Monday, 30 November 2009

Hello Darkness!

I have been in Finland for one day and I'm starting to remember why I left in the first place. November is not a very nice month. It's dark, even when it's supposed to be light, everything is grey, it's depressing.

So today I have:

- visited the library and studied for a couple of hours. The local library is amazing: big, light, filled with books and lots of comfy sofas. 

- found out that my Russian is not stone dead after all, had a really nice conversation with a couple of Latvians.

- been freezing. Not only is it dark, but it's also cold. Leaving the house is almost not an option.

- drank about five cups of tea, and it´s only 5.30 pm.

And that's about it... the books are waiting so I'm out!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Tortilla de patatas y Castle

Thursdays are dedicated to delicious food (tortilla de patatas aka Spanish omelette, i.e. omelette with potatoes) and a lot of laughter (thanks to the show Castle). Somehow, it seems to give the extra kick of energy needed for the weekend!

Castle is a show that I really recommend, it's fun and quite different from "typical" police series. You have a jolly mix consisting of a macho writer (who also knows how to be a softie), a diva mother, a wise teenage daughter, a lonely female cop, and a bunch of dead people whose cases need to be solved.

In this house we are also hooked on Merlin (Mondays), Big Bang Theory (Tuesdays), Supernatural (Wednesdays), Bones (Fridays)and Fringe (Saturdays)... Dexter is on standby at the moment, and I think that should be all.

The picture is borrowed

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

No me gusta nada.

Visit 1 to the unemployment office, 2 hours of queueing: "Sorry, I can't help you, you still have a few days of holidays, come back on Monday".

Visit 2 to the unemployment office, 1,5 hrs of queueing: "Everything's OK. You can go home and wait for a letter which will inform you about the status of your application for unemployement benefits. Really, I promise, you don't need to do anything else, but if you want, you can check online".

Phone call 1 to the unemployment office, a lot of rambling in Valencian: " Well, actually you have to fill in the application form. You can do it online. If you have any further questions, you can come and visit us".

Information that appears on the website: "applications have to be made in person at the unemployment office. "

Question of the day: how can people be so freaking INCOMPETENT?

Monday, 23 November 2009

Tired Monday

Today has been a strange day which has been mainly spent under the duvet, shivering and wishing that the headache would go away.
The good thing (?) is that I am now officially unemployed and that there is no need for me to go to the unemployement office to queue with hundreds of other people (I kid you not) - not until March at least. Now it is time time to start the job hunting!

Other plans for this week include:

  • Today: lots of tea and Hungarian class. After that I'm hoping to finish a chapter on European fiscal harmonisation (oh the fun!).
  • Tomorrow Tuesday: exam. Lunch with some family members. More studying in some nice coffee shop.
  • Wednesday: Lunch with the Scandinavian gang. Shopping for Christmas presents!
  • Thursday: studying.
  • Friday: studying.
  • Saturday: lunch in town, train to Alicante and off I fly to the cold and dark North.
Happy week to everyone!

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Japanese Night With The Girls

Last night the three of us gatheres for a night which had some real Japanese flavour to it. First, dinner at a Japanese buffet in the centre of Valencia. The thing that makes the place a bit special is the fact that you can ask for as many mini-plates as you want and the waiters will bring them to your table. We ate at least miso soup, sushi, spring rolls, dumpling, salmon, some other kind of fish, chicken, fried rice, seaweed salad, dessert and so on,
The night was rounded off by the film Hachiko: A Dog's Story, about the Akita dog Hachi that keeps waiting for his owner at the train station. In the middle of the film we were all asking ourselves if there was any point to it, but at the end it turned out to be sad and moving enough.

Friday, 20 November 2009

My brother

Sometimes you can find funny photos when you decide to "clean" your camera. This here is my brother last Christmas, isn't he adorable?

Thursday, 19 November 2009


Goulash is one of the most famous Hungarian dishes, a soup or a stew based on beef, onion and lots of paprika powder.
My lunch from yesterday is apparently a Czech version, although I took the freedom to change some of the ingredients. The plate to the left consists of lamb, garlic, onion, red pepper, fresh tomatoes, and fried tomato. For more spicyness, I added a couple of chillies.

This is how you do it:
fry pieces of meat in olive oil until they are brown, add one or two garlic cloves as well as 1/2 onion. Fry until the onion is golden, add a red pepper and the chillies, two tomatoes and a couple of spoonfuls of fried tomato. Add a cup of water, cover the pan and leave the mix to simmer for about an hour. Serve with rice.

I think I lied to you...

I did buy something today that is not a Christmas present. What do you think of the hat?

For the last couple of days we have also had a very lovable guest in the house:

Q&A about style

1. My last three purchases: are we talking clothes now? Uhummm...

2. The most famous person in my phone book: I don't know anyone famous.

3. The last thing I googled: Wait for it... it had something to do with the EU budget. Very interesting.

4. My absolutely worse purchase ever: well, there are x-amount of jeans in my closet that do not fit.

5. What's in my purse: wallet, make-up bag, notebook, pens, spoons (that's where all our spoons disappear!), keys and perfume samples.

6. My favourite street in the world: the little streets around Kuznetsky Most in Moscow. Love that area!

7. My signature piece of clothing: simple t-shirt

8. The best/most expensive thing in my closet: a silk dress from Oasis. I drooled over it for months in Moscow, but it was too expensive. Couldn't believe my luck when I found it in a 2nd hand shop in Glasgow, completely new and the exactly right size.

9. I'm addicted to tea and kiwi yogurt.

10. My personal style could be described with these three words: simple, feminine and colourful.

11. If I could only shop in one shop, I would choose H&M.

12. I have never bought anything from Chanel (now, that was a surprise, I'm sure).

13. The perfect place for finding interesting things is the book shop.

14. If I could inherit someones wardrobe, I would choose that of any Anne Hathaway in the Devil Wears Prada

15. My next purchase will be Christmas presents.

16. My style icon is the average person on the street

17. My shoe collection is full of high heels that I never wear.

18. My dream bag is... big enough for all my stuff

19. Every month I shop for... around 100€, sometimes less.

20. Online I shop at...

21. Favourite fashion blogs: none.

22. I'm at my prettiest with a bit of make up and in the weekends.

23. If I need someone's opinion, I tend to ask whomever is available.

24. My hair is long, wavy and dark.

25. The dream job... if I could choose any job, I would like to be a writer, a psychologist or a foreign policy specialist focusing on Russia and Eastern Europe.

Favourite Songs

Top 3 songs that are great right now (and some of them were great decades ago!)

Omega - Gyöngyhajú Lány (The Pearl-haired Girl)

Kino - Legenda (The Legend)

Apulanta - Viivakoodit (Bar Codes)

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

New Adventure

This morning when I got to work I was immediately called into the office of my boss. My gut feeling turned out to be right, so from now on you will be receiving news about what it's like to be unemployed in Spain. As I have been suspecting this outcome for a long time now, there is no worry left inside of me. Instead I have decided to deal with it the best way I can, and look at this as an opportunity instead of a major crisis.
My plan for today is going to the bank (ironically, I will have more money on my bank account than ever before), send one job application that I should have had ready ages ago, and come up with an action plan.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Facing up to the grammar book

Yes, we all know that listening to music is a good way to learn a foreign language, but still.

Step 1: switch off youtube.
Step 2: move the laptop.
Step 3: open the exercise boook, the grammar book and the dictionary.
Step 4: learn!

These are two of the songs that we have been "analysing" in class, I like them both as they are of the more cheerful kind.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

So it's war when we no longer like our friends...

Apparently Paris Hilton has declared war on former friend Kim Kardashian. Maybe Ms. Hilton should visit a war zone to get a better understanding of what the word "war" actually stands for.

Creating Rituals

One of the amazing things that has happened to me lately is our Saturday-date-ritual. A friend of mine and I will meet up each Saturday, find some random coffee place and talk crap for hours (the topics this weekend included psycopathy, crazy family members, literature, education, work, etc.) Not only is it a great way to get rid of some steam, but we also get to try new places in Valencia. This time we stubled upon a British pub (forgot the name, sorry!) which claimed to have 85 different teas. Although I ended up not getting what I asked for, I am more than willing to give the place another chance (if I can find it, that is!).

Now I´m drinking some yogi tea while trying to get ready for tomorrow: the cold has almost disappeared, and it feels to be back in business again.


Has any of you readers ever been to Luxembourg? Is it a place worth visiting in, say, January? How many days would one need for the visit?

The picture is borrowed from here!

Friday, 13 November 2009

I feel like Rodya Raskolnikov!

No, old ladies can feel safe, I´m talking about feeling delirious. I hate being ill. At least there is someone who will make me company in bed today: a grey thing with four legs and big ears.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

This is me today

Sneezing every two minutes, coughing too. Covered in three layers of clothes. At least the headache is gone (yesterday my head was close to exploding) without any painkillers. Waiting for Friday and the company of some good friends, mind drifting off to Christmas already. Thinking about making a cup of tea, and green it must be. In the middle of translating some articles about a very fascinating technology, but it is quite complicated with all the technical terms.

Apart from this, I really feel like doing something nice for myself. Spend some time on my own, think and do something enjoyable. It could be something as simple as going to a bookshop and be inspired by all the books there, go for a long walk in the sunshine while listening to good music, appreciate art in a museum, go on a trip. Anything. Usually I'm the kind of person who hates being alone but now I feel like having a few moments just to myself. I can notice that my way of thinking has changed lately, some serious decisions have been made and in general life feels more positive.

Ahoj!* To everyone who is or has been living in Valencia...

what do you think is worthwile in Valencia?

I'm thinking about tapas, sangria, spa, walks in the city centre, shopping, lots of sitting in coffee shops...but what else should I show to one of my best friends when she gets here?

*This one little word will help you greet people in the Czech and Slovak Republics.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Friday Night (Finally!!)

Finally, finally, finally!

Today I have worked (more like staring at the wall and trying to get hold of some Portuguese people), taken an exam (about the monetary system of the EU - FUN!), done some pilates and stretching... now it´s time for a yummy dinner with raspberry sorbet for dessert. Other things waiting for me are the newest issue of Shape, a big cup of green tea with lemon and a hot bath.

On another note one can only accept that life never ceases to surprise - the computer is playing a wonderful song by Metallica (who would have thought!)

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Christmas Wish List pt. 1

The book in Russian.

Would you like to know Chinese?

Learning a foreign language is useful, fun, fascinating, challening, important and rewarding. So how do you do it? Some people learn languages at school, although this is far from the most ideal form of learning: groups are usually big and they are always planned according to the level of the weakest member, which means that some students might grow bored when they have to repeat the same thing over and over again. Living in the country of the language can be a useful experience, but few people learn anything correctly unless they make a conscious decision to start the learning process. Independent learning might be the most efficient way of improving one's language skills, but this in turn requires a certain awareness of how to carry out the whole project. Where does one start? Defining objectives and recognising one's own strengths and weaknesses are essential aspects for success. Planning takes a lot of time, and in a language school you can usually foget about this part and just do what you are told.

Whichever form you choose, here are some tips to get you started:

-> Remember that a language is always a very complex system, in order to master it, you need to be able to communicate and produce, be aware of grammatical structures and also have a grasp cultural aspects. Pronounciation is more important than you think.

-> Recognise your strengths and weaknesses: everyone can learn a foreign language, but depending on the method you choose, you can make the process to seem either like a piece of cake or a ride straight to hell. The piece of cake-version does not mean that it is extremely easy, rather you are using a style that suits you and that makes you have fun while learning. Using colourful pens might make verb tables look a bit more interesting, adding a favourite activity (such as movies, films, cooking) to the language learning process (why not try using recipes in Italian, or listen to some amazing music in German) makes it more interesting and gives you more variation.

-> Take advantage of time that would go to waste otherwise: are you planning on staring at the wall during those ten long minutes you are going to spend in the loo? Bring your flashcards, a foreign magazine or talk to yourself. You can do the same while sitting on the metro, waiting for a friend who is arriving ten minutes late, etc.

-> Use creativity and imagination.

-> Stay motivated: you should always have a reason for learning a language (e.g. improve your chances for getting the perfect job, be able to communicate with the in-laws, you want to move to a specific country, etc.), if your goal is to learn it "just because" you will have a long and rocky road ahead of you.

-> Stay humble and never stop learning: you will never ever know any language perfectly. Accept that fact and keep learning.

Happy language learning to everyone!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Twisted Wisdom

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.

How about remembering this quote by Lin Yutang the next time we get mad at ourselves for not doing something. How about feeling good about whatever it was we left undone instead of suffering bouts of guilt for all those things we should have done.
It seems that we spend too much time on thinking about those things we could have done differently, instead of focusing on our essential goals and how to achieve them. S>ometimes leaving something undone can be part of a wider success - instead of thinking about ten things at once, we can dedicate all our energy to one thing that really matters, and try to give it all our effort. That's just a thought.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009


The yellow and blue airline did it again; 35 € for a round trip Sockholm – Alicante and we will be welcoming a VIP guest next month, I can't wait!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Pictures from the neighbourhood...

By the way, this neighbourhood will be getting some really cool guests next week, when Depeche Mode will be giving a concert like 10 mins away from this very spot.


Spanish food might be tasty, but it's far from spicy. Ever since I moved here I have been searching (in vain) for chillies that would make my mouth burn - it took me 15 months to find them, and it wasn't in a fancy supermarket. The other day I was walking down the main road in our village when I saw that one of the "euroshops" (similar to British pound shops) was selling plants with familiar-looking red little things. For various reasons I had to wait until today to get my plant, and right now I'm extremely pleased as I managed to grab the last one. And yes, they make your mouth burn.

Talking about chillies, did you know that they:

* are good for headaches and migraine
* fight inflammation and cancer
* contain lots of vitamine C
* etc etc etc

Sunday, 1 November 2009

A Weekend Too Short

Another weekend is over and I feel like I haven't done anything useful, I haven't even been able to rest properly.

Yesterday we went out with a bunch of good friends: the dinner was delicious and the company was nice, but unfortunately we stayed out way too late - today has been all about the consequences of too little sleep: headache, sleepiness and complete inefficiency.

Apart from this there have been some things bothering me: you know the feeling when there's something that doesn't feel quite right but you're not able to put your finger on it? That's the one, a mix of a thoughts, personal issues and frustration that has led to complete confusion.

Anyhow, there's a new week ahead and surely it will be better than the last one.


Let's throw in some Sunday inspiration for November, 1st. The advice given by Kipling might not be easy to follow, but it is certainly something to aim for. Apparently, this poem is one of the favourites of British people as well.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too goo
d, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!