12 September 2015

Back to Uni Ups and Downs

The first few weeks of school and uni are always an exciting - an quite stressful - time, aren't they? Lessons get loved moved from classroom to classroom and you keep running around like a headless chicken. More so if you are a freshman and have no clue about the campus layout. I feel for you, I really do. Even though I'm not a freshman, I felt like this autumn is a whole new beginning and a fresh start. It's been really stressful and chaotic at work for a couple of weeks now, which has made me even more excited to get back to school. I have pressed the refresh-button during the summer, and now I'm ready to take on a new academic year.

This is my fifth year at the uni. The fifth is supposed to be the year when you wrap up your studies and write your master's thesis. I'm not starting my thesis this year, however, mainly because I don't know what I want to write the bloody thing about, but also because there are many courses I still want and need to take before leaving. I'm pretty happy with how this year started. There were some ups and downs, but all in all, it was a good week.

As you might know, I am a translation and multilingual communication major. Some of the courses I need to take are compulsory for my major. Instead of actual translating, I'm currently taking a few courses on proofreading and editing. Editing interests me more than actual translating at the moment. Editing courses are interesting and I feel very much at home there. This fall I have one course in English, one in Finnish, and both of them are challenging, of course, but I know what I'm doing and I'm learning a lot. It was great to go back to editing after taking a break during the summer.
I like to edit because it makes me feel like I'm helping the person whose paper I'm reading. I'm giving them my suggestions and tips on how to become a better writer (not that I'm an expert, at least not yet). I like the nitpickiness and preciseness of the work. And I love working alone at my own pace. The detail-orientedness (is that even a word?) feels right, somehow.

Most of the courses I want to take during this year are optional studies, however. For me that means information sciences. I'm attempting to study 60 credits worth of the stuff, which would make me a qualified librarian (it's always good to have a back-up plan, guys!). That's a lot. Like, 12 courses. I started two of them this week, and boy was it hard! I'm like a fish out of water when it comes to information science courses. Sometimes I feel like the teachers assume that we students know more than we do (or at least more than I do).

Information science teachers really love to make us work in groups, which is why I decided to drop out of one of the courses I started (gosh, that makes me sound like an idiot, doesn't it?). One course includes team work, which is cool, but the other is entirely team work. No lectures, no meetings, no seminars. Just working in your group of 6. I decided to say no to that course, it just isn't for me.

I do understand the charm of learning together and working together; working in customer service, I do a lot of team work and working with different types of people on a daily basis. It can be really rewarding and really exhausting at the same time. I am usually beat after a day of working, which is why I like my studies to be me-time, if you know what I mean? When I study independently, I don't have to explain or negotiate or have long conversations with other students that I don't know. Group work is sometimes just as exhausting as customer service, because you are trying to please everyone.

Besides, in my experience group assignments just never works like the teachers think it does. Out of six people there usually are 2-3 who actually do things, the rest just hang around, stare at a desk and nod from time to time without taking any responsibility. Maybe it has something to do with being a Finn? I dunno...

Furthermore, I dislike the idea of being evaluated on the group assignment only. How can a teacher give you a grade based on the end result only? They only see what they are given. They don't see who did what and how, and that bugs me. I'd rather work on my own and do my own work and take the grade I'm given for that. Or, if there is group work on a course, I wish the teachers would at least make each student write a report on the project and what we did, why we did it, and how we did it. That way they would have the bigger picture on how each student actually performed.

I've changed my attitude about studying (and life) a bit. I'm going with the flow and keeping it real. It'll all work out in the end. So, I dropped out of the course that was all group work? It's okay, I can take others to compensate. I'm really motivated to be a qualified librarian and to start my masters a year from now, so I'll find a way to make it happen, one way or the other.

Whoops, this became a rambly post all of a sudden. Sorry about that! Basically, it was a hectic week and I'm keeping my head up and looking forward to the rest of the year. :)

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5 September 2015

Billy Elliot at the Helsinki City Theatre

The first time I saw Billy Elliot was in the movies with my mother. Our local movie theater had a dance movie week, and my mother took me to see Save the Last Dance and Billy Elliot. I was probably about nine years old at the time, and it was a pretty big deal to go to the movie together with her and without my siblings. So, when I heard that Helsinki City Theatre was going to have Billy Elliot in their repertoire this year, I was super-excited.

This time it wasn't just me and my mother, though. We gave a ticket for my grandmother for her 80th birthday, and my aunt, cousin and sister also came with us to see the musical. It was nice to have almost all of the women in our family together for once (apart from my other aunt, who was out of the country).

The show itself was a-ma-zing. There are a lot of kids in the cast, and they were all really talented and invested in what they were doing. You could see they enjoyed being on stage and performing to an audience. They aren't professionals or child wonders who have taken acting, singing and dancing classes since the age of two, but in my opinion that's what made Billy Elliot even more appealing: it was more believable, in a way.

This version of Billy Elliot was funnier than I had anticipated. When it comes to comedy, Billy's gran and Michael (Billy's best friend) were the highlights of the show. Michael is a young, flamboyant, gay kid living in Northern England in the 1980s (not the easiest character for a tween to take on!). Michael seems to be so fine with who he is that you can only admire him. Such a good role model for everyone of us, I should think. When it comes to Billy's gran, I believe my grandmother especially enjoyed her wittiness and could relate to some of her opinions, too. 

I highly recommend you go see Billy Elliot for yourself! Oh, and if you do decide to get tickets, remember that the actual Helsinki City Theatre building is being renovated this year, so you'll need to head to Peacock Theatre in Linnanmäki amusement park.

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