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(Subject: What I wanted to say...) My dear, here I am, finally. Really: I am here. The river Spree froze solid one day , but now it is flowing again, and when I cycle with boyf down the melting streets I make him "smell the spring", and he laughs at me: you can't be talking about spring when it's freezing and there are heaps of snow in our back yard, seriously, listen to yourself! Here, but how? Through the freezing and melting of Spree, through the hundredrs of hours spent sitting in the U-Bahn - one to the university, another back - through sweat and tears and Kierkegaard, through fights and a lot of happy moments too, I've arrived here. And stopped. The incredible happened: I got my exchange period extended at the very last minute when my mind was already stretched as wide as it could take; I passed all my courses, those as well whose lessons were so incomprehensible - a word that I learned is "unnachvollziehbar" - that they only made me want to slit my wrists, at best; and, like I said, for the first time in weeks I am really here where I am sitting, and the best thing about it all is that "here" is "holiday". Berlin is wonderful and I could live here. That is a statement. I could live here for real. But it is also too big, far too big for meeting people. You see too many people every day to be able to talk to any of them. And then, if you happen to talk to somebody, and you happen to understand each other very well, and you happen to want to meet them again, there is another problem: the distance. Meetings have to be organised days beforehand, as you have to count the two hours of travelling in. As an exchange student things are of course a little easier: everybody is new in town, people organise parties, you can visit the musems together, everybody is looking for friends. In that respect I also had some bad luck. I chose not to take the pre-term German course in the autumn, not being able to afford it and thinking that only the few rich kids would take it anyway. I could not have been more wrong. During the term it has become clear to me that almost every Erasmus student was in one of those expensive courses in September, before the university started, and got to know each other perfectly during those four weeks. When I then arrived, people had already formed groups in which they ate at the student cafeteria, or threw parties, or went out. But such things happen. Like everything else in this old house, the chair I'm sitting on is breaking into pieces one by one. I think I should go and find another one. In addition to all the mad exams I sat on last two weeks, we also had to do a "free project" for the German course. The course theme had been Film in Berlin, and my group decided to make a - film in Berlin. We made a silly little computer animation about a lonely Ampelmännchen (East Berlin used to have different kinds of pedestrian crossing light figures from West Berlin - or from the rest of the world - and most of them have been kept till today; that was our main character) looking for love in the big city. The film has a happy but rather melancholy end with a slight homoerotic twist. I was made the musician and sound engineer and I spent hours in the Cave, our closet-sized bedroom, composing a background melody on a harmonica, finding strange sounds on a midi-keyboard and mimicking traffic noise on a kazoo. I would love to send you the film but I'm afraid it is, despite being only a three-minute simple animation, too big for that. Instead I'll send you a picture of us an imators - not a very good one, and not taken by me! ;) - in our room. I've become somewhat of a house hermit here. First I learned to spend a lot of time at home as translating the texts for my courses took so much time, and I wanted to do it properly, hoping also to learn German that way. Quite soon, however, I gave up the tedious translating and started just browsing through the texts in the U-Bahn, but I had by then got already quite fond of our cosy home. Boyf takes me from a weird punk gig to another quite regularly (the most interesting one so far was a support band called "Gitarre und Schrank", Guitar and Cabinet, a two-man ensemble where the first guy sang and played the guitar while the second one destroyed a chest of drawers with the most peculiar instruments, making wonderful sounds and contributing to the songs in a way that the music was actually in the end not bad at all), but most of the time we just enjoy being at home, which is rather scary. Often on weekends we don't get out of bed at all, as there is so much to talk about, or at best we just cycle to have a delicious vegan late breakfast in one of the many local Hausprojekts. The Hausprojekts - ex-squats with alternative and partly illegal programs and alternative (and very possible partly illegal) people - offer all sorts of fun in the evenings too. My favourite one is a totally hazardous tiny underground pub, to which you only get through a concealed trap door on the ground. It was worth coming to Berlin only to see that... Last weekend I managed, though, to drag myself out of home and go with some friends to a party organised on the S-Bahn - the local train that drives through and around Berlin. The idea was to get some people together, take over one car of the S-Bahn and have a raging party there, but I didn't know what to expect. I was actually quite suspicious, as I had heard that a similar happening had been organised at least twice before, and on both times the cops had stopped the party almost before it had even begun. For some reason this time ended up being much better, possibly because there were so many people. As we arrived at the station where the fun was supposed to begin, there were already a couple of hundred people there, half of them teen punks, hippies and goths, another half people like us from the, mmm, older generation. Because of the amount of people, we didn't end up taking over only one wagon but the whole train, and trying to avoid the policemen whose number increased rapidly, we changed the trains every now and then, the command "UMSTEIGEEEEEEEN" echoing through the train. The atmosphere was great - the party was far from "a disappointment" , like a journalist later described it in a newspaper acticle I just read. Interestingly he also wrote in his article about "The Left-Wing Scene" and "The Punks" making it sound like they, or we, were almost like an organised terrorist organisation, while everybody was actually there half-accidentally just to have some fun. And it was fun; chidish fun perhaps, but childish fun is sometimes the best. Our time in this flat will soon be over, as the right tenant comes back from Moskow next month, and we will have to find a new home. Most of March and some of April we will be spending in the US, France and Spain ("How on earth can you afford travelling so much?" my father asked reproachfully on the phone. "Well, for me travelling doesn't necessarily mean flights and hotels, you know", I answered. "It means hitch-hiking, sleeping on people's floors and eating tinned beans...") and that's why - and because house parties are always worth it - we're organising a party next Friday. It's a pity that you won't be able to come, but I'll include two flyers anyway. Boyf's new Eastern European-American Cajun band will be playing their second-ever gig in their full line-up at the party, and I think they're starting to sound pretty decent. I, myself, have restricted my musical life to some perhaps not-so-interesting-sounding activities: in the autumn I joined the big choir of the two un iversities in Berlin, FU and TU, and now I dropped it to join a small wind ensemble where I'll finally get the chance to play the flute with other people; it makes so much more sense than playing for ever alone in your bedroom. Even though the choir was not exactly what I was looking for, I have to admit that it was wonderful to get to do a concert in the Berlin Philharmonie in January, as it is probably the most beautiful concert building I have ever been in. The architecture is truly unique, the audience being seated all around the stage and nothing in the building being symmetric. My English is getting terribly rusty even though I speak it every day - boyf has to correct me on a daily basis these days. Denglisch, he calls it, and then mixes his v's and w's himself, like the Germans do when they speak English. My German is not improving like I would like it to, and Finnish I'm naturally forgetting altogether. So it goes. I am still thinking of coming back to Finland after the summer, though.
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