torstai 28. lokakuuta 2010

Back to School! Do I need some education?

In Poland universities begin their semesters in October, and for me it meant that my language course would begin as well. It has been more than 5 years when I’ve entered an university building as an active student, so I was at the same time excited, little nervous and also maybe slightly nostalgic. But to become an Art student?!?! Sounds little peculiar for someone who has a degree from University of Technology – “teekkari ja humanisti” were far away from each other at least the attitude amongst the tech students back in the days in LUT :) So, I had certain doubts when I entered into Department of Polish Philology.

At first sight it felt little like being in Harry Potter movie… My Alma Mater being built in 1970’s and latest parts in 21st century, the atmosphere of 300 year old building was definitely different. But the lecturers I’ve this far met are definitely modern – sparkly, lively, fully committed to lead us into deep secrets of this mysterious language… In my group there is or has been (groups change every time) people from Europe (Germans, French, Turkish, British), from Africa (Morocco, Nigeria), and from Asia (China and Japan), some not speaking English but French or Arabic. Mindbroadening!

Cultural differences are obvious; once there was a debate of questioning the fairness of using names of famous Western world people in an exercise where the purpose was to rehearse nationalities. Other time one student refused to repeat most of the sentences explaining that he could not speak Polish. Trying to teach Asian people to pronounce strong ‘R’ is not simple, but neither it was simple to tell the French girl not to laugh to their pronunciation. When practicing numbers we ran into Polish speciality, a NIP code (tax code), and suddenly ended up discussing that if you as a foreign person you have to apply for the NIP code to pay taxes, why you actually would do that if without number you are not obliged to pay taxes… So it is not a piece of cake to teach such punch of people! But these amazing teacher pros throw themselves into it, showing talent in being a mime artist and having patience of an elephant – or a cow, which one has it better?

I have definitely learned useful expressions, and have already used my new language skills on some occasions. It will be very interesting to see how far do I get with Polish. Conditions for quick learning are there; being surrounded by the language all the time, good lessons and helpful native people near with who to practise. Unfortunately the original sin of being lazy is there also, and sticking with the easy option English is just so comfortable...

lauantai 23. lokakuuta 2010

Some culture to spice up Saturday

Wroclaw is a candidate for European Capital of Culture for year 2016, and if someone asks me (rarely anyone does though), I’m totally for it!
Here’s my reasoning:... My Saturday this far has involved following shooting of a movie or a TV series, on my neighbourhood first on Ostrow Tumski. This I noticed when on my way to practice some everyday culture to Hala Targowa (market hall as you remember). Later I ran into filming of probably same production on Wiezienna (=prison) street. There is a medieval house and yard where has once been a prison, and even as it currently serves as a café/pub Pracoffnia , with quite a little “make up” it had been staged back into prison. With actors dressed appropriately, that 20 m piece of the street looked like it travelled in time machine…

Some filming ongoing in Ostrow Tumski. And the sun is just so bright.... :)

Then, once again I entered to Rynek, where by the looks of it is an active tourist season still ongoing. Surrounded by several languages I admired the living statues and a photography exhibition (more or less constant view, photographies changing almost every week) placed on the square.
In a bookshop Empik couple of Finnish speaking guys was standing in front of me. I listened them for a while and just had to ask what brings them to Wroclaw, as it’s not a typical business trip day and not a holiday season in Finland… And the answer was Sensation. Crap. I was very irritated that I did not know about that event, but someone from Finland needs to come and tell about it. If I only knew about Sensation in Wroclaw earlier, I would have SO been there!! This was absolutely too short notice, I had already other plans for the evening. But always look at the bright side; this means that now I have a very good reason to go to attend Sensation somewhere else, maybe in Lisbon.

My business in Empik was to buy tickets to  Bollywood Rock On show in Hala Stulecia. These two events at the same weekend are a fine example of variety of events and happenings here in this lively city.
Maybe still to add some more "personal" culture experiences... My “physical culture” happens in Spartan gym, and once again today was a day for it to offer in addition something for the mind; nice chats with fellow trainers. Never at home anyone talks to me at gym, or I talk to someone. Why it happens here?

And almost forgot about Hala Targowa, and there I met my fellow student from language class :) What a small city… Talking of languages; yesterday I had a privilege to visit not only one but two Polish homes  with my Wroclawian friend. And we studied languages; both Polish and Finnish, and as on some occasions our common language English was not enough, we used some Russian and German to help… Isn’t that quite enough of internationality and different types of culture for one half of a weekend?
Heard that it’s snowing in Finland. So winter has arrived. Here it’s still autumn, bright and clear sunny day and I am writing this on a terrace of a coffee house, with hot cup of tea… Btw, counts as a characteristic of city culture, doesn’t it?

Apologises for the quality of the photo, but best phone can do on twilight... What I tried to eternalize to pixels is a fire show on Rynek

torstai 21. lokakuuta 2010

Black hole weeks

Yep, the term in the header is a real one, stated several times in project plans and presentations. Never before had I actually experienced the deep truth in it. Real meaning should be life in a factory unit without an ERP system, but the meaning can be extended. The “something else” weeks really were here, lazy days over.

As a colleague (greetings ;)) so suitably put it: “something happened and absolutely did hit me, but I am not sure what it was”. Crazy working hours, crazy working environment, crazy setup, and I do not dare to say crazy coworkers but rather collection of features, at least I was able to identify: incomprehensible ways of thinking, splendid competence, dazzling patience, sovereign professionalism, carelessness, panic, anxiety, self-seeking, backstabbing, eagerness,, flexibility, insolence, compassionate, loyal and dear people with who to try to make some sense in to a situation more or less described as a chaos. But end is well, all is well. Because, not to forget the official, essential part; we have once again a collection of new systems and processes brought alive. These weeks were really something I had never seen before, but still so educative, rewarding and enjoyable in all the absurdness. Gee I have a job that I enjoy!

If anything, I am very grateful of the great people I have had pleasure to meet and get to know through work. Of course the technical or so called content part is ok and nice to learn, but after all it is all about the people. People I would not have met other ways. Some of them are so totally different and some of them pleasantly similar than me. Some of them are sometimes – if maybe even always very annoying, some of them very distant, some of them quite neutral, some of them funny and amusing, some dear more than the others, and some very heartwarming – that I would like to hug. Some of them are scary, some respectable. Some are combination of several of these things, and you don’t always know which side is on the surface on which day. In my opinion the opportunity to encounter this huge variety of characters is one the biggest rewards from work life. One must work in order to earn living, but the intangible content received as byproduct besides the cold tangible goods; something that can’t be measured.

And no, I have not become a great people loving philosophic or reached the inner peace of a Buddha. On the very moment the “interesting” feature appears on a person I’m dealing with (or see someone else do it), and is not in line with my mindset and/or the task on hand that should be managed, it depends on the set schedule and DLs as well as on general stress level whether I need to count to 5 or 50 or do I also use some bad words quietly in my mind. But when the situation is over, things calmed down and it’s possible to take a step back and think, the variety of humanity is just so fascinating… Cool!

Luckily it was not only office time I got to spend with workmates, but also some informal evenings: dinner in PiwnicaSwidnicka , and enjoyable evening afterwards at a club. Partyparty :)

The end of these weeks also means that the Finnish colleagues left and Wroclaw is almost mine alone again… Let’s see how lonely it feels after all that, if lonely at all. Because October (how time has proceeded this fast?!?!) brought some new challenges.

keskiviikko 20. lokakuuta 2010

Week with a visitor

When coming back from weekend trip, I catched mum with me to take a visit. As said earlier, several promises from friends that “yes we’ll come”, but after all there’s one person you can trust – mum. And there she was, patiently waiting at Tikkurila railway station... :)

In Wroclaw we attended a river cruise as a gift from company – Thanks!

During days when I was at work, mum explored some of my trails, in the Cathedral Island and Botanical Garden, little bakery shops, and also experienced the friendliness in people – in only the three days.
Wroclaw fountain and light/music show. Cool!
Round light on top right is the moon ;)

For me it was fun to show the beauty of the city to a newcomer – the beauty which I myself enjoy so much, and also share something of my daily life with a familiar person. Thank you mum for coming!!!

On Thursday on the way to airport mum quickly visited the office, too and met my team. And somehow “suitably”, for me Thursday was (slightly unexpectedly) return to yet so-familiar cutover phase at work.

maanantai 11. lokakuuta 2010

Funny flight trip from Wroclaw to Helsinki

And off to Finland shall we go!

On Wroclaw airport I had to wait for delayed flight, and I spent it discussing with Scottish-Manchesterian guy who worked with some heavy-engineering-mechanical stuff, and was heading home. We both agreed on the friendliness of Polish people. It’s good to have second opinion on that subject, because the Poles themselves do not always agree when we discuss about this feature of national character. This may not apply in all service situations, but when you know people even a bit more personally, the kindness can be found...
Then on connecting flight from Warsaw I met a familiar face, and after some consideration recognized her to be a Finnish politician, a Member of European Parliament. Also found out that apparently instructtions by airline personnel about the order of boarding do not concern politicians travelling on First Class… And in addition to that, the politician was a member of the Green Party. I thought flying is against their life values?

Once again this weekend in Finland was very, very successful! Always enjoying roadtripping, always en-joying company of good friend, and when combining these two there’s not much that could be better in the world on that moment. Maybe only the fact that trip is heading towards friend’s wedding down at Ostrobothnia – and “check” there also!

On Sunday I had a pleasure to visit my friend's family's summer cottage, enjoy "nearfood" (lähiruoka, what is the term in English??) in it's very meaning, and I even got something to take with me to Wroclaw :) Thank You Teemu and Teemu's parents :)!

This is where knives are to be left before entering a wedding party

perjantai 1. lokakuuta 2010

Something else

After telling positive story after another, I think it’s time to tell about something not that nice for a change to keep the balance. Although I still am extremely satisfied about the situation being: being right in this apartment, in this city, in this country, doing this work for this company and being involved with these people, there are the downsides, as always in life.

The language issue is one thing. One of the loneliest moments I had when I was surrounded by almost all of the people I know here. That was at the office party, held in small country hotel outside the city. The party included lots of eating (both lunch and dinner), and playing a Pictionary game. I took part to the game, but very unsuccessfully; as other were guessing in Polish, there just was not a possibility to get the clue. But it was entertaining! The lonely part was the “unofficial” part. Party was avec party, so almost everyone had their spouses with them. And of course all the chatting was in Polish. That’s just the way it is; although office parties in Helsinki are basically bilingual, the chitchat is mainly in Finnish - it's just easier. Now being the only one not understanding anything, I did feel lonely and missed… I did not know exactly what I missed. It was not home as a physical location or any specific people; maybe just the feeling of being part of the group, as there I clearly was not though sitting in the middle of a crowd...

Also in several occasions I feel frustrated not being able to communicate, and incompetent because it is not always possible or at least easy to take care of my own personal business. Everyone at work and out-side work are very helpful and it is very nice, but I am used to be independent and taking care of myself, not needing someone else to do things for me. I just do not like the idea that I am dependent on “external” help. And even if I manage the situations, I sometimes just feel like an idiot because I haven’t understood a sign or something. I have noticed that there is certain amount of frustration or “humiliation” that you can take in one day – if I’ve struggled in couple of shops after long day at work, it might be that I skip an errand and leave it for the next day – enough is enough…;)
Some time ago I had to go and get myself a renewed card for public transportation. I got it, yes, but after 2,5 hours in a queue. And two hours of standing in the line took place outside :D Actually this was not as annoying as it might sound, but on some moments I could not help thinking that wouldn’t there really be some ways to arrange that differently..
I am updating this post now from office – being in here at this time is definitely “something else” again. Never worked this long hours in this many days in a row; a new record (dubious one on might say)! Doing totally different job for two months I had almost forgotten the intensity of implementation project final phase, but after all this is captive! Cutover ongoing and golive approaching in very near future – third in a row within a month. Another personal record that is.

P.S; I found a photo which might suit the theme and want to add it here...
Yes. Like it wasn't hard enough with the trams as it is, is it really, really necessary to smudge the schedules unreadable?