It’s time for yet another trip. Warszawa, nadchodzimy. Back on Friday, see you then.
Sunday, 30 March 2014
Last night – in a crowded and smoky bar – I remember how much I love Slavic languages and the countries in this part of the world. My fascination with Central Eastern Europe and Slavic languages started when I saw a picture of a sunflower field in then Yugoslavia. I was not old then, I’m older now. The fascination persists. The thought of leaving made me sad. Fortunately Sweden is near and there plenty of flights from there to down here.
This weekend has been absolutely gorgeous, so when some Swedish friends came for a visit we decided to take them on a long walk: first to Slavin on the hill for a picnic and then down to the river for some cocktails.
Monday, 24 March 2014
In academia we often mention law and politics in the same breath, yet at the same time we are accustomed to consider law, the rule of law, and democracy as subjects of different disciplines: jurisprudence deals with law, political science with democracy, and each deals with the constitutional state in its own way – jurisprudence in normative terms political science from an empirical standpoint.
- Jürgen Habermas, “On the Internal Relation between the Rule of Law and Democracy”
Saturday, 22 March 2014
Friday, 21 March 2014
The plan for this afternoon is to start packing. Yes. I have a lot of books, clothes and stuff to go through. The feeling I have at the moment is that I don’t want to bring most of this stuff to Sweden, I want to get rid of it. The books are dear of course, so they might stay with me for all eternity.
When looking for inspiration, I found this page – 30 items in a wardrobe, no more, no less. I think I can do that.
Let’s see how this goes
The language spoken in Finland (or at least one of them) is called Finnish. I do not know how many times I have seen people get it wrong and it annoys me a lot every single time.
If you are looking for someone speaking Finish, you’ll be looking for that person a long, long time.
That was my daily rant, thank you. Over and out.
The alarm clock rings at 5.30. The following half hour is spent with some serious toe-stretching. Get up. Too much instant coffee in the coffee mug. Tastes horrendous. On with a neon pink dress. Throw out the garbage, go for a walk. Breakfast coffee with the boyfriend, see him to work. The city is waking up; the sun is shining. Off to a cosy coffee place on Obchodná, Štúr* is the name. And so the day begins, with writing, fresh mint tea, a mango smoothie and some French jazz.
*L’udovít Štúr was the leader of the Slovak national revival in the 19th century and the author the Slovak national standard.
Thursday, 20 March 2014
The ideas of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky were first introduced to me a couple of years back when I was studying psychology. Back then we were discussing biases and how they affect our behaviour and decisions. I was immediately amazed – the emphasis on decisions was interesting and the complexity that lies behind decision-making is truly fascinating.
So, I was very happy when I found Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow. It deals with some of the very basics of human functioning; our thinking patterns and modes of decision-making.
The trip was actually quite amazing. Not only did it feel like we were in Hungary (the majority of people in the area speaks Hungarian and the ones we met only spoke Hungarian among each other) but the nature was very beautiful with some hills, vineyards and flatness. The kind of nature I always associated with Central Europe when dreaming of this place. Unfortunately there was a constant storm during the weekend so we did not have the chance to walk around and enjoy the nature.
The absolutely greatest part of the trip was the hospitality and kindness people were showing. We were travelling with a friend who’s from this area and for this reason were fed by her parents (great people and great food) and invited to two wine-tastings. The people were so open and friendly.
I had a very special feeling of serenity when visiting this place. It is difficult to describe such a personal feeling in this blog, but when I was walking around in a vegetable garden I felt like this is what life should be like.
Saturday, 15 March 2014
Today – on the 15th March – the first round of the presidential elections here in Slovakia will take place. I have with some interest followed the campaigns and seem to have notice that common themes are justice and strength.
The leader in the polls has been Robert Fico, the current prime minister and a member of the social democratic party. There are a few other candidates:
Though the race features 14 presidential candidates, the highest number in the country’s history, opinion polls suggest that the next president will be one of these five: Prime Minister Robert Fico supported by the ruling Smer; Andrej Kiska, a businessman and philanthropist; Milan Kňažko, an actor and leader of the Velvet Revolution; Radoslav Procházka, a former member of the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH); or Pavol Hrušovský, backed by the opposition People’s Platform.
The second round will be held on 29th March. Here are some of the campaign posters that I have managed to catch on camera (reading the slogans has been so much fun).
Thursday, 6 March 2014
My point? There is none – except that it is a lot of fun comparing languages.
One thing I’m often thinking about is the mutual understanding between languages and where to draw the line. Say, I am fluent in Swedish – does that mean that I’m capable to function in Norwegian? My initial reaction is no! Even though I might understand some of the things the other person is saying - I might be able to read a book even – the risk of being misunderstood or to misunderstand is too great! It is very often, however, that I find myself alone with this view. In general I think that the limits of languages knowledge are too fluffy. It is often the case that a long list of languages on the CV looks great, the higher the level the better. Insight into one’s own skills is often forgotten. Countless are the times people have claimed to be fluent in English – until they had to write a piece in advanced English or talk to someone from Ireland. Fluency – to me – means that one is able to communicate fluently no matter the context.
What I’m trying to say here is that one’s language skills are often judged based on what a subjectively written piece of paper says. Sometimes there are such things as language testing, but if these tests are not carried out by professionals, then what kind of a result do you expect?
And then there are those who have worked hard to acquire a foreign language and speak it like a native. That should be the goal and you who have done it, you are a great inspiration!
(this post was supposed to be about the wonders of wearing a leather jacket after a long winter, but oh well – I got a bit carried away)
Monday, 3 March 2014
When I moved to Poland a few years back (oh, whom am I kidding? It’s almost a century ago. Over a century. Nevermind) my mother’s friend gave me a small purse with quite a lot of zlotys. She was working at a ferry at the time, and passengers had left her tips that she could not use in Finland.
This little purse turned out to be a lifesaver; it quite literally kept me afloat. First I forgot my bank card in the ATM at home (not the most clever thing to do right before moving abroad). Then someone nicked my “real” purse in Warsaw. All I had was that little purse with Polish coins. That kept me alive for the next week or so until my bank card arrived.
Sometimes it is the little things we do that can help someone else tremendously.
Yesterday I was writing here about my not working on my thesis. After clicking on “publish”, my boyfriend helped me to finish my survey and to share it on facebook. Now known and unknown friends have taken their time to either respond to it or to share it with their friends. Ďakujem vám všetkým!
Sunday, 2 March 2014
…when I bumped into these pajama bottoms.
They are so pretty, aren’t they?
How was your weekend?
Apart from colourful pants and being too lazy for my own good, I also found a couple of interesting books and had some yummy pasta for lunch.
Today I have been doing absolutely nothing. This was not my plan. My plan was to look for a job and to work on my thesis. Oh, well. There’s still time.
Looking for a job is tough. How do you tell potential employers that they should pick you? How do you tell them that your skill set and your experience is really transferrable to that particular job?
I might be a bit egocentric now but I’m just trying to bounce with some ideas, to inspire and to motivate myself. Here is why anyone should pick me (potential employers, please leave a comment ).
- I speak multiple languages. Some of them are common (English and Spanish, to some extent Russian), some of them less so (Finnish, Swedish, Polish, bits and pieces of Slovak and Hungarian). And I write multiple languages. Writing and speaking are two different things, I can communicate in both ways.
- I have a lot of international experience. I’ve studied abroad, I’ve lived abroad, I’ve worked abroad. Chances are that I’m currently working for that very company that has produced your computer. Speaking of computers, I know more about them than I think.
- I’m quiet and humble, but I do get things done. And what I get done, I get done well. A perfectionist to the core, I have high demands for others, but even higher ones for myself. Why take the easiest way over the fence?
- I care for the people around me, I want them to be happy. And yes. I am customer-oriented. Finding the best solution and to help someone out, that is important. I like to learn things and teach them to those around me. Whatever you’ll want me to learn, I will learn.
- And even though I’m quiet, I absolutely love presenting things. It’s exciting to prepare a presentation, to do the research and to put it all together. And to tell people about it. That’s just wow.