Tuesday, 29 April 2014

A Little Bit Better. A Little Bit Further.

Considering the copious amounts of coffee that I'm drinking, nobody would actually think that I'm into healthy things. But, facades may be illusions. Illusions may be facades, and I'm reading about Ayurveda, raw food, mediation, positive thinking, yoga, whatnot.

Every time I'm back in the Nordic region, a wave of inspiration washes over me. Maybe it's because everyone is so focused on these things - health, the environment, doing a lot of cool things, looking good. At the same time I'm feeling a bit helpless, a bit like I'm not enough. I'm missing that air of self-confidence, coolness and that feeling of everything being so great. Generally I have been feeling a bit blah lately. My hormones are telling me that I look like a chubby snowball, the thesis is so LONG and it feels like it's never going to end (like EVER), the job hunt... well, we'll see. The most depressing thing is that most employers don't ever call back even though I am qualified - it's so frustrating to actually have work experience, a degree and multiple languages. I'm actually even a nice person (even if I say so myself). What else do they want? A rocket scientist?

Anyhow. Today's dinner was a very simple, yet delicious chicken salad. Ingredients: grilled chicken, lettuce, cucumber and a yellow pepper. The dressing was also quick and delicious (why make it complicated?) - olive oil, fresh lemon juice, a garlic clove, basil + some mixed herbs.


Awake and up at 4 am. Almost running to catch the train at 6.30. 6.30!! Crazy stuff. Walking around, looking around, waiting, coffee. Interview. It went well, I think. I hope it did.

I feel all the adventures now. Yesterday Stockholm really showed itself from its best side - it was warm and sunny, the people were friendly. However, now my nose is running and all my Kapha-like qualities have appeared. The worst part of spring is the pollen and all the allergic reactions that come with it.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

The Saturday That Was

Lovely, lovely weather. It almost feels like summer outside. It's the season of colorful dresses, barbecues and bright drinks. In a moment I need to start working on my dissertation - tomorrow I'm having an interview in Stockholm and the plan is to explore that wonderful city afterwards. But now, right now I'm enjoying my cup of coffee and looking at the photos from yesterday. I hope you have enjoyed your weekend as well! 

Friday, 25 April 2014

EU Parliamentary Elections: Whom Should I Vote For?

The EU member countries will be electing their representatives to the European Parliament on 22-25 May. Whom to vote for - that's the question. In the past few days several tools have been starting to pop up, offering their help in finding a suitable candidate to vote for. I decided to try some of them out and here are my findings. 

http://www.myvote2014.eu/ (European)

15 questions concerning general EU-issues such as energy, Bulgaria & Romania, and taxes. Three different options for answering the questions as per below: green (agree), yellow (no opinion), red (disagree).


  • Easy to follow with clear instructions and background information on the issues at hand
  • Includes information on parties, party groups in Parliament and candidates from the entire Union
  • Very simplified - no room for elaboration of opinions or ideas
  • Very specific questions, so values and a wider context are not taken into account

http://www.mtv.fi/uutiset/vaalikone (Finnish)

Questions concerning Finland in the EU; Finland, Russia & EU; identity (European or Finnish); financial issues; environmental issues; the role of the EU in the world; the future of the EU. Answers can be chosen on a sliding scale between "I agree (completely)" and "I disagree (completely)".


  • Many questions on an extensive range of topics
  • More alternatives when answering the questions, not so black and white
  • Possibility to decide on the importance of an issue, there are also several options between "I agree" and "I disagree" when replying to the questions


  • No background information on the questions
  • Heavy influence on the relationship between Finland and the EU
  • Only Finnish candidates, no info on the wider context

http://www.vaalikone.fi/suomi (Finnish)

Questions related to: the Union, finance, laws, foreign policy and values

  • Very extensive questions and a wide range of topics
  • Pleasant and interactive layout
  • Information about Finnish parties and candidates
  • Only Finland is covered, so no European context as far as parties and candidates are concerned


These tools are an interesting and useful option if one wants to spend some time thinking on political and societal issues before casting a vote. Knowledge is important for creating an educated opinion and in my opinion it's very positive to educate oneself before an election. In general it's a good idea to have an idea about what's going on in society. This might be quite difficult in terms of the European Union because the decisions are made far away in Brussels and the quantity of rules and regulations is enormous. How is a citizen supposed to keep track of things? Furthermore, there are so many candidates out there, so these tools might actually help to find a good alternative to vote for.  

However, the results very much depend on the questions and the information provided in the surveys. I got very differing results in each tool. This should obviously not be the case if the tools aim to be as extensive as possible. My favourite was the third one because it actually included "values". Values and norms are more important than we think. They are always present in the background when decisions are made and implemented. 

Travel Inspo

Bonjour mes amis!

This morning my main source of entertainment has been the creation of "travel inspo" with famous quotes and my own photos. These do not relate to travel only, but also language-learning and goals. The photos were taken from our balcony in Bratislava, a tower in Brno and a calm side-street in Vienna.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Som vďačná za... [SK: I'm thankful for...]

Today I'm thankful for... 

...having found the joy of exercising again. 
... good food.
...having a wonderful boyfriend who cooks me delicious food while I'm studying as well as helping me with my core exercises. 
...our wonderful morning walks in the sunshine. 

So, I finally found the motivation and joy to work out. After a long winter with a constant flu and allergic reactions (there was something weird going on in Slovakia, either in the flat or in the office) and no exercise, this feels truly re-vitalizing. We have been walking, jogging and playing around in the home gym.

Today's strength training consisted of 2 circles ( 3 x 12-15 reps of each) that took approximately 45 minutes. I wanted to focus on my upper body as we will be going out for a run tonight.

Circle 1

  1. Shoulders: Lateral Raise
  2. Back: Barbell Row 
  3. Triceps: Dumbbell Lying Triceps Extension
  4. Glutes & hams: Barbell Straight-leg Deadlift

Circle 2: Core

  1. Russian Twist 
  2. Cat Camel
  3. Leg-Lowering Drill 
  4. Prone Cobra 

And that's about it. This type of circling fits me, I think it's fun to keep going and getting things done fast. Maybe I'll try to get three different ones + core or yoga a week. We'll see how it goes :)

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

aktuálne čítanie [SK: current reading]

Prague was pretty back in 2013. 
Now that I spend some of my time (not enough, it feels) reading articles for my thesis, I have come across a lot of interesting texts. There are two academics/writers that I would like to mention here.

Firstly, Jürgen Habermas. Anyone having anything to do with social sciences will have heard about this man, he's one of the most known scholars in Europe today. His theories on the public sphere, democracy and communicative action are fascinating. He also has a great deal to say about the European Union.

Habermas on post-democratic Europe ->

A comment on Habermas ->  http://www.thenation.com/article/168819/good-european-juergen-habermas

The second person, whose work I have been reading with great interest, is a Czech academic (hence the lovely photo from Prague) called Jiří Přibáň. His work includes topics such as the EU, the constitutional state, rule of law and post-communist Europe. 

An interview with Jiří Přibáň on the state of Europe -> http://www.radio.cz/en/section/books/jiri-priban-europe-needs-more-conflict

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

"Yummy" - or a note on self-development

I have a friend, I have known him for a decade or so [gosh, time really flies]. Once he commented on my usage of the word "yummy". He noted that I have not changed my vocabulary at all. For the past decade. That thought was a bit sad, after all, I have graduated from a UK uni. I have worked in international environments. My English is not the best or the most creative, but I do feel that it's slightly above the "yummy"-level. My doubts started to grow. Maybe I have not developed my English? Maybe I haven't developed any language skills whatsoever? Maybe I speak like a 5-year old? Maybe I as a person still behave like a toddler?

You get the point - at the end the whole self-doubt thing got more and more ridiculous. Nonetheless, I do believe it's a good idea to actively develop one's skills and personality. There are so many interesting ways to do this.

Back to the word "yummy". After giving it some thought, I realized that the word delicious has many synonyms, such appetizing, tasty, exquisite, delightful and enjoyable. Yet, the word yummy is a good word. It's short, it's concise, it gets straight to the point.


Good morning! 

Since coming to Sweden (we are situated about 40 mins south of Stockholm), we have spent a great deal of time walking and jogging. The nature is lovely here on the countryside as you can see below (the very last photo really symbolises all that is typical for Sweden - in my opinion).
Plans for this week: job-hunting, writing on the dissertation, running x 3 + enjoying the sun.

It really feels like Monday morning because of all the days off. Time to get back to normalcy.

What are your plans?

Monday, 21 April 2014

One That Never Fails: Feta Salad

Home-made dressing that's lovely with the feta salad: white wine vinegar (1 tablespoon), olive oil (3 tablespoons), lemon zest, coriander, French herbs and 1 garlic clove. Mixing and matching works! 

Sunday, 20 April 2014

More Energy? Yes, Please.

Spring is here! Some people start bubbling with energy as soon as the sun shows itself. Others (like me) get tired. I have tried to make a conscious decision to increase my energy levels - sometimes you have to work a little bit to find energy. 

So, there are essentially two factors that will have an impact on your energy levels. The first one is food. I usually feel very heavy and drowsy after eating candy and carbs. Oily food is also a big no-no. The second factor is exercise. Exercise in itself is valuable, but I find that exercising outdoors is what makes the difference.  Tea (preferably green and preferably with spices) also feels energizing.

Lemonade must be the best thing ever. It's refreshing and the flavours are endless. If you make it at home, you know what you're putting into your mouth as well. I would also say that the colour yellow is very cheerful. 

Colours - or in this case, polka dots - brighten any day. 

Healthy food - tasty and satisfying :) Here: porridge with cinnamon and raspberries. Yum!

"Välkommen till landet lagom är bäst" *

Welcome to Sweden!

With the risk of being totally politically incorrect, I never thought I'd live in Sweden. Or even give it a chance.
Well, here we are.

In the country where "lagom"** is best. In a country where the political correctness astonishes even me - and I'm not from that far away.

I think I know Sweden quite well. I don't. So this is surely going to be an interesting journey, yet again. The reason I think I know Sweden is because I have been influenced by Swedish culture since a very early age. When I was little we could only watch Swedish TV. I have always spoken Swedish in school and with the majority of my friends "back home". Our favourite destination for shopping was always Stockholm.

Shopping, TV or Swedish literature do not prepare one for the bureaucracy or the manners or the mentality. Finnish people (generalizing again) have a tendency to say that Swedes are so happy and cheerful - how on earth will I survive that?

Living here will be far easier than living anywhere else. Knowing the language helps. Knowing people helps.

Welcome to this new journey!

* Text from "Sverige" by Kent
** The word "lagom" (enough) deserves its own post. 

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Easter Goodies: Па́сха (Paskha) - the lighter version

Па́сха (Paskha) is a traditional Russian Easter dish that is also very popular in Finland. Apart from tvorog, this infamously "dessert" also contains butter, sugar and cream. And dried fruit. It also takes some time to cook as it needs to stand in the refrigerator overnight.

I decided to make a slightly lighter version of this delicious dish. Mainly, I skipped the butter and the sugar, only sticking to vanilla-flavoured quark and cream. Vanilla in itself is so sweet that no sugar is needed. Lemon is essential and so is the dried fruit (in small quantities in this case).

Step 1: wisp the cream + add the quark
Step 2: add the zest + juice from one big lemon
Step 3: add some dried fruit
Step 4: add some decorations
Step 5: put in the fridge for a few hours
Step 6: ENJOY!

Friday, 18 April 2014

My Mother's Salmon Soup

The key, she says, lies in the freshness of the ingredients. Start with vegetable stock. Then add salmon, potatoes, beans, carrots, onion, a wee bit of cream mixed with milk. Add some white pepper and dill. Done. 

Monday, 14 April 2014

Will the journey ever end?

Finland. Poland. England. Russia. Spain. Finland again. Slovakia. Sweden. Will the journey ever end? Does it need to end? People speak of restless souls, the eternal wanderers. Am I one of those curious minds that cannot sit still or more than the slightest moment? At the end of the day, does it even matter?

I am very grateful for the places I've seen, the people I've met and the opportunities I have been given. The one thing that I have learnt is that we cannot take things - nor people - for granted. We do not determine our own future, no matter what plans we make, there is no guarantee that they will turn out the way they were supposed to. Life has taken me places - I have followed it without questions or doubts. When one door was shut, another one opened - sometimes in another country. Maybe all that I am is a child of my generation - a generation where mobility is required and all old notions of safety have blown away, maybe for good.

No matter where life takes me, I will follow. With the risk of sounding corny, life is the way.

Teraz - druhá časť.

And here's the text version of what is going on right now.

Visiting my parents in Finland. Looking for jobs. Trying to do something about my creative streak - I'm feeling overwhelmed again. The sun is shining. The coffee tastes good and I'm again eating too much bread. Spring is on its way, I dream of travels while trying to focus on the now.

I am trying to collect my thoughts. Sometimes I wonder if everyone else around me is feeling equally overwhelmed?

There's so much to read and so much to do and so much to learn.