Tidbits while I write my thesis II (Or: Mini quarterlife crisis, if there’s such a thing)

5. I went to the UK about 1 month ago. My visa was about to expire and I thought to use it one more time, so I booked 2 tickets on 2 different airlines: Ryanair to go, Jets2 to come back. People, I missed my Ryanair flight by 1 second. It was a morning flight, and there were so many people on the queue. I asked to be moved forward but they told me “don’t worry, the plane won’t leave without you”. Well, it did. And then, just as they were closing the gate, I ran up screaming – okay, well, whispering – “nononono!!!” and they just said “sorry, can’t let you through, you have to go back to the service desk. Sigh. Off to the service desk I went, where they told me (a bit too cheerfully) that I’d have to be put on the next flight (21:20), and I’d have to pay an extra 110Eur. Aha, so that’s why they were so cheerful. LOL. Screw you. I went and sat down, took out my computer and booked a flight on British Airways. But then I had to fly to the train station and get to Rotterdam (as I was in Eindhoven) airport. Luckily for me, BA was flying straight into London City, so that was just perfect. Well, I got to London safe and sound, then began the arduous journey to Leeds (someone should look into making daily small-plane services a thing. Like between London and Leeds. I’d pay 50 Pounds if you could get me there in 10-30 minutes instead of 4.5 hours. Sheesh).

6. 9:47am, 25.04.2014: Mika’s ‘Grace Kelly’ is everything for me this morning. So much so that I want to do a cover (video) of it, set in the 60s, maybe a la TemiDoll’s ‘PataPata’.

7. I turn 25 in a couple of days, and I cannot even begin to describe how or what I feel, to be honest.

I’m writing my Masters thesis, and I shall be graduating this summer. I have 2 years of (semi?)professional experience, and about 21 years of schooling experience. For all of these years, I’ve always known what ‘the next step’ would be. Sometimes, there were crossroads, but there was always a next step, regardless. Now, I’m not quite sure what my next steps would or should be.

Also, I practically stopped living at home when I was 10. I went to boarding school, and my family lived far (like 6-700km) away, so I only saw them at vacations, or the odd visiting day when Father or Mother happened to be in town on business. When I started my first job, it was again, far (4-500km) from ‘home’, so I’ve pretty much been ‘independent’ and nomadic for the past 15 years. One might argue that my family and I have been in a long distance relationship, which I’m fine with. However, these days, I find myself thinking that maybe it’s time to settle somewhere. At the same time, I think I still have about 2 more cities/countries to ‘wild out’ in before I settle.

With the boyfriend, it’s been the same (long distance) thing. Of our ~5 years together, we’ve only ever lived in the same city for 1 year. Some people might read this and think “I could never do that!”, but </shrug> it’s my reality and it usually isn’t something I’m happy or sad about, it just is. my life. And I was happy when he moved to the UK because then it meant we were at least on the same continent.

Today, I’m sad. The boyfriend got a job with a very, very good company (and we’re so very happy about it, you cannot begin to imagine) and he has to move back to Nigeria next month. Because, we’re not going to say “no, please wait for me to enjoy summer, I’ll come afterwards”. Nay. (Not like he didn’t try though. They couldn’t wait. And he couldn’t very well say “well, go screw yourselves then”.) We did have plans for this summer though. Good plans.  Oh and, the way schedules are set up, it appears no one is going to be able to make it to my graduation. Well done, Life.

Now, I do have a vague idea what’s supposed to happen next for me, but then it very much depends on whether things ‘fall into place’, which I hope they do – and in the way that I want them to-. I’m speaking about getting a job, of course. My supervisors here have been pretty pleased about my work and they’re very interested in keeping me on, but it depends on if a vacancy opens up, as they do not have the power to manufacture a vacancy, etc. Fingers crossed then. I think what I’ve just described is my apprehension. Still on apprehension, I have to submit my thesis in 14 days and I’m only 70% ready. Cue panic.

In other interesting-but-slightly-panicky news, I tried to start a 3rd party logistics business (even paid for a logo and got a website and everything), but I couldn’t quite get it off the ground because I wasn’t able to figure out how to make it ‘affordable’ by my standards. Also, I started noticing last year, that a couple of (Nigerian) companies have such piss-poor customer service on social media. You tweet at them to complain about something (because their customer lines are ‘busy’), and they get a bot to respond to you. “Thank you for your comment/enquiry. Please call 1234 for help, or email xyz@abc.com”. It used to piss me off a lot, even when I wasn’t the one being mistreated. So I started ranting about and saying maybe I should start a social media management business, because I want to see how hard it is to treat your (online) customers well. As I said, I was only ranting. And then, a friend took me seriously and sent out a couple of texts, and *abracadabra* we started a business and now we have 3 clients. In 1 week. Well done, Life. We haven’t even gotten a website or logo. [Aside: Thankfully, it is a lot easier for me to figure how to keep this business affordable for clients 😀 ]

I have no plans for my birthday, I suppose I’m going to spend it reading Anne of Green Gables and/or The Perks of Being a Wallflower or something. There’s a barbecue thing tomorrow though, so I shall attend and afterwards, my Spanish friend will make us mojitos and spanish omelettes. Oh and she’s finally moving on Sunday. Too sad.

I want to learn to play the violin this summer. I’m accepting donations to buy one. [Shall I open a Kickstarter/Indiegogo project for you my dearest friends, to contribute?] 😀


My Carefree Days with Summer are History

Classes start tomorrow. After 4 glorious months of summer break, it’s time for school to begin again. I’m trying not to be sad. I’m trying instead, to savor the memories I made during this period. Shout out to Mims, she’s responsible for A LOT of those memories. My 2 Finnish friends, my Czech friend, a couple of classmates: these people attempted to help me be more social, have fun, and they’re partly responsible for making me think Finnish summers are awesome. Thanks guys.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this already, but I’m grateful I didn’t get a job this summer. Why? Because I think this is the last time (for at least the next 5 years) that I would have an entire 4 months to faff about, being responsible for only myself, not really answering to anyone, and being able to regulate my interaction with people in general. Sigh.
Note: I didn’t exactly spend the entire summer faffing about – I learned to code, discovered new music, I learned to speak Dutch, I watched TED talks, and I made myself do 3 of those 4 things every single day. I know there’s some controversy surrounding TED talks, but the new things I heard about made me go and research more, so I can say I know a little bit more about a lot of things. How this knowledge is useful, I don’t know yet. Oh I read books too. Guys, reading books when there are so many interesting things on the internet, is hard. For me.
Which brings me to this sub topic: Rise of the Gadgets.
A couple of weeks ago, applications and processes on my phone started crashing out of the blue. I’d just be on whatsapp or some other thing, next thing I’d see “unfortunately, whatsapp has stopped”, and then as time went on, multiple apps would crash at once, then last week, it became something like “unfortunately, process.core.android.xxx has stopped”, along with all other apps crashing. And this time, restarting the phone wasn’t working. So I had to reset, and before you do such, you should backup. I tried, but it could only backup media related stuff, not my contacts and messages. Long story short, I lost all the contacts I got between February and now. Moving on…
A couple of days ago, the wireless icon on my laptop started acting funny, trying to make me think my connection was poor. But it wasn’t, so I ignored it. However, it continued, and then on Friday, the laptop just froze, and I had to do a forced shutdown. That’s when my real troubles began. Suffice to say that my HDD has crashed, and seeing as I’m supposed to be a pro at such things, I have tried every trick I know, but nope. Gotta replace it. Called a repair shop and the guy told me it would cost €100, and then I told him about my screen problems and he said it would cost an additional €100, but that in that case I might want to consider buying a new laptop. This laptop is just 1 year old. LoL. Oh and I’m not a careless person at all, not by any stretch of the imagination can anyone call me careless (I think). So we can rule that out.
My phone is also 1 year old.
So, phone and laptop need replacement. I also need a new tablet (because if I had a proper tablet, I wouldn’t be so worried about failing laptops or even phones. But all I have right now is a Nook). Since my laptop is indisposed right now, all I can do is migrate to my couch to read, tweet, and rediscover the joys of watching tv. Dutch tv. Speaking of which, Rabobank uses Hans Zimmer music in their ads. Nice.
All that aside, I’m grateful for all the interesting bits of this summer break, and I’m sad to see it end.
P.S. In the spirit of acquiring life skills, I bought a bicycle, and I’m learning to ride it. I’m surprised to say I’m making progress. Next up: Learn to swim properly.
Cheers to summer, mojitos, shorts and mini skirts, you will be missed. See you next year.
Cheers to the new semester too, please be more fun than all my other semesters combined. Please.

Time to Say My Goodbyes

Yes, the dreaded time has come. I really did not think I would fall in love with Finland the way I have, but well, here I am. I was really scared of the cold, because of the way it was described, but now I’ve been through it, and c’mon. There was no time that I felt really cold, none at all. Even with the weather at -11 degrees and lower, I was fine. Like they say, there’s no bad weather, only bad clothes. I didn’t really like the fact that it used to get dark at 16:00 though. However, I’m happy to report that summer more than makes up for winter. Really. Like, it doesn’t get dark at all at night, it’s warm, everything is nice…I could go on and on. I’m really going to come back and live in Finland. People like to tell me that I’m probably enjoying it because I live in a student community, so there are like-minded people around me, etc..and that if I come back here to work, I will be bored senseless, because Finns aren’t necessarily the friendliest people on earth. Well, that’s exactly why I would fit right in. Who says I like to talk to people? Socializing once in a while is fine, but I really can’t handle constant parties and ‘hangouts’. Miss me with that.

As I was saying, Finland has been the most interesting part of my journey so far, and in my friend’s words, “I have no doubt that Netherlands would be the least exciting part of this your educational sojourn”. Sigh. I’m really going to try to keep an open mind, but it’s difficult to do that when you don’t even have a bathroom to yourself. Yes guys, I’m going to have to be sharing a bathroom, and you remember how dutch toilets look, yeah? *Shudder* However, I have to say that the Netherlands seems to have more job prospects and all, probably because of its proximity to the U.K and Germany; therefore it might be more practical for me to remain there. <Pep talk to myself:>It’s also not fair to judge a place before you’ve been there, how would you feel if people simply assumed you were a sad, tiny girl, simply because you never smile without cause?</Pep talk>

Of course packing is the biggest female dog there is. And of course I’ve acquired yet another suitcase. Excess luggage is basically my middle name at this point, there’s no need to pretend otherwise. I dread the journey ahead though, because it involves taxis, buses, trains, and the only one that doesn’t involve any stress, a plane. Sigh. Oh. You guys, I heard that since Mutallab pulled that stunt that year, Schiphol has been extra strict on Nigerians – because he basically passed through there with the bomb thing, undetected. I don’t want to laugh, I really don’t. Moving on…so I’m gonna miss my huge room and private bathroom and everything, and the awesome view from my window. On the bright side, I hear things are cheaper in NL, and the internet speed in my new house is supposedly fast. I’ve also been assured that my housemates are very nice people, we shall see. (I don’t care, I want Finland!)

By the way, I’ve been learning Dutch, but something happened today that made me stop and think: A couple of guys stopped me on the road to say hi, etc*, and they spoke to me in Finnish. After the greetings, which I responded to, my brain literally entered ‘flight mode’ and the only thing I could think of was “en puhuu suomea” Translation: I don’t speak Finnish.. So they continued in English, and well, moved on. After I left them, my brain started replaying the encounter and I started discovering that oh, I actually understood everything they said, because I knew all the words. But at the point where I should have showed understanding, my brain refused to function. Sigh. This is what was happening in France too…am I wasting my time learning Dutch? The Dutch speak excellent English, so there really might be no need. I’ll force myself though. I must have a second language that I’m fluent in.

*Note: this is weird, because Finnish people supposedly never talk to strangers on the road, unless there’s an emergency. This was no emergency

The Weekends…

So a couple of weekends ago, a friend invited me to go on a boat ride, and of course there was no way I’d say no to that, even with my fear of water. Well, so I went, and it was awesome. Really. Oh and I got to steer the boat for a bit. It’s amazing how fast 50km/h feels when you’re in a motorboat. We were just riding about, seemingly aimlessly, but we ended up on some island (Vespä), walked and looked around a bit (yikes, they have stinky toilets on that island), and then started going back to the harbor. It was an okay island, with cottages and saunas and a place to get food and stuff. Typical Finnish island. Well, so we went back to the harbor which was on one island, docked the boat, and then we had to row a canoe to the next island across, because that’s where the car was. I got to row the canoe too (which was really hard work, I couldn’t even row properly. Sigh). Then we drove around for about 30-45 minutes, just sightseeing. The houses on these islands are understandably expensive, because most of them have views of the sea, which is nice. However, there are some new houses that are being built inland, with no view of the sea…and if those ones turn out to be as expensive, then that would be confusing. Like, why am I paying the same price as someone who lives in Hampstead, if I live in not-Hampstead? Moving on…

What else have I been doing? Yeah, I went to the mall with my friend, to shop for a gift for our other friend. I’m only mentioning this because I’d never been to that mall before, and I broke the gift we were going to buy for this friend (I swear I wasn’t careless. The object was more fragile than it appeared)- but thankfully, the cashier said I didn’t have to pay, so yay. Also, being that it’s summer and this mall is not in the city center, there are loads of stores with stuff on sale, but they’re cheaper than what they have at the stores in the city center. (Why am I talking about going to the mall? This has to be the height of…I don’t know. Maybe I’m just feeling sleepy). Then I went to the beach. Finnish beach sand is a bit different from Nigerian beach sand. I won’t willingly plonk down on this one, because it’s dirty, whereas the beach sand in Nigeria is clean and fine. Also, the sea water…I can’t recall how many times I said “eww” as my friend was dragging me in, because of seaweed. Ugh. It was fun though, but I’d have to admit I was a lot happier outside the water, than inside.

I think one of the most fun bits of the past couple of weeks, was when I went ‘clubbing’ on one of the ravintolalaivas (restaurant boats). Okay this one is technically a bar (with a club below deck), but whatever, it’s one of the best in this town. That was fun for me, but people around me kept saying I looked bored. My face is too expressive, and sometimes it doesn’t accurately capture what I’m feeling. Well, I probably looked bored at some point because I didn’t like the song that was on and I had begun to notice that I was feeling hot, but other than that, I was fine. No one had to ask me to jump down from my seat when a song I liked came on (but then the dj didn’t let the song get to the awesome part 😦 ). Well, I had fun, really. To anyone who reads this, don’t attempt to decipher my facial expressions, (except I look angry,) I’m usually okay, and happy, even. Not deliriously happy, maybe ‘content’ is a much better word. Oh well…

What else? Oh my tenants’ association organized a barbecue thingy, that was nice too. Makkara(t), corn, cheese, beer, all sorts, and then games. Then I happened to mention that I’d been to saunas in Finland, but I’d never used the one in my building. Someone then suggested that we go 2 days from then. Hmm.

Being that I’m almost leaving, I decided this past weekend, to go see all the museums I haven’t seen. Yes, I sound like a boring old maid, but whatever. I did see some strange things, but then what is history without a bit of strangeness? That said, this is unrelated, but I want Moomin books.* In English, kiitos.

*Apparently, these books are to Finnish children, what Enid Blyton books were to us when we were kids.


Naantali, Estonia, Juhannus

Juhannus is the celebration of the beginning of summer, on June 21. That’s summer solstice to you who listened in geography class. Anyway, everyone likes an excuse to have a public holiday and drink and have fun, so that’s just what we did. My friends and I got in the car and drove to Naantali, to look around. We basically ended up looking at people’s boats and taking lots of pictures and just generally being silly. But it was fun to get out of the house for a bit.

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Next stop: Estonia. No we didn’t drive, we went by ship. We had to travel to Helsinki  in order to board the ship (unnecessary stress, seeing as we have a functional harbor in Turku, but hey…), and that was the first time I got on a train in Finland. The trains here are awesome, they have free WiFi on board <side eye at the French>, so my trip was quite pleasant. When we got to Helsinki, being that we don’t quite know our way around there, we had to ask a few questions before we caught the right tram to the harbor. We got there in time, settled in for about 20 minutes before it was time to check in. We left the harbor at 21:30, and I was expecting the trip to Estonia to take about 10 hours, same as the trip to Stockholm. Apparently, I should have taken a good look at my map…Imagine my astonishment when the doors swung open at 00:00 and people started getting off. I was amazed, but continued clacking away on my phone, until this couple with kids walked up to me and the lady started speaking something in Finnish. I replied “anteeksi, en puhuu…”, and then naturally, we continued in English. She explained to me that the ship had landed in Estonia and her husband continued by saying that if I didn’t have a place to chill till morning, they could take me into their home and give me a warm bed. Aww, how sweet, I told them thanks, that I had a cabin already, but thanks.

After a bit, I went back to my cabin to sleep, and my sleep wasn’t comfortable at all, because it was a strange bed, I guess. However, the next morning, we were up bright and early because we were ‘ordered’ to leave our cabins at 7:00. Waaayy too early. We left, armed with maps, marked out places we wanted to see, and then proceeded to wander around for a bit because nowhere was open. Also, we found out that since Estonians celebrate midsummer as well, many museums would be closed to the public that day, as well as many restaurants that promised amazing food. Sigh. That bit wasn’t fun at all, but we started having fun as soon as the town came alive. Estonia has an ‘old town’, which is a charming place. We even got to eat in an old tavern, and everything in it had the 16th century look, down to the toilet. The toilet was quite…interesting, not dirty or anything but I get a little shudder whenever I remember it, so let’s skip that bit, shall we? Basically, I have to hand it to whoever did the decor for the tavern – old cow skull, dried animal hooves, traditional crockery and food, etc, and none of this was displayed in a creepy way. I was in awe (but I did spy an electric coffee maker, expertly hidden behind a wooden thingy). Oh and the food was really cheap too <fist pump> 😀

For lunch, we grabbed a bite at McDonald’s (and after eating, we forgot to take out our trays, we just left them on the table and only remembered after we were long gone. Sheesh. They must think we’re <insert tactless adjective>), saw more awesome places, bought souvenirs and took pictures – which reminds me, I didn’t buy any souvenirs in Stockholm <tears> -, and then we had to race back to the ship so that we wouldn’t be left behind. Made it in time, and got back to Helsinki in time for our train too (with 7 minutes to spare). By the time we got back to Turku, it was 23:00, and I was exhausted. Exhausted but happy.

Okay I’m tired of typing, plus it’s time for me to eat dinner and continue being lazy. Bye.

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The Land of Tulips and Windmills

I’ve been in Turku, Finland, since the beginning of this year, and I love being here, really. However, I would soon have to move, to the Netherlands. The one thing I was afraid of before I moved here, was the cold. I thought I was going to freeze, but as I have discovered, there is no bad weather, only bad clothing, so I honestly didn’t mind the winter (well, I hated to see ice on the ground, but every other thing was fine). But now summer’s here, and everything is GREAT!!!

Now, the Netherlands. I’ve started learning Dutch, by the way. Goedemorgen 😀 I’ve been trying to look for accommodation there, because the accommodation that the school is ‘offering’ us costs about 400 Eur a month, (For context, let me just add that in France, and even here in Finland, I have never had to pay up to 300 Eur as rent); the accommodation is supposed to be unveiled to us today, 14:00 (Dutch time), during which there will be a mad scramble and all available housing would disappear in 30 minutes. One would think that 400 Eur for rent means that surely you get your own kitchen and bathroom. Ei. Most student dwellings in Netherlands do not include a private bathroom. Like, (this is not an exaggeration) you can find a house with 10-17 people, having to share one bathroom. At least that’s what was written on the listings. There’s more ridiculousness…you can have a ‘dwelling place’ with 10 rooms, all of them have private kitchenettes, but they all have to share a bathroom. Seriously? Anyway, so I had almost given up and I was going to suck it up and try to get used to the idea of sharing a toilet with 4/5 other people, but then someone helpfully told me to Google ‘dutch toilets’. Here, knock yourself out. After seeing that and reading more on it, I decided that nope, I shall not share such a toilet with other people, because it will most certainly always have skid marks.

These days, I look lovingly at my very normal, private toilet, large room with a mini balcony, and say a prayer of thanks. For all that, and the beautiful weather. Yep, the arctic circle enjoys awesome summers too, yay! Also, these days, it doesn’t get really dark. It gets as dark as this (see picture below), and then gets bright again. And, the summer solstice (June 21) that my geography teacher taught me about, I’m about to experience it. How awesome is that? Well, I’m not at the tip of the North Pole, so maybe I won’t experience it, but I hope I do 😀 …

2013-05-16 03.23.08I took this picture at the beginning of May, it doesn’t even get this dark anymore.

I really hope I end up liking and enjoying the Netherlands even more than Finland, but to be honest, from where I’m standing, it’s not looking good.