Last night was the first meeting of the university's heavy metal club, TYRMY. Christine and I walked down to the student meeting building, and at first didn't see any lights on, so we strolled around the student village for awhile, thinking we were the first people there and that maybe we should wait for some more to show up. It wasn't likely that there would be any other international students there, and according to the facebook page, nearly 60 people had indicated that they would be coming. We weren't sure what to expect, being the token English speakers, whether anyone would actually feel like speaking with us or tolerating our novice levels of spoken Finnish. But at least we would be able to talk to each other, in the worst case! Christine had actually been to a few of their events last year, so might at least know a few people. We followed some other metal-looking people into the building, which wasn't empty, but only had the lights out so that the metalheads could hang out in the dark - go figure!
We sat down at the end of the table and partook of some of the chips, candies and vodka punch provided. Some of the girls sitting near us were also new to the club, and weren't sure what to expect either, so at least we weren't the only newbies! One of them was studying English philology and talked with us a lot about music and our favorite bands and shows. Another girl who was a bit shy seemed happy that we were there, and said how she always wanted to meet more of the international students and learn about their cultures and countries, but that they only ever hung out with each other! Christine and I said that we were more interested in things that Finnish people were into, so we preferred to do those things rather than what the other international students were doing. We don't really feel that we have much in common with the other internationals anyway, and are more interested in actually being in this country because of the place itself, not because it happens to be the circumstantial location of a particular academic program. Over the first half-hour or so other people kept trickling in (in spite of the rain which has been nearly constant for the past week), and by the time the introductions got underway, there were at least 45 or 50 people present. Some of the people made their introductions in English so that we could understand, but I figured out most of what was being said in Finnish anyhow. When the introductions got around to us, we spoke in Finnish which earned each of us a roomful of applause after we introduced ourselves. I felt quite embarrassed! Happily, I noticed that I was also not the oldest person in the room, there were a few other people in their 30s as well, some of whom had been around the university for a long time.
Afterwards there was increased consumption of alcohol, aided by the nearby store which was very popular for beer runs after the punch ran out. I bought some cider and pretzels to share and soon people were arranged into groups for a metal-themed quiz contest. There were about a dozen questions regarding metal trivia and the last one was "In which band does the guitarist Nigel Tufnel play?"; the obligatory Spinal Tap reference. Our group came in second place. There was also a drinking game that was a kind of fast-paced Simon Says (led by a long-haired, long-bearded Manowar-hoodie-wearing theology student and army priest!), which I was reluctant to play because I know that I should never engage in any kind of drinking contest with Finns. But it was wasn't that kind of drinking game, thankfully! At some point, one guy plopped down on the sofa and told me about this Viking village nearby called Rosala, and a living history farm in Turku called Kuralan kylämäki. I have no idea how he knew I was interested in the stuff, except that I was wearing a Moonsorrow shirt. But we had a very enthusiastic and geeky discussion about history, much to the chagrin of Christine, who was also getting history talked at her from the other side of the sofa as well!
Eventually we all moved next door to an underground pub called Three Beers, where we proceeded to take over the entire establishment. I talked with the Laura, the girl studying English, for awhile as well as some of the other Finns who were interested in these strange foreigners in their midst, and got asked at least a dozen times, why are you here in Finland? Hah. It was great that about everyone I talked to seemed really friendly and interested in talking. Maybe it was just the booze, or maybe it's just that metal people are metal people, whatever the country. But I was so happy that I didn't really need to worry about feeling unwelcome there, and I had a great time.
At the end of the night we were all a little blasted, some of us more than others. It was cold enough that the night air cleared my head almost as soon as I left the bar. One of the older guys there, a Saami guy called Matti, was particularly wasted, but that didn't stop him from walking me and Christine back to our apartment. We stumbled back across the student village while he muttered in Saami and sang a yoik tune along the way.
What a great group of people. I can't wait to hang out with them again, and I hope some of them will be at the Sotajumala gig tonight. So in a few more hours it'll be time to metal it up again... at least, after I do a little reading for my coursework!