600 € for the privilege. Now, I know that I could unofficially get around this, as some friendly souls have let me know but, frankly, I don’t see the point anymore. Just seeing the place these days makes me sad and pissed off of all the waste, and I’d rather just work from home. Working from home without the benefit of an academic work community and all the support from my peers, colleagues, and supervisors is, after all, something that I’ll have to get used to. Since it looks like I’ll be transferring to the University of Jyväskylä on 1 August 2017, I won’t probably anyway have any real, face to face contact with other university people anymore. Since my family is not moving to Jyväskylä, my own move there will most likely just be “on paper” and I’ll just be working from my home couch.

The staff and PhD students of the University of Vaasa went for a two-day visit to Jyväskylä a couple of weeks ago. Apart from the Soviet-era bus that we went there with and which announced the arrival of us Vaasa folks by crashing into a parked car when entering the parking lot, the actual people in Jyväskylä seemed nice enough and the campus area was surprisingly pleasant. But, that seems somewhat irrelevant at the moment since I really don’t see myself spending any time there anyway.

So, to sum things up: they could be better. Before the news of the move to Jyväskylä I was part of a vibrant community of people here in Vaasa, I felt like I was appreciated by not just people in my own unit but also by the university at large, I learned new stuff on a daily basis, I enjoyed talking shop with people in the coffee room and whenever I had any issues with my work I could just walk down the aisle and consult my supervisor. In short, my plan of making myself a new career in academia seemed to be going well. Now, I’m a guy sitting home in my pajamas writing on my laptop, and my career plans are, to put it mildly, vague.

Well, c’est la vie and all that. I guess I’ll just have to carpe diem now and just get on with my work, think positively, etc. I’m sure things will be fine. It’s my birthday tomorrow and I’ve been promised a delicious vegan pizza for dinner and a few drams of Vat 69* for dessert, so things could be worse I suppose. Holy shit I also just noticed that Top Gun is on TV right now! On we go, Highway to the Danger Zone…

*Yeah I do like the fancy stuff also but, like Lewis Nixon in Band of Brothers, I do also appreciate a good price to quality ratio. Especially now with the future looking so unsettled.

Featured image of the University of Jyväskylä (not visible in mobile theme) credit: university positions.eu

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