Days like these the thought of boxing is more appealing than under normal circumstances. That’s all I’ve got to say today, on the last day of May.
Sunday, 29 May 2011
At 1 a.m. we see a blonde woman on the road. She’s hysterical, shouting at the cars. “Was her jacket blue?” I don’t know, I say, maybe it was white, or pale blue, perhaps. Oh. Silence in the car. We drive home, I grab the dog and we get into the house.
Fifteen minutes later my mother arrives with the blonde woman. Her clothes are wet and the left side of her face is bruised , purple and blue. They know each other from Swedish class, with one week left of the school year the blonde woman disappeared.
She’s sitting downstairs now, trying to reach her boyfriend – the very same person who painted her pretty face blue – he doesn’t answer the phone.
The other day I signed up for a half-marathon that will take place at the end of October. Having a goal makes exercising a lot easier, and now I’ll be forced to go out running. I have also found the perfect running buddy…
Sasha runs at the speed of a little rocket. But, being a puppy and all, she sometimes needs to stop for some cuddling…
Saturday, 28 May 2011
Friday, 27 May 2011
01.10 a.m. Ferry leaves, I find my cabin and jump into bed.
05.45 a.m. Time to get up, get dressed in the darkness, grab some breakfast and head to the duty free shop for some battery (which keeps you going).
06.30 a.m. Ferry arrives in Stockholm, I decide to walk to the city centre (takes about 30-40 minutes) even though it starts to rain.
7.10 a.m I order a big cup of green tea at a coffee shop in the train station and start preparing the presentation I’m going to give in the afternoon. The task is to present a classmate’s essay: the topic is actually quite interesting – the girl has analyzed Google’s decision to withdraw from China by using something called value focused thinking.
8.00 a.m. Stockholm is still rainy and grey but that doesn’t stop me from doing some window shopping. I also go to a super market to look for something that a lot of Swedish fitness bloggers have written about. I don’t find it, but instead I’m offered a date by some random guy on the street. I kindly decline and hop on the metro.
9.00 a.m. The university is almost empty at this early hour, so after spending three moments (or five) feeling very melancholic nf front of the boards at the Institution of Slavic Languages (they are offering a course on Czeslaw Milosz… AND lots of language courses), I eat my morning snack (not only battery – there was some cottage cheese with nuts as well) while reading the newspaper. Apparently they’ve caught Radko Mladic. A classmate lives in Belgrade so surely she will give me a more detailed account of the events in Serbia. And surely she does - and apparently Serbia needs money -> has to make the EU happy -> finds Mladic. (surely nobody had a clue where he had been hiding for the past x-years in a country like Serbia - just saying that it's not very big)
This is also when I realise that I look like a scary ghost – it’s time to beautify myself!
This is our last meeting (this spring), so the whole day will be dedicated to presentations. Mine is in the afternoon so I lean back and listen to some really fascinating discussions on how to apply decision analysis on various kinds of problems.
Noon: it’s time for lunch – each time we meet, one of the professors book us a table at one of the fancier restaurants at campus. The food is always delicious, and there is an ample supply of veggies and dessert too. On the way to lunch I get lost (even though I’ve walked the path to the restaurant many, many times). During this little adventure I find my dream house and smell some flowers, too.
At lunch we discuss babies because one of the girls in my class is pregnant…
After lunch a guy called Andreas presenta my essay, and the feedback is good. (I’m especially flattered that he thought my essay was good – nevermind the teachers – because he is working as some kind of security specialist for the Swedish army- yes, Sweden has an army – so he knows quite a bit about international conflicts). I get a good grade, try to hide a wide smile and then it’s already time for me to give my presentation.
15.45 p.m. I leave a bit early because I will be returning to the island with my dad and his friends (they’ve been to Italy), and we have a ferry to catch.
16.30 p.m. I run up a hill in Lidingö to make it on time. There have been a lot of problems with the metro and buses, but fortunately everyone is waiting for me. I get into the car, and everything is black until…
19.30 p.m. ...I wake up from my nap. Sleeping in a car is soo uncomfortable, but who cares when it's an emergency. We get onboard, eat dinner and go shopping in the duty free.
23.40 p.m. after dropping everyone off, we are finally home! And now the bed is calling!
Wednesday, 25 May 2011
Someone tell me where all crazy ideas and expectations come from, what it is that makes a person think of herself in one way or another? Social influence affects our behaviour, that’s for sure. We use the people we are surrounded by and our role models to set the expectations we create for ourselves.
I have always been convinced of the fact that I’m an extremely lazy person, and at times it has made me feel really bad – in our society efficiency is usually one of the main keys to success.
But. (and there always is a but). Am I really that lazy? And even if I were, does it really matter as long as I’m happy?
Anyhow, this week has been and will be nightmare-ish. There is nobody else to blame, it’s the result of poor organization skills (but not laziness. HA!). The plan for tonight is to look for an online exercise plan, make a cup of tea, read for twenty minutes and then go to bed because tomorrow I’m supposed to leave the house at 6 a.m. for work – on a bicycle. (let’s see how many trees will be standing in my way).
Monday, 23 May 2011
Hello! Today was my first day at my new job, and what can I say: it was interesting. Life is quite a disaster at the moment – in the sense that my suitcase is still unpacked on the bed, I’m staying with my parents and the puppy keeps visiting me at 3 am for some cuddling and I have to organize a lot of things. At the same time I’m missing TT like mad – he could come up here NOW me thinks.
My plan for tonight is to watch a chapter of The Killing and keep reading a detective novel by Jo Nesbö – I’m so addicted to his books at the moment – I just can’t put them away until they’re finished (oh yes, there’s something about Scandinavian detective stories). Oh and drink tea. Tomorrow I’ll try to start getting organized, that means getting a library card, checking out one of the local gyms, visiting the tax office and studying some social psychology.
Saturday, 21 May 2011
Van Gogh's PrayerBy János Pilinszky
Translated By Clive Wilmer and George Gömöri Read the translator's notes
A battle lost in the cornfields
and in the sky a victory.
Birds, the sun and birds again.
By night, what will be left of me?
By night, only a row of lamps,
a wall of yellow clay that shines,
and down the garden, through the trees,
like candles in a row, the panes;
there I dwelt once and dwell no longer—
I can't live where I once lived, though
the roof there used to cover me.
Lord, you covered me long ago.
Source: Poetry (March 2008).
Friday, 20 May 2011
A couple of days ago I was asked to write about the currents events in Spain. Here’s that post, a couple of days late because that’s how long it took me to figure out how to put my thoughts on paper.
In the past week or so, there have been several demonstrations all over Spain. People, being fed up with the current situation and corrupted politicians, are demanding “real democracy”. Among other things, the demonstrators ask for a fairer electoral system, something that the two main parties seem to be opposed to. Regional elections are held on Sunday, and apparently any demonstration planned for Saturday has been banned by the state’s Central Electoral Board.
The main Spanish newspaper, El Pais, has interesting articles on the subject, they can be found here.
This post was going to be about my impressions regarding these events, described by some as a “revolution”, so here we go:
- A friend once told me: “ it’s difficult to think that Spanish people might be going through a tough time right now. Spain is palm trees and beaches, good food and party. It’s got nothing to do with economic disasters, mass unemployment and low wages”. Spain is often viewed as some kind of huge hotel resort, but the truth is that, right now, life is very difficult for a lot of people in Spain.
- It is impressive to see so many people gathering together for a common cause. It must be emphasized that the protestors have been acting intelligently: instead of just “fighting the system” and focusing solely on the problem, they have been able to provide plausible solutions as well.
- I have personally not noticed any political polarization among people. That is very good, because when that polarization starts taking place, society will start going downhill.
- As so often happens, there are people who have been quick to judge the protestors as anti-system communists. However, to me it seems that the ones protesting represent various ideologies (if any) and that the main point is to improve the system, not abolish it.
- Unfortunately there seems to be a great divide between those who actively seek change and the ones who don’t even know what’s going on. Social media have proven to be a great tool for this movement, but it might benefit from other ways of reaching out to more people.
Tomorrow and Sunday will be interesting days in Spain, so if you’re into politics or a fan of Spain, stay tuned!
Thursday, 19 May 2011
The assignment has been written and the decision trees and influence diagrams have been drawn… now it’s time to start thinking about how to squeeze in about 150 books, 15 pairs of shoes and a whole wardrobe into a tiiiiiny (OK- normal-sized) suitcase. And now to the coolest part– it has a sticker on it that says Международный аэропорт Внуково on it.
Oh no. There is one more thing that’s more exciting than any sticker in the world – soon we’ll live a train ride away from Great Mighty Russia. (it’s not a very short ride, but who cares…)
Tuesday, 17 May 2011
The idea of a multilingual blog sounds tempting… I’m not talking about the use of translation tools here (translation tools are evil), rather the possibility to have various blogs in their respective language at the same place.
Does anyone have any tips or ideas on how to do this?
5 years. That’s how long I have been living with one foot in Spain and the other one somewhere else (England, Russia, Finland…), but now this era has – probably – come to an end. On Monday I’m starting a new job en la isla, on the island. (However, I’m not going alone, which makes this is a whole lot more exciting). It’s not a goodbye to Spain, because nothing in life is definite, and we will be back (in one way or another), but it’s a kind of return to my roots.
The decision wasn’t easy, but fortunately I’m blessed with a bunch of clever friends who made me aware of different perspectives.
I haven’t packed yet, uni work is still number one on my list of priorities, until Thursday anyway – so this might well turn out to be the most stressful week of my life.
The blog will continue as it always has – if you have any wishes regarding the contents, please let me know. (I/we are also thinking about starting an “expat-blog” on Finland, would that be interesting?)
Thursday, 12 May 2011
Tomi is helping me with work today I can’t believe it’s Thursday already, tomorrow it’s time to walk around in Stockholm and contemplate life before catching the flight for Spain (well, ok Switzerland). This week has really caught me off guard and sent me to the land of confusion, but I think I’m back to normal now.
Now the cat and I will go to the living room for some real good ice-hockey.
Wednesday, 11 May 2011
As soon as something unexpected happens, I lose focus. Without that focus I’m a complete mess who sleeps too late, eats too much and does nothing. And I don’t want my life to be like that, like sleepwalking, turning into nothing.
I need to focus, concentrate on things that make me feel happy and strong, to live NOW.
"Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved. - Das Leben ist ein Geheimnis, das gelebt, und kein Problem, das gelöst werden muss."
— Søren Kierkegaard
I was asked to write about my family. What could I say to describe them the way they really are? And are they really what I think them to be? I could give you a list of adjectives, but it would make little sense because every person gives words different, specific meanings. I could write about the things they do and have done in life, but is it really important?
In general, family is a difficult matter. One should be grateful – but to which extent? One should love unconditionally – but is that always possible? If friends behave like idiots, it’s easy to get rid of them, one is usually stuck with family until the bitter end. I don’t know about other people, but I have personally found it very difficult to accept that my parents are real persons (and not some kind of saints) with feelings and flaws. Accepting the fact that my little brothers are adults is more difficult.
So. My family. Mother and father. Unmarried but still going strong after 30 years. Apparently they met when my mum went to steal some potatoes with a friend. They are complete opposites. They both speak Finnish and they both belong to the so called working class. Although. My dad keeps himself busy with about three businesses (apart from his real job), so maybe he’s a capitalist? It doesn’t really matter. The important thing is that he works hard, never speaks, loves his family and is addicted to chocolate. My mother used to work in three different places. The result was some kind of burn-out, after which she went back to school to learn Swedish. She talks a lot, listens less and wants to help the whole world.
Whereas I am similar to both of my parents, my brothers (who are fraternal twins) really “belong” to one parent each: Alf is tall, big and talks little. Walter is small, blonde and never keeps quiet (he’s also really good at keeping secrets – he’s been together with the same girlfriend for three years and my family has only seen her once, by accident. That’s quite an accomplishment in a place where everybody knows everything about everyone). We’re not really close (unfortunately), but I hope that will change. Twins run in the family: my mother has 5 sisters, and two of them (+my mother) have twins.
Then there are 2 cats, 1 dog, 5 aunts, 2 uncles, 16 cousins and a whole other bunch of people around Finland that could be considered family.
Tuesday, 10 May 2011
Wohoo, I did it. 1/2 class + 1 tiny assignment and then second year of Hungarian will be OVER. I’ve been feeling a bit guilty about being so disorganised with Hungarian this semester: my schedule has been quite tight and since Hungarian is the least “useful” of my classes, I haven’t given it as much attention as it deserves. I was really surprised by the feedback I got from my teachers and in the end my grades were good, so I can only be satisfied.
But – taking a holiday from language learning is not really a good idea (at least not if the goal is to actually learn it), so I need to find a way to keep my brain in good shape, in one way or another. My idea of summer fun is translating a book, or at least a part of it. We’ll see how that goes.
- Oh, I never get ill.
- So, how come there’s always something wrong with you when you go to Finland?
He was right. The combination of pollen allergy and the common cold is nearly fatal (for someone who never considers herself to be ill). And then there’s the anxiousness, but it’s starting to go away now because I realised a few things while I was having a foot massage this afternoon.
Focus on what really matters.
What matters right now is Endre Ady. And sunshine. And love. And life in general. And Russian Earl Grey.
Sunday, 8 May 2011
Wow. Why do people often say that German is an ugly language? Ich bin nicht damit einverstanden. It’s a fabulous language... (not as fabulous as Slavic languages or Finno-Ugric ones… but almost).
Anyhow. The plan for next week.
Monday: job interview for a job I didn’t even apply for. The plan is to go there and just check out what they are offering me, maybe it’s something good. Ice-hockey: Finland-Russia… wooo! Post office, bank and other fun things.
Tuesday: work, 2 Hungarian lessons (the last ones) + a visit to the spa for some pampering.
Wednesday: work. Taking the dog to the vet.
Thursday: work. The swimming pool.
Friday: Stockholm, go and get my glasses and jump on the plane to Switzerland.
Saturday: back to Spain.
Also need to squeeze in lunches with friends, exercising, shoe shopping and a trip to the summer cottage.
Two blankets. Two pillows in a lovely shade of pink. Polish poetry about love, the Imperfectionists, a magazine that tells us how to lose x kilos in two weeks, some flash cards and a pen. And this furry lady is keeping me company while dedicating herself to ear-scratching and paws-licking. My head is a bit blurred, but it’s time to wake up now. To draft a plan for the week ahead and then munch on pear ice cream drowning in colourants and dive into the fascinating world of international relations. Or possibly writing.
Thursday, 5 May 2011
“Learn by heart this poem of mine,
Books only last a little time,
And this one will be borrowed, scarred,
Burned by Hungarian border guards,
Lost by the library, broken-backed,
Its paper dried up, crisped and cracked,
Worm-eaten, crumbling into dust,
Or slowly brown and self-combust,
When climbing Fahrenheit has got
To 451, for that's how hot
it will be when your town burns down.
Learn by heart this poem of mine”
Wednesday, 4 May 2011
My next topic might offend some people but it’s a risk I’ll take because being a mother doesn’t mean that you can behave in any way you want. So let’s talk about mothers who don’t know how to behave like civilized adults.
Ok – I really don’t have any right to judge anyone, and raising children is probably not very easy for anyone.
However. It seems that having a child doesn't necessarily equal growing up and behaving like an adult.
Example 1: lunch at a buffet restaurant.
A little girl (1-2 years old) is throwing food at people. Every single female at the table is cooing with amazement. And giving the kid more so that she can keep annoying people during their meal.
Example 2: airport toilet.
A woman is drying a child’s behind with some toilet paper. Not inside the booth, but on the floor right next to the basins. After she’s done, she takes the child and marches out the door, leaving all the toilet paper ON THE FLOOR.
Ok, most normal people get a room when they have to spend the night in a strange city, but if you’re a cheapie*, like me, then the following advice might come in handy.
- Dress wisely: if you are planning to sleep on a bench or in a chair, a long jacket can serve as a blanket, a thick sweater can be used as a hoodie, you can tie stuff with a scarf, etc.
- Bring food: starving in the middle of the night is not fun and usually everything is closed at the airport.
- Make sure you have some local currency for coffee and snack machines.
- Make sure that you have an adaptor for all your charges. The first time I was stuck at a Swiss airport my laptop died on me because they use different sockets here.
- For obvious reasons it might be a good idea to bring some personal hygiene products in your hand luggage.
- And the obvious: you probably won’t sleep all night, so bring lots of interesting things to do: books, games, company….
* a cheapie is a person who doesn’t want to spend money on hotels, and uses the pretext of studying as a cover up for the real state of affairs.
Hello from my own little corner at Zurich airport.
Instead of packing, I ended up watching football last night (and they seemed to have so much fun falling over in the wet grass!). I’m sort of happy that Barca won, even though they could have scored at least 5 more goals. Tonight Finland is playing ice hockey against the Czech Republic, which should be an amazing game, but unfortunately I’ll miss it…
Apart from wondering about Lionel Messi and his language skills, I have spent a good while today searching for decent shoes to walk in.
Right. Back to packing (suitcase is filled with cava bottles and clothes to protect them!).
Monday, 2 May 2011
…and a public holiday, again. Today we are celebrating the Valencian patron saint (or something/someone similar), I’m happy as long as Starbucks is open so that I can go there and study. And watch people. The alternative would be to crawl back into bed (which doesn’t sound like too bad an idea either!). For now reading fitness-blogs and drinking coffee will do.
By the way. A friend invited me to Copenhagen. I made some calculations (thesis: Denmark is right next to Norway, so therefore it can’t be very far from Copenhagen to Bergen) and the result was that I should probably return to primary school and re-take all geography classes. We are talking about many many kilometres, and many, many hours on a bus/train. We (that is, I, no idea why I’m talking about myself in plural) will continue thinking about this. After all, #46 of my life lists clearly states that the goal is to Get better acquainted with Denmark and Norway. So this is something that should not be taken lightly, and if it’s possible to hang our with some wonderful girls while doing it… it’s definitely worth some thinking!
Sunday, 1 May 2011
“Nobody succeeds beyond his or her wildest expectations unless he or she begins with some wild expectations.”- Ralph Charell -
Awkward lunch (just pretend everyone is fine). Shoe shopping (red ones, please). Hungarian oral exam (hoho). Sleep at airport (or prepare for aforementioned oral exam). Work (always fun). Celebrate mum (with some flowers). Watch ice-hockey (Finland'd better win or I'll eat my non-exisiting hat). Print out important papers. Class in Stockholm (and no snow this time). Write (in a coffee shop preferably). Drink coffee (lots of it). Pack suitcase (with what?). Travel on boat (I've got two words for you. duty. and. free). Eat tasty food. Draw a decision tree (or three). Translate (Hungarian poetry). Read literature (need to start working on that pile of unread books). Go to gym (no gym makes me grumpy). Swim (if not this week then on Monday). Do some laundry (now that’s exciting!). Do a lot of crunches (nuff said). Buy gifts (in other words, alcohol for my brothers).
I’m wildly expecting this to be a wonderful week!
How about you, any nice plans for the week ahead.?
Earlier, in an earlier decade, I studied Polish in Poland for a year, and then moved to England, where I studied European Studies (mainly international relations, but also some comparative politics) and Russian for four years. The third year consisted of a compulsory year abroad, so off to Moscow I went to gather impressions, experiences and lots and lots of Russian language skills. (and let me tell you - there is nothing quite as amazing as Moscow).
After graduating with a BA (Hons.), I worked for a couple of years. It was OK, but nothing that awoke my passions. Young and naïve, I decided that an entire life without passion for what you do is not the way to live, did some research and went back to university.
And now to the confusing part, which really isn’t confusing at all. I’m doing two degrees, three subjects, part-time each, but since I’m doing all of them at the same time they make more than full time. Hence, I’m busy most of the time but usually I love it.
A master’s in Decision, Risk and Policy Analysis. How do you make the best possible decision? If you know the answer, you have the power (and I want the power). Decision Theory is extremely interdisciplinary, you can apply it to almost anything that pops into your mind. I want to combine it with foreign policy, to analyse the behaviour of international actors, and also to be able to tell them what to do. Working with something like that would be incredible! It also teaches you why we make any given decision, and why we should do it. Say hello to cognitive psychology and a good deal of philosophy.
I love languages and I love Hungary. When I went there 8 years ago (oh my!), I decided that I would learn Hungarian, even if it’d the last thing I do. However, I have never believed in learning languages on their own and one of my biggest quasi-regrets is not having studied psychology after high school (although, considering my love affair with IR theory, it might not be such a great regret after all), so I decided to study psychology as my 2nd major. Good decision? You bet. Especially personality theory and social psychology are very fascinating. Psychology is a very powerful companion to decision theory, but the truth is that it’s also my Plan B for the future.
Yes, sometimes it’s hard, and I do quite a bit of complaining (especially on this blog ), but the truth is that I really like what I do – it’s challenging, fun and educating.