Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Linguistic weirdness

My brain is taking me to completely new linguistic levels. Gone are the days when I spoke one, or two, or however many languages. I already had a little taste of this new weirdness when I first arrived in France five years ago. After having spent only a couple of days there, I remember reading a book in Swedish, and hearing the words in my head in Swedish, but with a French accent. Slightly worrying.

Last week when I got here, I quickly noticed I was thinking in English (which sometimes happens at home, too) but with a Scottish accent. The thing is, I couldn't speak with a Scottish accent to save my life. In my head, however, there seems to be no problem at all. Weird.

Also, having spent quite a lot of time with French people this past week, I noticed yesterday that my brain's gone into Frech mode. I was surprised when I suddenly heard someone speak English, and when some idiot almost hit me with his car, my first reaction wasn't to swear at him in Swedish or Finnish, as you'd expect, or even in English, but instead the first thing that came out of my mouth was "Oh, putain!". Very interesting...

Let's see what happens when I start work, and I'll be speaking Finnish, Swedish, English and French (probably) every day. I'm used to it, sure, but seeing as my brain's been having these weird reactions to things lately, I'm not sure what to expect...

Funny/cute thing of today

Place: Starbucks, Princes Street, Edinburgh
Thing: There seems to be a computer class for grannies here, because there's a table with four grannies on laptops over in the corner, and two guys who seem to be telling them what to do. Aaaaw! :D


I might just have to buy this...

Don't really love the colour, but what choice do I have? ;)

Monday, 20 June 2011

50 things about me and travelling

I’ve seen a couple people do this, including Anna so I thought now would be the time to do it myself. Sorry that most of them are a bit long, but it’s a good way to kill time, at least! ;)

1.      So far I have been to 19 foreign countries (and at the airport of one more, but that doesn’t count) on 3 different continents.

2.      Actually, I guess Wales and Scotland would really count as separate countries as well, but let’s just count them as one.

3.      The first time I went abroad (other than to Sweden, which doesn’t really feel like “abroad”) was when I was 13, and three other students and I + two teachers visited a school in Narva, Estonia.

4.      The first time I was on a plane was when I was about 14, and I spent a week in Crete with my mum, my grandmother and my brothers.

5.      I have only been on a package holiday twice; the trip to Crete mentioned above, and a few years later a similar one to Alanya, Turkey. I don’t mind spending a week relaxing on a beach, but otherwise I really dislike those places that are only there for tourists, where even the locals speak some Finnish. Also, the other Finns you see in those places often give you reason to be ashamed of your country.

6.      I once won a three week long language course in Malta for two people. When they called me to tell me about it, I couldn’t even remember having entered any such competition, and I still don’t. Malta was nice, but the course was crap. In three weeks I learned three words; kerb, bleat and itinerary. We didn’t get any kind of cultural experience from staying with a host family either; they clearly took students in just to make money. Still, it’s not a bad place, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it if I ever go back.

7.      Except for Finland, I have lived in France and the UK. I spent a year on exchange in the French Alps when I was 18, and I went back a year later to work in Disneyland Paris for the summer. I then lived in London twice, basically, in 2010: au pairing from June till September, and then on my Erasmus exchange from September till January. Now I’ve just arrived in Edinburgh, and I’m planning to stay here at least till the end of the summer, but after that we’ll see; I make no promises.

Disney "hotties" à la Discoveryland
8.      After my exchange year (2006-07) I spent a year in Finland, but after that I haven’t been in Finland for more than four months at a time, sometimes a lot less.

9.      I’ve clearly made a reputation for myself as a traveller; people are surprised when they see me in Finland, and my parents get asked where in the world I am at the moment – the expectation obviously being that I’m not in Finland.

10.  I’ve always loved London and everything to do with it, even before I ever visited it.

11.  The first time I went to London was in April 2009. Then October ’09, February ’10, June - September ’10, September - December ’10, December ’10 - January ’11, March ’11 and June ’11.

12.  Both previous times that I got back from London this year it took me no more than a week till I’d got myself tickets to go back.

13.  During some of 2009 and most of 2010 I constantly had three trips coming up; after every trip I somehow managed to plan in a new one almost immediately.

14.  I’ve toured Europe three times; twice on bus on Rotary Youth Exchange’s Eurotour (once as an exchange student and once as a tutor) and once by car with my parents after they came down to France to take me home after my exchange.

15.  The longest trip I’ve been on (not counting the times I’ve lived abroad) was on the Christmas holidays of 2009 when I spent five weeks touring Australia and New Zealand.

16.  When I was in New Zealand I wanted to go bungee jumping, but I didn’t have the time. I did go skydiving and caving though.

17.  One of the best things I experienced in Australia was when I was in Canberra, and the people I stayed with took me outside the city where I got to see wild kangaroos pretty close up.

18.  Before I went to Australia, the longest time I’d spent on a plane was about four hours. Suddenly I did 2+12+10. Ouch. I was a bit excited to finally get on a plane with my own TV screen though, but by the time I arrived in Sydney I was over it.

19.  I don’t think I’ve ever loved flying, but there used to be a certain excitement in the whole process of going to the airport, checking in, going through security, boarding, etc. etc., but after I had 13 separate flights in 4½ weeks (on my trip to Oz) I’ve started to consider it as nothing more than a necessary evil.

20.  The longest I’ve ever spent on an airport was six hours in Frankfurt. My connecting flight to Helsinki had been cancelled, so I had to wait for the next one. I’d been travelling for about 24 hours, I was dead tired, it was really early in the morning so nothing was open, I was terribly bored, and I just wanted to get home. So close (compared to Sydney, where I’d started from) but still so very far…

21.  I haven’t been to the US yet, but it’s definitely next on my list. Especially New York. I’d love to spend some time in the US and travel around, seeing places and visiting friends (most of whom I haven’t seen for years).

The New York hotel, Disneyland Paris
22.  One of the main reasons why I haven’t been able to go to the US yet, and probably won’t be anytime soon, is because I keep spending my money on trips to London.

23.  I don’t mind travelling on my own. Sometimes it’s even better than to travel with someone; I can do exactly what I like, without having to make compromises. But to be honest, I’ve never done a whole trip by myself; I’ve gone to London and Australia on my own, but I always met up with people I knew for some hours, or even days.

24.  One of the random things I love about travelling is going out for breakfast or brunch! There’s no brunch culture in Finland, and I think there should be! Actually, I might take a break from writing this now and go across the street to the Treehouse Café for some brunch… 

Brekkie in Sydney

25.  I used to love Paris. Then, after I’d been there eight times in two years (one of those times actually lasting for two months, with visits into town about twice a week) I got a bit tired of it; it felt a bit ‘been there, done that’. It’s a shame, really, because Paris is lovely. But I’m sure I’ll like it whenever I end up going back – maybe we just needed a break from each other... ;)

26.  For me, learning a language is pretty closely related to living abroad. I studied French for four years before going there on exchange, but I didn’t speak it well at all back then – I only learned it well because I was living there. I studied German for about 2½ years, and then I stopped because it got too difficult. I think the only way that I’d learn it properly, or at least better, would be to live in a German-speaking country. I’m not too keen on Germany though, at the moment anyway, but maybe Austria could be an option. One day, perhaps...

27.  I think travelling might be in my genes. My grandparents are always travelling all over the world; I’m never sure if I can call them, because I never know if they’re actually in Finland. It has to be said, though, that I seem to be “worse” than them; they didn’t really start it until they were in their forties (I think?), so I’ll probably catch up with them soon enough.

28.  I love the Tube. Well, not when it’s busy, but in general, I love it. Having spent a few months in London, I saw the map for the Paris metro (after not having seen it for ages), and it just looked so complicated, none of the lines seem to connect! I don’t remember feeling like this when I was there, but now that I compare it to the Tube map, it looks like you’d have to take huge de-tours to get anywhere. Mind the gap!

29.  I joined Couch Surfing in 2009, and since then I’ve hosted people from Germany, the US, Japan, Australia and France. I’ve surfed people’s couches in Melbourne, Edinburgh and Cardiff, I had someone from CS show me around in Bath and Edinburgh, and I’ve been to the weekly meetings in London and Edinburgh. It’s a great way to get to know a place and a culture, and of course to meet people. I haven’t stayed in touch with everyone I’ve met through CS, but I’ve made several good friends who I’ve seen since, and who I’ll hopefully see again. I definitely recommend it!

30.  The scariest experience I’ve had abroad was New Year’s Eve in the French Alps; I went to a party on a skiing station, and the guy who was driving was probably the most drunk of us all. Apparently, because of some crazy French laws on insurance, no one else could drive his car, so he was the one driving a car with seven people crammed into it down these steep, narrow, slippery mountain roads. I was sure I’d die. It’s easy to say that you shouldn’t get into a car when the driver’s drunk, but what do you do when you’re in some small village in the mountains, you don’t really know anyone, and you barely speak the language?

31.  While living in London, I visited Bath, Edinburgh, Salisbury & Stonehenge, Brighton, Cardiff and Cambridge. I was planning to go to Canterbury, but in the end I couldn’t go. I also went to Richmond a few times, and to Kingston, but they sort of count as London, I think.

32.  I don’t like taking the bus in most places, not even at home. It gets me all nervous. The problem with the bus is that you need to know where you’re going before you’ve ever been there! It’s not enough to say “Get off the bus when you see a church,” because there’s the pressing of the button that needs to take place before getting off, i.e. before you see the church. Stressful! Some places, like London, Chessy (where Disneyland Paris is) and this little place I went to in Germany, have this great system where they tell you which stop is coming up, so that you don’t have to stress. Much better, I think!

33.  I don’t like looking like a tourist, even when I am one. I always want to look like I know exactly what I’m doing and where I’m going. It’s great when I do so well with this that people come and ask me directions in places I’ve never been before. Like the time I was completely lost in Richmond Park, and I just tried to find a way, any way, out of there, and this guy I’d walked by a few times already came up to me and said: “You seem to know this park very well, do you know where X is?”.

34.  I love making scrapbooks about my trips and stays abroad; so far I’ve got a huge one from my year in France, another one from my summer in Disneyland, and one with my trip Down Under and a few of the ones to London. I’ve been planning to make one about my seven months in London ever since I got back, but I haven’t had the cash, or the time, yet.

35.  Out of the times I’ve been to London, three have been with my mother. When we go, we usually follow quite a specific programme; one show, one museum, one market, and one full day of shopping. The rest depends on our mood, but usually we sneak in some shopping the other days, too. Afternoon tea is also a classic.

36.  As a traveller I’ve been very lucky in the sense that my luggage has never been lost or delayed (touch wood).

37.  I did once have to spend a night at an airport, though. I got locked out of the house when I was going to get my stuff and go to the airport (let it be known that I was innocent in this!), so I arrived at Luton 5 minutes after my flight had left. I decided to get the next flight to Edinburgh (of course the new ticket was almost double the price that I had paid for my original return ticket), which was 9 hours later, and as it would have taken 3 hours each way if I’d decided to go home, I stayed at Luton. The longest, most boring, and actually even, I’d say, worst night of my life.

38.  Another thing I’ve been lucky in is that I’ve never been sick abroad (again, touch wood), so I’ve never had any encounters with the health care system of another country. Don’t really wish to, either.

39.  Speaking of being sick, when my family went to Turkey on holiday for a week, everybody got sick at some point – everybody except me! They were all throwing up and such, and we don’t know what it was, exactly, but somehow I resisted.

40.  And sort of in the same category; the only time I’ve been far enough to risk jet lag was Australia, but I was fine both ways. I arrived in Sydney at 9pm, we went out for a drink, I was in bed at 11, and then I slept like a baby till about 10 in the morning; better than I usually sleep, even. Not sure if this jet laglessness is connected to my occasional insomnia; maybe one takes out the other?

41.  I’ve got a bit better at packing for trips, i.e. not over-packing, at least not that much, but on the other hand I do over-pack on a day-to-day basis. Every time I went into town for the day last summer in London, I’d lug heaps of stuff around with me: sunglasses + case, possibly sun cream, water bottle, umbrella if there was the slightest chance of rain, a book for reading on the tube, my London Lonely Planet for maps (at least I only took the pocket sized one), wallet, calendar (I know, right?!), iPod, a light jumper... And that was for a place with fairly consistent weather! Imagine what it’ll be like here (in Edinburgh), where you can get every type of weather known to man in a single day? I’ll have to bring a suitcase whenever I want to go out...

42.  The smallest country I’ve been to is Monaco, and I’ve been there three times. Once is more than enough, believe me. Bloody expensive, too, and I say that as a Finn!

43.  Someday I want to rent a car and do a road trip in Scotland, and maybe the rest of the UK too while I’m at it. I’ll just need to find someone who’s willing to drive here to join me first.

44.  Pretty much the only reason I went on a weekend trip to Cardiff last year was because I’d had too much “Cardiff exposure”, i.e. I’d been watching quite a lot of Torchwood. I told myself that wasn’t why, but it sort of was.

45.  I haven’t really been to places where being blonde has been that special, but once, on Eurotour, I did have four Taiwanese girls suddenly gathering around me to play with my hair.

46.  Unlike most people I’ve spoken to, I didn’t like Berlin one bit. I think it’s probably because it was part of Eurotour, I didn’t do or see very much, and most of our time there was spent on a very boring guided bus tour. I should probably give it another chance, and Couch Surf there this time. But they did have great kebab, and that’s high praise coming from someone who never eats kebab at home.

47.  When abroad, I always tell people off when they talk in their own language and expect people around them not to understand – I always say that one day, the person whose hair you’re criticising in Finnish or Swedish or whatever will reply to you. Of course then I went and did that myself! Good thing I was admiring the jewellery that girl was selling, it would have been very awkward otherwise, but I did learn my lesson.

48.  Once on the Tube I ran into someone I had met in Sydney earlier that year. I wasn’t even supposed to go into town that day, but I’d had to change my plans last minute. She was in London for a few hours only, she’d only flown there from Australia and was taking the Eurostar to Brussels that afternoon. We ended up on the same train, in the same carriage, at the same time. Totally crazy! I’ve had something similar happen to me twice more after that, both times in London actually, but that one was by far the weirdest coincidence I have ever experienced.

49.  I used to think Finland was crap, and that I’d never stay there for longer than I had to. Spending a year in France taught me that maybe Finland isn’t that bad after all, and after I moved back from London (even though it’s a place I love more than anything) I was thinking that maybe I’ll live in Finland and just travel a lot. Time will tell, but it’s definitely not ruled out. As it turns out, Finland is a pretty great place to live!

50.  I do travel a lot, and I do have all kinds of plans, but what I’ve just done is pretty extreme, even for me. A few weeks ago I was all set to spend the summer in Finland, hopefully getting at least a bit of work, and then suddenly, overnight, almost, I decided to go to Edinburgh for a couple of months. And two weeks later I did just that. Sometimes I surprise even myself.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

1000 down

Now this blog has been viewed over 1000 times. Awesome!

We'll see what happens once I've relocated to Scotland - my travel blog (in Finnish), which has been pretty quiet lately, will see more action from now on, so we'll see how much time I have for this one. I'll try to keep my "interesting observations" coming, though - I'm definitely not making this into a copy of my Finnish blog, because I can't be bothered to translate all my texts. (You could say that's a bad sign, considering my career choice, but (believe it or not) I don't get paid for this; I'd happily translate it if I did).

Anyway, what I meant to say was: 1000 views, that's great, and please keep visiting! :)


Sunday, 5 June 2011

Culture Shock Finland #2: Salmiakki

Every country has some sort of strange food that most foreigners can't stand. It's the kind of stuff that you have to be a native to like, or even to understand why anyone would eat it. It's also the stuff that people love to feed to foreigners, because it's almost certain they'll hate it.

Finland, like most countries, has several of these foods, but the one that I think is the most important is salmiakki (salty liquorice). Finnish children don't always like it, but many of them grow up to love it more than anything. It's the thing (together with rye bread) that most people miss when they're abroad (I keep saying 'most', because I don't want to generalise, especially since I'm not one of these 'most people', and I personally side with all the foreigners who hate the stuff).

If you ever meet a Finn, they'll probably try to feed you salmiakki. It's worth a try, because it's very typically Finnish, but I don't promise you'll like it. If you decide to try it, don't worry if you hate it - you're not going to offend the Finn, because that's the reaction they're expecting. It's actually a bit disappointing when someone does like it!

Fazer (the Finnish company that's famous for their chocolate, but also makes lots of other stuff) has recently released a new salmiakki ice cream, and a TV ad to go with it. The ad was titled "The world's most hated - Finland's most loved", and in it you can see the reactions to the salmiakki ice cream by both foreigners (the first half) and Finns (the second half). The Finns' comments included such things as "It tastes Finnish", "It just gets better the more you eat it", "I don't know anything that could be added to this, it's so good", "It's like a party in my mouth" and "Can I get another one of these?". My favourite reaction is the guy at 0:44 :D

Friday, 3 June 2011

Mood swings

YAY! - A new episode of Doctor Who tomorrow!
NO! - It's the last one before the break!
YAY! -  It looks like it's going to be a great episode!
NO! - There's supposed to be some crazy cliffhanger!
YAY! - It'll be back in September!
NO! - How will I make it till then?
YAY! - I'll be in Edinburgh, I'm sure I'll manage :D

I'd still prefer that it didn't go on break, though!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Culture Shock Finland #1: Buying a coffee

I met a Scottish girl the other day who had read the book Culture Shock: Finland on her way over, and it inspired me to write the following post. I might even make this into a series for any non-Finnish readers out there!

This following conversation could be heard in most other countries, but I have chosen to set it in England.

Person 1: Hello!
Person 2: Hi! Could I have a coffee, please?
Person 1: That'll be one pound, thank you.
Person 2: There you go.
Person 1: Thank you. Here you go!
Person 2: Thank you.
Person 1: Have a nice day!
Person 2: Thanks, you too!

Now here's how us Finns do it (translations added for easier understanding).

Person A: Kahvi. (A coffee.)
Person B: Kaks viiskyt. (Two fifty.)
Person A: [hands over money]
Person B: Ole hyvä. (Here you go. [optional])
Person A: Kiitti. (Cheers. [optional, rarely used])

Welcome to Finland! ;)

EDIT: Seeing as some people (Finns) seem to be taking this way too seriously, I'll have you know that this is exaggerated, and supposed to be funny. It's not as bad as all that, but you have to admit, people in some other countries are better at being polite. That's all I'm saying!
Better now? :P
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...