Paris in Winter


It’s been a relatively busy week or so here in Kuopio.  I’ve started teaching at UEF and have learned that most (~75%) of the class is native Finns.  Their reputation for being reserved is well deserved.  I have tried some small group activities and attempt to talk with them before classes start.  Both of these activities seem to make some Finnish students very uncomfortable.  Melanie and I have started attending a Survival Finnish course at UEF.  It meets twice a week and is designed for UEF’s international students.  I also am trying to adapt to my computer’s Finnish keyboard – the Finnish language has three additional letters.  At times it feels like being in elementary school again…

Most everyone, including us, are complaining about the warm weather (daytime highs hover around 32F).  It means precipitation is a mix of sleet, snow, and rain and the sidewalks and streets freeze over every night making our walk to work slippery.  Last year’s winter here was colder and more normal – daytime highs closer to 0F.

Melanie and I went to Paris for a three day weekend last week.  We went mainly to see the DaVinci exhibit at the Louvre.  Friday was drizzly and the DaVinci exhibit was quite crowded as you can see below. Most of his major artwork was on display (the Last Supper was a copy painted by a former student of DaVinci’s – Marco d’Oggiono.  Many of the DaVinci codexes were also on display.  In some cases when the original was not available (e.g., the Mona Lisa remained in its hall) they had infrared photographs of the artwork which in some ways was more interesting seeing the changes he made to paintings.


On Saturday we spent most of the day at the Orsay museum.  They had a special Degas exhibit.  For you turtle team members they also had the best turtle art that I have ever seen:

The Orsay is a converted railway station and the building itself is also of interest:

While in Paris we did have some strike related closures of part of the metro and the commuter train from the airport to Paris was closed.  There also were several large demonstrations (that Melanie did not allow me to participate in) that led to multiple arrests.  We left Paris on Sunday morning and returned back to Kuopio by early evening (flight to Helsinki and train to Kuopio).  I watched the Packers win – the game stated at 1:30 am and finished about 5 am local time – well worth the lost sleep.

Next week we head back to Helsinki for the official Fulbright orientation that includes an introduction to a Finnish sauna and a visit to the US Embassy.

For those of you in the toxicology class – please keep up and good luck.  Hyvasti!