Monday, January 24, 2011


First and foremost, karjalanpiirakka (pies) are amazing!

Porridge rice wrapped in rye or wheat pastry. Light butter and cheese topping = yum.
Okay, moving on. It's been a fairly productive week. Besides being really sick. I took several days off. On Thursday I doodled a bit, made a random small oil painting for our place, and was invited to a get-together by one of the classmates. It was a quaint little party, lots of conversation. Thanks to Patrick's generous purchase of a desperately-needed hair dryer and straightener, I glammed up for the shindig.

BAMF.. not. Except for the illusion of a wave chest tattoo..?
Of course, we forgot to take any pictures or video. But there are plenty of opportunities ahead for that. We visited some bars, sang some karaoke, and called it a night.

I spoke to my professor today, and we'll be figuring out my new class tomorrow after cleaning. Today was the last day of model painting, which meant review/critique for everyone. The review consisted mainly of two professors talking about the works, rather than the students. They save that for independent works at the end of the season. My one lil' painting was received well enough, considering it was my first ever oil painting of a nude model (on MDF board, mind you).

Unfortunately, I also learned how they made their frames for canvases. They don't have the lovely little nail gun or anything like that: it's just manual hammering. Blugh. Who knew art would require so much manual labor outside of creating imagery? ;P Kidding. It's a novelty.

I will hopefully be attending the International Student Gathering in Pori for SAMK exchange students next Thursday. Should be fun. And also, good news: I found the washer! Clean clothes at last! (When Patty wakes up, anyway.) We simply have to go to the other side of the building, hah.

Oh. Pretty sure I'll be taking Snow/ice Sculpture class. :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Or "Afternoon Tea"

Yes, I've discovered the healthy(ish?) deliciousness of cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches. They go perfectly with a cup of hot British tea. (And internet surfing, of course.)

This would be heaven, except that I'm pretty sick, and have missed model painting because of it. Hopefully some medicine will float down from above... of a City Market shelf. Could use a big dose of Nyquil right now... wouldn't go well with my sandwiches, though. :P

Friday, January 14, 2011

This week in school.

To start off, I want to congratulate Tech on their decision to cancel 2 CLASS DAYS right before Monday's holiday due to snow, when I am currently in another country that would laugh at the very idea. All the best American stuff happens when I'm away. Here, the only way they'd close school is if the temperature got too low, like -45°C.

But anyway, I'm loving Finland too much to really be bothered by it. :) I like how the school is for art and only art. The students are very friendly and welcoming. It's just a short walk down the road, so I don't have to freak out over parking. And my Live Model Painting has been going well.

Like most new things I try, I wish I was just immediately amazing at it, haha. But it was still a good experience; with just one more week, I will have learned quite a bit. First off, my professor speaks very good English considering he's trying to give me artistic feedback. There have been just a few times where he needed my help finding the right word. He's been totally patient, with both praise and some suggestive feedback to help the painting.

We started off on Tuesday drawing the model. I did a few practice sketches. Then the students brought out canvases they had made; I got a big MDF board for now. Hopefully I'll make some "grounds" as they call it by next week. We painted the model throughout the rest of the week. The schedule was 9am to 11am, followed by 1 hour lunch, then 12pm to 4pm, with a coffee break at 2. (They cling to that coffee break!) The model also took frequent breaks to stretch. Needless to say, this was a very relaxed setting; if I got to class 20 minutes late, no big deal. Some took an hour or two. Here are some pictures of what I did and my little table of goodies. :) Oil paints, yay! Didn't really like MDF board, though.

We'll do this again next week through Thursday, with a different model. Afterward I'll hopefully wiggle my way into Combined Techniques, which would be even more lax. I'd get my own little space to work in, and it's basically independent. The teacher doesn't speak much English, apparently, so it will be fun to see how I get feedback from her. I also want to take Snow sculpture, which is offered before break (I think?) for two weeks. I'll try to throw in other classes in between so I can get proper credit, but these are similar year-levels to mine with relevant content, so here's to hoping.

My classmates are so friendly and have already taken to me. Their English is very good, thankfully. Patrick and I went to one of my new friends' house to play Small World, but mainly just to converse. We eventually ended up listening and playing music together. Tonight we'll be going to a house-warming party held by a fellow classmate. In between all this fun, I need to get my student card and rent situated, I suppose. :P

Monday, January 10, 2011

Day one.. and all...


Okay, so, here we are in Finland. It was a long journey, and pretty difficult with luggage falling apart, getting to our place, and finding any source of internet we could. Now at least one laptop has internet. I'll describe what has transpired lately, but we've decided that any videos will simply be uploaded to my account and you can view them at your leisure. We already have 30, if that gives you an idea.

So, the flights were long but decent. The straps of my carry-on broke, and it was heavy, so that was a nuisance; not to mention, upon our meeting with Nettis, one rolling luggage lost its wheel. After shoving everything into a little coupe, she bravely drove through the horrid weather, getting pulled over by a cop (which I unfortunately did not record for fear I'd get accosted, figuring cops don't like cameras), almost wrecking, and finally getting as close as possible to our building considering the feet of snow and gates barricaded the easy way in. The bed was a lovely welcome (as well as the heated floor of our bathroom.)

Everything was situated by 4pm the next day. Nettis came over so that she could take another long drive (so, so sweet) to Kalajoki. There we stayed in a cabin owned by her parents. We enjoyed good food (shrimp salad, homemade tomato soup, chocolate, kebab snacks made by her mother, sandwiches, crisps and "dippi", and so on) and good movies like Häjyt during our stay. The next day (Saturday, in case you've lost track), we rode with her mother and aunt to a grocery store to get food and booze. Their "malt" beverages here are mainly ciders and "long drinks" but we also picked up some vodka and salt "liquor"ice (salt licorice is considered a candy treat here) called Salmiakki Koskenkorva. It was DISGUSTING. I'm already a pansy with other straight shooters and bitter beer, so this was worse than cough medicine to me. But it's supposed to get the job done.

Before the boozing commenced, we enjoyed relaxation in a lovely private sauna and outdoor hot tub. We were told it was tradition to sit in the sauna for a bit, run out and jump into the snow (naked or in swimwear), roll in it a few seconds, then run back into the sauna. We also were spanked with a branch. It was bizarre, but after a hot shower I felt pretty good: lighter, warm, and overall weird in a good way. After this we consumed some beer, wine, cider, and shots before walking about 10 minutes to Dyyni, a club that becomes famously swarmed with the young'ns around summertime. There we enjoyed some free drinks (one tasted like an appletini, one was a shot that actually tasted good because it resembled creamed coffee), conversations with people wishing to practice their English, and dancing the night away.

Luckily, Patrick and I avoided any kind of hangover despite all that we'd consumed. Yogurt and coffee for breakfast, and we were off, this time to a train station (poor Nettis had driven us enough). We managed to catch basically the only bus that day from Parkano to Kankaanpää after riding the train.

Today, I ventured to Satakunta to figure out just what exactly I'm supposed to do here. I think I'll do model painting for 2 weeks, then combined techniques (if the teacher allows), and hopefully snow sculpture. These all go on at different times for different periods, unlike America's "semester" where everything is all at once... which will probably be a blessing. The model painting teacher Harri was so kind to show me around, and assured me it'd be okay. I got a tool box with stuff in it, and I think materials are mostly supplied. Hopefully this will all just fall into place.

Videos are coming soon.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Just wanted to say:

Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays to you all! :)

Only a week and a half until we're on a jet plane to the frozen, fantastical land of Finland.

Friday, December 17, 2010


I was so happy to receive pictures of the place in which we'll be residing. It's truly like a mansion compared to the closet-sized apartment we had in France. I swear, the Fins are just constantly impressing me with their happy, helpful demeanor and their awesome country. My student tutor is worried my hopes are up too high, haha. But I'm honestly just glad that through communication alone, a lot has been covered about our S.A. experience to come.

Anyway, here is the place. It's merely a 2 minute walk from my actual school; this is a "dorm" located in their vocational school. It was the best thing they could give us, as a couple, and I'm glad they could. It's only 217 € a month, with a small water fee between us.

For the first time ever, we'll have a dinner table, haha.

I think there is another bed somewhere.

I can't believe we have all that!!.


The drive there, look at that snow!
I am just so excited! My semester is finally over, and I'm just a few days away from relaxing at home with my family for Christmas. My mom makes excellent Christmas dinner, including one of my favorite things of all time: shrimp cocktail, only the sauce is deliciously made of ketchup + mayonnaise + sprinkle of paprika, all topped on a sliver of smoked salmon and lettuce. Mmmmm... my mouth is watering.

This does make me begin to wonder how the food over there will be like...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The scoop...

Laura here. This is going to be the simple blog for my study abroad experience in Finland. I'll be studying art at Satakunta University of Applied Sciences, located in Kankaanpää. Patrick's going to tag along for the ride, take a nice little break from American capitalism and the exploitation of the car business. I'm taking a break from hectic deadlines and stress of trying to make A's.

The semester will be from January 10th to May 31st. I'm not exactly sure what I'll be taking class-wise... I think I figure that out when I arrive. I'm already in contact with my student tutor over there. Her name is Nettis: she is a great gal, very helpful, and assures us that we're going to have a wonderful time exploring, making art, and partying. :)

Tickets have been purchased. On January 5th, we'll fly out of West Virginia (very close to his mother's house, where we'll leave our cars) to Chicago, then Chicago to Denmark. A little delay, and then off to Helsinki. We'll hopefully be picked up by Nettis and be taken to our little cozy apartment that is 2 minutes away from the school. The description says it is twice as big as our crappy closet in Nantes, France. Overall these people seem like they know what they're doing, and this will be nothing like France.

Anyway, we fly back June 8th. Instead of Denmark, I think we'll have a layover in Sweden (Stockholm). I'm keeping my fingers crossed that somewhere in between I'll throw a visit in to Wales to see my family again!

Visas aren't an issue this time: I'm an E.U. citizen, and Patrick is going to be considered a "tourist" for 90 days. After a trip out of the country, he can simply return.

So yes, this will host what goes on, pictures, possibly video, and more. Stay tuned!