Day One of Clickswitch (Fuck the Army?)

Welcome to clickswitch, my photo diary for the following year. Today I started my civil service and will try to post snapshots of my life and my thoughts as often as possible throughout the process.

Most of my readers ought to know what I mean by civil service, but in a nutshell anyway: In Finland all men are drafted to the army after their 18th birthday, and the rule of thumb is that everyone should perform their duty to king and country by bearing arms against a sea of potentially invading armies. One can opt out if it can be proven that you are too disabled or sick to perform the physical task of the military service, if you are mentally unstable or belong to religious groups who forbid their members to bear arms, such as Jehova’s Witnesses. The other option is to perform a civil service. This is a way of working more or less for free in a job that benefits your country and, in theory, would provide you with important skills that could be carried out on the home front during war or disaster.

The service starts with a 4 week educational period at Lapinjärvi in the eastern part of Uusimaa (right between Kouvola and Porvoo). My journey started with a bus trip from my home in Meilahti, Helsinki at 5.45 am and continued with another, nearly 2 hours long bus trip to Lapinjärvi, where I arrived at 7:30 am, only to be told that I wasn’t on the list, since someone had automatically put me in the Swedish group, which starts in March. Well, all things sorted out, I found myself lucky to have gotten up at such an early hour, since the second bus to arrive a few hours later was packed with passengers. Since the one and only reception is run by civil servants with little or no experience of receptionist work, the line that formed was ghastly and hardly moved forward at all.

First day passed with a lot of hanging around without much to do and a lot of stuffing our faces. For some reason we are expected to eat all the time. I am very happy to have brought with me a book and my laptop, since leisure activities are sparse. Oh, and I share a bunk with a nice young man called Juuso, who got enough of the army after 8 days. He just returned from a beer at the local gas station.

Well, my this rather uninspired picture from this morning’s cue will have to serve as my first blog photo. I shall try my best to upload one pic a day. Cheers!

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Filed under Misc diary entries, Non-military service

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