Friday, 18 October 2013

days, nights

Right-o, dudes, let's have an update.

London is rainy, then sunny, then rainy again, all within minutes. It keeps us on our toes, as does the workload, and that's good, I think, but entirely exhausting.

I got a smiley piercing and fell for it, hard, and had to take it out this morning because my front teeth were aching and I'm not risking my teeth for a piercing.

I got Comme des Fuckdown hat and I wear it everywhere because it's the most comfortable thing, and in many ways it's entirely inappropriate, and then again: this is London, I tell myself, so nobody will care.

Here's a morning:

Wake up, do sun salutations facing the window, read emails, eat breakfast, do last-minute reading. Walk to uni in the rain or sunshine or both, through the little streets and through two tiny parks. Listen to Kanye or Chet Faker or Bow Wow or M.I.A., get a tea from the union café before class.

Here's a day:

Go to a tutorial, discuss theories of globalization, talk about how we define civilization, go for lunch at a farmer's market, then spend the afternoon in the British Museum. Feel like things are settling into a larger context, that they aren't just artefacts and objects, but that there's something happening to my worldview, something changing.

Here's a night:

Go to a radio society meeting at a union bar, end up going to a jazz gig at the legendary Ronnie Scott's with people I barely know, talk to this cute boy for the entire evening, dance, drink drinks that are far too expensive. Walk to the bus stop through the rough streets of Soho (alone, at one in the morning), take a bus home. Find two of my flatmates in the kitchen having a very late dinner, stay up talking to them for an hour or so, collapse into bed.

Things are good and exhausting and really, really good. The city feels smaller every day, in the best of ways, and there are so many people here I could grow to like. I got my own radio show. I have plans for Halloween and I'm seeing Arctic Monkeys next week, and the things I haven't figured out yet, I will.

Friday, 11 October 2013


I have the most persistent cold ever, the kind that doesn't incapacitate you but just makes you tired and sore. I'm constantly tired, and the workload. Oh, the workload.

On my first day at the Institute of Archaeology, they said to us: We take your education very seriously. 

I had no idea what that would entail.

But I will say this: I am so excited to be doing this, and very happy. I'm keeping in mind what a privilege an education like this can be.

And other things:

London is finally, finally cold. I've been stubbornly wearing coats and scarves and wishing for autumn weather and it's finally arrived, in all its glory.

Fittingly, I went to see Johnny Flynn and The Sussex Wit at Hackney Empire today. Nothing goes with pink noses and cold fingers like folk music. On that note, here is a song for you.

And finally. I fell in love with Hackney today, in all its gentrified glory. It reminded me of home, which is a lot of places these days (but mostly Helsinki).

Sunday, 6 October 2013

on finding happiness

I'm living an odd phase of my life right now, where the thing I've dreamt of for years is happening. This is the thing I've been waiting for, the living in London, studying at uni thing. Here I am, finally.

Today was the first day since my arrival in London that I spent alone. It's been nonstop until now, and if there's one absolute I know about myself, it's that I need to be alone a lot.

So today I slept in, made myself a proper breakfast and ate it in silence, looking over London through the kitchen window. Took the tube to Hyde Park (because I'm new enough to London that taking the tube still feels like a treat, although the man sitting opposite me & masturbating slightly wrecked it for me; it's odd how at first you laugh it off and change carriages and think to yourself how utterly inappropriate people can be, but then you realise you do feel violated, strangely), and then walked down to the small lake, then all the way back home.

London is strangely warm, and I keep forgetting that it's London, somehow. It's a strange city for me to get to know; I'm used to the smaller scale of Helsinki, and to cities by the sea. Cities by rivers have a different geography entirely, they keep spreading out.

But while walking through Hyde Park today I stopped for a moment in my glorious moment of weekend melancholy and thought about how quickly and easily the big changes in life can happen.

Though I would say that I've mostly been quite consistently happy and content for the past year or so, as far as general moods go, there is a new level of happiness to be reached by moving onward, by reaching out, by grabbing those dreams and pinning them down.

I don't know how long this will last, this shiny newness of everything. The rainy weeks will come, when everything is boring and faded and tired, but for now everything is still far too fascinating, far too good. So much better than what I dreamt of for all those years, because those were dreams and this is real.

Friday, 4 October 2013

things that are

And so suddenly, there are familiar faces seemingly everywhere, at least if I stick to the campus and to uni parties.

It's like carving a space for myself in the fabric of the city, learning about the farmer's market every Thursday, about the dude at the cashier at Sainsbury's who's always smiling. About bus lines and tube lines and the quietest roads for a walk. About the place that does a cheap vegan English breakfast, about the weird nooks and crannies of the UCL campus.

And sometimes I still forget that this is London.

Because now it's just a place with tap water that tastes slightly off. It's the place with so many people and so many unknown streets. A place with a tiny room for me, one overlooking the less scenic parts of the city.

There are essays and gigs and night buses and Skype calls. I'm building a life for myself from the ground up and if there's one thing London has managed to teach me thus far it is this:

Things are so much easier when you have some semblance of an idea about who you are and what you want. When you've managed to unearth a certain fearlessness in yourself, when there is a part of you that believes so fiercely in you making it through this. That alone will carry you through these strange streets filled with strange people. A bit of trust.

(And the thing is this: you will find a collection of people who will make you happy, even though you don't know them yet and everything about them is new and unfamiliar. There will be people who will seem good, on some fundamental level. The guy with a beard, the girl with braids. The guy with his sister's kids' names tattooed on his forearm. The girl even more Nordic than me. The American guy who talks about musical theatre. The swimmer. The activist. These are people who might one day form some semblance of a chosen family, which is after all what it all boils down to, doesn't it.)

And here is a song for late nights.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013


Here I am, in London.

Here I am, and it's the oddest thing, living someplace new. The morning I left, as my mother was driving me to the airport at arse o'clock in the morning, I wondered out loud who had given me the right to make decisions this enormous about my life. In that moment, it seemed entirely incongruous and somehow completely wrong that I could just apply to university and buy a plane ticket and then exist in a place entirely new.

I have now lived in London for two weeks. Mostly I have been drinking a lot, sleeping a little, meeting far too many new people, attending lectures. They shipped us off to a camp in Sussex last weekend, doing experimental archaeology. It was crisp and cold and beautiful, with hot tea and warm cider, muddy clothes, bonfires, digging, flint-knapping, painting with ochre and umber.

Things that I have learnt thus far:

It is tough to be surrounded by new people all the time. It is tough knowing that the people who care for me unconditionally are far away.

Visiting a city is completely different from living in a city.

The live music scene here is ah-mazing and I will bankrupt myself by Christmas at this rate.

Grocery shopping in London is weird. Buying alcohol in London is weird. Public transport in London is weird. Trying to find specialty shops (camping supplies, piercing studios) in a new city is a nightmare.

Wagamama is my love and my saviour.

If you're lacking in confidence and need to put on a brave face and meet new people, wear a snapback and accept absolutely no bullshit from anyone.

Autumn creeps in much later here than it does in Helsinki. Leaves are still green and days are warm and sunsets are one swift glorious descent into darkness.

And. Most importantly of all, two things:

Apparently moving abroad is truly that simple. It is, when you dig down to the bones (and after all, that's what I'm here to do, in more ways than one), a matter of making decisions and buying plane tickets. And all of a sudden you're existing somewhere entirely new.

Finally: I am the first to admit I had my doubts about archaeology, especially the fieldwork bit. But after last weekend, after my first lectures, I will very tentatively say this: I might have found my field. I might have struck gold. Here I am in my tiny shitty university accommodation, with the smell of smoke still clinging onto my clothes and with the last traces of umber beneath my fingernails, and somehow it seems right, in so many different ways.