16 February 2007.
The following contains an opinion on the politics of language; you have been warned. I have long thought it wrong to require Finnish students to learn both Finnish and Swedish: since both are officially recognized languages in Finland, learning either one should be enough. Not only is the requirement of both a violation of a person’s right to self-determination, it is also an utter waste of resources. Why? After being in touch with people from Western and Central Europe for a couple of weeks, I have to say they have a handsome advantage over me. Here are two lists of languages—I leave it to the reader to estimate which one is more useful:
There are those who tell Finnish students to study more languages. If Michael Jordan had to play with shoes of lead, would they tell him to work on his jumping instead of switching to Nike?
Thank you for listening, the rant ends here. Finally on Thursday I got to try a bit of student life. The university organizes a course in Italian for exchange students, and before the course there is a preliminary guidance meeting in which you determine your proficiency with a language teacher. The meeting was scheduled for 9.30 in the morning. After approximately three hours of waiting in the hallway with approximately seventy other Erasmus students I finally got to chat with a gentleman for a few minutes. Oh, the pangs of regret for skipping cappuccino in the morning in order to get to the university on time. Anyway, the result: yes, I am allowed to take the B2 level course I wanted. A consolation is that I finally found a university building with a functional wireless network!
Afterwards I did not feel like cooking for myself, so it was time to check out how the Florentine university cafeteria compares to the average Unicafe in Helsinki. The price for a meal is more or less the same, around €3. I had a soup of pasta and beans and a steak. In addition to this there is a small side dish (more beans for me) and a bit of vegetables (diced carrot) and bread. There’s a selection of beverages, but I prefer water anyway. Most people had what looked disturbingly like Coke. The overall verdict: not bad, not by any means worse than Unicafe, if not much better either. I like it that you get both a primo and a secondo.
An important development: I now have a favorite café. It is to become my headquarters, my center of operations. But alas, no wi-fi.