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In August 2011, a six month study trp to the USA sparked an exciting new thirst for, and love of, travel. Prior to that month, I'd never stepped foot on a plane, I'd never been abroad.

Since then, I've spent time travelling around the UK and will make my first forey into Europe in April 2013, for two weeks working with the MC2020 project in Tampere, Finland. Once out there, I'll be working alongside students from across Europe on a project which is funded by the European Union.

I'm also finishing up a book, "Destination Moorhead" which will be published in summer 2013 and is travelogue, charting my time travelling around the USA. If you want to know more about me, see my personal blog here or website. I'm an author and broadcaster, working in the turbulent world of the media.

Important observations and things learnt about Finland in the last two weeks:

a) All the doors open outwards, presumably so that you can knock the postman out when he brings your post.

b) In McDonald’s, they take your order, prepare it as you wait and bring it over to your table.

c) They’re so high-tech, you can pay on your card for everything, including at the bar for the cloakroom and each 2.50 drink. Crazy.

d) They have no Ground Floor, ground level is 1 and the first floor is 2.

e) They have an amazing dessert called Tippaleipä that I’ve christened “The Doughnut Cake.”

f) It’s a tradition to jump into freezing cold ice lakes, after cooking yourself in the sauna and it’s actually more exhilarating than you’d ever imagine.

g) The efficient nature of the Finns extends to the pub, where they pour and serve your beer before you’ve even finished ordering and paying for it.

And last but not least..

h) I really want to come back.

We found the Finnish woods, well kind of…

We found the Finnish woods, well kind of…

So last night, we had a hall party…. that’s all I’m saying about the evenings events.

So last night, we had a hall party…. that’s all I’m saying about the evenings events.

Relaxing to a bit of this right now… we’re heading to a Finnish nightclub later, apparently it’s known to the lecturers as a “Discotech.” I’m really hoping it’s more of the former.

(Source: Spotify)

Oh look, it’s the logo for MC2020 (that’s Media Culture 2020 as funded by the European Union).

Oh look, it’s the logo for MC2020 (that’s Media Culture 2020 as funded by the European Union).

First Video Diary - 16th April 2013.

Midnight McDonalds

There is little else as strange, yet as brilliant, as a midnight debate in McDonalds. Back in the UK, it’s a more regular occurance than you’d think, but here in Finland it was somewhat surreal.

So the story goes like this, we’ve been spending the past few nights in the student bar near to the TAMK building on campus. Last night, around 11.30pm we left for food at McDonalds.

Two things to note:

a) The Finnish McDonald’s don’t serve Chicken Legend meals (shock, horror!)

b) The Finnish McDonald’s charge more for their food after 11pm at night, what’s that all about?

With that in mind, we shared a couple and settled down to chat and eat. Before long, we began the debate - everything from Politics, to Religion. Three British guys and one Dutch.

That’s not the strangest bit, that was when a more than drunk Finnish man turned up at our table and proceeded to babble at us in a language we didn’t understand, saying “My English not good,” then attempting to pull the chair from the table (it was bolted to the floor) before walking away muttering “Fucking, what?!”

All in all a normal night in Tampere, eh?

We started working on the MC2020 projects today, a great introduction lecture from the Spanish team and then some group planning sessions where we talked about all the planning we’d done before we arrived in Finland.

Some of you might be wondering where the toilets are, well they are up this corridor and marked with M and N… The M is for Men and the N is for Nice People.

_ Apparently girls are now know as “nice people” at TAMK, Finland.

In Finland, people still lived in the woods in the 1960’s, and when you lived in the woods you had to keep a low profile because if you kept a high profile, the wolves and bears would eat you.

_ Our introduction to modern Finnish history.