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I think it really was the crappy roommates from the last time you heard regularly from me that really put me off of writing in this blog anymore. Had I mentioned the one girl who smoked in her room until I told her it wasn't allowed so she moved to smoking on the balcony where there is a giant NO SMOKING sign on the wall (not mine, but from the housing office)? Or that by the end of term this year, two girls had double occupancy in their rooms (also a lease violation), and two girls hardly lived in their rooms?

Yeah, one of them was me. More on that in the next paragraph.

For May to November 2012, read this (11-pages of text - Has some relevant notes meant for a friend at the bottom). This is how everybody in FinnSoc betrayed me (the "Elysium" story a few posts below is catharsis for some of this pain) and tore CFJ and I apart. We broke up in August, but with the roommate situation at my place I still practically lived with him, dividing my time between his place and the work-desk I got in the linguistics department to work on my school stuff and thesis. After the last straw with being cut from the Christmas show, I decided to have nothing to do with those jerks anymore. But living with CFJ I still sometimes ran into Crazyfinn, though I tried to minimize that. (I'm not so impolite that I didn't go upstairs and say goodbye to them the night before I moved back to Calgary, though.)

From September to April I took up a part-time job at the university library discharging books (that's checking books in after they're returned, if you don't know the lingo). It was actually lots of fun and I always looked forward to it.

How to get into grad school in Finland

By October it was already too late to seriously apply to grad schools in North America and I didn't even have a topic for my honors thesis yet, so that obviously wasn't happening. Fortunately Finnish universities had their deadlines after the new year, and I had a couple of MA English programs in mind (Helsinki and Joensuu). I figured I was doing English Linguistics anyway. When it came time to prepare the applications, I discovered that Joensuu had just posted a brand new Linguistics program so I decided to go for that instead of English.

The Helsinki application was due first, so I sent that in. I left out the part where I had to run like a madman to the Education Ministry office to buy high school transcripts to certify that I went to high school in English. The office closed 30 minutes after my work shift at the library (so I asked to get out a little early) and I absolutely had to have them that day or I couldn't guarantee that even FedEx would get the package in on time.

I got an email acknowledging that they got it and I was like, okay. A couple of weeks later I sent the one to Joensuu. I get the same email (they're processed by a national university admissions office and run through a checklist to see that everything's there). I read it again. I realize that it says my application is there but incomplete. I check the earlier email. It said the same thing. I phone the admissions office at 3AM (it was only open from 12 noon - 4PM or something ridiculous like that, and I am not a morning person) to ask about it. I had submitted my transcripts incorrectly by having them pass through my hands first. My uni was supposed to send them on my behalf. It was too late to supplement the Helsinki application (and I got an official rejection notice pretty soon after that), but I had a week yet to get one to Joensuu (hooray for giving myself extra time), so I paid a little extra for the registrar to FedEx one over there ASAP. Fortunately it got there in time, despite there being a public holiday in Alberta during the processing period.

But there was a second snag:

The program required applicants to have a relevant BA degree. And by "to have" they meant "have already", not "will have in a few months." Fortunately, as of this year there are now two professors from Finland in the linguistics department. Dr. Arppe (who I'd met when he was a visiting scholar here in 2010-111, and was now my thesis supervisor - you might remember him as "Hagrid"), and Dr. Järvikivi (who actually got his PhD from Joensuu, so he knows the head professors there). The two of them had done some work together, so they're pretty close. I'd just turned in the first draft of my thesis to Dr. Arppe and we were just chatting when I mentioned that I'd gotten my application in to this place, but I was worried that they would reject me on the technicality of not having the BA "in hand".

I think a lightbulb somewhere in his head turned on and he realized that this was an institutional difference, and he said, "Ah, a time when my Finnish background is an asset!" - Finnish students run on a different course scheduling system there and get their degree and certificate of completion just a few weeks after all the coursework is done; the ceremony is ceremonial and only happens twice a year. Our ceremony happens only twice a year as well, but we do not technically "have" our degrees until the ceremony passes. He talked to Dr. Järvikivi and they decided to immediately get in touch with the head professors in Joensuu. It was the beginning of April now, and they discovered that they were just in the process of making the decisions, which were due by the end of the month. Dr. Arppe wrote up and emailed them a reference letter vouching for me, and I had to send them a letter from my Dean testifying that I will receive my degree in June provided I successfully complete all of my courses.

Then we waited.

One day I popped into Dr. Järvikivi's office to say hello.

"Congratulations," he said.


"Oh, I thought he'd talked to you already."

"Huh? What? I haven't heard anything."

"I heard from Dr. Arppe that you were accepted."

"Well, I'll believe it when he tells me himself."

I didn't have to ask - he stopped by my desk later that day to tell me. It'd take them a few days yet to finalize and send out the official documents and emails, but I had been selected, he said.

Now you know how that came to be.

Joensuu's considered a small town (75k people). It's faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar away from the metropolitan areas. Which kind of sucks for hanging out with the people I already know, but the forest and the lake will always be just a quick bike ride away. That's how I'd rather have things anyway.

The best part was when I April Fools'd everyone into thinking that I got accepted the morning I turned that first draft in ... before I actually got accepted. Some people complained that it wasn't funny. I guess I prefer irony?
1 Oh, he'd met FinnSoc too. Came to one of the parties. He wasn't too impressed (not least by Crazyfinn, who has a bit of a thing for wordplay and was desperately trying to share his enthusiasm for dirty language).