Tuesday, January 26, 2016

First impressions

It's been almost a month since I started working as a nurse, here in Kajaani. Not long before that, we moved to a new apartment, something that I had wanted to do since I first came to Finland. The reason for that was that I always felt that I just invaded someone else's home and life, and I never had that "new beginning" thing, the joy of buying new furniture together, redecorating etc etc. But all of this has changed! And by all of it, I mean that the classic "new year, new me" motto fits me perfectly, for once.
The first question I have been getting a lot from friends is "how is Kajaani?". Well, Kajaani as a town is smaller than Joensuu, and even though I thought I would dislike that, I am actually quite satisfied. It has all kinds of things to offer, it is not extremely far from Joensuu and Kuopio by car, it is pretty and the center is kinda cute actually. It's one of the pretty cities I have been to in Finland. Also, workplace and center are fairly close, so we are content with that.
Moreover, people freak out because they think it's so much colder than Joensuu, when actually the temperatures don't show such a huge difference. Maybe 2 degrees? It's been a harsh winter weather anyway.
"How is work?". Well, that is a nice question. Work is fine, sometimes we have relaxed days and sometimes it's super tiring to be there. But my colleagues are fun people, polite, willing to help and explain things and very patient with my mediocre finnish language skills and my sometimes silly questions. They guide me well and are friendly. Being in a fine work environment is very important, and so far I am really satisfied.
"How is life?". Life is peaceful. I have been very deep in the routine trap, but have decided to change that. So far work has been mostly my worry and after that I feel rather tired to go out with my spouse and just have fun. Even at New Year's Eve, I felt like an old lady who just wants to rest. I think it is understandable partly to feel this way, since whenever we both have days off during the weekends, we take long drives. A couple of weeks ago we spent the weekend in Joensuu, surrounded by dear friends, watched movies, ate delish foods and played DnD. This Sunday, we went to Kuopio and bought new furniture, which made me happy, even though I got bruises in my arms from carrying the heavy bookshelves (the total weight of what we bought was 188 kg). Btw, the restaurant in IKEA is great!! Never been in one before, I was amazed. :D
Apart from that, I have enrolled to Zumba, belly dancing and an exercising group. Unfortunately I haven't heard from the Finnish courses in the Kaukametsän kansalaisopisto yet, but I hope that soon I can get a place there as well, otherwise I have to study alone for the time being and hope I can get better soon.
Now, things that I actually don´t usually tell, but have been in my mind for the past days. I have realized that, being an immigrant makes you stand out. Being away from a "student city center" like Joensuu, where being an exchange student is rather common, you feel "uncovered". With my dark charasteristics and my mistakes in the language, it is not hard to assume I am not from Finland. I have often heard the questions "Are you Finnish?" followed by many others. It makes me feel self-conscious about my speaking skills, and also my nursing ones, but on the other hand I am happy that patients are kindly asking and want to have a conversation with me about my life, how I ended up in Finland, how does this country seem to me, and even if I have a Finnish boyfriend. "Oh, the things someone does for love" is probably the feeling I get from them when they get the answer. It makes my heart warmer, knowing that people here are kind and do not feel threatened by foreigners, but rather, they are supportive, by complimenting and opening up.
Furthermore, I have been feeling insecure, regarding my communicative skills and my lack of experience in the nursing field. It feels harder and slower for me to learn, having sometimes slight problems to understand some guidance, and in the end I have doubts about being able to complete a task or not. It seems that this is an exaggeration of my own mind and it shouldn´t really even matter, but I am a person who likes to work independently, and being forced to ask for help regularly hurts my ego. This is at least the easiest way to explain it.
The only thing I can hope for is to get better as soon as possible and find the strength to be happier about what I already have. Motivation is definitely not something that I lack at this point, which is truely helpful. So, I know it´s going to be ok.
Happy Tuesday! XXX

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016, what will you bring?

Happy New Year!!!
It is the first post of the year 2016. I have been unpacking boxes for the past hour or two, and I decided to take a small break and post on this blog, as an update on our move to Kajaani from Joensuu and how we spent the holidays.
Christmas was spent in Jyväskylä, with my second family. Finnish Christmas is always so peaceful, completely different than how I would celebrate in Greece, with our big family gatherings and the night outs in tavernas or bars. Here people just stay home, tell their news, and give presents to each other. We do that on New Year´s Eve.
I am glad we decided to be in Jyväskylä for Xmas, we took a breath without worrying that much about packing. That stress came right when we returned home to Joensuu. Packing is hard, but the move is even harder. On the 28th our friends came over and helped with that. I am so grateful they woke up in the early morning to help us with such heavy work.
We barely had time to fill the truck that S.´s uncle drove, and we even needed an extra trailer. But everything went smoothly, the weather was nice, and we arrived to our new home in the early evening. We brought most of the stuff inside the apartment and went to sleep early. First night was really hard to rest and the next two days were even more challenging. We drove back to Joensuu, returned the trailer, played some D&D, and slept over at our friends´ home, which I deeply appreciate. Next day, had to clean the apartment in Joensuu. Gosh, that was so tiring and we were super stressed about staying on schedule to return the keys. But now this is all over!
The new apartment is a bit bigger, warmer and I am positive it will look cozy and really pretty when all the boxes are finally out of the way and our things in order. I think tomorrow or Sunday we might even be done with everything.
Expenses came along with the move, and there will be even more, ordering new appliances and furniture. It will be ok, just needs a bit of planning.
Apart from all this fuss, I missed my parents these days. I would have liked to be with them, but we at least skyped on New year´s eve. They are also so happy about us and their love fills my heart with warmth.
Our transition to 2016 was rather peaceful. We walked a bit around at midnight and watched the fireworks, but there was no strength left to go for a drink and do anything more special than that. I am still though very happy that it was the second year I could be next to S. The first year, 2013 to 2014, that we were apart, was painful inside. Now I feel so much better in his arms.
The first day of the year was cold, but we still went out to the center. I like Kajaani, the central street is pretty and full of stores around. Even though it is a smaller city than Joensuu, it is equally beautiful. I think I will enjoy my time here. Plus, luckily everything is fairly near, so I wouldn´t need a bus to move around.
Right now tireness is overwhelming, but I have to finish some paperwork before I rest. Changing our address was easy at least.
Monday I am starting my job. I am trying to be excited about it and not stressed, but that is so hard! I hope I won´t be as clumsy as usual and I will make a good impression. Luckily, people here so far seem more friendly and talkative than in Joensuu, which was rather surprising.
I will update on more Kajaani impressions later on. Now, on to unpacking again.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

So close to Xmas

A few days ago we took a stressful trip to Kajaani with S. in our new/not new car. The weather still doesn´t remind of Christmas (well, it started snowing today luckily), so our trip was smooth.
We found the new apartment fairly easily and took a tour at the whole building. And of course, we saw our new home.

I can´t express enough how long I had been waiting for this moment, to come with S. into a new home and start from scratch together to furnish and decorate it. It has been too long. When I moved to Finland, I only had two suitcases with me, all my personal stuff was mostly my clothes- give me a break, I moved in the summer, of course I needed two suitcases. In any case, I basically moved into someone else´s home and settled there. I have been using his things to do anything, I have been using his laptop to write my blog posts, which is also one of the reasons why I stopped at some point, because it felt wrong to take advantage of all these benefits.
But now, now we will have the chance to buy new pretty furniture, to finally have that air hockey table open at all times, to think and rethink and re-organize our rooms... To quarrel and to stress and to spend New Year´s at OUR home. I am so excited and I have been emotional since then.
The apartment is nice. It is warm and cozy and looks like new, with freshly painted walls... I am expecting hardships at first but I am also really happy that I will finally have a salary and we can invest in new things and in a nicer living.

Tomorrow we are heading to S.´s parents, my second family, for Christmas. Shortly after that, we will have to move already. We will get lots of help from them, and I appreciate that a lot. I have the feeling that everything will be fine. It has to be.

Only sad thing is, we are once again parting from our friends. But, I guess that is life, and that is the life that we have chosen. At least now I know that I made some precious friends in Joensuu as well, and I am preparing to make some more.
We have promised that we will be going there on trips to see them and play with them. :)

It is important, during these days, to know that you are not alone, nor you will ever be. I am grateful for all the people I have had in my life and with who I have shared special moments, little or big.
With that in mind, I will wake up tomorrow, on Christmas Eve. And every day after that.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

End of an Era

Year after year that comes to an end, it produces more food for thought. It matures us, and reminds us of our mistakes and our achievements.
And I have been thinking these days, about a lot of things. My life is basically taking a turn, mostly for the best. And as my mind had been wandering to all kinds of more or less important stuff, it also came to this blog. And I said to myself: this blog has to get real. It has seen only a tiny part of me., in important moments, such as my graduation. It was unfortunately, for the most part, kind of like a shallow photobook, showing some walks and beautifying my life. Well there will be enough of that. It's time to get real. So, from now on, I will be writing more actively on this page, with more things to say, no taboos, no just pretty pictures and mild captions.

But I feel like I skipped to the point right away and I missed the essential start of explaining why it is so important to change my way of writing. That is, because I have lived long enough here to stop feeling like I can't adapt, to stop feeling that I need to make this seem better than what it actually is. Adapting to a new society was really hard and I realized it after a long time. Almost a year after my move. 
But I will get to that with a special post later on. No worries. Everything will start coming out and making sense.

So, how has it been over those last months, since July? 
Well, summer didn't really feel like a summer. Mostly because of the weather, which made it so dull. But, I managed to fill my time which would otherwise be endless and boring, by going to practice as a nurse at the city's hospital. I got to speak Finnish every day and that helped boost my confidence. I had my clumsy and embarrassing moments, as a classic Anna. But overall it was a nice experience, so much better than my first practice place. Surprisingly, the staff embraced me, at least most of them. They explained to me everything and tried to help me work more independently, even though technically impossible. After 2 months I felt like I was finally getting to know the place and the routine and I was fairly confident I would be able to work on the department, if I was hired.

Once my practice was over, we headed with S. to sunnier places, after having a last rain shower in Helsinki, where we stayed for a couple of days, exploring the city. First stop was Venice, Italy. God, it was already almost September, but the weather was so hot. I think I am used more to the cold now than that unbearable heat. Nevertheless, I still remember our trips around the coasts of Venice, to Murano, Burano, and Mestre... Lovely culture, beautiful people, amazing food and culture, rich with history and architectural beauty.
Next stop, Greece. Firstly, we flew to Rhodes. I was so excited to step on Greek land again, I got extremely emotional. And of course, the first thing to do as an original Greek person, was to fight with two other older -and very rude- ladies on the airplane. Rhodes was also very pretty, sunny and warm, and filled with tourists. Our adventures took us to long trips all around the island, which is fairly big in size (about 90 km from North to South). Watching the view from the Acropolis in Lindos, taking a trip in the peaceful Butterfly valley and walking into a pitch black tunnel which led to a beautiful lake were only a few of the things we actually did. It had been the most busy vacation I have ever had so far in my life and I thank S. for that.
Lastly, of course we went to Athens, to my home. I felt that my parents couldn't get enough, and to tell the truth, I had also missed them terribly. They were very loving and I got so many hugs I couldn't even count, not I would want to. For me, that was the time to relax. S. had still a lot of energy and took advantage of a more familiar place to explore further. 

Our vacation cost me the chance to enter an educational program regarding Finnish language as a professional, which would have let me practice for almost 7 months in total during the year 2015-16. However, I still managed to stay partly active while searching for a job during autumn, by working at the local "kansalaisopisto" (something like a Community Educational Center, which provides several classes as hobbies, from foreign languages to group exercising, or arts and music). I taught Greek for about two months, to two different groups of people, all of them Finns. 
This experience was much more fun than I would have expected. As stressful as it was at the starting point, it turned better every single time and I was rather sad to have my last class this week, just before Christmas week. 
Of course I also had my own hobbies to follow, from Finnish classes to singing classes and band rehearsals. During this autumn I met a lot of interesting an open-hearted people, who lifted my spirit up when I needed it, and have believed in me, when I didn't. For that, I am grateful. 

All of this sounds too good, so here is also the dark side of the past autumn. Aside from the perfect vacation moments, stress was always at the back of my mind, lurking, waiting for the best moment to strike and beat me down. Being rejected from that Finnish course was still something negative, which let me be doubtful of what I would be able to do during the autumn and the new year. I started searching for a job with full batteries and a positive attitude, and after a couple of months ended up being wrecked in my mood, feeling more depressed each week I got rejections from tens of jobs, and feeling that this will never end and I will be unable to find a job on what I had studied in the first place. As weeks and months passed, the pressure was being greater, and I was becoming a grumpy, healpless crybaby. 

As all hope was almost lost, S. told me that he got called from an interview, after an application we had both sent to a hospital in Kajaani. He sent me a message on facebook, mentioning the interview and asking me to just casually write an email myself to the recruitement office, to ask if they would offer me a place as well, so we would move together and finally better our lives in a way we had been longing for. 
Miraculously, the next day I got a phone call, asking if I could go along with him for an interview, at the same date S. had his. And of course I agreed without hesitation. Which led to me meeting a very nice, polite and smiling lady, who offered me a job without any doubts and problems. I almost cried when she announced that she would, even immediately, make my contracts. 
After two weeks, S. also got a call. We are both moving and starting in our new jobs from January.

I can't stress enough how thankful I am to have S. in my life, he is possible my guardian angel in flesh and bone, always helping me and being by my side. 
And now we are going to have a home together, furnish and decorate it from scratch, something I have wanted so much ever since I came to Finland. 
It seems like 2016 is going to be a good year. And I think I deserve it, after all this trouble of studying, paying, and waiting for the past year. 

Welcome, 2016, come quick!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

W-end in Jyväskylä and summer arrival in Joensuu

I spent last weekend in Jyväskylä, walking in a park filled with stone statues, while trying to protect myself from the rain, and enjoying the next sunny day in the center of the city and around the port.
This city is in my heart, it is always beautiful and there is something special about it every time I visit.

So I watched the ducks and the swans (!) in the lake in Keltinmäki...

 Had a huge burger for dinner in the "American Diner" in the center... (no photos of the yummy burger, it was too yummy to not eat right away).

Saw some players preparing for "street hockey", because, it is always a good time for that sport aparently! 

And walked around the port, enjoying the sunshine, the light breeze and the cold lake...

The trip to Joensuu was unexpectedly effortless and since then I can say I have been (somehow) satisfied with the weather. July has come already and on the 3rd the temperature evne reached 27 Celcius degrees, which was super warm and felt amazing. 
This is why I made an exception in my general rule of not going to the beach before the end of July, and rushed to the nearest beach, in Linnunlahti. 
It was the first time I swam in a lake, and it felt surprisingly refreshing! A chilly feeling was coming in waves, but in some parts the water was warm and felt so nice to just leave all problems away and enjoy myself. 

Finnish summer seems to motivate the locals to go out more, walking around the center. The Farmari convention near the Joensuu Arena has gathered large crowds around the area, making the town more lively to my eyes. I even saw a horse carriage in the central park, lovely! 
Apart from the crowd buzz, there are small details that make this place even more interesting, like the students playing music in the center, tickling my ears, bringing a smile on my face. It is so nice to meet talented people and listen/see/admire their effort and natural gift. 

My first summer in Finland seems so far really promising, with good friends surrounding me, and new experiences all the time. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Boats boats boats!

Today was a satisfying day. Gym, Finnish lesson, all done. 
But most importantly, I went near the sea with one of my friends from the university, Nina.
So, we went to Mikrolimano (=Small port) in Piraeus, saw the boats-boats-boats! and had some nice chatting. 

The weather was sunny and warm, without much wind, so we enjoyed our walk and staying outside. 

Despite the mosquitoes which were flying all around in the evening! >.<

Also, because it was a day in the middle of the week, the place wasn't so crowded. Which I guess I also enjoyed. 

This was just a taste of Athens during the summer (which hasn't yet come fully, it just started to get quite warm, around 28-32 degrees Celsius), there will of course be more of Greece in the near future ^_^ .

So Happy Hump Day :) 

Gifts and journeys

Such a full day today! 
First successful task, got the tickets for my boy and me! We'll be going to Skopelos this summer to enjoy the sea and the sun ^_^. 

So, yay! \o/ Now it feels like summer is so close! 

Then I met one of the Erasmus exchange students from Finland, Linda. Most of the exchange students I met this year in Greece have left already back home :( And she is leaving tomorrow... 
So we went to grab a coffee at 360 in Monastiraki square. And she gave me a "thank you" present, pretty flowers! 

I'm so happy, I've received many presents from students who visited Greece, (and of course from friends back in Finland when I was an exchange student there!)
Like a tasty Fazer chocolate (yum!), as well as a t-shirt and a mug from Estonia ^_^ ! 

Last but not least, we had a rehearsal today! Unfortunately Mike couldn't make it, but Lara and me tried two new songs together! The burden is mine... alone by Green Carnation and A Night Like This by Caro Emerald! They turned out nice and we had a lot of positive energy :) . 

So this was all for today, gonna browse a few e-shops for my graduation outfit  and rest :3 

And the weekend is only a few hours away!!! <3