Go on, make my day (or the confessions of an Education Officer)

By Pirkko Hautamäki

If you want to know what makes me feel good on a Monday morning, even after it's taken two and a half hours to get to work, I'll tell you. No, it's not getting to smell the armpits of a fellow passenger in a packed tube (no, his deodorant did not keep him odour free), nor having my toes crushed by someone who gives new meaning to the concept of a bull in a china shop. Nothing of the sort, although I can see the joy this would have given to someone with a more masochistic bent.

No, my day was made by reports coming in from places such as Stow College in Glasgow and the University of Northumbria at Newcastle. Stow College, with their business studies links to Finland, organised a European Week featuring Finland, and the University of Northumbria put on a Finnish Week in May.

The University has developed extensive links with the University of Joensuu and the Polytechnic of Northern Karelia (also in Joensuu), but as Susan Hepworth, head of the university's European Office, said, "We have these links, but not many of our students or staff seem to know much about Finland. We could have started our series of country weeks with Germany or France, but we wanted to go for a lesser-known country instead."

This is why their city campus was full of posters, publications and exhibitions about Finland and studies in Finland. They had the students do nights of Finnish films, tango, vodka and techno lounge. For the more sober-minded, there was choral music and lectures.The winners of a student quiz will be flown to Finland this summer (courtesy of Finnair).

The week also motivated the Department of Built Environment, one of a number of rapidly growing departments at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle, to establish a link with Finland. The European Office even managed to find the money to send a staff member there for more detailed exploration. Not bad.

No wonder I was feeling good. If, on the other hand, you'd like to know what makes me livid on a Monday morning, just go back to the beginning. I mean, I could tell you more about the things I love to hate, such as signal failures and panic attacks. But maybe not. You get the picture.

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