Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Brainstorming for a Dissertation Topic

In a couple of months it is time to start writing a long and complicated essay about... yes, that's the question, what? This is what we know:


- it has to be related to the European Union.

- I want to include Poland and/or Russia in the equation, possibly the Balkans as well.


Ideas in whichever order they pop up into my head:


A comparative study of the post communist countries and European integration (e.g. Poland, Russia and Croatia)

+ has the potential to be really interesting

+ should be easy to find material

+ directly linked to various kinds of EU foreign policy

- would cover a EU member, a potential member and a country with absolutely no interest in joining

- comparative politics is booooooring and it has always been my weakest subject

- the topic might be too wide; would be necessary to get the focus absolutely right



The relations between Poland and Russia in a European Framework

+ The relationship between Poland and Russia has always been very explosive and with Poland being a member of both NATO and the EU, Russia is far from satisfied.

- There is a danger that the EU is forgotten if I concentrate too much on Poland and Russia



Between Europe and Russia: the Future of the "Buffer States": Belarus, Ukraine and Southern Caucasus

+ Southern Caucasus is not completely unknown territory after my BA dissertation

+ There is definitely action in the area, and although none of them are EU members yet, these countries will be very important in the future relations between Russia and Europe.

- Risk of assumptions of the future instead of reality based on facts



6 Years later: Poland in the European Union

+ should be quite easy to find material

+ I would get the chance to concentrate on a country that interests me a lot

+ It would be easy to limit the topic...

- probably a lot of little details, boring?

A Place in the Rain

Let's begin today's blogging with 6 positive thoughts.

1) Rainy days are wonderful. And that is a good thing as we are experiencing some kind of a rainy season here in Valencia. It's pouring down!

2) Cappuccinos are tasty but tea is even more delicious. I have brought four or five different kinds of green tea to work, and my boss has his own collection in the cupboard. So there is no better way to enjoy the rainy day than with a big tea cup in your hand.

3) Yesterday I did well in my Hungarian class. My microphone wasn't working but I managed to participate anyway, which felt great. It's one odd language but I love it :D We are doing really basic stuff but one has to start somewhere. I should also receive the course book this week... which means that there will be something in the mailbox!

4) Payday tomorrow... no explanations needed!

5) This morning I got a ride to work so I didn't need to walk. Highly appreciated, thank you!

6) One of my best friends might come for a visit. Fingers crossed she does because we see each other so rarely.

Monday, 28 September 2009

I want SUSHI!

Actually I was going to write about re-charging my batteries for tonight, but that was before my cravings for sushi started.

Happiness Project

Happiness Project

Name: Zsuzsi
Duration: N/A
Mission: find a balance between physical and psychological wellbeing, learn to love myself (cheesy but true), find inspiration and stay motivated.
Motto: "The truest greatness lies in being kind, the truest wisdom in a happy mind" (Ella Wheeler Wilcox); "You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life" (Albert Camus)
Symbol: Lily
Inspiration: Endless
How to get there: this is not a desperate attempt to chase happiness- it's about finding and enjoying those little things in everyday life that bring happiness and satisfaction, and to be grateful for them. It's also about changing patterns and habits in order to change my outlook on life.

At the same time I will throw in my 12 commandments:

1) Go to bed being happy and get out of bed smiling
2) Keep an open mind - try something new as often as possible
3) Never underestimate the power of shallowness - sometimes a pretty pair of shoes can do the trick
4) Keep moving - get fit while having fun
5) Eat and drink well... but healthily!
6) For each negative thought about myself: come up with two positive ones
7) Learn to say NO.
8) Be sincere and nice to people
9) A little step in the right direction is better than a big step in the wrong direction
10) Stay focused on the goal
11) Pamper yourself
12) When everything comes crashing down - take a deep breath and go for a run

Many of these "commandments" are still rather blurry, they need to defined and made compatible with part 2 of this project, but I guess this is a start.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Enough is Enough or How to Find Yourself

For the last... god knows how long, I have not been myself. I have been a hysterical, crying, confused mess who has been sinking deeper and deeper into pessimism. I have always lived my life according to strange standards dictated by noone else than myself: mainly it's been about showing those horrible kids at school and everybody else that I indeed am better than them - by looking great, getting a great education and a wonderful job. I have been so busy building a shell around myself that I have forgotten to take care of the inside. Hence... the mess.
Now I've come to a point where this strategy no longer works, I want to find a way to improve my life so that it actually is a bit more enjoyable.

Let's start with plain words, words that carry a positive meaning, words that can be associated with things that make me happy: inspiration, motivation, health, optimism, fitness, colours, red, bubble baths, massage, learning, sexy lingerie, Murakami, languages, autumn, palm trees, tea, hugs and kisses, writing, reading, books, shoes, over-the-knee-socks, photography, words, analysing, laughter, teasing, sex, moving, adventure...

Friday, 25 September 2009


Reading list:

1) And Quiet Flows the Don - Mikhail Sholokhov
2) The Winner Stands Alone - Paulo Coelho
3) That book about Princess Elizabeth of Austria
4) The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
5) Whatever book is in the box

I would also like to ask for some help: could anyone suggest some Spanish or South American books that are worth reading? Secondly; I would also like to know about interesting books or writers from Central Eastern Europe (mainly Poland, Czech Rep, Slovakia, Hungary and the countries of former Yugoslavia), either fiction or political science...

Three months until Christmas...

... and it's time to decide what to do. If I could have my way I would go to a Christmas market in Munich and spend Christmas with my family. Everything would be covered in snow and and the snowflakes would twinkle in the witer sun. There would be a snowman in the garden and a lot of candles. The New Year's at some fancy place with delicious food and champagne and beautiful clothes.

Reality check. There's a crisis going on so let's forget about Munich. The climate change has been so radical that a white Christmas is rarer than one that is pitch black. And I don't really drink.

Maybe next year?

Anyway, this topic came up yesterday when I spoke to my father on the phone: my brother would rather spend Christmas with our cats than come to Spain. That is a problem because one of my core principles in life is quite silly but not negotiable: I will not spend Christmas without my family. I was 19 when I moved abroad and I spend very little time with my family as it is, so Christmas is one of the few occasions that I can actually see them.

Christmas for me is made of delicious food (and it has to be Finnish), a big Christmas tree stolen from the neighbours, lots of decorations, cuddling with the cat, reading good books, talking to my mum for hours, candles and Santa Lucia, wearing a funny hat, listening to Christmas carrols on the radio, going to church and the smell of gingerbread. No matter how much I like paella, it is not part of that equation. Last year my family came to Valencia, and we had a good time eating Finnish food and listening to strange music.

So this year? The options are few but straightforward: start looking for plane tickets now and try to get the holidays sorted somehow (mine start on December 24 which is a bit too late considering how complicated it is to get to the island). Use the force that only big sisters are allowed to use. No Christmas at all.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Imperfection and Answering Comments

Why do people (and especially women) always try to aim for perfection? Why do we think that we will be more loved if we are thin enough, pretty enough and successful enough?

If I would be perfect I would have the hair of Isla Fischer, the body of Keira Knightley, the brain of Ziad Youssef Fazah (polyglot* who speaks more than 58 languages). I would sing like an angel, be nice to everyone, always be in a good mood, always think of others first. I would be fashionably dressed in Chanel and know how to cook exotic delicacies and my home would look like a page in a glossy magazine and its library would be huge. I would have long nails and only wear heels from Jimmy Choo. I would be comfortable with myself and never experience jealousy. I would have a great job and a big circle of friends and my lips would always be red. I would escape abroad every now and then and know everything about art. I would only like healthy food (or alternatively my stomach would be a miracle). My breasts would be perfect, my thighs would be lean and my face would have that eternal peachy glow. My hair would always be in place and my mascara would never smudge. I could talk about everything with a fascinating smile but without upsetting anyone.

It's probably about accepting oneself: accepting that we are all imperfect and that's what makes us interesting to others and even attractive to some. All those scars and imperfections are like road signs from our lives, showing how we got to this point where we are now. And maybe real life is more fun than a fantasy world where neither struggling nor challenges exist. In real life you can expect the unexpected.

More importantly, when we aim for perfection we rarely do it for our own sake, in our vanity we seek to impress others.

A good friend of mine has a very inspiring outlook on these things (read: life): she wants to do things better because she wants to be happier and healthier. She learns from her mistakes and she tries not to repeat them... there is no need to be perfect, as long as she is happy with herself.

Side note: Today has probably been the most awful day (weatherwise) that I've seen since moving to Spain... and it's absolutely wonderful. Love the rain, the thunder and the smell of (imagined?) freshness. And I have a fluffly little thing curled up at my feet.


Y al final quiero decirle a Sebastián que leo sus comentarios y los agradezco mucho aunque nunca contesto nada.
Pero bueno, ahora voy a contestar a los últimos dos: hablo unos idiomas y entiendo algunos más, pero el portugués no es uno de ellos. Y sí... cambié el layout porque quería algo más otoñal, algo que fuera más "adecuado" pero bueno... la verdad es que el azul me gustó mucho más y este me parece un poco tonto.

Monday, 21 September 2009

I am Superwoman!

Because all of the sudden I'm supposed to know Portuguese... well, well... it'll be fun I'm sure.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

weekend savers

Yummy dessert.... this one is easy to prepare, healthy and it tastes heavenly. All you need to do is a cut a pear into pieces, add some raspberries and mix it all with natural yoghurt. A bit of cinnamon gives it a nice twist.

Nobody does it better than Haruki Murakami. Norwegian Wood describes love, loss, sex, death, life... all seen through the eyes of a 20-year-old in Tokyo. Norwegian Wood might be more "normal" than the rest of Murakami's books (there are no wish falling down from the sky, and cats don't speak either), but it's just as good. It takes you to an another place, and it's impossible to put the book away.

And last but not least; the Saturday outfit. The plan was to grab a coffee with a friend: instead we found a lovely coffee shop, walked around the Valencia city centre, had some ice cream, walked some more... and didn't stop talking for a minute!

AND: Bones is back!

Friday, 18 September 2009

¡Qué desastre....!

bad spelling, forgotten attachments, coins in the toilet... I think it's time to go home and rest before something worse happens.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Suomen kieli on se tärkein kieli

Sometimes a little light starts shining  in your head... like when you decide that studying your own mother tongue could be a good idea.


My mother tongue is Finnish, there is no doubt about it although I have done all my studying in other languages, very few of my friends speak Finnish and nowadays I think in English. But (and the but is big) the language that feels like "home"* is that strange northern tongue that hardly anyone in the world understands. For obvious reasons, a big part of that knowledge is tucked away somewhere in the darkest corners of the brain because no matter how well you know a language, it's so easy to forget when it's not being used on a daily basis. It really is as simple as that - suddenly the strangest grammatical errors pop out of your mouth, words are forgotten and even the accent sounds a bit funny.  


My relationship with my mother tongue is further complicated by the fact that I grew up in an environment which was very hostile towards the Finnish language. Imagine a Spanish speaking child growing up in Catalonia; speaking Spanish at home but being forced to speak in Catalan everywhere else, and being (again) forced to learn Spanish as a foreign language at the lowest possible level for beginners. At the age of 11. For three years this child will sleep in class while his or her classmates are learning phrases such as: Ana tiene una pelota. La pelota es azul. Frustrating? Yes! But at the same time situations like this tend to make "the minority" even prouder of their culture, language and roots. I have had a teacher throw me out of class because I was correcting her spelling, people making mean comments on the street (for speaking Finnish) and there have been moments when I had to defend my own background because it wasn't "good enough".


One of my greatest wishes is to be able to express myself in Finnish. Not like the average person on the street, but like all those writers , poets and story tellers who make the language sound like magic. Another wish, and a more realistic one, is not to lose the language; to keep it a part of who I am. To be able to speak to my future children in Finnish, and to teach it to them so well that they will feel like home when they hear it spoken.



Anyhow, it would be interesting to know if anyone else has similar experiences?



*Yes, a language can definitely feel like home. Try going to a "odd" neighbouring country for a few months, come back home by train and feel how that warm feeling in your stomach when you see those young and handsome compatriots turns into sheer joy when you hear them speak.


Tuesday, 15 September 2009


I've passed my three first exams!! (and now I'm actually a bit proud of myself because I had to write them quickly and in "proper" Spanish). Only 15 more to go + a dissertation that will be sooo much fun :O

Monday, 14 September 2009

In a sinking ship...

At every Monday meeting we get signs that are worse and worse... It's a miracle if the company I work for now survives until Christmas. Needless to say, if the ship sinks, I sink with it as nobody has the strength to try to rescue those who are about to drown. (now, wasn't that a nice metaphor?). Up until now I have tried to ignore all the signs and take the day as it comes, hoping that one day things would be better. I can't do that any longer and I'm afraid. I´m looking for options and there are none to be found... But instead of babbling, there is a list...

* I'm afraid that losing my job would affect the relationship I'm in negatively. It is something very valuable for me and I'm not prepared to see it stumbling in mud.

* I'm worried that any job I found will be a step in the wrong direction careerwise. At this point there are two alternatives above the rest. One would require a completely fresh start and years of studying. My secret dream job that I have never told anyone about is that of a psychologist; but the kind that concentrates on helping people getting happy. The human mind is something that has always fascinated me, the dream has been a secret because I have never dared to tell anyone. The second option would be easier to achieve (maybe): combining project management or consultancy with EU matters. It would be easier because that's where my education is heading, but according to google, the majority of jobs are in Belgium-Holland-France-Germany.
So my fear is that I get stuck in this office-assistant-rut and will never get out of it. Instead of doing something that I really love, I'd end up having a job that doesn't satisfy me (if this is what is going to happen, I might as well have become a lawyer, at least they earn well).

* I do not want to lose my home. I love the flat where I'm living so much that I'm dreaming of buying and re-decorating it one day.


When you least need it...

Yey, right when it's time to pack your things and head towards home you hear a big bang and then a boom. Another thunder storm... guess who will be soaked?

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Llueve, llueve!

Sunday evening. It´s pouring down outside, which is quite nice. Finally it feels like autumn! I´m sitting in my own little corner with a cup of rooibos tea and the laptop. There are still some Hungarian exercises that need to be done, but after that it is time for some serious Sunday-pampering in the bath!

Friday, 11 September 2009


My colleague didn't know that Finland is in the European Union. No comments.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

The Odd Foreigner

It seems that a woman who goes for a walk during her lunch break is something unheard of in this building. The receptionists are wondering about my well-being and the director keeps insisting on giving me a ride to the bus stop.

It might be quite warm outside, but a bit of exercise has never caused any harm to anyone.

Another typical thing for northerners (checked this one with other girls from Finland, Sweden and Canada) is that we prefer comfort over elegance or alternatively gorgeousness. While most other women down here are all feminine with high heels, generous cleavage and lots of make-up, us northern girls seem to prefer a more natural style, i.e. quit the heels if you need to walk, there is no need to show the whole office your breasts and your skin stays nicer if you spare it from chemicals. But, when the time is right (and you know for sure there won't be any walking) even we do have a little being inside of us who likes to dress up as a femme fatale (depending on the mood of course)

Question of the day

Do you know what happens when a blonde needs to start solving IT-issues?

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Mitä kuuluu, neiti tulivuorenpurkaus?

Today I really feel like complaining. Complaining about how unjust the world is (crazy immigration laws, killing animals, no equality etc). Tell you about how terrifying it is to sit in a sinking ship without no options and no place to go (or that's what it feels like anyway, reality is probably different). I really would like to get all the bad things off my chest; the ones that make me dry my eyes in the bathroom in the morning or before going to sleep at night. But I won't.

Instead I will tell you what a funny dream I had this morning: my crazy friend and her mad fiancé were going to fly back to America. In a tractor. Unfortunately we couldn't find them a map, so they had to hide upstairs in case they would fly in the wrong direction and end up in Siberia. The Russian Air Force is not friendly towards intruders.

I have taken one tiny step towards one of the big dreams. Yesterday, like so many other days, I was sitting in front of my computer, staring at the screen. But instead of reading blogs, I was attending a video conference which, at the same time, was my very first class of Hungarian. Knowing this language will probably not give me anything else than a challenge and the pure satisfaction of overcoming it, I am still excited.

In a while I will be outside and feel the fresh air in my face, and I will enjoy it! And tonight I will have a nice evening, no exams. They can wait until Thursday. Instead I will appreciate good company and do some necessary things around the house. Listen to good music and be inspired!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Moscú en mis sueños

Last night I dreamt about Moscow. It was a strange dream; instead of New York we found ourselves in the Russian capital completely by mistake. Once we realised where we were, we started running. In two days we wanted to go to all the places we used to go, see the things we used to see and do the things we used to do.

The other day I found these photos in an envelope that was collecting dust. It was such a wonderful surprise since it is all that remains from that year, together with some faded memories.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Just Smile

In Russia you’re not supposed to smile at strangers. You will be considered if not stupid, then at least a bit simple. Intelligent people look into the distance and keep their mouth still. Even in western Europe people seem somewhat surprised when they see someone smiling. I’m happy today, it feels like some things are starting to get sorted and I’m surrounded by great people. Besides, the sun is shining, things are going well for my family and the energy is bubbling inside me. In other words, I have every reason in the world to smile. When I came back from my lunch break earlier, the secretary downstairs gave me a worried look and asked if it was my birthday because I was smiling so much. “No, things aren’t that bad*", I told him, “it’s just being a very nice day”.  

*Birthdays are very bad indeed when you are facing an x-something-crisis. I'd rather smile because it's a good day than because I'm getting older.


It's very much fun when...

…you literally spend hours and hours on something quite dull and almost impossible because your boss told you to. Just to hear from another boss that it really wasn't necessary.


Long live coordination!