The diary of a student visitor to Finland – week 2

This post is a continuation of my previous blog post: the diary of a student visitor to Finland – week 1. The blog post reports my little trip to Finland to collect PhD case study data.

Saturday December 9th 2017

It has been quite a busy day today given the fact that it was supposed to be my day off. I spent the day doing two main things: (1) working and; (2) vising some tourist places in Turku. I spent the morning working on a journal article review that I had been asked to do for a leading journal in Information Science. I had ben quite worried about doing this as it was my first review but my supervisor reassured me about it and said that I should be flattered that I was asked as a PhD student. It was not a difficult task, it just took time to go through the article, look at the literature, aims, methods and results. I also managed to write some of a report for the funding body that helped me get to Finland. You may recall that I was awarded a John Campbell Trust Bursary form CILIP and a requirement is that I write a shot report about my findings. I know I cannot write the findings yet, but my report is in draft form and I now just need to add in the results and findings from my data collection.

In the afternoon, I spent some time with one of the PhD students at Abo Akadmi University (Anu) and she showed me around. We took a trip to Turku City Library first of all and Anu showed me around the old and new parts of the library. It makes you realise how many people in Turku use this facility – it was packed with people of all ages! We then took a trip to the Christmas market and saw what was on offer. There was a lot of food luxuries, handmade items and drinks and Anu was kind enough to explain to me what things were and where they originate from. It was nice to have a bit of a tour and know what is going on 🙂 We decided to end our wander around with coffee and cake in a local café but came to the conclusion that we sold both return home to o some work. Clearly the PhD guilt got to s both when we were out and we both decided getting on with some work was the best plan.

Sunday December 10th 2017

This day was more chilled. I blogged and worked on the final parts of my report and that was all the work I did. I decided that I needed a day off work as I had worked all week and the day off would do me the world of good. I decided to take a wander up the river and see the marina, taking lots of photos on the way. I also needed to pop to the supermarket so that I could get some food for tomorrow’s lunch and some other odds and ends. I also made sure that I skyped home so that I could keep in touch. Sundays are perfect days for this as I can Skype my Mam whilst she visits my grandparents so I can say hello to everyone in one. The rest of my trip will be less-relaxed so I made the most of my time to myself!

Monday December 11th 2017

Monday was a day of more data collection – three interviews in three different places at three different (spread out) times of the day. I managed to pop to the office for 30 mins half way though just to show my face, say hello to my host and back up my data, but after that I was out an about all day. I woke up this morning to snow and you can tell from my pictures that this had been a little heavy overnight. In comparison to London (which I know went into some kind of meltdown due to 2 inches of snow), Turku cope very well and have small digger type vehicles clearing roads and paths so people can get around. It was nice to get some sold fresh air in my lungs as I had not been feeling great with a bad head, but this turned into a migraine type things and I had to spend a couple of hours in my hotel later after my interviews in a pitch black room to soothe my eyes and head. I think my body must be getting used to (or sick of) the types of food, drink and way of workings of Turku and maybe my body is just not used to this way of life. I felt a lot better after some decent food in the evening but possibly the lack of hot food and lots of coffee the day before did not help my head. Either way, I felt much better later on, got on with some work and prepared for my interviews of the next day.

Tuesday December 12th 2017

Tuesday was my final full day of data collection – another three interview ticked off the list. It was good to get to visit some buildings that I had not before and meet more people who I had not met before either. My participant provided me with some valuable data and I can now start to see differences between my UK case study data and Finnish case study data as well – this makes the data collection all worth it. The snow had fallen very heavily overnight and it was about 3 inches deep outside. All of the paths and roads were covered but as with yesterday Turku coped very well. Obviously my walk to work was full of photographs as people here enjoy the snow. Many people, however, get sick of the snow as they see it year in and year out so often it’s just the tourist in me that wants me to snap every picture I can. Turku looks very picturesque in the snow but I did not dare leave the hotel on the nigh given how slippery the place would be and how likely it could be that I fall on my bott. So far, this has nearly happened a few times but I have finally got the hand of walking at a decent pace in the ice and snow.

Wednesday December 13th 2017

Today in Finland it is St Lucia’s Day. This is the day (on December 13th) every year where many people (including those in Finland) come together to celebrate Saint Lucia bringing light over darkness. You can find more about it here but celebrations took place of the evening of 13th December including a precession of a young girl (dressed in a white robe and red sash) and the precession walks from the cathedral (or church) in Turku centre and towards the market place. This day normally symbolises a day in advent and signalling the official arrival of Christmas time in Finland and also its Swedish origin. IT was good to be here today as people kept telling me about what was happening so I just had to go and explore myself.

Oher than this, it has been my final day of data collection. I have 12 good interviews and am thankful for my 12 participants. My job now will be to transcribe and analyse the interviews form this and the remainder of case study 1. I spent the remainder of the evening packing up my stuff, making extra backup copies of my data and making sure everything is organised for my trip home.

Thursday December 14th 2017

This day is dedicated to my travel home. I am expected to arrive back in Edinburgh about 11pm if my flights are all on time. I am taking the same route as I did on my trip here so it takes a while longer than I had hoped. I have decided not to blog about this trip home. It’s dull, boring and quite depressing to think my trip is over

Learnings from my trip to Finland

I have learned quite a lot from my trip to Finland. It has been wonderful to see another place in my PhD and visit a different university for two weeks. I have learned that things are done differently in Finland both in terms of the way they live and the way doctoral degrees are delivered and assessed. The food over here is also so different too – lots of herbs and spices! I have found it quite easy to get used to the types of food and the differences in cooking, but found it hard when I have just fancies something plain (oh how I have missed my beams on toast and roast dinners this trip!). I have also missed a bath as most Finnish hotels only have showers in them. This means that you can’t soak your feet after a hard day’s work and you can’t just relax. I have missed this very much and will enjoy the moment I can have a bath back in my flat in Edinburgh.

I have learned that experiences like this in a PhD study are the most valuable and I have been able to collect a good amount of data for my PhD case study. I have learned that if you don’t take chance and apply for things like finding, you will not have the opportunities to go elsewhere and visit places never seen. I have also learned that two weeks is the perfect amount of time. I have not really felt homesick, although I have missed home slightly. I have coped by Skype, FaceTime, calling and texting my family so that I can keep in touch.

Overall my trip to Finland has been a complete success and I would recommend taking this kind of opportunity if anyone ever gets the chance! I would like to finally thank Prof Gunilla Widén for hosting my trip and also Anu (one of the other PhD students) for looking after me whilst I have been here! My trip here would not have been successful without you both.

 

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