This morning I attended the Digi Breakfast on Data Science at Aalto University’s Open Innovation House. Bringing together researchers and practitioners from across the Aalto University and Helsinki data science scene for a quick series of talks was super fruitful and informative, especially for a newbie like myself. I came away with ideas — always dangerous! Here are some highlights:
The Aalto Media Lab’s 20th Anniversary Exhibition in the LUME Centre opened this evening. It was a great opportunity to view and interact with projects that students and professors have created over the past 20 years. Exhibit pieces ranged from animated gif generators to interactive educational games and every piece showcased a different way that creative scholars have used technology for communication, artistic expression, learning, or design. I particularly enjoyed an interactive touchscreen displaying a digital facsimile of a map of Mexico from 1550 created by the Systems of Representation group under the direction of my advisor, Lily Diaz.
In honor of Tolstoy’s birthday, here is one of my favorite passages from War and Peace in loving memory of my kindred spirit and the inspiration for my Russian studies:
‘No, life is not over at thirty-one,’ Prince Andrei decided all at once, finally and irrevocably. ‘It is not enough for me to know what I have in me – everyone else must know it too: Pierre, and that young girl who wanted to fly away into the sky; all of them must learn to know me, in order that my life may not be lived for myself alone while others, like that young girl, live so apart from it, but may be reflected in them all, and they and I may live in harmony together.’
Moving to a new country can be difficult. Here in Finland we are insanely lucky to have a tight-knit Fulbright alumni community of both Americans and Finns who organize events, give lots of helpful tips, and are generally awesome. Here is a list of Finland life hacks that I think will be useful during my time in Helsinki:
Catch flash sales on the VR train (with routes running throughout Finland) by signing up with Veturi
I’m sure there are way more — please leave suggestions in the comments! I also met a Finnish alumnus who claims he can give me a tour of the speakeasy scene, but that is not something I will be making publicly available… 🙂
We had a fabulous reception tonight at the American Embassy in Helsinki. Ambassador Bruce Oreck gave a warm and engaging welcome to all of the new Fulbrighters in Finland in which he stressed our twofold mission as visiting American scholars in Finland: to develop a deep area of expertise in our specialized project areas and to facilitate meaningful cultural exchange by being our general American selves in everyday life. He entreated us to
share not just what you know, but who you are.
He also quickly won me over by discussing the immense challenges and opportunities presented by the deluge of digital information and big data, stressing that it is more important now than ever to invest in scholarship. At the reception I had the pleasure of meeting academics from our Finnish host institutions, members of the American Embassy’s public diplomacy team, Finnish and American Fulbright alumni, and, last but certainly not least, the ambassa-dog!
Today we kicked off our Fulbright orientation with coffee and pulla, a delicious cardamom-spiced breakfast bread. We received a kind welcome from Jeffrey Reneau, the Counselor for Press and Public Affairs at the American Embassy in Helsinki, and lots of useful information from the ever-helpful staff at the Finland Fulbright Commission. I am beyond excited to be one of over 1600 people (including our very own Librarian of Congress) who have participated in the Finnish-American Fulbright program since the 1950s.