Monday, 8 May 2017

Summer Bucket List 2017

As we are living the last spring month in Finland, it's a suitable time for listing down the things that I want to do during the summer of 2017. What comes to the list, they are things that I'd wish to do, however, I tried to write about things, which are actually possible. Other exciting things are also more than welcome - how boring would a summer be without any extempore activities? 

- I really want to spend lovely weekends at the summer cottage, because it is extremely relaxing to just hang out, take a sauna, swim at the lake and barbecue without any rush. 

- Previously, I have wished to travel abroad, but this summer I'd like to see some Finnish towns, which are new to me. Of course, traveling abroad would be fantastic as well, but my work comes in the way of longer travels - maybe during the autumn then. 

- Social contacts are important for me and I value friendship very highly, hence you gotta make sure to arrange meetings even if everybody has different schedules. 

- Last year I was a very lazy pen pal, but I have caught up with mail very well during the past months. I truly wish that I can keep up this speed of answering to letters. 

- My aim is to keep on seeing my granny from father's side weekly, and traveling to Hamina at least twice in the summer to spend time with my other granny. Of course, it would be lovely to see my other relatives as well - every family is unique. 

- On May 15th I'm starting my very first office job that is related to my past studies. I really want to succeed in it and create better base for my future job search. 

- Ever since meeting my boyfriend, I have been more eager to test out new dishes and drinks. It doesn't matter if I will cook by myself or eat out at restaurants. 

- As I have created a very functioning sport schedule for myself, I want it to continue throughout the summer. It would be awesome to learn how to go jogging when the weather seems too hot for me. 

- When I was little my family went on a farm to pick strawberries, but I can't recall anything from this event. 

- It's been multiple years since I last went to an amusement park, hence I really want to go this summer. 

- I want to be happy during the summer. I wish it to be filled with laughter and as stress-free as possible. 

- My aim is to create lovely memories during the summer, especially with my love.  It doesn't matter what we do as long as we get to spend more time together than before. 

- Swim in the sea
- See a sunrise
- Taste new ice cream flavours
- Go a whole day without technology
- Read at least one book (Any suggestions?)
- Bake something that I have never baked before
- Try out yoga


What have you included on your bucket list this summer?

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Correspondence as a Hobby

When meeting new people or reconnecting with old ones, the question about hobbies comes out. The answer that I give every time is that I correspond with people around the world. I've been doing it ever since I learned how to write, so to me, it's more of a way of life than a thing that I do when I'm bored. Due to the amusement and disbelief towards my hobby, I thought I would list down the pros and cons associated with correspondence. Just bear in mind that these are my own opinions and every single snail mailer has their own reasoning for writing letters. 

I suppose, I could start by explaining what is correspondence. To me correspondence means the exchange of handwritten letters, which travel through traditional postmen and women. I understand that people may also correspond through electronic ways, but to me that ruins the true essence of correspondence. Before anybody asks, I'm also aware of the other definitions, but they don't seem relevant to this blog post. 

My correspondence history dates back to 2002, when I wrote my very first letter. I started school in 2001, so writing letters happened just after I learned how to write. The main reason for starting this hobby was it being my mother's hobby. She has also been writing letters since her teenage years, so I thought it would be nice to share the same hobby. Moreover, I was jealous of her receiving so much mail, hence I wanted to be surprised by a letter as well. 

My first letters were in Finnish and rather short, however, I got to meet some amazing people and truly practice my horrific handwriting, so that people could actually read it. I remember back in primary school, when I was waiting for my parents to get home so that I could see if I got any mail. *Our mailbox is locked and that time I didn't have the key.* I found it too annoying to wait for my parents to come home from work, so I asked to get the mailbox key as a birthday present one year. Especially, during the summer holidays it was so much fun to watch ''Los Serranos'' from TV while eating breakfast and then head towards the mailbox to see if there was any mail for me. I've got one Finnish pen pal left from the primary school times - she is truly amazing. She is also writing a blog (in Finnish), but if you want to take a look, you can find it here

The correspondence became even more exciting when I started writing letters in English. Honestly, I couldn't care less about learning English in primary school, but I was so lucky to get a lovely teacher at the secondary school. She inspired me to practice English and start writing letters in English as well. This happened in 2008. It was so exciting to receive those first letters from abroad, because people didn't use Internet so much and social media was still in the early stages. I remember the feeling of receiving a handwritten letter from a total stranger, from a foreign country and seeing the beautiful stamps and thinking about its travel from the starting point to the destination. 

I know my first English letters were horrific, because I have saved some drafts. I had to do it, especially with first letters, because I wanted to make sure there weren't too many grammar mistakes. Sometimes I also had to use a dictionary for understanding everything, but hey it meant learning new words and expanding my vocabulary. 

If I were to mention any negative aspects of this hobby, I could say that it is extremely slow, though it depends on the country and the speed of answering to the letters you receive. You may also realize that you don't lick with the other person after exchanging a few letters, which is sad, because then you have ''wasted'' time and stamps, however, you can never know before you try! Nevertheless, the saddest part of correspondence are letters getting lost or stolen! It's so sad to hear after many months of posting a letter that it has never reached its destination. However, this is a part of this hobby, which is out of our control. 

Overall, I couldn't be happier for starting correspondence! It has given me so much: friends, cultural knowledge, better English skills, interesting discussions, beautiful stamps and so much more! People, who don't snail mail or comprehend what it's all about cannot understand how amazing it is! It's a rare hobby to have in today's globalized world full of social media channels, but I still wish this hobby could interest more people in the future. Just imagine how somebody, who you have never met in real life, can spend even six hours for writing you a letter. Hence, correspondence creates long-lasting true friendships

Please, tell me what's your take on correspondence? Could you see it as a hobby yours?

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

What Makes Me Happy This Spring?

On the previous weeks I have seen several blog posts and Instagram stories about what makes people happy in a week, in a month, today or during the whole year. That's why I wanted to create a post about what makes me happy this spring. The credits for this idea go to my dear Hungarian pen pal, who wrote about the things that made her happy in March. You can see her post and amazing traveling themed blog HERE.

Ain't this dog the cutest?

As you may well know, I'm fond of winter, because there are so many things that I enjoy, e.g. cross-country skiing, ice-swimming, SNOW, Christmas and the atmosphere in general. That doesn't mean that I would like spring any less, because it means warm & sunny days, blossoming flowers, grass getting green again, summer approaching and for some reason I tend to me more quick with my correspondence replies during this season. 

Tampere, Finland on March 18th, 2017

One day I was biking back home from the gym and thinking about how warm the weather was. You were truly able to feel the spring arriving. It reminded me of my childhood, because when spring came I was so eager to get out my summer clothes and be able to use my bicycle again. Nowadays I bike all year round, but not back then. I suppose my biggest excitement came from the ground drying so that we were able to build the trampoline on our backyard. However, now it's enough to see the beauty of the spring, hear the birds singing and be able to grow some herbs on your own. 

In the center of Tampere on March 18th, 2017

My boyfriend has a natural talent for taking photos, don't you think so?

Naturally, spending time with my boyfriend makes me happy. One day in March my boyfriend and I went to Tampere, which is a rather big town in a Finnish scale of things. There we had dinner at a lovely old restaurant, where the food was delicious even though the portion was way too large. Later we walked around the center of Tampere. I haven't personally visited the town that often, because I have never really liked it. When I was younger I tended to navigate towards Helsinki (our capital), when I wanted to do some shopping at a bigger place. To my surprise, this day changed my opinion on Tampere as now I definitely want to see and discover more of it. We ended the day by seeing ''Kong: Skull Island'' at the cinema. I have to say the movie was somewhat interesting, but also relatively weird, so I don't know what to think of it. 

Lately, I have also been happy with my correspondence status, because I have been able to catch up with the letters that have been waiting to be replied. As of today, I have only two letters to answer to and they are from Emilia (Finland) & Thilini (Sri Lanka, tho currently living in Japan). I wish to finish these letters within this week as well. 

Food can make you happy if it's delicious and doesn't affect your motivation
towards your fitness goals. This tasty cake was eaten at ''Antiikki
Kahvila Siiri'' in Lempäälä on April 1st, 2017.

What makes me happy are the celebrations of the spring - the nearest one being Easter. I'm not a religious person, but I still enjoy decorating my home for different celebrations. This year I took out only some of the decorative items, but I still have to change our red curtains to more colourful ones to match the season.


Remember that there are always things that make you happy if you just 
learn the talent to notice the tiny things we face each day!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

My Favorite Food - Sweet Potato Soup

Sweet Potato Soup

I have mentioned my addiction to this soup in many letters without explaining how to do it, hence this blog post. Furthermore, this has been my favorite food during 2017, which is why I want to share the recipe with you guys.

For the Sweet Potato Soup you need: 
  • 2 Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 Onion
  • 4 Tomatoes
  • Some Chili
  • 1 Vegetable Stock Cube
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cumin
  • Cream (15% fat)
  • Parsley
  • Cottage Cheese

1. Start by chopping sweet potatoes, onion, tomatoes and chili. Put them to a pot, add water and the vegetable stock cube. Let them boil until everything is cooked.

2. Take off the extra liquid depending on how runny you want the soup to be. Puree everything with a blender, add seasoning and cream. Taste and add seasoning or sriracha if you need more flavor.

3. Serve the soup with parsley and cottage cheese. ENJOY.

If you don't have the above mentioned ingredients, it's not a problem. You can use any vegetables you happen to have. Sometimes I use paprika, ginger, celery, potatoes, carrots or something else as long as most of the pot is filled with sweet potatoes. If you don't like normal cream or are unable to eat it, you can always use coconut cream or not add cream at all. There are many variables, which is why I don't tend to follow the same recipe every time. Therefore, I decided to show you how I prepared the soup this time. 

Please let me know if you want to see more recipes in my blog and if you decided to try out this soup. Have a lovely day!

Thursday, 2 March 2017

International Business at HAMK

On December 20th, 2016 I graduated as a bachelor of business administration after three and a half years of studies at Häme University of Applied Sciences (HAMK). It has been difficult for me to believe how fast time went and that I have actually graduated. In the beginning I wasn’t certain that I would continue these specific studies till the end. That’s why I’m so proud of myself and of this achievement. Hence, I decided to create a blogpost for anyone that is interested in studying International Business at HAMK.

Let me start from the beginning, meaning the spring of 2013. That’s when the last year of my studies at upper secondary school were going on and I had to decide where to apply next. During the whole study year I had attended events were current university students were telling about their studies and how they made the decisions on what to study. I couldn’t see any interesting career paths; however, I got excited by a presentation, which was about studying in English. If you didn’t know, the official languages of Finland are Finnish and Swedish.

As I had no idea on what to study next, but I was interested in English studies, I ended up checking the bachelor degrees taught in English. I made a conscious decision of limiting my search to universities of applied sciences, because I didn’t see myself as a university student. I also wanted to keep on living at home, at least for the first year of my studies, which limited my search even more. That’s when I found a town of Valkeakoski, which is rather close to my hometown, Hämeenlinna.
In the end I applied for three universities of applied sciences, which offered International Business studies. To be honest, I wasn’t interested in business at all, but I was eager to study in English and in a cross-cultural environment. Moreover, I believed that business studies are useful no matter what you end up doing in life. I did apply for a similar degree taught in Finnish language and also a degree related to health, but I knew those weren’t meant for me. My main goal was to continue studies directly after upper secondary school was over even though I didn’t know what I would like to study as I didn’t think I could solve this question during a cap year.

It was a HUGE surprise for me that I was accepted as an International Business student at HAMK, because I didn’t have an optimistic feeling after the entrance exams. When I received the email about being accepted, I was in shock, because it meant studying in English. At that moment I trusted in my written English, however, I was slightly scared of speaking it.

On September 1st, 2013 the studies started with multiple lectures. I remember the day being rather sad for me, because I didn’t feel like I belong there. It was all very overwhelming. I don’t know how to describe the feelings that I had during the whole autumn semester. I bought the student card only for the first academic year, because I didn’t believe that I would last so long. I’ve never been a quitter due to which I forced myself to continue the studies and aim towards good results.

On the positive side, I loved the multicultural atmosphere. My classmates came from various countries; China, Vietnam, Russia, Kosovo, Slovakia, Kenya and Canada, which was cool. It was interesting to hear their stories, learn about different cultures and simply to get to know them. Of course, the cultural differences generated some problems during group work, but hey, those are called learning possibilities. Naturally, some people just don’t click, meaning that group work was easier with some people no matter what their background was.

You can have many opinions about the teachers, but I don’t have anything negative to say. I think it’s good that people have their own ways to teach, because it creates variety. Moreover, students have varied ways to learn, so it would be unfair if every teacher followed the same pattern. For example, our marketing teacher connected stories with teaching, our management teacher valued self-learning highly, and the other management/law teacher believed in laughter during lectures and one teacher enjoyed connecting technology with studies. Of course, the common feature was group work in their courses.

What comes to the courses, the first year was full of basic studies related to business functions, professional English, marketing and accounting. During that time we also had to decide our major. We had two options; global marketing and global management. I went for marketing without any reason.  As said earlier, I didn’t have a passion for business studies. Some of my classmates were so passionate and motivated by business, which increased my insecurity. Luckily, I also met people who had some doubts about these specific studying being meant for them.

The second year was rather easy for me, as I started it by conducting a four months long Erasmus exchange in Thessaloniki, Greece. I have written multiple blogposts about it in the past, so I don’t repeat too much. It was an experience, which taught me a whole lot about myself, but not so much study wise. It’s not because I would have been partying all the time (as I simply don’t go to clubs or bars), but because the English teaching capacity of the professors was rather limited in Greece. Moreover, the courses that I was supposed to have were cancelled, so I had to find replacements. Erasmus in Greece wasn’t a good experience for me, but still a memorable one. I wish I could have gone to my first option, but as the universities were renewing the co-operation contract, I ended up in Greece. If you want to study, I don’t recommend Greece! If you want to party, then Thessaloniki is the right place for you!

When the third year started, I had come to terms with my studies. I knew I would finish no matter what. The autumn semester went quickly, but when the courses of spring semester started, I was surprised. We had to think of our thesis, but that’s not what surprised me. I attended two courses: organizational development and change management, which truly opened my eyes. I didn’t do that well in the exams, because I’m more of a doer than an essay-writer. There was a combined project organized during three courses, human resource management being the third course, which I didn’t have. There I got to do a project with a lovely and super talented German double degree student. Everyone kept on saying how difficult the project was, but I enjoyed it a lot. Because of this project being so fun, having such an amazing teammate and reaching a great end result, I felt like I had done the correct decision, when I applied to HAMK.

This feeling helped me with my thesis project, which wasn’t as difficult as people said. I created a social media marketing plan for a local hotel, which wanted to increase customer awareness through social media. The topic wasn’t that difficult to decide on even though my interest had already shifted towards management. Finding the theory, conducting the research and writing down the results wasn’t that difficult. I could even say that I enjoyed this process. When it came to the recommendations, the challenges began.  However, I overcame those, which meant that the final thesis seminar wasn’t that challenging. I even had only my PowerPoint slides to rely on, meaning that I had come a long way with my presentation skills and courage to speak in English. I’m happy with my thesis, but I know it could have been even better, if I had a topic that truly motivated me.

When the studies ended, I was relieved and proud of myself, because I felt like a winner. On the other hand, it was sad, because I had just started to enjoy the studies and feel like I belonged there. I don’t really regret anything, because it was I and my personality which prevented me from doing things. I can only ask questions from myself. Would I have more friends if I lived in Valkeakoski? If I moved there I could have met my classmates outside of university. Do people think that I don’t want to spend time with them due to me not attending any parties organized by student union? It would have been against my nature to go to a club, because even though I sometimes drink alcoholic drinks, I hate places with loud music and I dislike dancing. Moreover, I was rather shy during the first years of the studies, which meant that I didn’t start so many conversations even though I enjoy talking with people.

Anyway, the studies at HAMK gave be knowledge above the International Business courses. I learned about myself, I grew as a person, my English skills enhanced, my cultural knowledge grew and I made some hopefully lifelong connections. I still wish the feeling of belonging happened earlier during these studies, because I bet many situations would have been different. On the positive note, I can consider master studies in the future, after I gain work experience that is.

To sum up, you can only win if you study in a cross-cultural environment! 

Happy graduate of business administration.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Discovering Pärnu - Estonia

Sunset in Pärnu, Estonia

As you guys remember, I had two over-night travels last year. The previous blog post was about my travel to Vilnius, Lithuania, where I was visiting a pen pal of mine in the change of April and May. That journey was planned more precisely compared to the second travel in early August. That time my mother and I had planned a trip to Hamina, where my grandmother lives. However, due to some car problems, we had to find an alternative way to travel. Hence, we checked last minute traveling possibilities and ended up booking a travel to Pärnu, Estonia.

Our journey began from the bus station in Hämeenlinna, where we got in to a bus, which went directly to the port of Helsinki. There we hopped into a ship, which headed towards Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. As it was a group journey, we had to look for our bus in order to arrive to Pärnu two hours later.

Just outside of our hotel

We stayed at Spa Hotel Viiking for three nights. The hotel was rather calm, however, we found it kinda confusing. Nevertheless, the breakfast was filling and varied, which is a clear advantage of the hotel. Once we managed to wake up early enough to go morning swimming to a section of the hotel. We enjoyed the silence in the swimming area, but the sauna was way too hot for us. The hotel also included a water & sauna center “Viiking Saaga”, which was relatively new. My mother and I weren't too keen on that, because the air was a bit challenging to breath and there wasn't really room for swimming. It was an interesting experience to share the locker rooms with males even though there were separate little rooms for changing the clothes. Overall, the cost of the hotel met the quality of it.

Who wouldn't enjoy sitting close to the water and admiring the sunset?

What comes to Pärnu itself, it's a lovely seaside town, also known as the ''summer capital'' of Estonia. We enjoyed the small cafes and restaurants across the town center. We ate out a couple of times and let me tell you, the food was delicious! I was also a bit naughty as I ended up buying desserts and cakes. Oh well, that was before I truly started my fitness journey.

The shopping possibilities are also very good as there is even a free bus going from the hotels to the larger shopping center a bit further away. I found lovely trousers, a top and super amazing shoes. Of course, the beach is also amazing. As you may know, I'm not the type of a girl, who would enjoy sunbathing. I find it super boring and due to that I may have energy to do it for max 10 minutes and then I'm off doing something else. Anyhow, I enjoyed swimming in the sea, because the water wasn't too salty and the seabed was soft for your feet.

Overall, the four-day trip to Pärnu was totally worth it, especially as I got to spend quality time with my mother. Pärnu is a great place to visit, at least during the summer time. Go for it!

Monday, 30 January 2017

My Journey to Lithuania

As mentioned in the first post this year, I wanted to create a post about my journey to Lithuania even though it's been almost a year since I traveled. The main reason for it is that the memories will be always available for myself as I can check the blog. Furthermore, I want to show the beauty of Lithuania through the pictures I took, as well as tell you why it would be such a good destination for your next travel. 

On my way from Helsinki, Finland to Vilnius, Lithuania.

During every single flight, I can't stop myself from taking a look out from the window and taking a few pictures given that the weather is good enough. I don't know why, but perhaps it has got something to do with the fact of it being something rather unique, which doesn't happen every day - not even every month. 

The flight was very short, I believe the second shortest flight during my travels. It was a morning, when the plane landed in Vilnius, where one of my long-term pen pals, Almante, was waiting for me. Straight away she helped me to get myself a bus card and then we headed to her home. We didn't stay long as the plan for the first day was to do some shopping. Hence, we went to a shopping center close-by, where I found some lovely clothes. 

Trakai Castle

Always bring a lovely umbrella, so that you can take great pictures.

On the second day we took a train to the town of Trakai. It's a lovely place full of cute streets with wooden houses and of course, the Trakai castle. We didn't go inside, however, we wondered around it and took several pictures. It's totally something worth seeing, when traveling to Vilnius, as it's so close and easy to reach.

The third morning was spent for quickly taking a look at Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. It was a quick look, because we headed to a botanical garden. To be honest, it wasn't really my cup of the, because I'm not such a gardener even though I have worked on a grave yard three summers in a row. That being said, it was spring, so I believe it could have been much more beautiful some weeks later. 

When traveling elsewhere in Europe, I tend to find myself visiting multiple churches. I suppose, it's because I find churches abroad much more decorated compared to the Finnish ones. Hence, most of the fourth traveling day was spent visiting churches and walking around the capital.

During the same day we also climbed on two sightseeing hills, which were very close to each other. It was relatively easy to go on top of those, because the view was the motivator for the journey. I was hoping for a better weather, however, I still enjoyed the view.

On the last day we didn't do much, because I had some packing to do and we had to make sure of me catching the flight. I liked the destination as it was somewhat similar to Finland, yet so different. I also want to say thanks for Almante for hosting me - it meant so much, thank you! 

What comes to Vilnius, and Lithuania as a whole, I'd say it's a fantastic destination, where everything seems to work and the prices are reasonable (rather cheap compared to what I have gotten used to in Finland). If you are wondering about something, please ask, however, I have to apologize for not remembering exact names for the churches and other specific places.