Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 - The Year of Many Changes

2013 turned out to be a year of many changes. While I was in the middle of it all, I didn’t realise how many times my life was at a crossroads, but looking at the past year now, when it’s almost over, I can see that it’s been quite the year. I reached several milestones and made important decisions that would have a great impact on how my future will turn out:

In January I handed in my Master’s thesis.
In February I got my Bachelor’s degree.
In April I finished my last courses at university, and I started working full time as a freelance translator.
At the end of May we had a graduation party for my brother and me, and a few days later at the beginning of June I got my Master’s degree.
In June I also left to spend the summer in Scotland – or so I thought… because at the end of June I decided that when I travelled to Finland in August I would only go there for a visit. I would get rid of my flat, sell everything I owned and move to Edinburgh permanently.
In July I met a wonderful Scotsman, and luckily he’s been sticking around ever since.
In August I flew to Finland and began to empty out my flat in Turku. I threw out more stuff than during any previous move, because this time I had to cold-heartedly get rid of anything that wasn't absolutely essential. I also sold all my furniture, kitchen appliances and some smaller stuff, donated the rest to charity or to friends, and packed anything that remained in a few boxes and suitcases.
At the beginning of September I stayed with my parents in Parainen, where I spent my time dividing my stuff into the things I would take with me to Scotland and the things I would leave in storage. After five weeks in Finland, which felt like an eternity, I flew back to my “new” home town, moved into a beautiful flat in a lovely neighbourhood with a really nice flatmate, and I got to be with my boyfriend again.

From September onwards I've tried to settle back into my Scottish life – I've met up with old and new friends, translated, looked for a new job, spent time with my flatmate and my boyfriend, showed my home town to visitors, and generally enjoyed myself. It was wonderful to visit Finland at Christmas and see everybody again, but so far nothing – not my visit to Finland, nor the partial ridiculousness of life in the UK (taps, cold houses, etc. etc.), nor moments of homesickness – has made me regret my decision to move here. My life is here now, as it’s supposed to be.

Last year I wrote here about New Year’s resolutions: “Shouldn't that be the most important resolution for each new year – to make it the best year of your life so far? To be happier, healthier, kinder, whatever, just be more of it than last year. If last year was awful, then it shouldn't take much to make this year better, and if it was great, then find ways to make it even more so.” In many ways, 2013 has been a fantastic year, and the best part is that the good things are the ones that I remember, and any bad parts have been forgotten. I hope I can say the same thing a year from now.

Happy New Year everyone, or as we say in Scotland, Happy Hogmanay!

Images: weheartit

Sunday, 1 September 2013

The longest month in the history of the world

In my last post, I was feeling pretty good about August. Well, that didn't last long...

Turns out, August 2013 felt like the longest month in the history of the world. There were times, actually many times, when I thought September would never come - that I'd been transferred into some alternative universe, where time has slowed down, and September never comes. But it did. Finally.

I'm not saying August has been a bad month, really. I've spent time with my friends, gone for lunch a lot (always to my favourite restaurant, di Trevi), celebrated my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary with my family, spent a relaxing weekend at the summer house, and, most importantly, sold every single piece of furniture that I own (almost, anyway - I'm never getting rid of my lovely kitchen table), as well as lots of other bits and pieces, thrown out 6 massive bin bags of stuff, and moved my few remaining possessions to my dad and stepmum's house. There has certainly been enough to do to fill the last month of summer, and no reason for it to pass so very, veeery slowly.

Everything I own. Well, almost, anyway...
Well, no reason, except for the obvious. Being away from my boyfriend for 5 weeks was probably the worst idea I've ever had, no matter how much money it saved me to stay in Finland until I could move into my new flat in Edinburgh. We both agreed that I'm never allowed to do stupid things like that again, unless he comes along.

"10 days left", but who's counting...

Monday, 5 August 2013

August nostalgia

August is here, and although the summer isn't over, I'm approaching the end of my Edinburgh summer - which, in a way, is a good thing, as August is the month when the centre of Edinburgh becomes unbearable for someone who can't stand masses of tourists. With the Fringe, the population of Edinburgh doubles, and while I'd like to go and see lots of comedy and other interesting shows, living your life in a city taken over by tourists and other visitors is far from enjoyable. I'm trying not to vent my tourist rage too much now, but what is it with people going on holiday, and immediately forgetting that there may be some people around who aren't on holiday, and who actually need to get to places at set times? No, let's just walk around really slowly, suddenly stopping in the middle of the street to take pictures and read maps, take forever to buy train or bus tickets or get cash out. Because it's not like we, or anyone else in the queue, actually need to be anywhere... Ok, sorry, rant over. Because the point of this post was not, in fact, to rant about tourists (although I'm sure you'll get to read a post like that at some point), but to talk about it being August.

The Royal Mile during the Fringe, a.k.a. My Worst Nightmare.

For the past *quick calculation* 18 years, August has been quite exciting. There was always something about the last days of the holidays, the approaching autumn, going to buy new school bags and pencil cases and notebooks. Later on, in upper secondary school and university, I still enjoyed preparing for the upcoming year, making timetables and planning my studies and the year ahead. I love planning and making lists, and the beginning of a new school year was always a great time for that. The excitement never lasted for more than the first few weeks, of course, but I still enjoyed getting back into a normal routine after the holidays and seeing all my friends again.

After graduating, I thought August and the beginning of September would be a bit sad, as I still missed university and being a student. This summer has helped me get over my graduation angst and accept my new, non-student identity, but I still feel a little nostalgic when I think of all those years of excitedly preparing for a new year at school or uni, and I'm sure this feeling will get stronger the closer we get to September.

I won't be having the uneventful transition from summer to autumn that I'd been expecting, though. I won't be staring a new year at uni or moving over from one school to the next, as in previous years, but instead I'll be spending August preparing for my big move to Scotland - selling all my things, finding out about taxes and national insurance, and meeting up with friends and family. I'm sure there'll be enough planning and list-making needed to keep me happy for quite some time.

Pictures: 1: here and 2: weheartit

Monday, 1 July 2013

"To find where I'm supposed to be"

Now that I'm abroad again, this blog hasn't been getting much lovin - that's usually the way it goes, as my other blog (in Finnish, sorry) is my original travel blog, and this one was created so that I'd have somewhere to write about random stuff when I'm back in Finland.

So, turns out the (relative) silence might go on for a while, as I've recently decided to make my move to Edinburgh more permanent - I won't be staying just for the summer, as originally planned, but indefinitely. Very few people seem to be surprised.

At the beginning of this year, I was watching The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (if you haven't seen it, do it now! It's on YouTube, and it's amazing! Prepare to get addicted, though), where Lizzie says that her New Year's resolution would be "to find where I'm supposed to be". I really liked that idea, and decided to use that as my resolution for this year as well - I even put it up on my desktop as a sort of inspirational quote:

So that's what I'm trying to do. I won't know straight away if I've found it here, but I believe this is a good start.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Weather report from Edinburgh


Yeah, see, I'm actually quite happy with that. I feel sorry for all you people melting back home.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Summer plans

Finally the last of my plans for this summer have been confirmed: I'll be spending almost seven weeks in Edinburgh from the 5th June onwards, and then just over two weeks in Stirling.

Stirling, picture from here.

This time my Scottish summer (although I admit that the use of the word summer may be misleading in this context) was almost as randomly planned as last time - it was an idea born from a night of partying and a bit of insomnia, which, let's face it, clearly is a recipe for fantastic ideas.

Basically, for those of you who don't speak Finnish and haven't already read about this here, I realised (in my  alcohol induced state) that as a freelancer, I'm not really tied to anything, other than an internet connection, so why not head somewhere else for a bit and work from there? This simply marvellous idea then led to a few enquiries, and soon I had secured myself a room in the old town of Edinburgh for several weeks, and a cat/house sitting job in Stirling for a couple of weeks as well.

Three weeks to go until I head out there, and I'm so excited! I'll get to meet up with all my friends, enjoy one of the most beautiful cities in the world, go to ceilidhs and horse back riding on Seacliff beach, and all those other lovely things I've been missing! I'll also get a few visits from friends who have never been to Scotland before, so I'm really looking forward to introducing them to my second home.

I don't care if my summer will consist of more rain than sunshine, I'll be happy anyway! And I won't miss out on the Finnish summer either, as I'll be back on the 8th August.

Scottish weather forecast

Friday, 10 May 2013

Working from home

So, apart from a few last loose ends to tie up, I have finished my studies, had a little cry about it, and taken my first steps into the scary adult world. I have taken the step from being a part-time student/part-time translator, into being a full-time translator, working from home.

I've been really lucky so far in the sense that I've had quite enough to do, so no complaints on that account, and let's hope it lasts. What has been the major problem, as I knew it would be, has been getting up in the morning, getting started, and sticking to it. Last summer, when I had a job to go to, I had no trouble getting up early, getting myself ready and heading to work so that I'd arrive at 8am, even though I had a flexible schedule and most other people wouldn't arrive until 9am, or even later. I just enjoyed finishing at 4pm instead of 5, so I came in early, no problem. Now, however, getting out of bed has become a major struggle, and once I get out of bed, instead of having breakfast, getting dressed, putting my face on and starting work, I hang out in my pyjamas, get stuck on Facebook and various blogs, and don't even remember to make breakfast for the first hour or so.

And then there's of course the issue of productivity during the rest of the day, although I have found that if I manage to get started fairly early, I am also better at handling distractions that come up later in the day. I am, however, hoping to get myself into some sort of normal working rhythm, with days from 8-4 or 9-5, and evenings and weekends off. We'll see how that goes.

But now I wanted to share something with you that a friend shared on FB, and which is very accurate indeed. The full comic can be found here.

(Although, on second thought an alarm clock that sounds like that could solve my main issue...)

(In my case the lingerie models wouldn't be too much of a temptation, but you get the idea)

That last one is especially accurate, as I just finished today's work at around midnight. This is what I'm trying to avoid. Better luck tomorrow!

Ps: If anyone has any good ideas on how to increase productivity when working from home, please share!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Good times in April

I guess this post might be a bit superfluous, as I already told you what I'd be up to this month, but I still wanted to do a little recap on what I've been up to lately - other than work, lots and lots of work.

11.4 - Eddie Izzard's gig in Helsinki. Above, me and my brother being all excited. It's weird when you see someone live that you've seen hours of DVD and YouTube material of, especially when they're standing on a stage a little further away, and you're watching some of the show off large screens. Somehow, your brain doesn't realise that person is actually there in front of you, a few metres away. Sooo, yeah... Great gig!

13.4 - The annual ball. My personal hairdresser (i.e. my brother) did my hair and I went to have my make up done, which also included a bit of tutoring so that hopefully I'll be able to pull it off on my own in the future. Good party, and it's always fun to dress up like that.

17.4 - My friend Mea and I decided to go out for a little stroll in the sun after having lunch at this new Mexican place, and then we had the first outdoor ice cream of the season. Spring is here, and I'm loving it!

20.4 - I celebrated my birthday a day early with a bunch of lovely ladies. We had a really good time, and I got some lovely gifts, plus one really odd one.

21.4 - On the actual day I had my family over. I baked them some yummy tomato-mozzarella-basil pie, and Mea made the pretties birthday cake I've had since I was about 6 and my dad made a cake like a castle.

So that's what I've been up to the past couple of weeks! The reason I'm recapping April now is, of course, because the rest of the month will definitely deserve a post of its own. London is calling on Thursday!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Do you know that feeling?

Do you know that feeling?

That feeling of waiting for some potentially life changing news. When you don't want to make plans, but you can't help yourself. When you feel like you may jinx it if you plan too much, but planning is in your nature. When you play out scenarios in your head, but try to focus on the worst case ones, just to reduce the disappointment you fear is inevitable. When you're trying hard not to get carried away, not to let yourself get too excited, and just to keep your feet on the ground - and fail miserably.

I hate that feeling. But oh, how I love it.

Thursday, 4 April 2013


This blog has now been viewed over 10 000 times, amazing! And I'm sure at least some of those views have been by actual people and not just internet robots, so yay!

Anyway, I just wanted to share a picture and a bit of news with whoever reads this:

As a friend was kind enough to point out, my head looks like
it's a really strange shape in this picture, but never mind...

I finally finished my BA degree!

I can see all you non-Finns out there scratching your heads (and maybe some Finns, too) - "didn't you just finish your MA thesis?" Well, I'm not one to follow the common path too strictly, so I ended up finishing my MA thesis before I got my BA degree, and then I'll finish my MA degree in about a month. As you do.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Amazing April

April has arrived!

April is definitely one of my favourite months of the year - the snow melts and spring takes over, the days get longer, the summer holidays are approaching fast, and it also happens to be my birthday. This year, April is also filled with other cool things and events, so while it may be more common to do a recap of a month that has passed, I've decided to do an overview of the month ahead.

So, here are some of the things that I can look forward to in April 2013:

Ok, this already happened, but I had to include a picture of 1st April - a lovely Easter brunch with some friends. What a lovely way to start the month and the week!

This is the print out of the book we have been translating in class, and on the 10.4 we will finally finish working on it. Not the greatest of books (what an understatement!), but a good experience nonetheless.

On the 10th the student association for translation students is also organising it's 2nd ceilidh. The first time we organised it, in February this year, it was quite a success, and hopefully it will be this time, too. I can't wait!!

Everything seems to be happening in the same week, because the day after the ceilidh I'm heading to Helsinki to see Eddie Izzard live! We bought the tickets last year in May, so this has definitely been a long awaited event.

And just so I won't get bored, I've managed to cram one more fun event into that same week - an annual ball of one of the societies at university. The last time I went to one of those was a year ago, and the next one won't be until October, so I'm definitely looking forward to getting back into my lovely ball gown.

After a week full of activities I have a slightly less full week, although there will be a Monty Python -themed party on Thursday, and then on Sunday it's my birthday, which I will celebrate in the fashion of the above picture with some friends.

And then, only a few days later, I will finally head back to my favourite city in the world (or one of my two favourites, at the very least)! My mum and I will head to London for our fifth annual mother&daughter trip (and our fourth visit there together). We'll be following our usual plan - one day of shopping, one market, one museum, one musical, and afternoon tea. Plus a whole bunch of great breakfasts and lunches and dinners - I've actually spent considerably more time planning where we'll eat on this trip than anything else. You've got to set your priorities straight, after all!

And soon April is over and it is time for Vappu, i.e. the May day celebrations, which will also mark the end of life as I know it, as I will no longer be a student. But that's still some time, and several amazing events away!

I wish you all an amazing month of April!

Friday, 15 March 2013

Should I stay or should I go?

Yesterday I found myself looking at the internships offered by the centre of international mobility. There was an internship at the Finnish Institute in London that I'd been looking at some months ago, and I had even written the application deadline down in my calendar. I read through the job description and requirements, and started drafting a CV. But then I stopped to think.

Why am I doing this? I already realised at some point during this past year that where I am at the moment may not be such a bad place to be, and I'm not sure if I want to keep moving to new countries and building new lives for myself, at least not at the moment. So do I really want to do an internship at the Finnish Institute in London, or am I simply looking at internships abroad out of habit? Am I trying to cling on to the last strands of student life with all my strength? Because those have to be the worst reasons there are!

As I went through the practicalities of an internship in my head - not even the fun stuff, like living in London, but the complicated stuff, like what to do with my flat and my things - I realised that I'm not really feeling it. And as I took it further I realised that there really is no point for me to a) uproot myself yet again for a period of only a few months, and b) do unpaid work and try to survive on student benefits and small scholarships.

If I want to move to London (or Scotland, or wherever), I can do so for a real job that pays real money. And to be honest, at the moment I'm not even sure if I want to. I'm not saying my wandering days are over, but maybe, right now, this is where I'm supposed to be.

Monday, 4 March 2013


I got this challenge from Anna a little while back where you're supposed to tell your readers 11 things about yourself, then answer 11 questions, then choose 11 bloggers to complete the challenge, and finally ask them 11 questions. As I'm a bit lazy this challenge has already circulated in all the blogs I follow, I'll pass on the last two bits, but I'm definitely up for the first two! (Some of the pictures are relevant to the text, and some aren't.)

1. Spring is my favourite time of year. So imagine my dismay when after quite a lovely, spring-like morning on Friday, with bare streets and a bit of sunshine, a proper snowstorm arrived in the evening. Not cool.

2. At the beginning of this year, I decided I would try to become a more positive person and complain less. Yeah, that hasn't gone so well... But at least now I am more aware of the complaining, and I can try to change some of it into positive thoughts as well. "Try" being the key word here.

3. I'm not too pleased about my impending graduation. This is caused by many things: I won't be around many of the people that I've become used to seeing almost daily, I won't have anywhere to go every day or people that I see every day since I'll be working from home, I'm not entirely sure what I should be doing with my life and where I should be doing it, and, most of all, the oncoming identity crisis when I'm no longer a student after being one for 18 years, i.e. over 70% of my life. Scary shit.

4. The positive thing about my situation now that I graduate is that I won't have to start looking for a job, stress about being unemployed etc, as I can just slide smoothly into the life of a freelance translator. I'm even fairly confident about getting at least enough work to keep a roof over my head and food in the fridge. With some luck the money will even stretch to buying loo roll.

5. I've recently started having random solo dance parties in my flat at night. And why not? I do usually like to pull the curtains first, though. Don't want to alarm the neighbours more than necessary.

6. When going out, I mostly prefer to go to pubs or bars, where you can actually talk to people (and then possibly move on to a night club later if I feel like it). So it annoys me to no end that pubs in the UK seem to be unsure about who they are catering for when the weekend arrives, as I've been to many pubs who turn up the music to ridiculous levels on a Friday or Saturday night. You can't dance, because there is no dance floor, but you can't talk to people either, unless you enjoy a shouting contest. The only thing left to do is to drink silently, which may be the whole point, I suppose.

7. I love scrapbooking. Nothing fancy with different types of paper etc.,  just plain photos and maybe a few theatre tickets and such thrown in the mix. I've made massive scrapbooks about my exchange year in France, my summer in Disneyland, and my trip Down Under. Since then, I haven't managed to make any more, however, which is really sad. I saved up a whole bunch of stuff from my Erasmus-exchange in London that I could have put in, but I'm sure I've already thrown away most of it. I've also been meaning to make scrapbooks about my time in Rotex, and the time I spent in Scotland. Hopefully I can get on it soon.

8. I've always loved reading, and I used to read all the time and get through tons of books a year. Since I started studying there hasn't seemed to be enough time for reading just for fun, so while I still like to call myself a reader, I'm not reading very much at all. Another one of those "I'll get on it after graduation" type things.

9. This will be the fifth year in a row that my mum and I travel somewhere together. It wasn't even supposed to be an annual thing, but somehow it turned into one, and it's lovely. The first year it was an autumn trip to London, but since then the trips have always taken place in the spring. The first three years it was London, and then last year we decided to shake it up a bit and go to Rome instead. Rome was ok, but we both agreed - it's not London. So this year we're returning to our old pattern, and we're both awfully excited!

10. I don't drink coffee or beer, and I really wish I'd learn to like both. Especially beer. It would make life a lot easier, and a bit cheaper too.

11. I have two younger brothers - two and four years younger than me. The middle one and I have always been really close, but with the younger we used to fight all the time. We really didn't get on at all. A few years ago, however, after I'd spent a year away from home, I came back to Finland and realised that my youngest brother had turned into a really funny guy. Now we all get along really well - at least most of the time (we usually begin getting on each other's nerves after a few days in the same house) - and last year the three of us even did a little trip together. I loved showing my brothers my second home town (Edinburgh) and we had such a great time.

And here are Anna's questions:

1. What songs do you listen to at the moment?
- Bastille - Pompeii, Jake Bugg - Seen It All, - Ellie Goulding - Explosions and Dead In the Water, Haloo Helsinki! - Huuda! and Rihanna - Stay are a few of the songs that I've been playing on repeat lately.

2. What's the last film you saw, at home and in the cinema? Do you recommend it?
- The last film I saw at home was Alice in Wonderland, which I had already seen before, and quite like. In the cinema I saw Les Misérables about a week ago, and it was amazing. I cried three times.

3. Which day would you relive?
- I can't really think of a specific one that stands out... My graduation day was a good one, or then pretty much any day out of the trips I've done to London, Edinburgh, Oz or NZ...

4. If you could spend a day as a fly on someone's ceiling, whose would it be?
- This one was surprisingly difficult... I have to say I can't think of anyone at the moment.

5. If you could change something about your life, what would it be?
- A bit more certainty about my future would be great.

6. Do you regret something? What?
- Not spending more time in New Zealand when I was there. But then again, Australia was great, too, so I don't regret it too much.

7. What advice would you give to yourself from 10 years ago?
- Don't stress too much, and don't take yourself so seriously. (Which is advice I'd give to my current self as well...)

8. What are your hopes for the coming year?
- Since I have no idea what I'll be up to a few months from now, I guess I just hope I'll be happy. And get to go on lots of trips!

9. What do you wish you could do better?
- Speak German/Spanish/Italian (i.e. any of the languages I have studied at some point but never got very far in). And get stuff done in general, so procrastinate less.

10. Where are you travelling next? Or where would you like to travel? Why?
- My next trip will be to London with my mum at the end of April. There are so many places I'd like to travel, like Ireland or New York, and I'd like to go back to New Zealand and Scotland, to name a few. 
And, well, why not?

11. Helsinki or Stockholm?
- I'm not very familiar with either one to be honest, but maybe Stockholm? Dunno.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Light in Dark Places


I hit a bit of a rough patch earlier this week. The incident that triggered it wasn't much to speak of, but it got the ball rolling and I ended up something of an emotional wreck. In situations like these you can really appreciate the wonderful friends that you've been blessed with. So although few, if any, of these girls will actually read this, and some of them may not even realise they did anything, I want to say a few words of thanks (- because unfortunately you come off really sappy if you say things like this out loud).


MA - who handled the original meltdown beautifully and got me back on my feet;
EJ - who is always ready to listen;
KM - who always believes in me;
SB - who is always supportive;
MM - who made it all seem ok again.

Thank you. This week started out quite badly, but you managed to turn it all around. You are truly amazing!


Friday, 15 February 2013

The Swimsuit Dilemma

A couple of weeks back a friend of mine asked me to join her and a couple of other girls to the local spa (with pools, jacuzzis, water slides, that sort of thing - no beauty treatments or anything like that). I hadn't gone there for years, and I thought it could be fun - except for a tiny little problem: I didn't have a swimsuit.

There are a few reasons for this, the main one being that I don't really like wearing a bikini. I last bought one in the spring of 2010, and didn't use it since, so last time I tried it on I realised that there was no way that top was going to cover most of what it should be covering. I also rarely swim, even in the summer, as the  Finnish seawater is bloody freezing. On the beach I prefer to keep my middle covered anyway - we all have parts of ourselves we don't really care for, and that's mine. So, since I don't like wearing a swimsuit, I didn't really feel like going to buy one in the first place.

I discussed this with another friend of mine, telling her how it would be fun to go swimming since I hadn't been for so long, but that I hated wearing a swimsuit. And then she told me: "You'll just have to get yourself a swimsuit that is so gorgeous that you'll love wearing it!" Well, that sounds easier said than done. But then she sent me a link to a website called For Luna which sells retro-inspired swimsuits. And they are absolutely gorgeous!!!

So, as of today, I am the happy owner of an amazing swimsuit which I will be happy to wear whenever the chance arises.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Mission accomplished

I did it. It took me about 4 months to write, and then, about a month later, I spent a weekend doing the final corrections. Last Sunday I finished the final version and e-mailed it off to be printed, and on Wednesday I got the final result.

It may not look like much in the picture, but to me it looks absolutely beautiful!

Now I just need to wait for the grade, which I should receive within a couple weeks. And then that's it! I can put my MA thesis on a shelf and move on with my life!

...which will still consist mainly of uni work, but hopefully a bit less of that and more of actual paid work in a couple week's time, when this awful period is over and I only have two classes a week left.

The end is nigh, my friends!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Travel facts

My friend Anna gave me a challenge where you're supposed to post a picture and your readers are supposed to guess where it's taken, and then there's a bunch of questions to reply to as well. I'm sending this one on to Elina, hopefully she hasn't done it aready.

Any guesses?

Scariest airline flown?
I haven't flown any particularly scary airlines so far, and I can't remember any particularly scary flights, either.  I guess the really short flights in tiny planes (Turku-Stockholm, Turku-Helsinki) may have been a bit scarier than normal as they're usually a lot more bumpy, but nothing too scary there, either.

Favourite city/country/place?
This is a really difficult one! But as the question is formulated like that, I'm going to take advantage of it and choose one each, which isn't easy either, but I'd have to say city: London, country: Scotland, and place: the one in the picture.

Most remote corner of the globe visited?
On the bus between Sydney and Canberra, surrounded by the Australian outback, I felt like I was pretty far away, both from home and from other people in general.

Favourite guidebook series?
I think the guidebook series you start out with tends to be the one you keep using, and in my case that's Lonely Planet, although I can't really say if it's tons better than any other series.

Solo traveller or group traveller?
Although travel with a great group of friends can be amazing, it's also very difficult to get right, as you won't know how well you get on once you're out there before you actually head off. Also, I know I tend to have moments when I stress out/am grumpy/hate compromises when I spend too much time with the same people (although this doesn't apply to everyone, it's just that I won't know beforehand), so I'm quite happy to travel on my own, also because then I'm not bound by things like other people's schedules or budgets. I mean, if I'd always sat around waiting for someone else to have the time and the money to travel when I did, I wouldn't have been half the places I've been. But my favourite kind of travel is a combination of both categories - travelling on my own while visiting friends or couch surfing, or travelling with someone else but having "days off" and spending time apart as well.

Worst place to catch a stomach bug?
I've been lucky enough to avoid stomach bugs abroad so far, but during a week-long family holiday in Alanya, Turkey everyone else got sick at some point during the week. Stomach bugs are awful anywhere, but I'd say hot temperatures don't help.

First culture shock experience?
Strangely enough, the first culture shock I remember experiencing was reversed culture shock after returning from Paris after working at Disneyland one summer. It's strange, because I'd both lived in France before, and returned to Finland before, and the first time was after a whole year, so you'd think it would be worse. It was equally bad in January 2011 when I moved back from London to a dark, cold Finland and an empty flat full of my boxed-up belongings.

Where would you buy a second house?
Well, this one is hard, too. There's so many places! It would be lovely to have a home somewhere warm, so that I could escape there when the Finnish winter becomes too much, but at the same time my top 2 favourite places - London and Scotland - would probably come first, even though the weather there is only marginally better in the winter than it is here.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The best year of your life?

New year's resolutions and fresh starts have been on my mind lately, for obvious reasons. Facebook is covered in posts of how to make the new year better, how to make yourself better, how to do better. Blogs fill up with good advice on various things. A new year feels like turning a new page in life, like you have a blank canvas and all those other clichés, and you can start again.

For the first time in years, I've actually made a few resolutions of my own. Actually they're just small changes I want to do, and the decision just happened to be made around the beginning of the new year - probably because of all the inspiration flying around.

Today I read yet another person's musings on the new year, in which she said that she simply wants to be happy. This got me thinking. It reminded me of something that I was exposed to a lot some years ago, when doing research before my exchange year in high school. The tagline of one of the exchange programs was "The best year of you life". While the tagline in that specific context may not be ideal - while it's great from a sellers perspective, it does create an awful lot of pressure on the teenager who's struggling in a foreign country - it came to mind now, when thinking of various new year's resolutions.

Shouldn't that be the most important resolution for each new year - to make it the best year of your life so far? To be happier, healthier, kinder, whatever, just be more of it than last year. If last year was awful, then it shouldn't take much to make this year better, and if it was great, then find ways to make it even more so.

That's what I want to do, anyway

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