Thursday September 1st was the day. Instead of driving to Helsinki to start a normal workday as a window dresser I turned my face northwest from Porvoo and drove to Saari Manor in Mäntsälä. It was time to start my study leave - I will spend next two years of my life studying gardening. That Thursday I felt excited, confused and a bit scared. This was going to be the biggest change in my life ever. After all, the truth is that 25 years had past since I last was a student and couldn't really imagine how it will be nowadays. At the age of 45 this kind of changes are not so obvious any more. One has his "secure life" with a nice job and regular incomes. One has a family and home to take care of. One has house loan to be paid... But I wasn't so scared I would back off and miss this chance. It was now or never!
And today, after these couple of first weeks as a gardening student I need to say I made the right choice. I think I even used the word "jackpot" describing my feelings after the first day at Saari.
Saari Manor in Mäntsälä is part of Keuda Vocational College. Agriculture, Horticulture and Floristry units of the college are all located at Saari. The history of the Manor goes all the way to 16th century. The main building was built in 1930 and was drawn by architect Jarl Eklund. This white, classic style building with some Italian influences is one of the most remarkable manors of it's era. The formal garden surrounding the main building was designed by Paul Olsson and has typical formal garden elements such as fountain and symmetric layout. Not bad at all as a place to carry out studies!
Gardening training is part of college's natural resources and the environment program . The group in which I am studying is especially for adults who (for different reasons) want to learn a new profession or complete their earlier studies / skills. Studies in this adult group are based on multiform learning. This means the studies consist different periods; theory and practice studies with the group at the college (contact teaching), individual remote studies at home including theory and special assignments (distance learning) and finally work practice in a company representing gardening branch. All these three forms of studies prepare students for competence tests where each student is evaluated based on his/hers professional skills. All this will take 2 years after which we can call ourselves gardeners - well, only in theory as it will take several years to really learn the profession and gain enough experience to become an expert as a gardener.
There is 9 people in our group at Saari. Six women and three men. Our age varies between 25 to 50 and our backgrounds are rather different. It seems we are all really excited about the studies and this makes our team spirit very good. I like the whole college a lot and I am also extremely happy for my new "family" (if any of you is reading this: 'Thank you for being my fellow student').
So far we have had some basic education (math, Finnish...), park and green area maintenance practices, botany and growth factor education. Next Tuesday is our first botany exam. We've been learning to identify about 85 annual (seasonal) plants with their Finnish names and if one wants to take a step further also the scientific names. Officially these scientific names are tested next autumn. In botany we also started to learn how to identify woody plants (trees, bushes etc) and this I find more challenging as one should be able to name them with scientific names.
Should I put my nose on the botany book now and learn some annual plants? Maybe I should.
Until next time!
- Mika -