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