Monday, 28 February 2011

A week off

The uni-equivalent of test-week has started - my first one since getting back. Technically, it's supposed to be a week when we either have exams, or just work at home; teachers tell us not to call it at holiday, but a 'teaching free week'. In reality, it's a week off, because the teachers (at least the ones in my department) kindly have us take their exams the week before, or sometimes after. I guess they want a week off, too. Kind of hypocritical, but I'm definitely not complaining!

I once calculated that since we have four months of summer holidays, one month of Christmas holidays, and four of these extra weeks off*, we basically study six months of the year, and have six months off! Not bad!

This time, as on any 'test week' before it, I have great plans for what I'll get done during the week. I have a very daunting list of things to do sitting in the middle of my desktop, containing some school-related things, like essays and translations, as well as lots and lots of cleaning. And as on most of these weeks, I'll probably achieve very little on that list. You'd think a whole week off gives you a great chance to cath up on things like that, that you can't possibly just do nothing for a week. Think again. It's happened before, and I'm afraid it'll happen again. It's not something I'm proud of - really annoyed is actually the correct sentiment here - but at least I'm realistic about it. It all realtes to the procrastination-issues I told you about before.

I'll let you know how badly I failed with my list...

In other news, I'm going back to London!!! I couldn't stand missing it so much, so I'm going there for almost a week at the end of March/beginning of April. I'm so excited!! And on top of everything else, it'll be spring over there by then!! Spring shoes, yay!

That's all. As you were.

*Ok, to be honest, and to calm down any potential nitpickers out there, one of the four weeks of Christmas holiday is technically a 'teaching free week', but since we have one week off for Easter it evens itself out.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

I think this is the beginning of an awful addiction...

Yesterday, I finally did something I'd been thinking about for a while - I got myself a smartphone.

I've been drooling over other people's iPhones, but since my own iPod is still pretty good (although I've now filled up 8GB and I should rinse out the excess stuff) I don't really need a phone to put music on. And let's face it, no matter how much I want it, I don't really need an iPhone. And I can't afford it either, for that matter.

Anyway, so far I haven't got a smartphone, because mostly the amount I'd have to pay per month was a bit high when it included the phone, internet, calling and texting. Now, however, the deals for internet are getting much better, so I decided to go for it. One company had an offer for the HTC Legend + internet for 18€ a month (calls and texting not included, obviously), where the phone itself is normally 16€ a month, and internet (the fastest speed they offer) by itself would be around 14€ a month. So, a pretty good deal, I think.

Now, of course, I know what will happen. I will get absolutely addicted to my new phone, and to having internet with me everywhere. I won't be able to manage without it anymore. Yesterday, when, I have to admit, I spent several hours trying out all the things my new toy could do, I found several things which would have been terribly useful when I was living in London. I managed fine without them, of course, but that's all in the past now - the next time I find myself without my phone, I'll be close to handicapped.

What a smart move this was, right? (pun not intended)

Saturday, 26 February 2011


I've written several posts about this in my other blog, mostly when I needed something to do really badly, i.e. when I just couldn't sleep.

Apparently, you're experiencing 'difficulties in falling asleep' if it takes you more than 15 minutes. The times when I fall asleep in 15 minutes have been very, very rare. Almost non-existent. For me, it's usually an hour or two at least.

The trouble with not falling asleep, is that if I just lay there tossing and turning, my head will fill up with all the things I'm worrying about. And these things tend to grow in the dark. So then there's no way I'll fall asleep. Also, I'm usually too tired to do anything else, like read a book, or do some work, but apparently not tired enough to sleep. The logic of that still escapes me...

If I could at least be productive, it wouldn't be quite so bad, but spending hours on end just lying in bed, staring at the ceiling and thinking about everything that's wrong in your life is just so very, very boring. And probably not great for your mental health.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Post-London blues

So far, I've lived abroad three times; a year in the French Alps, a few months in Paris, and seven months in London. All this time spent away from my home, my friends and my family, I can't say that I have ever gotten really homesick. Sure, I've missed my friends and family occasionally, and, depending on where I lived, I have missed my apartment, or some special kind of food or sweets, but I have never been properly homesick.

Until I get back home, that is.

Before moving abroad, you hear a lot about culture shock. You also hear that for a lot of people, reverse culture shock, the kind you experience when you get back, is actually worse. Maybe this kind of reverse homesickness that I have been feeling lately is part of that.

When I was still in London, I complained about a lot of things. I said I missed my own uni, because Middlesex was... well, not great. I said I missed my own apartment, with my own kitchen and my own bathroom, and with lots of space. I would talk to some friends on Skype or Facebook, and they would tell me about the things they had been doing, and the party they were going to, and I would wish I could join them.

These past few days, however, all I have been able to think about is London.

The first few days after getting back, I had trouble adjusting to living by myself again. I felt sad about leaving my friends and the city I love behind, and having to come back to this cold, dark place, and I couldn't even talk to my housemates about it, because I no longer had any. I got over that fairly quickly, though, and got back into a routine of living alone. I liked going back to uni and feeling like I'm actually doing something that's useful for my studies, although I do complain a bit about the work.

But now, I'm suddenly experiencing homesickness. I don't miss my room in halls, or Middlesex uni, but I do miss the people I lived with, and most of all, simply living in London! Also, I know that spring will come there so much sooner than here, which is what depresses me the most about being home. Oh, and of course everything's so damn expensive here! (Yes, even compared to London.)

I guess it's a classic case of the grass being greener on the other side, since I always seem to be missing what I don't have. The best thing would be if I could just grab my entire life and ship it to London, then I could get the best of both worlds. Good luck with that, right?

I should try to focus on my studies and other important things, instead of spending my time trying to find a way to afford a trip back there. But I WILL go back, and as soon as possible, too! After all, spring is coming, and I need clothes ;)

Monday, 21 February 2011

Procrastinators unite! - tomorrow...

One of the things about myself that I dislike the most is my tendency to procrastinate. Of course, it can be seen as the stereotypical personality trait of a student, but I think, at least in my case, it goes deeper than that, and it really bothers me. I wish I could be efficient and organised like some people, and actually do things when I'm supposed to, instead of always leaving them to the last minute. There are people like that out there, aren't there? Lucky bastards...

I know some people see me as very organised and efficient, and in some areas of my life I am. When I was in London, for example, I was always the person who organised things we did, looked up locations, booked tables, and so on. I love making lists and schedules for everything, including my studies. The problem is that when it has to do with something unpleasant, such as studying for an exam, I never follow that nice, colourful schedule I've drawn up for myself. I actually spend more time planning than actually doing whatever it is that I'm supposed to be doing.

Last spring, I complained that I didn't have enough free time. To be honest, I had plenty of free time - the problem was how I distributed that time. If I had started by doing all the things on my To Do list, I could have relaxed once I'd finish them. What I did, however, was taking the 'relaxation time' first, and leaving the stuff that needed to be done to the last minute. This led to my 'relaxation time' not being very relaxing at all; I was too stressed out by everything that still had to be done, and all the deadlines I had to meet. You'd think this would be a great incentive to make me do the work before taking some time off.
Strangely, it wasn't.

My tendency to procrastinate doesn't only concern my studies, but also things like cleaning and washing the dishes. Studying is clearly at the top of the list, though, because if there's nothing else, I might even clean or do the dishes in order to get out of studying. This habit is something that really annoys me, and I wish I'd find a way to get rid of it. Any hints, anyone?

Not surprisingly, while writing this post, I should really have been doing something else... Wanna take a wild guess?

Sunday, 20 February 2011


Before, I have mentioned the brand called Waldo Pancake. There's another one which can usually be found in the same shops, called The INTERESTING thoughts of EDWARD MONKTON.

As the name suggests, the thoughts of Edward Monkton are really quite interesting. They are featured on greeting cards, mugs, T-shirts, bags, etc, and although they often don't make a lot of sense, most of them still have a simple, beautiful message. Mostly, when I've found products of this brand in shops, I've had too much trouble choosing which one I like the most, so unfortunately I only own a little box containing mints, featuring The SHOE of SALVATION, but I'm sure I'll get some more when I go back to England. After "properly" finding this brand in Camden Market (London), I also realised that a few years ago I bought an Edward Monkton book, called The Lady and the Chocolate, for a friend .

Here's a few examples of the thoughts of Edward Monkton to brighten your day:

The Friends

Where are we going?

The Shoe of Salvation

More can be found at his website.

I hope you enjoyed these. Now go, and let the wisdom of Edward Monkton guide you to a better life! ;)


Sometimes in life you get these huge philosophical revelations, and they can come from the strangest places...

At the end of November, when I was still living in London (sniff), I went to see a stand-up gig by Simon Amstell. He's this thin guy with crazy hair, and I had seen him on Never Mind the Buzzcocks (British TV-show), where he used to be a presenter.

Anyway, what I found so funny about Amstell, is that I could relate to the things he was saying. He said that he never enjoys the moment because he's too busy analyzing it, and that he keeps living in the past and in the future, instead of focusing on the present. He said that he has trouble getting to know guys he likes, because when it gets to the point of something actually happening, he gets all nervous and flees from the situation. He questions other people too much (like the incident where he was having sex with someone, and he was still asking himself if maybe the guy was just joking about the whole thing). He also said that he envied a friend of his, who during an afternoon walk got the phone number of several girls, while he himself struggled with going up to a guy he saw whom he liked, because of his huge fear of rejection

But then he had a revelation. He was talking about being so afraid of rejection, and said: "It's always a choice between fear and love, and we should always choose love, because death is coming!!"

That idea is something I took away from the show. It's not being morbid, and saying nothing matters, because we're all going to die anyway. Well, in a way, that's exactly what he's saying, but mostly it's just another way of telling people to live every day like it's their last, which, of course, is such a cliché that you can't really say it and be serious about it anymore. But I want to use this in my own life - no matter how scared I am of rejection, I should still take a chance, because death is coming. Also, yesterday I heard someone say that if you never do anything because you're scared of what you'll lose, then you'll always lose in life. If you don't take a risk and put yourself out there, you can't win. Ever.

All of this might seem obvious, and a bunch of worn out clichés, but I think it's important to remind yourself of these things every now and then, and actually try to apply them to your own life. Failure always hits hard at first, but after a while, these things might help you see that it wasn't that bad after all. At least now you know. I sort of went along with this "choose love over fear, because death is coming" idea recently, and sure, it didn't work out the way I had hoped, but now I can distance myself from it a little bit and see it for what it was: I took a risk, and it didn't pay off, but at least I did it. And that's the most important thing.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Losing loved ones

Four years ago, in the school year of 2006/2007, I spent a year in a small French town. I went to a French high school, and lived with three different French families. It wasn't always easy, and although most of my families were nice, none of them were completely without problems.

The last 4 months or so I spent in a little village called Barraux, a little bit up the mountain next to the town where my scool was. My host parents were called Anne and Hervé, and they had three children; David and Thomas, both living away from home, and Alice, who was on exchange in Argentina. The parents were really nice, and we got along well. I was very close with Anne in particular, and used to spend a lot of time with her, often just sitting in the kitchen talking to her when she was doing something there.

A year or so before my exchange, Anne had had cancer. When I moved in with them she was fine; she was working as a midwife, had taken up a new hobby which she enjoyed, and was leading quite a normal life, except for the occasional medical check ups.

That spring, however, her cancer came back. She had chemo, lost all her hair, and was very tired a lot of the time. They asked me if I wanted to move, because it wouldn't be all that great staying with them when she was so sick, but I preferred staying, since the only other possible family was nowhere near as nice as them, cancer or no cancer. Anne didn't get into a very bad state while I was there, although it was clear that she wasn't well.

I left France at the end of June. Some months later, I found out that Anne was cancer-free again, which was a relief. A year after leaving, I went back to visit them before taking up my summer job in Disneyland Paris. Right before my visit, Anne had found out that there was something wrong with her test results. The cancer was back, it seemed.

After that visit, I didn't see Anne and Hervé for 2½ years. I sent them cards occasionally, and got a couple of e-mails during 2008, but our contact was quite infrequent. I called them on Christmas Day in 2009 when I was in Perth, and found out that Anne still had cancer, but was doing reasonably well, all things considered.

Last fall, when I was doing my Erasmus exchange in London, some friends of mine told me they'd found really cheap plane tickets to Glasgow. I really wanted to visit Scotland again, so I looked into it, but also found out that in the winter EasyJet does direct flights to Grenoble, which is close to where I was on exchange. I realised how long it had been since my last visit, so I called up my first host mum, as well as Anne, to ask them if they were free around the time I planned to visit. Anne told me she was quite ill, and to call again the week before my trip to see if she would be able to see me. Apparently in the summer she had been in such bad shape that they thought she would die, but she had pulled through it once more.

A few weeks before Christmas I flew to Grenoble, and I spent the first night at Anne and Hervés house. Anne looked awful; she had lost a lot of weight, and her skin had a strange, greyish colour. All the same, I was really happy to see her.

Today when I got home, I had a message on Facebook from Hervé, telling me that Anne died on 10 February. "The cancer was stronger than her," he wrote. It shouldn't be a shock, seeing as she was barely holding on when I saw her, but I hadn't been expecting it - I guess somehow I thought she would get through it, just like before.

It's hard to believe she's no longer there. We didn't talk or write very often after my exchange, but while I was living with them we were close. I remember how she cried the day I left. I'm really glad I decided to pay them that last visit in December, although I didn't know it at the time, of course. At least I don't have any regrets in that respect.

Anne, je t'oublierai jamais, et tu me manques!

Anne and I on the day I left

A new beginning

I've sort of put my other blog on hold - after all, it is supposed to be a travel blog. Not much travelling going on at the moment, unfortunately. I did feel like writing, though, and a couple of people have even asked me about it, so I though, what the heck, I'll start another one.

Of course, starting a new blog brought back the eternal question of the language - which language should I write in? I guess that depends on who I'm writing for. My travel blog was mainly to let my family and friends know what I was up to - in the process saving me tons of time that would otherwise have been spent on writing individual e-mails - so I chose to write it in Finnish. This one, however, I'm pretty much only writing for myself, and for whoever else who happens to feel inclined to read it. It's for me to have a place to write down whatever random stuff I come up with, and there's not really a target audience, so I decided to please myself and write in English. I have no idea why I find that the easiest language to express myself in (in writing, at least) these days, and I suppose that should have me slightly worried, but never mind that now.

Coming up with a name for a blog is annoying, and half the things you come up with are already taken. I ended up with this, which can be found on a badge from a brand called Waldo Pancake - they do mugs and cards and bags and whatnot with cool texts on them. So there we are. Enjoy (or don't).

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