Tiistai in Helsinki

Moi! Day two of user studies in Finland took us to the suburbs of Helsinki to visit a woman who ran a government (EU) sponsored fitness and exercise program. While battling a night of nearly no sleep (I fell asleep at ~midnight and woke up at 5AM) and trying to pay attention with people talking Finnish, we managed to see the day-to-day life of a Finn. I’m sure I’ve said this earlier, but this is a really interesting and unique way to visit a country. I’m quite in-vivo, watching and recording and writing daily about the life and experience of a Finn. Although this is a Microsoft study about blah blah blah, I’ve found myself a lot more interested in country and its people rather than the technology.

It amazes me how much the Finns love their country. We talked to a couple people today if they’d ever want to visit the US and they all answered that America is too complicated, too fast, too dangerous. I keep wondering if that same attitude would have existed pre-Bush. Everybody has always commented on how safe and pleasant a country Finland is. The population density is something like 17 people/km^2, so there are no major issues of urban blight. After school, kids of any age walk to the community children’s center and hang out, without worry of notifying parents or liabilities and the like. It’s a refreshing view on life. Everybody seems to care for each other in a socially progressive, non-communistic way.

The length of these days are exhausting me. We normally meet at 8 or 9 in the morning and don’t leave each other until 11 in the evening, usually working throughout the entire day. It started raining in Helsinki this afternoon, forcing me to buy an umbrella from Sokos. I took the Metro out to the suburbs and had caught a tram to the metro station to start. Even though the tram is 1.80e, it feels like you can walk on and not pay and people wouldn’t think twice. You can also buy your tram ticket via your mobile by texting. In fact, I recharged mine today by texting the recharge code (bought at a convenience store). Tomorrow we switch to a hotel in some other part of Helsinki. That’s it for now. Today’s pictures are here.

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