Student life – the next generation

I can hear the solidity of the granite beneath my home being blasted away once again. It’s pushing ten p.m. but apparently the strongest blast is explained by it being a good time to detonate a really HUGE one and let the dust settle overnight! If the blasting were in aid of the metro to the West or for something like this tunnel for Helsinki Energy‘s district heating and cooling, I’m not sure I’d be angry. But since it’s in aid of parking spaces for members of parliament (whose needs for space haven’t escaped notice in recent years), one feels inclined to grumble.

However, so much else is going on in this city. For one thing, student antics are being reproduced.

Picture this. Middle-aged aunt enjoys a quick glass of vino and sumptuous nibble in the delightful restaurant Allotria and thinks it would be a good moment to ring up niece, recently moved into the real stone city from the outer suburbs. Thinking, for starters, that the young woman has not even a whiff of where Allotria might be located (Hermanni) I am not expecting the conversation that I am about to have.

She sounds like she is “on the road”. In the metro. I note with satisfaction that I do not, in that case, need to introduce her to its delights. I suggest she join me and another relative of my generation for dinner on Sunday. (As an apt observation here, said other relative who lives nearby was too hung-over last Sunday to join me at short notice. We rearranged for the coming week).

Many thanks, but alas she doubted she could, said the niece. She surmised, at 17.30 hours on the Thursday evening, that she would be beyond any desire for socialising, however low-key, by Sunday evening – as darling as said uncle is. She was with student friends, she told me, in her newly acquired student overall. She was on what she referred to as the “3” tour. Something to do with bars (drinkeries) along the figure “8” created by the “3” tram. All this is in aid of getting to know her fellow students at the Business School, which used to be called a School of Economics but has now been not-entirely-fused with some other institutions into Aalto University. 900 kylteris or economics (!?) students, many of them first-years familiarly known as mursu (walrus), would be doing the same tonight. I had been warned.

And yet despite the images of vomit that swam doggedly into my consciousness, it all sounded like a ritual, a bit like the dances in my mother’s and grandmother’s age (and class!) where they had cards to fill with the dances they scored with the boys. The niece said something about getting a stamp for each drink. I didn’t catch what tomorrow’s entertainment would be. I do know that on Saturday there is to be a formal dinner (class may be back) and obviously there’s a salted herring (and bubbly, one assumes) brunch to aid recovery on Sunday.

Perhaps this kind of thing explains why Helsinki’s so-called New Student Union or Student Building (below) has had to be equipped with extra high banisters.

Which is a shame. The exterior is such a fine example of work by Wiwi Lönn and her colleague Armas Lindgren, probably beloved if not much noticed, by many Helsinki residents. The interior is, well, a bit student-y.


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