Making Christmas

Christmas is a magical time of year for those us who celebrate it, and I feel that there is a special place in heart for us Finns – everyone agrees that Santa comes from Finland, right? *wink* Even the people who don’t celebrate Christmas aren’t safe, as it’s impossible to escape it in most Western societies. Hence, for political correctness, you often hear it referred to as “the Holidays”. Now that we are half-way through our Christmas-cycle, I thought this is the perfect time to discuss it. Read More

The world is not standing still – neither should I

It is in human nature to stick to the things that are nice and cozy – things that give us a fuzzy feeling and a sense comfort. These things tend to be rather pointless in the grand scheme of things and yet so… nice, which seems to be increasingly important to us. To find an explanation for this behaviour, we don’t have to look further than basic biology. Being conservative literally conserves energy for growth and reproduction, and is very efficient in stable conditions. When things are predictable, you don’t have to worry about what’s to come. Hence, from the evolutionary standpoint this makes all the sense – in fact it is a very common survival strategy elsewhere in nature too, for microbes for instance. It works, it really does, but only if the circumstances don’t change drastically. For a colony of microbes, heavy changes in the surrounding conditions tend to lead to an inevitable death. This is not me suggesting comparing ourselves to bacteria, but for what I’ve noticed, evolution and biology usually work in a very logical and efficient way. There are many lessons to be learned there!  Read More

An Old Toddler – Some thoughts on South Korea after four months

Semester all done! What an interesting experience studying in South Korea was. Last time I gave some of my first impressions, and now I’ll try to dig a bit deeper. The first impressions were mostly positive, and also held up over the whole time (I really liked the country!), but as the honeymoon passed, further understanding slightly distorted the image. Theres a lot to talk about but I’ll mention the things that are most noteworthy to me.

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The view from my dorm room window

First, I must say that if you ever get a chance to live in another country, you definitely should do it. It is going to be an experience like no other and you will gain understanding of both the surrounding world and also of yourself. You’ll also get a chance to meet great new people, which in part will help you gain new perspective. This is me telling you – just go for it. Read More

Chapter Seven – An interlude

Here’s a little something from six weeks ago:

As I write this, I am sitting in an airplane. A year ago me and two of my friends began the process of applying for exchange studies, in hopes of seeing something new and broadening our cultural understanding. After all the bureaucracy we got accepted, and finally after all the waiting, here we are – on our way to Seoul, South Korea, a city with 25 million people living within it’s metropolitan area. Next four months we’ll spend living and studying there, while also trying to get the most out of the experience – exploring and diving into the different culture.

 

As this will be my first time outside of Europe, a culture shock is unavoidable. These days, when it’s so easy to acquire knowledge before even stepping on the soil of a new country, the shock will be a lot less critical. There’s no way going around it, however – the language and the culture will take some time to adapt.

 

As in everything I do or experience, I will try to take this as an opportunity to improve myself in some way. Moving to Denmark already opened my eyes in many ways and greatly shifted my mindset, and I think so will this trip. I’m going to meet many new people with different ways to think, and experience a whole new culture with some different values and perspectives. Time to take in all the new. This will either be the next chapter on my journey, or just an interlude.

Fast forward six amazing weeks, and here I am – feeling bad about having written a lot less than I would have wanted during the time. But not letting that bring be down, I would like to ramble a little and share some of my first impressions.
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They are called push notifications for a reason

My birth was timed quite perfectly for me to grow in parallel with the modern technology. The internet was just becoming increasingly common and Nokia grew bigger thanks to their success in the mobile phone market. I got my first mobile phone at the age of 8 to keep in contact with my parents after school. The same year, we got a PlayStation 2 for Christmas. I was 12, when my dad gave his old computer for me to use (for educational purposes, obviously… wink).

And that’s how technology and the internet have been a natural part of my life. They started off as tools, and quite quickly tightened their grasp, as all of a sudden they were expected to be one’s natural extension in order to manage and stay up to date. A lot of time was saved thanks to the practicality of the internet, but ironically, much of the saved time was spent browsing online. Read More

Chapter Six – Distraction: On stress and what I learned

The stress hit me, no matter how prepared I was for it. I may tell myself not to get stressed and that there’s no need for it, but there’s always some tiny hole for it to gush in.

As I mentioned last time, I’ve had a lot to do over the past weeks. Most people have been witnesses to this — how everything seems to accumulate towards the end of a semester. Deadline yesterday, tomorrow and the next week, not to mention preparing for all the upcoming exams. Ahead of the exam period, I made a deliberate decision not to write here during that time, as I wanted to give my complete focus to school work. I also knew that if I did force myself to write, the end result would not be something that I would be comfortable with.

The end of the semester did turn out quite good! I gave it my best shot, but to be honest, there were times when I took time off of studying and enjoyed the awesome start of the summer. Those were times when I could have forced myself to be productive, but instead I felt lazy, and also allowed myself to be lazy. I spent time with friends (I wish I had a bit more time for this) and tried to spend as much time outdoors as possible. However many times the time off was not intentional, as I got lost browsing the internet or procrastinating some other way. It’s amazing how insidiously it always happens!

During these weeks of being stressed I made a discovery. I’ve noticed the phenomenon earlier, but this time, due to my new endeavours, I really felt the effect. I’ve always thought that I’m fairly good at handling stress, and actually I didn’t feel too stressed this time either, but this thing made me realise what really was going on. Read More

Chapter Five – Fight: An update from the road

I am being tested.

Some might get startled hearing that I’m actually glad that my new journey is not like a walk in the park. There’s nothing inherently bad about trials that life puts in your way – the you on the other side of the obstacle will be a triumphant version of the weakling shivering before it. Even the smallest challenge can lead to great growth. We as humans – as products of evolution – tend to shy away from anything that seems even slightly tedious, but in order for you to see your true potential, you must be faced with these tests every once in a while. The capability to push through difficulties is what distinguishes success from the standard.

“If video games have taught me anything, it’s that if you encounter enemies then you’re going the right way.”

– Sacha Baron Cohen (Ali G)

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