Saturday, 29 December 2012

The Double Life

Today, I happened to stumble upon this blog post by Satu (in Finnish), where she quoted the poem The Double Life by Don Blanding. I rarely read poetry, and whenever I find poems that I like it is always by stumbling upon them randomly, but I'm really glad I found this one. This is exactly how I feel.

How very simple life would be
If only there were two of me
A Restless Me to drift and roam
A Quiet Me to stay at home.
A Searching One to find his fill
Of varied skies and newfound thrill
While sane and homely things are done
By the domestic Other One.

And that’s just where the trouble lies;
There is a Restless Me that cries
For chancy risks and changing scene,
For arctic blue and tropic green,
For deserts with their mystic spell,
For lusty fun and raising Hell,

But shackled to that Restless Me
My Other Self rebelliously
Resists the frantic urge to move.
It seeks the old familiar groove
That habits make. It finds content
With hearth and home — dear prisonment,
With candlelight and well-loved books
And treasured loot in dusty nooks,

With puttering and garden things
And dreaming while a cricket sings
And all the while the Restless One
Insists on more exciting fun,
It wants to go with every tide,
No matter where…just for the ride.
Like yowling cats the two selves brawl
Until I have no peace at all.

One eye turns to the forward track,
The other eye looks sadly back.
I’m getting wall-eyed from the strain,
(It’s tough to have an idle brain)
But One says “Stay” and One says “Go”
And One says “Yes,” and One says “No,”
And One Self wants a home and wife
And One Self craves the drifter’s life.

The Restless Fellow always wins
I wish my folks had made me twins.

images: weheartit

Sunday, 23 December 2012

2012 Roundup + A look into 2013

So, here we are again, another year is almost gone. As is the custom around this time of year, I'd like to take a look back at the year that was, because frankly, I'm not really sure what I've been up to. (Sorry about the lengthy post, but a year is a long time!)

So, let's take a look at:

2012 as I saw it - and a look at what's next

First of all, I have to point out that 2012 was the first full calendar year that I have lived in Finland since 2009 (and before that it was 2005). The past two years I've spent half of each year living in the UK, so this year was quite different in that sense - no need, or chance, to set up a whole new life somewhere where I knew no one or nothing. It's strange, but I thought I'd feel stuck, or smothered or something from living in Finland long term again, but I really haven't. The year has clearly been split in two as well, though, as the first 5 months I spent living with my parents in a small town, commuting into uni, and then from June onwards I've been back in my old flat, living on my own again after a year of living with other people.

Also, there has been a fair share of trips, so I didn't really have much of a chance to get too settled in my ways. Especially in the summer I felt like I was always packing overnight bags and not sleeping in my own bed nearly enough. In total, I travelled abroad 6 times this year. I spent a weekend each in all Scandinavia capitals. I got two new countries onto my list of countries visited (the Vatican and Norway), giving me a grand total of 21. I visited Edinburgh twice, and my longest trip this year was the second trip to Scotland, when I spent two weeks there. Most trips I did on my own, when I visited friends, but my mum joined me on the trip to Rome, and my brothers joined me for a part of the two weeks in Scotland - which was the first (but hopefully not the last) time that the three of us did a trip together (without the parents). A strange thing is that this was the first time that I didn't visit London since the first time I went there in April 2009.

For next year I have one trip booked so far - a weekend in Copenhagen to see my dear friend Sophie - and I'm probably going to visit London with my mum after Easter. I also want to visit some friends who are doing their Erasmus exchanges, one in Alicante and one in Leeds, but I'm not yet entirely sure I'll be able to pull those off. I had this idea that it would be fun to get to 25 countries visited in the year I turn 25, but we'll see how it goes.

Having originally planned to spend a year in Scotland, this year turned out quite differently (study-wise) than I had planned. In the spring I wrote my Bachelor's thesis, and then in the fall I started working on my Master's thesis. At that point I still thought I'd do a whole year more at uni after finishing my thesis, or at least half a year, but I still decided that I wanted to finish my thesis by Christmas, i.e. in 4 months instead of a year. You know, just because. Then it somehow dawned upon me that despite it making no sense whatsoever, I would be able to get enough credits by the end of the academic year to actually graduate in May 2013. So it seems like that's what I'll be doing.

For 2013, then, there is some pretty big stuff ahead in this department. In January or February I'll hand in the final version of my MA thesis. In March I'll get my BA degree, and in May I should get my MA degree. It will be my last spring as a student, and then I'm off into the real world. Scary stuff.

As I was living with my parents for the first half of the year, I didn't have to work, which was a nice change. Then, after having no luck at finding a summer job for the past few years, I managed to land an internship, and worked as a translator all summer. Then, in the fall, I started working as a freelancer, did a couple of small things for the company I'd been an intern at, and suddenly, from somewhere, I'd also landed two large translation projects from other companies, one that I'll spend the rest of my holidays on after Christmas, and another one that will begin right after the first one is finished. Again and again I see how much of an asset it is in this business to be able to translate into Swedish.

So, next year I've got quite a bit of work, for the beginning of the year at least. Then, once those projects are over, I'll probably need to start establishing a few more business contacts. I'm not planning to look for a summer job this year, but to do freelance work at first once I graduate, while figuring out what I should do with my life, and see if there happens to be any jobs going that I could see myself doing. I don't think I want to be a freelancer forever, but it's a good place to start - one that doesn't leave me hanging in a limbo of unemployment when I'm fresh out of uni.

Having actually been around for a change, I've got to spend some really amazing times with my friends this year, and because of the trips, I've managed to see a fair share of my friends abroad, too. Memories from Hogmanay in Edinburgh a year ago still make me smile, and there are some great pics that show the mood really well. We also did a weekend trip with most of the Hogmanay crew in August. There's been dinners, nights out, lunches. There was a hen night and a wedding, and the birth of a beautiful little boy. I've made several new friends as well, mainly through work, and a couple through couch surfing, and there are a few people who I knew a little bit before who I know consider proper friends.

As always, though, there were friends I didn't get to see at all, or as much as I would have liked, and there were people whom I didn't manage to stay in touch with as well as I maybe could have done. I'll do my best to correct this next year - starting with visiting Sophie in Copenhagen, as I haven't seen her (outside of skype) for over a year.

I've definitely spent a lot more time with my family this year than I have done in previous years, especially with my dad and step-mum, who I stayed with for 5 months, and with my youngest brother, who I don't see often enough normally, but whom I got to see almost every weekend while living at my parents'. I've also been present at any family occasions I may have missed out on while living abroad. There hasn't been too many major changes this year, except that my youngest brother finished his military service and got a permanent job, and my dad turned 50. We'll see how next year turns out - some events coming up will be the two graduations, when both Jani and I finish our studies, and my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary. Jani is also planning to head Down Under for a working holiday, which is of course really exciting for him, but I know I'll miss him tons.

So, that's part of what I've been up to this year.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Friday, 21 December 2012

Public announcement

Ladies and gentlemen, I have an announcement to make:

Today, on the 21st December, in the Year of the Lord 2012, I have finished my Master's thesis!

I know, I know - as some people were quick to point out, there is still a whole lot of work to do, summaries and abstracts and final tweaks here and there, not to mention the workload that I still have to get through once I get the thesis back from pre-evaluation. I know all this. But that won't stop me from being really happy and bloody relieved that the thesis itself is written now. So, instead of reminding me about all that's still left to do, either congratulate me, or at least wish me something like this:

And anyway, at least I am pretty damned please with myself :D

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Thesis-induced mood swings

Well, this is interesting. Yesterday morning I was still feeling all the insecurities and fears of the previous day, and I wasn't sure how this whole thing would go. Somehow I managed to get over it, though, and just start working. And, more importantly, keep working. So in the end I did 10 tomatoes on the Pomodoro-tracker. Pretty good.

And, oh yeah, did I mention I'll probably finish it by tomorrow? Oh yes. Didn't see that one coming, did you? :D

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

A day in the life of a thesis procrastinator

Or "yet another day..." I suppose it should say.

Yesterday the first thoughts of despair hit me. So far, I've always been fairly confident, even when the work has been tedious or when I haven't had time to work on my thesis at all. If I hit a wall, I either did something else for a bit, or just found a way around, or over, or on occasion even through the wall. I may have missed my initial deadline, but I wasn't too worried - I had the Christmas holidays.

Until I took on a massive translation for the last two weeks of the holidays, leaving me with this one week. Maybe this is what's made me all jittery - the deadline has either come waaaay closer than what I am comfortable with, or it has been pushed back so far that I've failed entirely with my plan of having my thesis done early. Sure, finishing it in, say, February would still be quite an achievement, but not what I had in mind at all.

So there's that, plus the fact that I've hit the largest, most sturdy wall to date. And I have no idea how to work with it, or get rid of it. Which, you know, is bloody a teeny, tiny bit stressful.

BUT that was yesterday. And I got through it by coldly deciding to get myself into revision - quite a large chunk of work, but one I could handle, and one that had to be done at some point anyway. So I got started on that in the evening (funny (or, actually, bloody stupid) how the majority of my day's work is done between 7pm and 9pm), which is always good, because there is nothing worse than having to start on something new first thing in the morning. That's what writers' block is made of.

So I'll take a deep breath, and just throw myself back in there. I can do this, I can, I can. Really.

Pictures: weheartit

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Thesis week, day 2

Yesterday's score:

Pages: unsure (mainly revision)
Tomatoes: 7
Games of solitaire: too many

Yeah, seems a bit like my blog is getting more love and attention than my thesis at the moment.

Anyway, I did spent a fair few hours by the computer yesterday, and several of those I was actually working, too. As I found it so hard to start on a new, massive task, I decided to go at it from a different angle, and attacked a bit of revision. The notes from teachers and other people in my thesis group had piled up, so I had some suggested corrections to start out with. So I got those done, which is good, of course, but it also means that now I'm right back where I started - avoiding a large task that I haven't even completely figured out yet.

Yesterday I spent all day at my parents' house, but today I had to get into town super early, as I have to go to the dentist at half twelve, and I preferred to get a free ride, rather than having to walk 4 km in the snow and taking the bus. So here I am, at the coffee room at uni, all on me onesies. Well, there seems to be some sort of commotion in the hallway, no idea who it is or what they're up to, but there's no one else in here, which is good, because at least I can listen to music. So I got here at 7.50, when the building was technically still closed, and so far I've managed to get the final report of a class done (so all coursework for this year sorted, yay!!), and send a few important e-mails. Even solitaire lost its charm (and addictive nature) yesterday.

So, I guess it's time to get back to work.


Monday, 17 December 2012

Time to get to work


Ok, here I am. It's 7.30 am, I've had breakfast, I've got dressed, the laptop is up and running, and I've spread out a bunch of papers and notes and stuff. The parents have gone to work, after performing their duty of getting me out of bed. I'm bloody tired, and my brain is yelling at me to bloody go back to bed, but I'll have to resist it. Not just that, I have to start working now, but I'm really not sure where to start. I haven't had a chance to work on my thesis in a while, and the last time I did, I finished the previous chunk I was working on, and it's always the hardest bit to start a new chunk. Not made easier by the fact that I'm not 100% sure about what I'll do about this next chunk of work. Crap.

Well, the thesis writing guide I read said that when having trouble getting started, just do some freewriting or something for a while, just to get started and have something on a page. So I guess this qualifies as that - a little bit of my early-morning brain-goo on my blog. Good times.

Ok, just one more comment before I get to work: "Santa Baby" was just playing on the radio. There's something seriously wrong with that song, and I don't get why someone didn't see it when it was made.

Now. Work.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

And That's Who I Am #1

Anna challenged me to write 8 random things about myself. She did hers by using pictures from the andthatswhoiam-tumblr, and because I've recently picked out a bunch of pictures from there to post on here at some point, I decided to do the same. The main challenge for me was to choose only 8, but I'll probably post some more later on.

1. This is something that becomes terribly evident whenever I'm supposed to be doing uni work. I start working on something, or reading an article, and soon I find myself doing something completely different. Not good when studying for exams, but luckily we have very few exams.

2. This is something of a recurring theme here, I suppose. The city I live in is definitely what feels most like home in Finland, more so than the town I grew up in. But Scotland feels just as much like home, even though I lived there for less than a year. London used to feel like home, but it's been ages since I visited, so I'm no longer sure. Clearly this sense of home has nothing to do with time spent in a place, because although I lived in the French Alps for a year, that isn't home to me. Anyway, I've just come to the conclusion that I have many homes (as you can see from the quote at the top of this page).

3. I rarely receive letters anymore. When I was living in France and London, I sent and received tons of letters, and I've saved them all, too. That feeling when you find a letter when you get home, the excitement, the knowledge that someone took the time to sit down and write to you. Love it!

4. Oh yes. Way too much. On tiny things as well, that no one else probably remembers, or even noticed. But I kick myself for every tiny little thing for ages and ages. I really should stop.

5. This may seem like just a skill, but it is very much part of who I am, because I've spoken at least two languages all my life, and it's shaped my identity and the way I communicate a lot. It's also played a large part in putting me where I am today.

6. Less so than I used to be, I'd say, but I'm still rather picky, I'm afraid. A friend from uni (i.e. someone who hasn't known me from when I was younger, and a lot pickier) recently said "Well, if Jenni likes it, then it's got to be good!", so people seem to be well aware of this fact. Sometimes it's just things I decided as a child that I don't like, and haven't eaten since. I've been trying a few of those things lately, and found, to my surprise, that I actually do quite like Christmas food, for example. Who would have thought it?!

7. This has been a dream of mine for ages. Recently, however, my view of the publishing industry changed a lot when I realised just how rubbish you can be, and still get published if you have the right connections/are really lucky/some other unknown factor. It made it all seem a little bit easier, maybe, and a lot more unfair, too.

8. This I've also mentioned before. And I'm doing it right now with Rihanna's Stay.

So here are my 8 random things! I'm supposed to pass this on to 8 other bloggers, but as I think most people have probably done this one already, I'll just leave it open. Do it if you feel like it!

On endings

As I may have mentioned here before (can't be bothered to check at the moment, to be honest) I recently realised that I could actually graduate this spring (the Finnish uni system is really flexible, so this isn't as obvious as you may think if you've studied elsewhere). It came as a total surprise, as I had thought that, at best, I'd be graduating a year from now. But May it is, then!

Some time after this realisation hit me, I also realised that if this is my last year, then it'll be a year full of lasts. Come May, I won't be a student anymore, I won't be spending my time on campus, I won't be hanging out with a lot of the people I regularly see now, I won't be going to events and activities organised by my student association... A large chunk of my social life will be gone. And even thought I haven't been overly active in participating in these things in recent years, it still makes me sad. Of course I can still hang out with my friends outside of uni, but there will always be some people that I only ever see at uni, but whose company I enjoy, who I'll lose contact with after graduation.

As I've been giving up various things - and friends - quite often in recent years, I should be able to see this as nothing more than another transition in life, similar to all the ones I've gone through before. But five years is a long time. I just read a blog post by someone who's studying in London, who said that it feels like she was just a Fresher, even though she's now half-way through her studies. Well, she was, because that was just six months ago. Three years go by quite fast, because you've only just started and got the hang of something when the end is already drawing near, but when you set out on a five year "journey", you don't start thinking about it ever ending until that fact hits you in the face, right before it happens.

I used to think I'd be a student for ages, that I was in no hurry to graduate, and that I had ages left to enjoy everything that comes with being a student. But real life is knocking on the door, and even though I won't have to answer straight away, I won't be able to keep it off forever. And while that is, in some ways, exciting, it's also irreversible. Sure, I could always go back to uni, but this is when I was a student, and I won't get that back. And that's a bit sad. As I'm sure most things are once they're over.

Disclaimer: I may have had a few drinks before writing this.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Dear Santa...

I just saw that Marika had made a wishlist for Christmas, and as I haven't made one for years either, I thought I'd do the same!

1. Reino-slippers, 2. Brave DVD, 3. Eliza J dress, 4. Jamie's 15-minute meals, 
5. Samsonite Cosmolite Spinner

I'm not really expecting to get a 400€ suitcase, but I've put a new suitcase on the list, since the wheels on my current one have been through a lot in the past 7 years (including several moves both nationally and internationally, i.e. lots of excess weight) and I worry about them giving up on life on every trip I bring the suitcase on.

The Eliza J dress - I was browsing the House of Fraser online sale, mainly looking for a little black dress, but then I saw that one. And fell in love. And just had to have it. So when I got my tax return this week, I ordered it. It was a bit expensive, but it's a Christmas present for myself, and I thought I could wear it for my graduation in the spring, and on Christmas of course. I'll organise a fancy party if no other occasions come up!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Happy December!

So December is here. Time to open those advent calendars, and finally get the Christmas cards sorted. I've already sorted out all the Christmas presents, so there will be no need to stress about that.

As those of you who have read this blog for a while will know, I'm not a big fan of winter, or snow, but I'm actually quite happy with the scene of the above picture - snow is pretty, and is best enjoyed from a safe distance, behind double glazing.

Turku Cathedral - the principal church of Finland

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