The obvious question is why. The just as obvious answer is why not? After all, I’ve been in the country for couple of months already and hardly know anyone. Basically I’ve made acquaintances with my two house mates, the two other foreign students in my classes, and Gareth, and of course Timo, the token Finn.
Note that this doesn’t mean I’m blaming the Welsh (or the English) for keeping to themselves, for that is only natural – though I can think of three examples of people who have actively (ie. I’ve made the first move) tried and succeeded in avoiding any sort of social contact. But I don’t work for the Sun, so no naming and shaming will take place.
I actually thought about how I’ve befriended people in Jyväskylä. Basically it boils down to my classmates who I’m sort of forced to meet every now and then, and a couple of other people I’ve ran into more than once. So it’s not like I’d accumulated loads of friends back in Finland and am now feeling marooned. After all, I did know to expect the effects of culture shock and I am not alone – Sonja’s here too.
But I digress. What I was getting around to was the fact that I did go to the party hoping to meet some new people. Now, me being me, this was wishful thinking. To put it kindly, parties and Olli don’t mix. I can’t do the small talk, I can’t do the mingling, I’m generally not very intoxicated (as in not at all), I’m interested in the most trivial things (my idea of a fascinating topic at a party might well be the differences between Finnish and English personal pronouns – true story) et cetera ad nauseam. These traditionally nerdy characteristics mark me as ’the person most likely to not the party at all’. And I’ve been like this as long as I can remember. Call me a slow learner.
So what was it like? Well, like most other parties. The house was full of drunk people I didn’t know and didn’t get to know, the music was turned way, way too up (people are always trying to compete with the music which is, by the way, the worst abuse worthy pop music can be subject to) and I spent most of the time doing my very best ’cool and interesting’ imitation. No, it didn’t work this time around, either.
What did happen, though, was well worth the effort. But before I get to that, I’d like to write a little bit more about yours truly. It would seem that I have something of a reputation amongst the students, namely for being late and being extremely brazen about it.
He just walks in at half past, looks around, takes the handout, goes to his place and ruffles around his bag like nothing’s happened! is how Matthew put it, and I’ve heard it from other people as well. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
Seems like I’m digressing chronically, must remember to do something about that (lobotomy might be effective). As I was about to write, I did finally meet some other classmates. And all in all the evening did go quite well, as we talked about some truly trivial matters (the non-gender specific nature of Finnish pronouns – see, I told you) and some rather more interesting issues as well (why Bristol blows Cardiff out of the water when it comes to, well, basically anything).
The highlight of the evening was me exchanging telephone numbers with the boys, that is Matthew and Sam (they do come across as sort of Batman and Robin. I hope you’ll read this some day, guys). This means that I’m no longer socially forsaken with the natives (although I haven’t yet named anyone Friday (note to self: must get this Robin thing out of my head as soon as possible)). So when we left, truly and completely exhausted (it’s amazing how tiring doing nothing at boring parties can be), the prospects were looking up, really up. Call me sentimental, but I was happy that I’d gone there and spent the evening feeling like an outcast smeghead.
One more thing about the whole social reclusiveness aspect of this all. One girl did come up to me at the party and exclaim ”I’m in your class” which was very kind of her, but did leave the lingering question ”Why is it more acceptable to say something after sixty days of continued silence at the classroom?” All in all I think this is related to what I like to call the foreigner fallacy. See, Finland is still largely homogeneous. The population is almost exclusively nth generation Finns, especially inland which is where I come from. This means that whenever a foreigner enters our humble country, he/she is subjected to a barrage of questions and attitudes, ranging from the curious to the racist. If I’m allowed a generalization (and why wouldn’t I?), being foreign is the key to immediate popularity in Finland (well I did lie a bit, now didn’t I?).
Now, in the ’multicultural’ UK looking a bit funny (Finns do look funny!) isn’t going to of interest to anyone, unless they’re a) unable to escape the room you’re in and are thus forced to make conversation or b) are taking your money and thus feel forced to make conversation with you (the lovely lady at the Agfa store did actually inform the that she lived with a Norwegian person – good for her, I guess). But this all was supposed to be just a footnote.
Now where’s my spell checker… and what’s with all the parentheses?