As mentioned earlier in the Tale of Two Departments, there are two Departments of English here in Turku. Situated as we are on the University Hill, our department is known as the Department Up the Hill, while our Åbo Akademi sister department (right at the brink of the river Aura) is known as the Department by the River.
This year we have been determined to increase cooperation between the two units. Among other things, this means that we encourage our students to complete optional studies in the other department, allowing this way a wider selection of special fields.
On Halloween in October, we hosted a guided tour of the TY campus to the ÅA students and staff. On an exceptionally sunny and bright December afternoon, it was finally our turn to make a counter visit to the Åbo Akademi campus.
The ÅA Department’s intern Annette Byskata and doctoral student Adam Borch greeted us at the entrance hall of the Arken building, where most of the ÅA Humanities’ units are located. They directed us first to the second floor of the building and into the ÅA English Department’s corridor. We got to see where the Department office is located, but also learned that it will be moved soon because of changes in the admin staff. Also, we saw the Department’s three main lecture rooms (Helikon, Kramer and Donner), and sat down at the Kramer hall to meet the staff, hear about their teaching and to learn how to browse the ÅA website.
The Head of the Department, Brita Wårvik, welcomed us to the tour and introduced us to the ÅA syllabus. Anthony Johnson, Jason Finch, and Stuart McWilliams gave us more detailed info on the Department’s literature courses. Signe-Anita Lindgrén, the SLA expert of the department, talked about the teacher track of the Department, while Martin Gill discussed the Department’s culture-oriented teaching. Finally, Brita introduced the discourse studies related courses available. During the Q&A with the staff, we discovered practical facts: e.g. that the ÅA term is divided into quarters differently from TY (something to consider when taking their courses!). Also, many of their courses last only one quarter, where as our courses typically last two quarters. These kind of differences may allow flexibility for TY students wanting to complete courses in a schedule different to ours.
After meeting the staff, we were ready to continue with our tour. The next pit-stop was the Humanities library on the first floor of Arken. The librarian Maria Lassén-Seger greeted us at the library entrance and talked to us about the library customs and about the history of the building, which was originally a factory. In fact, the first Finnish tractor was built there! Maria took us to see the linguistics and English sections of the library’s collections before sending us off to the next stop of our tour, the Asa building.
In the Asa building, Annette and Adam first guided us to the IT centre of ÅA on the first floor, humorously named “the Oracle”. Rumour has it that occasionally the helpdesk’s instructions are as ambiguous as the oracle’s advice in a well-written Greek comedy. Finally, we stopped by the course book library in the Asa building, where the students had the possibility to activate their TY library cards for ÅA use.
Warm thanks again to the staff of the Department by the River for inviting us and for organising such a fun and educational tour for us!