Friday, 31 October 2014

Erasmus Traveling - Istanbul part 2

Going shopping...

The second day (Oct 24th) in Istanbul started with a nice breakfast with my pen pal's nice flat mate. It's always interesting what people normally eat for breakfast in different countries. I mean the breakfast in usually very similar, but still completely different. 

After breakfast it was time to check out a local bazaar. I find those places very fascinating even though I probably wouldn't buy anything from there. I find it difficult to find things from a place where I first need to negotiate about the price. I'd prefer to know the price that I need to pay for the product right away. That's one reason why we went to a shopping center next. I actually didn't buy anything for myself from there, but I found some souvenirs that I'll give to my granny and so. 

There were Turkish flags everywhere!

Later it was time to go to the Taksim square, where I got to taste this interesting tiny hamburger thingy. We also walked along the Istiklal Street, visiting some stores and churches. In Finland I'm not fond of visiting churches because they don't look any special. I mean the architecture in Finnish churches is kinda simple. Abroad churches are very decorated, which makes them more interesting to see. 

Loving the place!

On my last trip to Istanbul I didn't taste Turkish coffee at all, so now I had to do it. I was a bit skeptic about its taste, but it wasn't as bad as I though it might be. Not sure if is tasted like 'real' Turkish coffee, tho, as this coffee was served at a store selling Turkish sweets. When comparing it to Finnish coffee, this was stronger even though sugar was kinda one of the dominating flavors. 

We also visited a lovely chocolate store. I simply had to take pictures there, as the place was so small and cute! Of course, the chocolate itself was delicious as well. :)

Surprisingly they put on the lights on the Istiklal Street. To me these lights scream Christmas, so I was very happy to see them! I guess, the excitement can be read from my face also. I wish they had such lights already in Greece also. This specific street is perfect for shopping, not to mention all narrow streets around it. 

My dear pen pal and I

Before going to a Jazz concert, we had dinner at an interesting restaurant. I ate sort of a pancake filled with potatoes and something else. The taste was very good, and it was more filling than I originally thought. About the jazz concert.. Well, I knew it wasn't my cup of tea so to speak, but it was still a nice experience. I probably wouldn't have heard life-jazz if it wasn't for my pen pal and her friends. It was somehow nicer than I thought, but probably wouldn't go listen to jazz again. heh. The day was nice, and I had lots of fun!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Erasmus Traveling - Istanbul part 1

A few days back I wrote about my up-coming trip to Istanbul, Turkey, which I was very excited about. Unfortunately, the trip is already over and I have returned to my 'home' in Greece. The trip was amazing for sure, and it's all thanks to my dear Turkish pen pal and her nice flat mates. If you happen to read this; thank you so much for hosting me, it was a pleasure to get to know you all!! 

My trip started on Wednesday (Oct 22nd) by packing... I really dislike packing, tho it's even more annoying to unpack. heh. For going from Thessaloniki to Istanbul I used a company called 'Crazy Holidays' as it seemed like the easiest choice. If you are interested in getting to know more about the trips that they offer, feel free to check out their webpage here

Sultanahmet camii

The bus left a bit after 10 pm from Thessaloniki, Greece. I had  tiny problems finding the correct place, where the bus left. That's why I left home very early, in order not to miss the bus. I was a bit skeptic about the area as it was already so dark, but everything went well in the end. Luckily, the bus was rather empty, so there was lots of space for one person. Other vise ten hours in a bus would have killed me! I had never spent such a long time in a bus before - I think the longest used to be around 4 hours. There were some not-so-common things in this bus ride, when I compare it to Finland. First of all they don't serve coffee/tea in Finnish buses (or at least I haven't seen such a thing!). Then the other thing was the bus not having a toilet, which was weird for me. After thinking a bit I remembered the French bus not having a toilet either back in 2010 when I was on a language course.  Anyway, from my point of view the trip would be quicker if there was a toilet inside of a bus, however, it's nice to walk a bit during the breaks. 

Hagia Sofia

At around 8 am the bus arrived to the bus station in Istanbul, not that I would recognize it to be a bus station without the buses being there. haha. On the boarder between Greece and Turkey it was funny how people kept on wondering about my passport - why does a Finn travel by a bus from Greece to Turkey... I was happy when the bus was in its destination because sitting in a bus ain't that nice. I was tired, yet excited to meet my pen pal. It's always great to meet someone with whom you have been exchanging letters for years. Thank you for welcoming me, my friend!

After arriving to my pen pal's place, I relaxed after the not-so-nice night in a bus. Later it was time to eat lunch at a local university, which was an interesting experience for sure. Food served at Finnish universities is somewhat different and served in a different way. However, I'm always open to new tastes as long as it ain't too spicy. :)

On the first day we explored the city. I had already visited a few places (Sultanahmet camii, Yerebatan Sarayi and Topkapi palace) on my trip to Istanbul in 2010. I can recommend those places for everyone as well, tho! We went to Hagia Sofia, which is a famous old Mosque. I would recommend people to see it, it's worth the money so to speak. While walking around the mosque, I drank this weird drink made of milk, water and cinnamon (?). I believe it's good to try out all local dishes, drinks and so, of course, people should have some kind of a limit what to put into their mouth. haha. 

Turkish tea

Next step was to taste Turkish tea, which tasted nice - might have something to do with a lovely person putting so much sugar in my tea. heh. The place was amazing, as it was somewhat high, right next to the Topkapi Palace. Later I got to taste some famous 'dessert' thing, which was made of ice cream and topped with something warm. It was delicious! 

Some famous thingy with ice cream topped with something warm - delicious!

The first day in Istanbul was great! It's such a great city, which is nice to explore with lovely people! 
The weather was nice as well; sunny and warm. Who could ask for more? 

New Mosque

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Christmas Check-up

This is from a random store that actually was selling
Christmas-y lights. They just aren't really my type. :(

Last week I made my 2nd trip to Ikea and the stores around it. I didn't have that much time to explore all the stores, so I actually went only to Ikea and Jumbo. My aim was to look for Christmas lights, or anything else related to Christmas. haha.

Ikea was disappointing because they didn't have anything Christmas-y! They had just started to built the Christmas section, which seemed to be rather small, to my eyes anyways. I guess, I will need to go there for a third time, probably in November. From my point of view, two months before Christmas Eve, stores should have their Christmas sections ready already! I mean - only less than two months till Christmas!

However, I really liked Jumbo. They had expanded their Christmas section from my last visit. I found some lovely things there; some for myself and some as Christmas presents for others. Not to ruin the surprise, I won't show pictures of anything that will be a present. Enjoy the Christmas feeling!

The pillow cases are going to our living room!

Ending the post with a nice Christmas song called 'Tulkoon joulu'.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

When Greece Is Not Enough

Just wanted to make a quick post and inform you guys that I will be going to Istanbul today. Well, technically I will be in Turkey tomorrow because I'm going there by a bus and the whole way takes 10 hours. Lucky me - how to spend ten hours in a bus? :o

And here you can see my new shirt. Have a lovely week!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Time for Sleeping

The headline is a bit misleading because I'm mainly thinking about the time when people should sleep. haha. Thessaloniki (also known as Thessalonica and Salonica) is a major student town in Greece.  Therefore, the city is full of nightlife possibilities. I haven't attended these events nor visited bars or nightclubs because they simply are not my cup of tea. Instead of that I have taken a few walks and seen the beauty of the city in night lighting - waiting for the Christmas lights to appear, tho!

Most of the evenings I have spent at ''home'' watching TV series and movies, browsing the internet or writing letters (yep, you can expect to receive letters from me). During the past few evenings (and days) my interest has been in blogs related to Christmas. I have got so many new ideas, which I plan on executing when I go home for Christmas. Nothing is better than spending Christmas at home with the people you care about, especially if Christmas happens to be your favourite celebration of all. 

What comes to the time when I actually want to sleep, it's so difficult to fall a sleep. Thessaloniki is such a noisy place compared to my hometown, Hämeenlinna. It's not surprising really, because the places are so different by size and also I live almost in the heart of the city here. During the three weeks of living here I have sort of gotten used to the noise, as it doesn't disturb me while sleeping. The difficult part is to fall a sleep, but it's very easy to wake up. Near my ''home'' they are doing some road-construction work every day. And yes, also during the weekends! 
Well, at least there's no chance of over-sleeping. heh. 

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Waiting for the Christmas Spirid

People, who know me, also know that I'm a Christmas-person. My interest in Christmas usually makes people around me a bit annoyed, or at least they laugh at me a lot. I don't mind about that, Christmas is my favourite time of the year and that's why I plan on being happy about it getting closer day by day.

Some may say it's way too early to think about Christmas in October, but to be honest I have started thinking about it a lot earlier. For a few days there has been a countdown to Christmas Eve (Dec. 24th) on my blog, because that's when Christmas is celebrated in Finland. And I can say I'm pretty proud of the snowflake effect on my blog - I'm not a very technical person, so I'm quite glad it actually works. haha.

Here in Thessaloniki, I have been trying to search for any Christmas-related things. I have been very unsuccessful with this search. I have read on many Finnish blogs, how they have visited IKEA to see their Christmas sections, which annoys me because here IKEA had zero Christmas related things for sale. heh. I still found a store called 'Jumbo' which had some Christmas things for sale already.

I'm hoping to find Christmas lights for my studio apartment and soon. This time of the year doesn't feel the same without Christmas lights, because if I was at home, I would have had these lights in my room since the beginning of October. The other things that I'm trying to find are Christmas cards. It would be interesting to send Greek cards for my pen pals this year, it would be something different than normally. I can't wait for the Christmas sales to start in Greece - hope it happens soon!

For the past week I have also listened to some (or many!) Christmas songs. Here is one of my favourite Finnish Christmas songs; 'Varpunen Jouluaamuna' sang by Suvi Teräsniska.

Have a nice wait till Christmas!

Bloglovin' Here I Come

Thank you! I have noticed more and more people reading my blog, which has made me think about the future of this blog. What, a Squirrel started by being dedicated to correspondence, my dearest hobby of all time, but I sort of feel like the focus has changed a bit. Currently, I'm conducting my Erasmus exchange semester in Thessaloniki, Greece, so I have been writing about this topic quite a lot. I don't know if this blog is too messed up with correspondence, my life, and up-coming Christmas, which I'm keen on writing about. We'll see, what's the future of my blog, but what's sure is that I won't stop blogging!! 

I have joined Bloglovin', so feel free to follow 

Thank you! Wishing a great Saturday for everyone! :)

Thursday, 16 October 2014

One of Many Days

For today I had a very good blogging idea in my mind, but I wasn't able to sleep well last night due to being a bit sick. I'm still not feeling good, so this post will be a bit random.

Today my activities have included going to school to discuss with a professor, going grocery shopping and alloying myself to eat some unhealthy delicious things. Come on, when being sick it's allowed to eat not-so-healthy things. ;)

My highlight of the day has been receiving a card from France! :) If you are planning on sending me any mail to Finland, you could ask for my Greek address. I don't want to tell it to everyone because I try to avoid any mail arriving here when I, myself, am not here anymore. Thank you for understanding! 

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Why Greece?

Many people have asked me why I wanted to go to Greece for my Erasmus exchange, and honestly I don't have any good answer to this question. Others say, they applied here because of the climate or because of the city being famous for its nightlife. I don't have those reasons for why I'm here, which may sound strange. I love all seasons, and am not that fond of temperature over 25 Celsius degrees. I don't like partying/clubbing either, so this screams me being in a wrong place for the exchange.

To start the story from the beginning, I have always been interested in traveling. This may be because of my dad traveling so much due to his job, tho it doesn't explain my interest in different cultures. I'd say that is my mom talking, as she's one of the reasons why I started correspondence first with Finns and then with foreigners. While writing letters I became more and more interested in different cultures and countries, which boosted my interest in traveling. Then it started, me wanting to experience how it would feel like to live in a foreign country.

Already back in upper secondary school I thought of an exchange year abroad, however, it was impossible due to the high costs of such exchange program. After upper secondary school, I ended up studying international business, majoring in marketing (though, I'm thinking of changing it to management) in English. The fact that I'm conducting my studies in English, opened many new possibilities. All the exchange options felt more possible at this point, as I knew my English was strong enough for conducting my studies in English already in Finland, so I knew it would also be possible abroad.

The timing was easy to decide, as I knew I preferred the fall semester. Why? This is an easy question to answer, because I love snow and winter, so I want to be in Finland that time! Especially because previous winter wasn't very snowy, so I wasn't able to cross-country ski that much - hoping for the up-coming winter to be long and snowy.

What comes to the destination, Greece wasn't my first choice. When I was thinking about the country, my interest was in Canada and Malaysia, but ended up thinking it would be better for me to stay in Europe because I'm a family-person - I like being close to the people I care about. The next idea was to look for universities having the fall semester at the same time that it would be in Finland. That wasn't so easy because most of the European countries have their semester starting later than Finland. I ended up applying to Czech Republic because I found the timing of the semester and the courses most suitable for myself. Unfortunately, my application was denied due to the universities renewing their co-operation contract. I got that information at a time, when Greece was the only place, where it was still possible to apply to.

I was mentally prepared of not being in Finland this fall, so I still wanted to conduct the exchange somewhere. So, that's why I'm here, in Greece. Now I need to deal with some problems that I was trying to avoid, like having overlapping studies for the whole January. I try not to worry too much about it, as January is nowhere close yet. My current goal is to try to enjoy this exchange experience as much as I can!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

My Journey to IKEA

One day after waking up I wondered how in the earth would I get this day go by. That time the day seemed to be so long, with nothing to do. I didn't want to just stay inside, I mean who goes for an exchange to stay inside of four walls every day? I started browsing the internet, and got an idea of going to IKEA and checking out the near by shopping center also. I decided to travel there by luck, so I went to stand on the bus stop and took a bus that said IKEA. It was surprisingly easy to go there even though I spent the whole way wondering how long it takes to go there. In the end it took almost 50 mins. During that time I was already worried if I had missed the bus stop, not knowing IKEA was actually the last bus stop. 

After arriving there I decided to head to the Mediterranean Cosmos shopping center. I wasn't completely sure of its location, so I ended up visiting JUMBO store first. It's a place that my tutor recommended me to visit, so I thought why not. The store is a place that any kid would love - it's full of toys. Well, you can find some other things there as well. Personally I was happy to see all the Christmas stuff. I'm a real Xmas person, so I don't mind how early stores start selling Christmas stuff and playing the lovely Christmas songs. Seeing all Xmas related things made me smile, I was happy, even bought cute Christmas-y cupcake cases. I definitely need to go visit this store again when Christmas is closer!

After JUMBO I finally found my way to the shopping center. I didn't consider it any special and found nothing to buy. I mean, most of the stores can be found in the center of Thessaloniki, so why would I go somewhere else to check out the same stores. Yes, it's clear that I'm not fond of shopping. On the way there I saw this abandoned-looking amusement park. I have no clue when it has last been used, but it seemed quite creepy to me. haha. 

Then it was finally IKEA -time. I actually don't know why I wanted to go there, it might have something to do with the fact that I sort of like decorating rooms, or then just because I miss Finland and IKEA is somehow related to it. haha. Anyway, I'm glad I went there. I took my time when walking through the whole place slowly. It was nice to look at all the furniture and think which would look nice in my room, or at our summer cottage. Of course, I also went to eat the famous meatballs. 

After I had nothing left to see, I went outside and noticed the temperature, it was +29!! I decided to walk a bit more before going back ''home''. It was a good idea because I found this sort of a beach kind of a place. In the end the day was nice, but I got a bit sick due to the open windows in the bus and the ride taking so long, still glad I went to IKEA!

Friday, 10 October 2014

The White Tower

A few days ago I made a trip to the White Tower or Thessaloniki. I live quite near of it (.. 1km away..) so it was easy to take a little walk and check out the place at the same time. The White Tower of Thessaloniki is like a symbol of the city, you can see it in almost every postcard featuring this city. It's a monument and a museum. I liked the place a lot even though I didn't understand much as there wasn't any English text inside the museum. The best place was on the top, as there you can go outside and really see the city. I gotta go there again because this time the weather was quite gloomy. To sum up, if you ever visit Thessaloniki, the tower is a must-see place.