After spending 12 hours on airplanes, I was happy to arrive in Joensuu Finland on Sunday evening. I was greeted by Hannu Savolainen, Vice Dean of the Philosophical Faculty, and taken to a Finnish baseball game, which is very different from American baseball, except that they use a bat, ball, and glove to score runs and get outs.
It didn't take me long to realize that Finland is a beautiful country that is characterized by lots of trees and lakes. Unlike Nebraska they are having lots of rain this summer so everything is very green and the rivers are very high.
Today we spent the morning and afternoon discussing potential collaborative topics to pursue. These discussions centered on pursuing collaborative research related to school-wide positive behavioral supports, assessing teacher attitudes towards inclusion, and our online Master's degree in special education with the concentration in behavior disorders. In addition, we discussed some of the longitudinal data sets that we may be able to collaborate on. We had a wonderful exchange of ideas and look forward to turning these discussions into action in the near future.
This evening Hannu and his wife took me to Koli National Park for a beautiful view and a wonderful dinner that included steak with bear sausage. I also had a chance to enjoy wild blueberries that you can pick and eat directly from the forest. It was a wonderful experience with a fantastic view. Erkko Sointu was able to join us on this trip and he provided great entertainment by sharing his enthusiasm for Finland and the Lapland region in the north.
Although I have only been here for a short time, I have done my best to learn as much as I can about Finnish culture. The hospitality has been wonderful and I have experienced a new form of baseball, beautiful scenery, and great food. The last thing I did today was partake in the Finnish tradition of taking a sauna in the evening. I learned that almost every home in Finland has a sauna. At the hotel, it was an entertaining experience whereby I was told that a man's measure is determined by how long he can stay in a sauna. Of course I did not last long, and the jump in the freezing pool afterwards was both terrifying and refreshing. Sorry, I did not take any pictures of the sauna :)
Tomorrow I have one more meeting and then I'm off to Lithuania.