Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Thanks For The Reminder.


Sometimes almost unnoticeable things and undistinguishable details remind us of what really matters.

First things first.

Idź własną drogą
Bo w tym cały sens istnienia
Żeby umieć żyć
Bez znieczulenia
Bez niepotrzebnych niespełnienia
Myśli złych


Those words are from a song. A song almost like any other. But this one is in Polish. Listening to it reminded me of how much I love Slavic languages and how much I enjoy learning them.

General confusion. New place. New job. Long days. Crazy hormones. Starting everything anew. Deadline after deadline. Crappy time management skills. The constant feeling of being an alien when the only form of communication with the locals is in a language foreign to all. That’s pretty much what my life looks like at the moment.

So that song also reminded about the things I really enjoy doing. And why I’m doing them. We can’t always avoid doing things we dislike, but it would be stupid to do more of them than necessary, right?

The conclusion? Well. It’d be about time to start learning time management, because the things I do are the things I like doing and they are the activities I need in order to be happy. And there is even more I’d like to do Smile

One thing I really want to do is learn Slovak. There are three reasons. Yes, it’s easier to live in a country if you can communicate with people. And the second reason? Well, Slovak is a beautiful language. Difficult? Too early to tell, but it shouldn’t be difficult.* Thirdly, well. It’d be nice to be able to follow local politics etc. What way better to do it than in Slovak? SmileWe can unofficially call this “Project: Za tri mesiace budem hovoriť po slovensky.”


*Random side note: I find spoken Slovak easier to understand than spoken Czech, but written Czech is a lot easier than written Slovak.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Weekend Firsts

This weekend has been filled with firsts. Yesterday I travelled by tram for the first time and last night it snowed for the first time. It was the first time I had Slovak pizza and the first time I had to book a bus ticket by SMS.

Oh, and I almost forgot. It was also the first time (probably*) I've seen Daniel Craig without a shirt on. I must confess that it wasn't a completely unsatisfying experience.


Saturday, 27 October 2012

Oh, Spring!

 Rainy Saturday mornings are a good time to confront the Russian language. Translation, accompanied by a big yellow cup filled with black coffee somewhere nearby, is a highly satisfying task. However, I feel my English isn't sufficient for this.


Oh, spring – endless and limitless -
endless and limitless is the dream!
Life, I recognise you! I accept you!
And welcome you with the sound of a shield.
Misfortune, I accept you,
And luck, I greet you!
There's no shame in the enchanting land
of crying, nor in the mystery of laughter.
Sleepless disputes, I accept you,
The morning lingers in the dark window curtains,
So the spring appears annoyed, drunken
To my bloodshot eyes.

I accept the deserted villages!
And the wells of man-made cities!

The bleached vastness of the skies,
And the longing of the working labour! 

I meet you at the threshold,
With the wild wind in your serpentine locks,
And the enigmatic name of God,
On your frozen, pressed lips.

Before this hostile meeting
I never throw away the shield ...
And you never turn your back...
But above us – there's the intoxicating dream! 

And I look, and measure the hostility,
while hating, cursing and loving:
The torment, the death - yet I know -
That all the same: I accept you!

[translation: my own]

Original poem by Alexander Blok 

О, весна без конца и без краю -
Без конца и без краю мечта!
Узнаю тебя, жизнь! Принимаю!
И приветствую звоном щита!

Принимаю тебя, неудача,
И удача, тебе мой привет!
В заколдованной области плача,
В тайне смеха - позорного нет!

Принимаю бессонные споры,
Утро в завесах темных окна,
Чтоб мои воспаленные взоры
Раздражала, пьянила весна!

Принимаю пустынные веси!
И колодцы земных городов!
Осветленный простор поднебесий
И томления рабьих трудов!

И встречаю тебя у порога -
С буйным ветром в змеиных кудрях,
С неразгаданным именем бога
На холодных и сжатых губах...

Перед этой враждующей встречей
Никогда я не брошу щита...
Никогда не откроешь ты плечи...
Но над нами - хмельная мечта!

И смотрю, и вражду измеряю,
Ненавидя, кляня и любя:
За мученья, за гибель - я знаю -
Все равно: принимаю тебя!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Jedlo (Sk: Food)

Ok. There has not been much food in this blog lately, but now I’m going to share with you an extremely ugly, yet tasty dish.

Lentils. Lentils are a good source of protein, as well as certain minerals and vitamins such as iron, magnesium, potassium, thiamine, folate, zinc and phosphorus. They are also cheap and easy to cook (not very quick, though, at least not when talking about brown lentils.)

The basic recipe for lentil soup is easy. Cook lentils with onion, potato and garlic until everything is soft. The result may be actual soup, normal lentils or some kind of indescribable mash. There is no need to add anything, although the possibilities are endless. Other veggies go well with lentils, and so do certain types of meat, such as sausages or chicken.

But because the NY Times cannot possibly be wrong – I added a can of tuna, as well as some feta cheese. A little bit less water could have been a good idea.

Spices are always good.

And there is more where that came from…

Sunday, 21 October 2012

The 2nd Day Is The Worst


Friday night at the gym. A little bit of back and shoulders, some legs and triceps. Now some unidentified muscles are raising their voices, reminding of their existence. In Swedish it’s called träningsvärk (literally meaning “exercise pain”), the English version DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is somewhat longer, but just as descriptive. Sweet pain! At least I’m not walking like a duck today.

The gym is conveniently placed in the office. It’s cheap (under 10€/month + friends can tag along for free) and it’s OK (not very big but it has most necessary tools, except kettlebells. Unfortunately it’s closed during weekends). I have at least two gym buddies and the training program is ready. Only the cardio needs to be planned*, then I’m pretty much ready to go.


*One of the most fun parts of working out is actually the planning Smile

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Completely Unorganised


Je ne sais quoi.

Finally Saturday. It’s sunny outside and the post-move blues are starting to be gone (hopefully!). The first couple of weeks here in Bratislava were awfully exciting. They were followed by a crazy tiredness accompanied by a total lack of inspiration. This lack of inspiration has perhaps been the worst part to deal with because in my case it really has really been complete– I would walk into a supermarket and walk around for ages because I was completely undecided on what to buy (and ended up buying something like yoghurt and coke) because I didn’t feel like cooking (or eating anything), and the same would apply to everything else I normally enjoy doing.
Now the inspiration is back, maybe not in full force but I can feel it tease my mind. My laptop is filled with recipes that I like to try out, the gym program is ready and eager to be used, I find myself glancing at some books and thinking about translation, the pile of uni work is huge but appealing. And one of these days (or more precisely, when I get paid) I will go to a book shop and spend my earnings on lots of books.

Today it’s finally Saturday and it’s sunny outside. Most of the day will be dedicated to read up on legal pluralism, but a long walk in the sun and coffee with acquaintances and strangers alike is also on the agenda.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Chocolate, Coca Cola & Cheese–Do All Good Things In Life Begin With C?

Random thoughts. Nothing much has been on my mind lately. Or, well. There has, but very few of those thoughts actually make sense. They are just bits and pieces of some greater context that is still hidden somewhere among the myriad of other contexts lost deep down inside.


  • How “fluent” could one (yours truly) become in a foreign language (Slovak) in say, two months? At the moment I have reached a very impressive stage: when accidentally bumping into a neighbour in the elevator, I don’t start screaming, I say “ahoj”. If I’m having a good day, I may even be able to mumble “dobre rano"/”dobry den"/”dobry vecer” (including funny figures on letters). It can’t be very difficult to become more fluent than that. For some strange reason Slovak children like saying “ahoj” to me a lot. Maybe they are interested in aliens?
  • Christmas is coming and the evil people at the supermarkets are trying to force us, poor sods, to buy loads of chocolate through some very clever strategic planning. There is no such thing as free will when chocolate is concerned.
  • Certain adjectives should be banned. Entirely. People spend too much time trying to live up to some certain adjective (which in this case may describe a norm or an ideal state), which, at the end of the day, is complete waste of time. Unless you plan on becoming delightful, life won’t change much anyway.
  • Some foreign films have Czech subtitles in Slovakia. The funniest letter in the Czech alphabet is ů.


  • Everyone should try to move abroad at least once in their life. The greatest lesson is that the myth of starting anew will be broken. No matter where we are and what we do, our selves will remain the same. A new place can offer us new friends and acquaintances, new experiences. These might influence us, but we are still the same as we have always been. In the best of cases, we will be challenged to be a little bit braver, a little bit better.
  • Maybe the greatest thing that can be given to another person, apart from love, is understanding and the knowledge that no matter what they are going through, they are not alone. Life ties us into knots sometimes, that’s when we need a kind soul to help with the unknotting.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Just One Quote (And I’ll Be Off To Bed–Promise)


As MacCormick points out, the real significance of the EU is the fact that it suggests that sovereignty is being reconstituted in a way which challenges the conventional models that underpin our understanding of the domestic legal and political order.

Kanishka Jayasuriya, p. 428

Saturday, 13 October 2012

13/10/2012: Vienna B/W

At ten am on Saturday a friend sent a text message, asking whether I was interested in joining on an impromptu trip to Vienna with some others.  There are worse ways to spend a Saturday, I thought, and decided to tag along.

We spent the day walking around the city, with no maps and not much of an idea of what to see. It was a pleasant day.

From Bratislava the train to Vienna takes about an hour and a return ticket (when bought in Slovakia) costs 11€. Click on the photos to make them larger.


Friday, 12 October 2012

tento týždeň: dážď




12/10/2012 ... unfortunately the sun was shining in my eyes...

The European Union is going to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this year. This has been noticed by many a commentator - some argue it's a great, others consider it an error. In a sense this prize shows that the project of guaranteeing peace in Europe has succeeded. But the EU of today looks very different from the EEC that was created through the Treaty of Rome in 1957 - the challenges Europe is currently facing are not related to the maintenance of peace among European countries. I'd rather argue that the democratic deficit and lack of transparency are some of the key issues that must be solved if the EU is going to be successful in the future. The relation between EU institutions, national governments (the nation-state) and people is diffuse at best. As one Finnish writer noted, the European Union has achieved much, but in one essential aspect the EU has failed: to create a common voice and a shared identity. Without a shared identity there is a risk that the Union will lose whatever legitimacy it is enjoying among its citizens.

At a personal level I was once again reminded of how wonderful the Hungarian language is. One would think that in a country where almost 10% of the population consist of ethnic Hungarians, there would be a chance to learn the language.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The Most Entertaining Thing A Language Learner Could Possibly Think Of: Irregular Verbs

Yay, such fun.

I was recommended a good website for learning Slovak (in Finnish), so I have spent a couple of hours investigating the grammar and making observations. Making observations is easy because comparison as a method really seems to work (for the time being). I decided to start with verbs because they are essential for understanding a language and expressing oneself.

Hands up anyone who hates irregular verbs!! (and why oh why do they always have to be the most common ones? )

Here we’ve got three irregular verbs in the present tense. Again in table-form Smile

English Slovak Polish Russian
To be byt’ być быть
  som jestem N/A
  si jesteś N/A
  je jest N/A
  sme jesteśmy N/A
  ste jesteście N/A


English Slovak Polish Russian
To eat jest’ jeść есть
  jem jem ем
  ješ jesz ешь
  je je ест
  jeme jemy едим
  jete jecie едите
  jedia jedzą едят


English Slovak Polish Russian
To know vedieť wiedzieć знать
  viem wiem знаю
  vieš wiesz знаешь
  vie wie знает
  vieme wiemy знаем
  viete wiecie знаете
  vedia wiedzą знают


Also attempted some verb conjugation. All in all, there seems to be a pattern, especially when comparing Slovak to the Polish language.


Monday, 8 October 2012


One of the first things people usually tell me when they hear I’m Finnish is “oh, you must be used to the cold, then”. FYI: I’m not, never was and never will be. Maybe other Finnish people manage to survive the winter with shining colours, building snowmen and whatnot, I’d much rather just bury myself under five blankets and stay there until April. I bleeping hate the cold and walk around like a mummy covered in at least three layers of clothes in wintertime.

Today it was 18 degrees outside. Some people were wearing shorts.

For me it was the day to introduce…


… the gloves.


…and the hat! And it didn’t help much. (Yeah. I feel like such a teenager for taking pictures of myself in the loo. At least it’s keeping me young. And no. I’m not going to tell you where the clothes come from or how much they cost or who designed them).

Ok. So. What is the weather like in Bratislava? It changes. A lot. You never know what to expect. Bring an umbrella just in case, and some woolen socks. Don’t forget the t-shirts. And a lot of vitamine C to combat the inevitable cold that will hit you after two days.

Now to something better and far more interesting than yours truly in the toilet. Watching the sun set over the Danube sounds quite nice, does it not? Smile

Saturday, 6 October 2012

“Jag gör en stege av mina drömmar ikväll Å tänder alla lyktor på stan”*

* “Tonight I make a ladder of all my dreams and light all the lanterns in town”.  

This Saturday is seemingly black and white and it moves in slow motion, but in a good way. There is a certain sweetness to it, a feeling I cannot describe.

Så det verkar som om det i varje tid,
Och i alla sorters folk,
Finns några som vill bygga pyramider.
Där de själva sitter överst,
Och har makten i sin hand,
Medans dem som lever nedanför de lider.

So it seems that in every age,
And among all kinds of people,
There are some who want to build pyramids.
Where they sit on the top,
And hold the power in their hands.
While the ones who live below, they suffer.
 [Original lyrics: Mikaeal Wiehe. Translation: mine]

Friday, 5 October 2012

Slovak 101

OK. Now that I’ve survived the first week at work, it’s about time to start deciding what to do about the Slovak language. I’m still undecided whether I want to learn it on my own or study it at some school (basically my company pays for some language classes) – having a teacher would undeniably bring some coherence, logic and discipline into the language learning process. What makes me doubt is the fact that I could also keep studying Hungarian (or some other language), which I might be more passionate about.

(Getting up at 6-freaking-am is definitely not my cup of tea)

So, speaking of Slovak, here are some opinions on the language this far (from a completely non-scientific point of view).

The combinations of consonants are quite… well, unpronounceable SmileLearning the alphabet could be a step in the right direction!! Anyway, as mentioned before, Slovak is not that different from other Slavic languages, so knowing them helps a lot. I’ve made a little table below in which I compare some very common phrases in Slovak, Polish and Russian. 





Hi! Ahoj Cześć Привет!

Good morning!

Dobré ráno!

Dobre rano

доброе утро!

Good day!

Dobrý deň!

Dzień dobry

добрый день

Good evening!

Dobrý večer!

Dobry wieczór

добрый вечер

How are you?

Ako sa máš?

Jak się masz?

Как поживаешь?

Thank you




Good night

Dobrú noc!


спокойной ночи

Good bye

Do videnia!

Do widzenia!

до свидания

I have to go

Musím ísť

Muszę iść

Я должен/должна идти

Nice to meet you

Teší ma!

Miło mi

очень приятно

I like you

Mám ťa rád

Lubię cię

Я люблю тебя

I’m kidding

Ja žartujem


Я шучу

No problem!

Nie je problém

Nie ma problemu
нет проблем

I don’t understand

Nerozumiem tomu!

Nie rozumiem

Не понимаю

I don’t know

Ja neviem!

Nie wiem

Я не знаю

What is this?

čo je to?

Co to jest?

Что это?

I’m lost

Som sa stratil/a

Zgubilem/zgubilam sie

Я заблудился/Я заблудилась

Do you like it?

Páči sa ti to?

Podoba ci się?

Тебе нравится (это)?

Wednesday, 3 October 2012


You asked for it, so here you go! Photos from the daily walk. (click to make bigger)