torstai 10. marraskuuta 2011

On the way... First stop: UK, Newark

I remember the time in Kustavi when I bought the flight tickets to Melbourne and wondered “What the hell Im going to do for the next 3 months? And now I wonder “Where the hell those 3 months went so quickly?” The last 2 months when I stayed on my mum’s couch were amazing… I just enjoyed sport, knitting, stroking a cat, packing…

Puff... packing. That’s just an interesting type of art. I started to pack my backpack already in Kustavi (August) because I had to pack my summer clothes to the garage and autumn clothes to my mum’s place. I picked all kind of hints from travel guides and from friend’s advice and made a list what should I get with me. And the list was long, too long. I decided to leave that for the future. Anyway, I had 2 months time to pack. In the end, the list came really useful, but still I forgot something really, really important…

On the way to the airport I realized that something is missing... It was my credit card, Starbucks card, insurance card and Kela card with the photo. S***!!! I started a massive brain storm where they might be, I had absolutely no idea and I still don’t. I have less than a week before I leave Newark, would be nice to get them before that. No panic, everything is going to be ok! Think positively! J

I left home on Saturday and went to Helsinki for 2 days to visit friends and visit one of the most famous tourist attractions in Helsinki; The Olympic Stadium and the Tower. Helsinki can be really beautiful with its foggy, grey weather and bald trees. It’s getting ready for the winter as I’m trying to understand that in 3 weeks it will be summer for me.

The capital of Finland, Helsinki

The Tower of Olympic Stadium, Helsinki
In the airport I noticed again how small the world can be. I met 2 old friends of mine who came to London with the same flight! What a coincidence! The weather was as foggy and rainy as it was in Helsinki, but warmer. I took the train from London to Newark and arrived my friend’s house late that night, finally. Food and sleep, thank you and good night!

It was really nice to catch up with my old friend for a long time! She needed to go to work on Tuesday so I just walked around the city for 6 hours! :D And I was worried about not getting enough exercise. On Wednesday we went to Lincoln. I just love English architecture; I could ramble around the streets and admire the buildings for hours and hours. It feels like someone put me inside the game “Oblivion”… just beautiful. This week to-do-list: relaxing, more Newark, pubs, karaoke and Nottingham. Let’s start with the first one... relaxing. Ädjö!

Lincoln, UK
Lincoln, UK

Jews House @Lincoln, UK
Lincoln, UK

Lincoln, UK
The rug beater can be found only at
Antique shops and museums in UK,
in Finland it's modern and very used.
Would have been interesting to know
the price of it!

maanantai 10. lokakuuta 2011

The Summer 2011 in Kustavi, Finland

Here I am. In Finland. The winter is coming and I should start to do something if I wish to graduate on Christmas. I moved to my friend’s living room, slept on a mattress for 3 months before moving in to my “biggest” apartment ever. It was enormous 16m2 flat with all necessary in the center of Pori. I finished my thesis and graduated, found a job and started to save money for the next trip: Australia. The winter went really quickly, like in a dream. I worked hard, partied and tried to enjoy the snowy, cold winter. The winter was saved by new friends that I met in the university and work place.

Waiting for the Spring
In some point an idea of doing something else popped in to my mind. I had studied tourism for 4,5 years so maybe i should work in that area as well. Finding a job wasn´t  the easiest thing to do, but finally i got an amazing receptionist position in Kustavi. After 2 week holiday in London I started my job in an alcohol free camping place in the middle of beautiful archipelago of Turku. I loved the place! The silence was so strong that it almost made my ears ring. The nature was absolutely amazing!

The mesmerizing sea, the fascinating little islands, the unafraid animals and the unbroken peace made my summer. There are over 20 000 islands in the Turku archipelago. Our boss made good decisions when he hired people, our work community was close and worked well together. We were like a little family. In the beginning of the summer, we made a bicycle trip to Vårdö, near Åland island. I will remember the 40 km cycling in a rain and head wind for the rest of my life. Sometimes I almost stopped believing that I can do it to the end. We had 2,5 hours for 20 km, and we almost missed the ferry. Luckily the way back home was in a beautiful sunshine and tailwind.

Westminster Abbey and Big Ben @ London
Sunset in Kustavi
Sheep in Vårdö
The Ferry
On the way
I found cheap flights to Australia and bought them in July. I decided to buy them separately and stay in England for 2 weeks and in Kuala Lumpur for 4 days. Maybe then the flights don´t feel so horrible. :) Work & Holiday -visa came in to my e-mail couple of weeks later after 1 day of applying it in Australian immigration web-site. That was fast! I know, i know. I should have gotten the visa before purchasing the flights, but luckily there wasn´t any problems. After that is just has been waiting, looking for information about everything between England and Australia, and more waiting. Now when the departure is getting pretty damn close, im starting to freak out. I´ll be away for so long time. What if something happens here in Finland? What if something happens to me? What if I don´f find a job? My head is full of probably stupid questions, but no worries. I´ll be fine. Riku and Tunna from Madventures say that the most common place to die is home. Damn, I have to get away from here!

torstai 18. elokuuta 2011

Huelva, Andalucia, Spain, Europe, World, Earth, Universum

In March 2010 I went back to Spain to do my internship, this time to south of Spain; Andalucia. Huelva was going to be my home for the next 6 months Huelva might have been the ugliest city in Spain but its people were really friendly. It was really close to the border of Portugal and maybe that’s why I visited Portugal at least 5 times. It felt that Huelva wasn’t a big city but Wikipedia says that the city has a population of 149,410 inhabitants which is a bit less than in Turku in Finland. Oulu has 141,962 inhabitants and i. Huelva’s area is really different comparing Spain in general. The first impressions of Spain for most of the people are its beaches and sun dried lands. Huelva was different. Of course there were beautiful beaches, but the most ecologically important and best-preserved wetlands in the whole of the European Union were close to Huelva in Andalucia. For the first time in my life I saw flamingos in their natural habitat in the Donaña National Park.


El muelle de Huelva

 This time I had a room waiting for me when I got there. I found if via Facebook and decided to take it after seeing couple of photos of it and the landlord/flatmate seemed really cool and nice. When I got to Huelva, I went to get the keys from her working place. I couldn’t understand a word of her Spanish! I’ve heard Andalucian accent before but hers was hard. Patricia and her cat Richard were amazing, and her mother too! On that same day when I arrived we had a lunch with Patricia’s family. It’s a southern Spanish habit to touch other people a lot and I became familiar with that from that day on; when the months went by I started to love it. We had a great time with Patricia for three months until I had to move out because of some unfortunate money problems.

My flatmate Richard
The view from the balcony
After 3 months something interesting, but unfortunately, too private happened and I had to move away from Patricia’s place. One friend of mine knew an “illegal” flat where I could live for the summer. By “illegal” one meant that during the academic year 3 girls were living in the flat but during the summer it was empty. The problem was that those girls didn’t have to pay a rent because they had a grant that covered the rent also for summer although they weren’t in the flat. We paid 100e/month each what was just extra money for the girls. There were 4 rooms in the flat and I got the second best one. The best one had its own toilet and king-size bed. I loved my room! It wasn’t anything special; just a bed, table, wardrobe, drawer and big mirror, but it was really cosy and the atmosphere was nice. It had a good karma.

The view from the second's flat balcony
My flatmates were Honduran and Colombian boys. I have to admit that they were pretty challenging time to time but I learned a lot from South American culture and cooking. I learned how to cook some delicious Colombian food and luckily there was a Columbian restaurant nearby. The staff in the restaurant gave the best customer service ever and probably good food and nice staff were the reasons why that place became our favourite place in Huelva.

There was probably only one thing that I didn’t like in the flat and that was cockroaches. The cockroaches were massive in Huelva! There were jokes about Huelva, how everything is bigger there because of the factories and pollution. I started to calculate my timing to go to kitchen in the night. I knew they would be there between 4-6am. Once we tried to kill one with some spray and it walked towards us about 5 minutes although we sprayed it the whole time. Damn! Probably one the ugliest cockroach accident happened in a Chinese store where we were looking for a bikini with my mum. I took one hanger out of the clothes rail when I saw a terrified look on my mum’s face. There was a 10 second silence before she could say anything and when I saw that massive, disgusting, dirty cockroach walking on my thigh I started to scream like a dying pig. It was interesting to realize how Chinese people hide their feelings. There was nothing on their face, not even an amused smile. The cockroach continued his life, as us as well. Later my mum explained the silence. The cockroach was dangling on the leg of my shorts and it was really close that it didn’t go inside to have a look. My mum knew that if she would have said something in that point, I would have taken my shorts off and maybe then the Chinese would have had their laugh. Enough for the cockroaches.

3 weeks before I was suppose to go home to Finland, the landlord of the flat came behind the door and realized that someone is living in there. Probably they contacted the girls who live there during the winter. I heard them many times after the door and they were even talking to the neighbours. I felt like a criminal. It was obvious that we had to move out. And so started the last but not the least adventure in Huelva. I moved to Casa Bonita.

Casa Bonita doesn't look so amazing from outside

The view from Casa Bonita's massive terrace
Casa Bonita was a famous party house. When I moved in there, 6 people were occupying it already; One Spanish, Swedish, 2 German and 2 Austrian. I was the seventh. I slept on a mattress in the living room. Honestly, those 3 weeks in Casa Bonita were the best times of my life! I just love to live with many people, have someone in the house all the time that you can hang around with. Of course we had our hard moments but in my opinion it was easier to live with 6 European than 2 South American. Probably the cultural differences were smaller or easier to understand.

The best friend of Erasmus-students
After those 3 weeks of partying and beach it was time to go home again. I spent amazing last days in Madrid, freezing. And I was totally frozen in the airport in Finland while waiting a bus. F******! And it was 9 degrees. J That was the first part of my culture shock. Welcome home, Krista!

keskiviikko 13. heinäkuuta 2011

Party people in da Etappi!

The following summer after Madrid I went back to Finland for 9 months,  worked and started my boring thesis. Going back to Finland wasnt as difficult as I expected. I was prepared for a culture shock but nothing came. I moved back to my mum’s place which wasnt a bad thing, started a new job and got a new car so I had something to be excited about. I enjoyed the summer in Salo and moved back to Pori when the classes started again, then I started to write my thesis and needed to do that in peace, so I moved to a student house called Etappi in Pori. That place was amazing!

It was a 6 floor apartment block full of exhange students and some Finnish students. Sometimes when it got really cold outside (-30 degrees) I didn’t have to leave the house for a week or two because I bought all the food beforehand, wrote my thesis and all the parties were organized in Etappi. I didn’t need anything else. And those parties were crazy! We had all kind of costume parties, dinners, theme nigts etc. For me it was like a soft landing from Madrid, another exchange year in Finland. There were days when I didn’t speak any Finnish. My first flat mate was from Portugal and second from Hungary. Because almost everybody in the house were foreigners; Finnish wasn’t a really popular language. I love to live with other people. Someone said to me years ago that I am addicted to other people and that is so true. I like to have my own room where I can relax and be alone if I need to but having other people just outside your own room is a really good thing. There is always soweone to talk, laught or cry with.

One of the parties
In November I realized that I had to find an internship placement and I wanted to go back to Spain. I didn’t even have to search the job for a long time when i found it from the web site of our school. Huelva University in Andalucia was looking for an international assistant. Me, me, me!!! I sent my application and just before Christmas they called and welcomed me to Huelva! Excellent! Three months later I was on a plane to Spain again... and my thesis wasn’t ready yet. Haha!

torstai 7. heinäkuuta 2011

Erasmus-Orgasmus in Madrid, 2008-2009

A little bit of history can’t do any harm. I understood the loveliness of travelling when I went to the university and began to study tourism. I started studying Spanish and realized that this is it; I need to see the world, learn languages, meet new people and understand their culture. I will start my blog from the story of Madrid because that “trip” made me to realize what the main purpose of my life is for the next 10 years.

In 2008 I moved to Madrid, Spain for a year as part of Erasmus exchange program. I didn’t have a place to live or any idea of anything. I booked a hostel for a couple of nights and in 2 days I had a flat. I went to the university, saw a post-it in a bulletin board, made a phone call and went to see the room. It was situated about 20km away from Madrid city centre, a village called Villaviciosa de Odón. I moved in with 3 Spanish girls. Cristina was from Tenerife, Lulu from Malaga and Eiharne from Bilbao. If you know anything about Spanish language, you know how hard the accent is in the south of Spain. Puff! It was so hard to try to understand Cristina or Lulu in the beginning but after couple of months I got it. With their help I got to experience the Spanish culture; food, sleeping and dinnertime etc. They ate really late (9-10 pm), slept during the day and so on... And I learned how to clean the house without a vacuum cleaner. I also met their friends and so I just didn’t have my “Erasmus-friends” but also my “Spanish-friends”. It was decided before moving to Spain that I want to live with locals and that was the best decision ever made. :D The house where I moved was amazing! We had 4 bedrooms, living room, kitchen, 2 terraces and 3 toilets. There was also a swimming pool in the garden, but I got the change to use that only for three weeks; one week in September 2008 and two in June 2009 and the water was freezing cold!

Home in Villaviciosa de Odón, Madrid


Those first months in Spain were some of the hardest months in my life and during those months I grew a lot as a person. I went through a massive culture shock before I started to enjoy the whole Spain experience, but it was totally worth it. And finishing a relationship didn’t help at all. “What doensn’t kill you, makes you stronger” kept me sane.

Did we have any cultural differences while we lived together? Definitely! But do I remember them? Not so sure. As I mentioned before the dinnertime was hard to adjust but nowadays I’m loving it! I never got use to the siesta! For me it was the best shopping time and it was so annoying when all the shops were closed. Normally the siesta was from 1-2pm and 4-5pm.

There were some differences in the kitchen. All kitchens didn't have an over-sink cupboard what I'm used to in Finland and instead of a dish brush they used a sponge. Though, at least they rinsed the dishes after washing. ;)

 What I loved was their garbage bags. They were normal plastic bags, but they had a small string to close the bag. That was the best! I hope they still learn to recycle... Like everyone think, Spain is not always warm. In January there was only 15 degrees in my room and I had to warm my bed with a hair dryer before going to sleep. Electricity is really expensive, so we didn’t warm our house that often. Often it was warmer outside than inside of the house. I have never been as cold in Finland as I was in Spain.

Snowy view from my window
Spanish food wasn’t my favourite. Locals didn’t like it when I admit that I didn’t like their “jamon”, dried ham. I didn’t mind the taste but the texture of it was horrible, like that of chewing gum. “Tortilla de patatas”, Spanish omelette is delicious but hard to make, I still don’t know how to do it. When one is in Spain one should taste their local specialities. Sangria and simpler version of it, tinto de verano, were my favourite drinks. I also learned to drink rum and there was a good one called Brugal. Unfortunately I haven’t found that in Finland.

The education in Spain is very different comparing to Finland what it comes to, for instance, the school uniforms, teaching style and costs. The schools in Finland are relaxed, informal places where teachers and students are seen as equal partners. Also the education is free. I heard that 3,5 years studies of orthodontics cost about 75 000 euro. Ouch!

La Universidad Europea de Madrid
I studied 10 months in the Universidad Europea de Madrid. It was a private school so it was fancier than the public ones. The university was beautiful! There was a little garden with a lake between the buildings… I slept there so many siestas. J The services for the students were really good. There was a gym, aerobic and dance classes and swimming hall towards a small fee. And still I didn’t get fit. My first courses were mainly in English but in the second semester I had some courses in Spanish, for example Chinese, photography and dancing. It was really easy to get those 60 ECTS credits. I can’t say that I studied hard there and still I got 54 credits. My main focus was to party and travel.

The night life was great in Madrid. My favourite “barrio” was Malasaña and the best nightclubs were Taboo, Independence Club and Joy Eslava in Sol. Of course those are just the names that I could remember. Haha! Spanish people go out really late. They leave their houses about 11pm and go to drink somewhere, the nightclubs open at 2-3am. The last 5 months I went out 4 times in a week, not bad! I didn’t have any classes on Thursday or Friday so I had many long weekends that I used for partying or travelling.
Partying at Kapital

I visited at least Toledo, Salamanca, Alméria, Segovia, Barcelona, San Sebastian, Sevilla and Valencia. I found my soul mate Oona in a Tourism exhibition in Madrid and travelled with her to Portugal, Mallorca and did a road trip to Biarrizt, France. I met so many great people, went to so many amazing parties and saw beautiful places. Leaving Madrid wasn’t easy. Thank you all! <3

Oona and Krista going crazy in Lisbon, Portugal