Thursday, December 21, 2006

Helsinki by midnight

Michaelmas term (Cam-talk for autumn term) officially ended on 1st December. For me, however, it only ended today. Or yesterday, to be exact. I'm not sure what the exact moment was when it ended, but I'm sure it did.

I'm sure it wasn't when I sent off the latest version of my part of the article we've been writing, because I had some errands to run and Christmas shopping to finish.

I'm sure it wasn't when I got home, because I hadn't packed my suitcase yet.

I'm sure it wasn't when we got on the train to the airport, as it was so fully packed we couldn't find places to sit together.

I'm pretty sure it wasn't when we got through the check-in and security, although it was surprisingly simple and quick, because we had still a couple of hours of waiting to do and Heathrow had already been paralysed due to the fog.

It could have been when we finally boarded the plane, because we were greeted happily in Finnish and there was a nice, holiday-like relaxed mood around the whole plane and its passengers.

It probably was when we sat down on our seats, breathed a long breath out and let our shoulders drop a couple of inches. At least that's when I kissed L and wished us Merry Christmas.

It definitely had ended before we got to Helsinki and made our way through the long corridors of virtually empty airport hoping not to miss the bus. At least by that time I wasn't thinking about work but calculating which would be the quickest passport queue (smartly (we thought) we went to the one without the rasta-haired bloke in baggy camo-trousers).

I was definitely out of term when I saw L to her bus and then went to get two riisipiirakka and a cup of tea at the only cafeteria that's open at this hour.

Now, sitting in Terminal 1 of Helsinki airport and waiting for the first flight out, I'm not only out of term but somehow extremely far away from it. Feels like - well, at least 1133 miles...

The first flight of the morning will take me to the arctic circle in about two and a half hours. I know that it will add even more distance between me and the term, the thesis that is not yet ready and (here's hoping) the nagging consciousness and guilt that piggybags every phd student.

(Pic: Björn Stabell)

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