Monday, November 24, 2014

Finlandia: The Lapland Adventure

So so so~!

Howdy faithful readers, I'm late as per usual, it seems I'm on a trend. Don't get me wrong, I love writing, but with so much going on I dunno, I guess I just don't think of writing updates here. Anyways, this week I made a special trip up to Rovaniemi in Lapland, and the Arctic Circle where I went to Santa's Village and saw the opening ceremony. That's right, it's officially Christmas time in Finland and Thanksgiving hasn't even passed yet haha.

I had a lot of fun while I was up there, and I don't even know where to begin on describing it. The way the frost sticks to the trees is magical, and though I wasn't able to get any pictures of it, the frozen lakes and rivers are incredible. Geez, also, the baying of the huskies was amazing! There were husky excursions going on and the dogs were so excited you could hear them all around Santa's Village.

I got a really cool hat actually up at the Village, and my mother would be so proud about all the work that went into getting it. Originally I found it in the main Santa's Village shop for 25€ and my heart sank. There was no way I was paying that much for a hat even if it was cute and said Finland on it. I just could not find a reason to buy the hat since I've already got my beanie and it's plenty warm enough. So I left the little shop and went to check out what the other shops had to get Christmas presents for my friends and family. Imagine my surprise when I see the hat again but this time for 18.20€! Well, seeing the change in price got me thinking, if a shop in the same village has the exact same hat for cheaper, maybe I can find it for EVEN CHEAPER! So of course I went on a hunt finding things I thought would make nice presents until I found it, the holy grail of savings~! Well, okay, let's be real, it's not the holy grail of savings and I could've totally lived without this hat, but I did eventually find it for 15€~! So now I am the proud owner of a Finland hat and it is super cute and I'm very pleased. I guess I finally have a Finnish souvenir that isn't my overalls haha.

So lets talk about the weather. It wasn't snowing sadly, but it was -9°C which is a comfortable 15.8°F! Good thing I brought my heavy coat and my Irish wool sweater because it was pretty chilly haha. I was warm the whole time I was up there, I even got a little hot in all those layers at one point, but more importantly I had no idea how tired being out in the cold could make you. I spent around six hours at Santa's Village, and sure part of my tiredness was from the train ride, but all I know is when I got back to the hotel at around 7pm I was absolutely down for the count! Not going to lie, I got online for a little bit but then called it an extremely early night. 

Overall I had a really nice time, but unfortunately I didn't get to see the Northern Lights. It was simply too overcast and cloudy outside which meant there was no point even going out and trying to see them. I got back home to Lapinkaari safe and sound though, and now I just have to keep my fingers crossed that I can see the northern lights while I'm here.

We're celebrating Thanksgiving on Friday, so hopefully I'll have an interesting update for you on Saturday. Take care everyone~!

Moi Moi,
Brieana K.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Finlandia: The First to Go

Whelp, I don't really have much to say about this last week, but I can say that we had our first departure from my close group of friends today. It's crazy to think that some of my friends are already going home, but it's even crazier to think that it's just the beginning. If it's not her it's someone else. As much as I'm ready to move on to the next leg of my journey, I'm not really ready to leave my new friends behind. For now, thankfully, I don't have to think to much about it, but soon I will. Hard to believe I've only got five weeks left, talk about absolutely crazy.

Until next time!

Moi Moi~!
Brieana K

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Finlandia: Winter Wonderland and Waffle Cafés

What a week it's been! 

Everything was going well, I had classes, and then BAM! It started snowing! I can't even put into words how excited we all were. It's absolutely beautiful, and it was a real treat. Of course, now the snow is starting to melt away, but that doesn't take away from the fact that is definitely came. IT really makes me hopeful that I'll have a white Christmas this year. I mean yeah, I'll be in Germany for Christmas, but that doesn't take away from the excitement.

Even more exciting however, is the fact that I went to a waffle cafe with my friends. Of course, the picture above isn't the waffle I had, but it's a toned down version of the one that I got. The waffle cafe here doesn't scrimp on toppings, and my waffle was piled high with whipped cream and chocolate. Talk about a treat! Next time I think I'm going to try the taco waffle actually. How could a waffle with taco stuff not be interesting after all?

Anyways, sorry this is a short update, but I'm sure you'll forgive me. Until next time!

Moi moi~!
Brieana K

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Finlandia: Culinary Adventure Part II

So so so...

What've I been up to this week you ask? Honestly, nothing much! New classes means new teachers, and mine are definitely pretty interesting. This celebrity politics class is going to probably be my favorite, but that's only if I can finally get a dig back at the professor. Call me out all you want if I'm actually doing something wrong, but don't call me out just because I'm American and you for some reason are a stereotypical Brit who doesn't like Americans or the French.

"Americans don't even speak English, they speak American", "Americans are notorious for not learning another language so here try to translate this", I don't need your crap sir. I grew up with a mix of the Queens English and 'American' English thank you very much. I've studied multiple languages and it's mandatory to take at least two classes of a foreign language in most schools. Don't be that guy sir. The only person you're really embarrassing is yourself.

Anyways, moving past him, I am having more and more culinary adventures! I learned how to make caramel sauce since Halloween just passed, and that lead to caramel fudge, which lead to fettucini alfredo. No homemade noodles sadly, but definitely a homemade sauce. Let me tell you something, you haven't lived until you've had homemade alfredo sauce. I will never eat the jar stuff ever again. I swear that to you right now. I've got a big pot of it sitting in the fridge just waiting for me to eat it tomorrow and I am so pleased.

I should start food blogging or something with how much I cook. I usually make at least one meal a day, and the meal is usually dinner, and I always feel really nice after finishing. It's great because I can share with all my friends and most the time they've never tried what I'm making. I have been dubbed the culinary queen, and for some reason I am extremely proud of that fact. Maybe it's because I'm used to frugal cooking, but I don't understand not being able to make yourself a great meal out of basic ingredients. I've had plenty of nights where all I have are potatoes, rice, carrots, and maybe a few other random things, and I've never been disappointed or hungry. I really want to do a fish dish, but fish is super expensive here strangely enough. Maybe sometime in the future.

Anyways, this Friday I'm going to the really popular waffle cafe with my friends, and I'm seriously looking forward to it. Catch ya guys later~!

Moi moi,
Brieana K

Monday, October 27, 2014

Finlandia: A Deep Look Into Me

So I'm late again this week, my apologies, but what I had to say for this blog took a lot of time to think through, and after writing a version of what I wanted to say on my personal blog, I decided I'd post a watered down* version here because even though I figured it wouldn't be important or no one would care, it doesn't matter. I care, and it's directly related to my growing experience here.

*I say watered down not because it's any less pertinent, but because I definitely use a bit more language in my personal blog, and because I took out a few extra things that would just muddle things up here.

Anyways, so, starting at the beginning.

I've never felt highly intelligent. That might sound like an odd thing coming from me, especially with how brash I seem to be, but it's the truth. I've always felt that I was not below average, but definitely barely average when it came to intelligence, and that everything that I was confident about knowing could be lumped into the category of, "useless trivia".

Being in Finland has taught me, however, that I'm a lot smarter than I ever let myself believe. As any student from the US knows, anytime you go to a foreign country you are automatically saddled with a plethora of stigmas: American's are fat, lazy, loud, and stupid. Ask anyone in the world, and those are the stereotypes you will probably hear. Of course, you'll also get nice ones like: helpful, friendly, creative, and others like that, but they'll rarely ever be the first thing that comes out of someone's mouth.

So how does my intelligence and Finland fit together you may ask? Well, since this is my blog and this is what this post is all about, of course I'll tell you, what point would there be if I didn't?

Finland hasn't so much taught me, as it has been a catalyst for me learning. I've given numerous crash courses on US history, politics, and geography, and I've been able to hold my own in explaining poverty, violence, racism, sustainable energy, and other topics. Not only that, but I've been able to speak about events outside of the United States, foreign affairs, the state of different countries affairs, and more 'blasé' things like art, culture, sexuality, and learning.

Being here has taught me that I'm not just a one trick pony. I'm a storyteller, always have been, but now I'm starting to see that the stories I'm telling aren't just my own, they're truth, they're history, they're opinions, and I've been able to teach and learn in turn. I'm not full of 'useless trivia', in actuality, the majority of the knowledge I know and have regurgitated to others has been not only extremely practical, but relatively important.

Now, I'm sure right now anyone from MC would say, "That's obviously your Maryville College education showing through," but I'd just like for you to take that comment and really think about what you're saying. Yes, the MC curriculum has allowed me to learn about some of these topics in depth, but there's no way you could ever possibly give the school the majority of the credit. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't get them to drink after all. Saying something like that also detracts from the empowerment I've felt through finding that hey, maybe I am actually kind of smart, maybe I can learn things even if I find it extremely difficult.

Anyways, what I'm trying to say is this:

Out of all the things Finland has taught me, the one lesson I am really going to take to heart is the simple fact that I need to listen to and praise myself more. As narcissistic as that sounds, it's true. I'm tired of living in a constant cycle of believing I'm not intelligent and that my intelligence or lack thereof is directly correlated to my worth.

Maybe it's a naive thing to say, maybe it's just optimistic thinking, but let me tell you something, I haven't felt better about myself in ages...

Until next week faithful readers.

Moi Moi~!
Brieana K.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Finlandia: Time for Rest

So sorry this update is going to be late and short, but I honestly didn't really feel like blogging this week haha.

The first period is now over which means I have completed two exams and now how a week off. Well, except for the class I have on Wednesday, but that's neither here nor there. I don't really have any huge plans for my time off other than seeing a hockey game and cooking with my friends, but it's nice, I like having time to relax.

I'm hoping I can hang out with some of my Finnish friends in my free time, and just generally get some relaxing in. I also need to work on my revisions for my senior thesis, but come on, lets be real, I would really prefer to get some sleep than do that.

Anyways, again, sorry for the short update but I promise I'll make the next one longer!

Moi moi~!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Finlandia: The Helsinki Adventure

So let me tell you a little something...

Going to visit a new place can be a heck of a lot of fun when you have a guide who's actually from there, and trust me, that fact made this Helsinki trip one million times better. Don't get me wrong, Helsinki is interesting and pretty, but I dunno, I don't think it's a place that I'd be all that interested in visiting by myself.

Anyways, seriously, today was absolutely amazing, the rest of my week doesn't matter at all comparatively. I rode my first train since forever and it was quite enjoyable. I went to my friend's parent's house which is absolutely gorgeous let me tell you, like seriously, I want to decorate like them if at all possible haha, and we did a lot of walking, I mean A LOT OF WALKING! Even the people who were used to walking around a lot were super tired by the end of it all, and my running on around four or so hours of sleep didn't help me I guess.

One of the greatest stories of the trip? Probably having a security guard approach me when I took a picture of a gate because it was beautifully ornate. He thought I took a picture of the security booth, I hadn't even noticed there was a security booth honestly, and so asked me what it was I was doing and why I was doing it. I explained about the gate and showed him the picture I took as well as my other pictures just to prove I wasn't causing any trouble and he kinda slinked off back to his little hidey hole. He was just doing his job so it's not like I got mad, but we all definitely thought it was funny.

Let me tell you something, Finland is EXPENSIVE! Like, outrageously expensive. I know I've covered it before, but it was just another reminder when we went to the big department store Stockman because they were having a 'sale'. I don't know if they know what sale means though, or if we're just used to things being relatively inexpensive in the US, because jeez louise it was all expensive! I wanted to get my best friend a scarf, and they were all between 20-50 Euros! FOR A SCARF? No, absolutely not! That scarf better be made out of spun gold or something, because no one in their right mind should ever pay that much for a scarf.

Helsinki's a nice place to visit, but it's really a place you gotta have a plan in. We went with no real idea of what we wanted to do, and it made the trip a little lackluster. Don't get me wrong, I rarely ever plan a trip because I like the adventure, but Helsinki just doesn't have as much stuff to just randomly do as other big cities. For instance, we went to a free art gallery and it was gorgeous, but there were literally only three rooms of art, and none of the rooms had over fifteen or so paintings. 

So, apart from Helsinki my life's been pretty good here. I've got one more exam for this period on friday and it's over Finnish. I'm a little worried since if I fail the exam I completely fail the class, but there's also a makeup exam, so there's always that option. Fingers crossed I don't need it though.

I'm picking up my overalls on Monday by the way, just saying ;) Expect a big long happy post about that in the near future!

Moi Moi~!
Bri K.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Finlandia: A Culinary Adventure?

So it's a little later than I would usually post, but I swear I'm still here and I'm still alive haha.

I went to the sauna for the first time earlier in the week, and wow.... it was something else. I didn't do the naked thing, I hate nakedness, and luckily this sauna was a bathing suit sauna so no one else was naked either haha. Either way, it was quite the experience. You have to take a quick shower first, and as soon as you're in the sauna you're sweating. Think that your tough? Sit on the top bench first then. All the steam is stuck at the top and you'll suffocate if your not careful. More importantly though, DO NOT BREATH ON OTHER PEOPLE IN THE SAUNA! Seriously, you think you're hot, but any puff of air from anyone will feel like dragon fire. I learned that the hard way when a friend sighed very hard right on to me and I thought I was going to start burning haha. I mean, okay, it wasn't that bad, but come on ;)

Anyways, so you must be wondering why the title 'culinary adventure'? Well, I'm sure you've caught on already, but I've cook a lot of food while I've been here. More importantly though, and a lot more interesting, a lot of other people have cooked food from their home countries as well! Homemade pizza, a Brazilian chicken pie, a Scottish fish pie, the list just goes on and on. We're having a Finnish dinner next week and I'm super excited since there's not anything that is just... quintessentially Finnish food wise. I mean, I can have reindeer, but it's really really expensive, and there's a type of pastry with rice pudding I could have, but other than that a lot of foods are just... I don't know how to say it, neutral? I'll go with neutral. Think of it like asking an American (US citizen, I'm not having the whole America's fight right now, I don't feel like it), "What's the one quintessential American food?" Anyone from America knows that there isn't just one. People say 'hamburger', but hamburgers aren't from America, they're from Germany.

I'm babbling though, anyways, I thin what I'm happiest about right now is the simple fact that I've had the opportunity to cook, and no matter what I cook someone likes it. I'm used to having to cook and worrying that no one but my best friend will actually eat it because it's too exotic or something like that. I haven't gotten fish yet here, but now that I think of it I need to get some of that.

It's almost the end of the first period which means soon I will be changing classes! Thank goodness, because most of these classes are beyond boring. I dunno, it's not just because I'm in Finland, I think it's a combination of Senioritis and the fact that I've been really interested in some very specific subjects lately and my hyper focus makes it hard for me to care about other subjects as well haha.

I miss being home sometimes, I mean, not achingly so or anything, but sometimes I just want to be back at MC so I can do things. I want to go out to eat with my bestie, cook dinner for my Mum, go to homecoming, those things ya know? I'm fine here though, and there are a bunch of perks to being here instead of home so I'll keep going on. I only have 77 days left in Finland before I go to Germany for Christmas and New Years, and I plan to make the best of it. Helsinki this weekend for example, and I need to see about going up to Lapland ;)

Talk to ya next week, Moi moi~!

Brieana K.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

This is intimidating.

This is intimidating.

I’ve been here nearly three weeks now. It seems a lot longer than that, already. I’m so happy and just obscenely grateful to be here, I still can’t believe it. Honestly, it’s still hard a lot of the time, though. I feel really out of my element here. That’s not to say I’m unhappy, but I’ve come to realize that I am very comfortable with myself within a certain context.

Over the past couple years, I’ve really grown as a person and become a lot more confident in myself and comfortable with who I am. That was such a long journey for me to get to that point of being really happy with who I am and where I’m going. Because I had reached that point, I wanted to keep pushing myself, becoming better and stepping even further out of my comfort zone… that’s why I wanted to study abroad.

I’m definitely out of my comfort zone here; I’m unsure of how just about everything works, and that’s a very difficult realization to come to. I keep alternating between exhilaration, panic, excitement, and exhaustion. I love that I’m getting this experience to push myself and learn, and it’s also pretty freaking intimidating. I cycle through these emotions constantly, I can tell you I feel all of them even within a bus ride, every day. This is a big change; it’s a big step, bigger than I thought it would be. This is a really amazing place with really amazing people, it’s just not my place and my people yet. Yet.

I can come out of this as such a bigger person, with more experience, more knowledge of the world and its people, and a new perspective on all of that. I’m feeling like a fish out of water, but I look at these five months with optimism, and I know I’ll look back at them with gratitude.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Finlandia: Just another week

I've got my own little routine in Tampere and it's quite nice.

Wake up
Go to the school and eat lunch (optional)
Wander around town
Go to Lidl (grocery store)
Return home
Relax (Can be switched with cooking)
Eat dinner
Socialize in the kitchen sitting room
Go to room and relax
Talk to best friend

Of course that's my week routine and it's different on the weekends and it might change a little during the week, but that's my basic life and it's kind of nice really. I miss my bestie of course, but considering I talk to her like, every day, it's practically like we're hanging out like usual anyways.

I've met a few people who share some of the same obscure hobbies as me and it's wonderful! I've already learned so much and they've all just been so friendly, welcoming, and more than willing to help with anything that I might have trouble with.

Which reminds me, I need to talk to my one friend about organizing a trip to Lapland and Helsinki. As soon as I get my bank account I can afford to go and I'm so excited :)

Anyways, classes are kind of boring really, and my Finnish course is going well. This week's a short update but whatever haha.

Moi moi~!
Brieana K.