To see Finland the way I have not been seeing – step 1: Tampere

 

What were you doing 8 years ago?

Okay, so let’s get on the time traveller to the past a bit…

I caught this question reading one source for writing literature background of my thesis. This question came up when the author discussed about the fast evolution changing in life. 8 years ago, we would not believe there was a cell phone which could contain all of our information and allow us to access to almost all the data. Okay so in a way, the question got me thinking (i do do this a lot): what was I doing 8 years ago? 

Let’s see. It was 2008. I was in 8th grade, in junior high school. I am not entirely sure, but I probably were in the middle of taking this test to earn a scholarship studying abroad in Singapore. My big dream at the time was always going abroad. It was strong as this: I went to bed every night, and kept imagining myself returning to visit my family, with better looks, better clothes, better qualifications. Yes, I was rather materialistic. Being a teenager, I wanted everything my parents did not allow me to have. Then, I was probably still getting over my junior high school crush. It seemed to be such a big crush at that time. It could be one of the most unnecessary dramatic time in my life. One good thing coming out of it was me showing to myself how stupid i always once had been. Now that I am writing it down, I start to think any stupid thing I have done cannot compare to that. Does make me feel a bit better. 

I was also probably still coping with the fact I had a little brother. He was born in 2006, 2 years before. I had always been the single child before he was born. I was not being jealous, or I assumed; but it was indeed hard for me to get used to. His crying, the baby’s smell, his dirty diapers. And the fact how much I tried to help my parents, I was seen to be “in the way”. It was definitely weird he started to grow up older, being 2 years old, chubby and all cute. I had this love-hate towards him. 

I could also be rather stressfull and all prepared all te studying to pass the examination, going to one of the best high school in my city. 

Oh, I remembered one other thing. It was probably also the time the guy who liked me for 2 years started dating my best friend. They hid from me of course. 

There could be also many other small things such as my parents’ fights, being outside home almost all the time with this group of girl friends who used to my closest people. They were almost all richer than me. They had nice clothes. They looked more beautiful. And I could not help being jealous. 

8 years ago, I was such a different girl. I was inconfident. I loved dreaming about a perfect guy, with a perfect love that would be all romantic and long lasting. I loved the idea going to Paris because the city was the most romantic place on earth, according to television. 8 years ago, I never thought I would live in this country, where there are days I walk outside and all surrounding me is snow and no one else. Just me and nature. 

And I know a lot more would have happened, but 8 years is a long time to remember all the details. I just hope the core  of that girl 8 years ago is still some where in me 8 years later, hopefully that was who I actually had to be. 

“Come, sit down and have a cup of tea. The world isn’t going to leave without you.”

Today I came back to the place where I had this first date with someone, who could be special. It was a lovely tea shop near one of my University campus. I came here with a closed friend today. My first time here was also with her and another closed friend. Back then, the shop was much smaller. There were only around 3 to 4 tables and the owner working. But we liked it so much. We loved the Eastern atmosphere the owner was trying to bring to the shop. A small Eastern place in the middle of a Northern European city.The place is a family business and I happened to hear that the owner was living in China for many years. It could have been her motive and inspiration for such a tea house. [The place’s website]

I love the cups, tea pots design that the owner picked and presented. We used to come here after school, during dark and stressful winter for a cup of warm tea. Some peace, you also might say. The owner is also a lovely lady. She always manages to convince me buying different flavours of tea home. The place was plain as that until couple of months ago, I went here with a new company. The experience with the place started to change. I am sitting here now, sensing the sweetness, the excitement of first talk, the laughs, the undeniable connection, within the old “peace”. My peace of the place has been affected. I tried to sit up, many times, breathed in and out, and forced my head just to be in the flow of presence and not in the past wind. But it is hard, you know.

There is nothing changing with the place. It remains the same. Tables, chairs, books. Maybe some small details as the tea presenting; but the difference relies on how one sees the place. The experience we have is the only thing that changes. The environment, the objects are constant. I look at the city I have been living in for 3 years and now all of a sudden, it has become hard for me to move around inside the city. 

But today, I came back. Sooner than I should. I figured, the place will not disappear; and it is not the place i am hiding from. So no matter where it is, I will always have those memories. So i just followed the place’s instruction: sitting down, drinking tea; because the world isn’t going to leave you. 

“The Kings of Summer” when it is -30 degree outside

Today I just watched movie “The Kings of Summer”. I think I saw the trailer some while ago but I did not too much attention; then, I decided to choose it randomly for this evening entertainment time with my friend. The movie was really great, in a more different way than normally. It talked about three teenagers who escaped from their parents by moving to live in the middle of the forest. They built their own house. They attempted to hunt their own food. They tried to live a life where existed no internet, no television, no modern life but nature. The most important thing for their decision is a life with no adult, but themselves. Do you know how a classic American teenager movie goes? I bet you do. And I also bet some of you used to enjoy those movies, like I used to. Maybe now I changed to a classic American romance comedy movie. Anyhow, in those teenager movies, the older you get, you might start to think inside your mind “how stupid they are to act as such” or “what a teenager!”. And I know I am not in a place with so many years older than being called a teenager; but for the first time in a while, the movie does not give me those thoughts.
The kids in the movie did want to become men, skipping through time growing up so that they can be on their own, being free. Every single kid in this world wants the same thing. Every single kid thinks that being an adult gives you the power to know it all, and being in charge. However, if you watched the movie, did you notice the kids’ problems are rather similar to ours? So they wanted to be free. So they wanted to live a life where everyday passes by plainly, surrounding by nature. So the two best friends had a girl in between, affecting their friendship. So one refused to go back to his own life after all. I mean, I used to think I only acted as such because I was not mature enough. Recently, I realise that the age does not even matter at all. The same kinds of problems remain through time. The only thing which might possibly change is your reaction to them. I used the word “possibly” since there is in fact a chance you react the same way you used to do. It might come under different forms, shaped by all experiences you have been through to. However, I think the core of making you who you are will never go away.
I have never thought about this much either until yesterday, when my friend raised up the topic. She is at different age than I am, more mature but we have shared with each other for the last few days much similar deep down thoughts that we do not even sense the distinct line. She already realised the problems would never actually change a while ago. But I, only, recognised today. The movie was even a coincidental touch.
I guess, the point of me writing this post may be, the next time we interact with a younger or older person, we might slow down our assumption that the age makes us wiser or not wiser. On the base of academic knowledge, one definitely can know much more than another one about a particular topic or even in a general level. On the base of living, I think we can always learn from the differences between ourselves.
In the middle of the movie, there were scenes switching only between the main teenager character and his dad. If you notice it the way I do, you might find what I said possible right.
P/s: the way movie was filmed, is beautiful. I do not have enough knowledge to describe it; so I would contain all my feedback in only that word “beautiful”.

An urge for escapism

In some of my posts on Tumblr, I shared about my deep passion for travelling since I was a kid. My mom always said I had “a moving leg” because I can never stay at one place. It only grew even harder, into a level of addiction after I moved to Europe. In some other posts on Tumblr, I talked about how strangely difficult it was for me to be back to my old self at one place after living months in another place.

Have you wondered why nowadays people enjoy travelling so much? I mean, my parents never told me they used to travel a lot back in their time. It may be different from your parents; but mine have never been out of my home country even once.
Only during recent years, people start travelling more with the purpose to escape, to seek for exoticism, uniqueness and authenticity. I have read two books lately researching about these terms: Tourist Attraction: From objective to narrative of Johan R. Edelheim and Cultural Tourism of many authors but edited by Greg Richards. People have the urge to search for something unordinary from their everyday life; even though those unordinary to one might be ordinary to another one living in that destination. Edelheim (2015) said it was part of finding your identity in this modern social life. Some of us do not even enjoy being addressed as tourists. Some of us want to be seen as being artistic, being a photographer or a traveller. And a traveller is perceived different from a tourist. I honestly admit I can belong the group of people refusing to be seen as a tourist. I like to believe I travel for better cause than staying in fancy hotels, enjoying only the good touristic parts the destination shows out. This acknowledgement started when, I do not remember, but I remember how. I think I caught this one statement from someone somewhere that being a traveller means exploring to the local side, to the parts not shown regularly to the world. And I am sure I am not the only one having this thought; and surprisingly I learnt during the last two weeks that it had actually become a tourism trend. People want to consume culture. People wish to be seen different. I, myself, like to be seen as adventurous.
There is also an invisible “modern” force, pushing us to act differently while travelling.
I surely cannot speak for you; but on behalf of myself, I know I always change back to someone else being in the country I actually live permanently. I am more stable and not possessing this free mindset. Months ago, I accepted the fact. I assumed people possessed different selves around different people, being in different places. My way of living is trying to embrace the differences; because the only mistake one might make is assuming everyone is the same as you are.
My life is facing many changes again; and despite many of my previous online posts on being lost, unsure of what the next step is; this time, I am actually lost in realising who I am. I ensure you, it can be one of the worst feeling. I told my friends and myself I needed to go away; since following my passion – travelling, may be the only way helping my searching. However, the strangest thing is today, I suddenly question which self of me is the truest: the one during travelling or the one after travelling. Maybe, after all, my addiction is born from the pleasure of not dealing with difficult problems. “Travelling to a new destination allows me to start a whole new blank page, without people knowing about my past”: one reason I stated explaining why I love what I love. Maybe, it is just an excuse to escape. And maybe, you are using one as I am.

But, Edelheim (2015) also wrote: “backpacking is way of finding identity”. Excuse or no excuse, to me, setting out a finding path is better than doing nothing.

Perhaps the greatest loss is that of human dignity?

Perhaps the greatest loss is that of human dignity. Dignity demands some determination over one’s fate and standard of living. There is little room for dignity when fears of losing one’s home to a missed electricity tax payment resurface every month. There is little dignity to being a parent who has to entirely depend on your daughter to stay alive, and there is little dignity to being the daughter who cannot meaningfully help. The space that dignity could have occupied is now instead filled with shame: shame about all the things we wish we could do, and the collective web of helplessness that binds us. Dignity is personal, but like many other facets of identity–like masculinity, like victimhood–it is also continuously confirmed, contested, or validated by others. The indignity of many Greeks’ existence right now becomes especially unlivable when it is cast in the frame of having been earned: of being a just end to a trajectory of excess. Cast in this light, Greek dignity and its lack are invisible, blinded instead by notions of justice and deserving and agency and responsibility — notions which, in turn, blind our compassion.

 

human dignity, Stories of Conflict and Love, Roxanne

I checked the “reader” home page of WordPress for the first time; and I found the blog site names [Stories of Conflict and Love]. The name only, triggered my mind. I opened the first post that caught my attention. The paragraph above was quoted from her article – my favourite part of the post. I do not study majoring in sociology; hence, I do not have theory background to analyse situation but I interpret things in my own lenses – the lenses that have been with me throughout years living abroad. My friends in Vietnam assumed that my life abroad was luxurious and fancy likely. Maybe they are right, I have a biggest luxury living in Europe: the luxury of doing according to my own will. This luxury, in a way, is also the biggest dignity I have been trying to keep.

I had a lovely chat having coffee with a friend yesterday. I ended up telling her, I recalled myself being a girl always knowing what to do next. Back then, in order to reach success and happiness, I was shown and taught to follow one path, without re-considering. It sounds forceful;  but it was easier. I started to question the path when my dignity was hit hard, for the first time. It was the dignity of being one of the best students in class, being smart. I slowly got over it after moving out of my country. There came another dignity of being one among the ones studying abroad. The dignity of being able to work in a popular or good international company, of being able to find a part-time job in the second year, of having a secured full time position after graduating. In my first year in Finland, that dignity was my force. The decisions I made, the things I chose, was to keep the dignity alive.

During my internship in London, I learnt realistic life of an adult-wanna-be had so little rooms for dignity. In exchange for experiences, for the preference of colleagues, I made my dignity smaller by following the orders, the “way they do things in the company”. That was only small part. I was a reckless girl back then and there. I ended up in consequence, in which I had no money left. I let go of my dignity, asking friends to borrow money because my parents were too furious to help. When I returned from London to Finland, I needed to find a part-time job, no matter what it would be. I let another part of my dignity go, doing newspaper delivery job with little money but I had to push the cart on a snowy road, under a snowy windy winter. That and hours sitting in the storage room grouping the newspaper which could only hurt my back and made me dizzy when I was done. I ended up quitting, came to my parents, and let go one big part of my dignity – being a helpless unsuccessful daughter who made childish choices. It was always hard for me to earn their pride; but at that time, it seemed to me I would never be able to earn such. The reckless actions I did in London, would remain stains which had not been washed out yet, until even now.

That summer, I took a job as a housekeeper in a cheap hotel in Finland. There were days I accepted to work for 10 hours; I was paying my due, for my consequences. But then in recent summer and autumn, I again worked as a cleaner for a supermarket, getting up at 3 or 4 am in the morning, cleaning all the toilets in one of the biggest supermarkets in the city. I could not find any other options, and all I need was money to be independent, to not being such a helpless daughter.

I had lots of dignity I have let go. Every time a small part goes away, it equals my plan is forced to be changed and I have to make an improvising choice. As Roxana said, “The space that dignity could have occupied is now instead filled with shame: shame about all the things we wish we could do, and the collective web of helplessness that binds us“. However, the bottom of all these “letting go” is one dignity I cannot lose – being independent.

Finnish winter and its fun side

I wrote this post one day ago, but to go with the spirit that Finland is hosting the coldest day in this winter, I want to share here my little experience.
I bet that normally, when you want to explore a city and go to recommended local places, you would not imagine part of the exploring walking is under temperature -17 degree Celsius, snowing and rather windy. But being abnormal sometimes is part of life package, isn’t it? That is what I just did.

I have not experienced such cold temperature since my last winter in Finland in 2013. I simply forgot how the coldness can touch sharply to your bones. I arrived in Helsinki yesterday and would stay here until the end of this week. The last time I was here, is Autumn. I was quite sure Helsinki would be fresh start then. This trip is now officially the first trip to Helsinki for new year 2016. Oh yes, the new year….How was your New Year’s Eve, saying goodbye to the last year?

Usually, I made the farewell by looking at the fireworks in the sky, imagining as if they were every single things happened to me in the last year and flashing up to sparkling dust in the air. This time, I was inside a club, and I kissed a friend, following a fun tradition from America. I guess due to so, I have not actually felt the sense of new year coming to me yet; or in a way, the past year’s sense has not left. I found myself “clinging” to both the memory and the willingness to re-start.

Anyhow, this week in Helsinki turns out the be the first coldest week for the winter this year. I also decided to make this trip to be my own first exploration of Helsinki. I went to the city many times before. I always stayed around in the city center, spent time eating/ drinking in some places with friends. I wanted to give this trip a little bit of something new. I did not plan of what places to go; but I planned to search for a random local place, in a random area except the center circle. So far, my day went okay, according to my wish. I had to go taking a test this morning. I stayed over my friend’s place last night and she had already showed me the way going train station so that I could be on time for the test. A good me would get up early enough, focus on preparing and give myself extra time of recalling the route. However, a typical me always does the opposite. For some reason that I could only blame on myself later, I chose to be “typical me”. I had to walk around, longer than the route instructed by my friend, to the train station. I was late 5 minutes to the test. And that was my first long walk in -17 degree.

After the test, I caught a tram, expectedly going towards the area called Kallio. I ended up again in the center circle. I got off, walked to a student lunch restaurant UniCafe, recommended by one local of Helsinki. It was a lovely place; reflecting the exact spirit of University students. I did not feel hungry just yet; hence, I walked back outside, wandering and thinking of going to this old clothes shop. It looked interesting on the website; maybe I could use some “time-travelling” means. Well, of course the plan did not go as such; because I pumped coincidentally into my other two nice friends from Jyväskylä. We were supposed to meet only in a conference from AIESEC, which will happen at the end of this week. Apparently I did not mind seeing them now either. The coincidence was surprisingly funny and warm. I have not seen them for more than a week because of the holiday.

After lunch with them, I wanted to give another try going to Kallio; so I took the tram and fortunately, got off the right station. The only problem was I did not know how to walk to the address I wanted. Eventually, it became my third walk in the temperature -17 degree, without knowing the end destination I wished to arrive. I thought to myself how crazy this would sound if I retold the experience to my friends. They would surely roll their eyes; since I was already rolling mine to my own self. Anyway, it is not like you can always turn back after making a decision in life, “what the heck”, right?

Finally, I arrived at this small coffee shop called MadeInKallio. I am glad I took the walk. The place is nice, cozy, rather artistic as well. The owner sold hand made things inside: wallpaper, flip books, earrings, paints, shirts, etc. In the middle exists small coffee bar, surrounding by art. I am sure, for anyone stepping into this place, would have to stop for minutes checking out the postcards and all the arts around that bar before one can actually make the call of what to drink.

It is now -18 outside, has stopped snowing even though the sky is getting dark. The place is getting more crowded. But it is okay, because I have a friend coming soon; and I am not yet getting backed out from the exploration.

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My first something new of 2016

So, at 13:37 on 06.01.2016, I decided to do something new. I finished my earliest post in Tumblr blog – small corner I created to share my stories in any sorts of my life since summer 2015. I moved my mouse up and down looking at my blog site after posting the post; and it did not seem to fit in Tumblr anymore, as the way it used to be. I started writing publicly in Tumblr for a reason (which I will share with post here soon). I thought I would continue writing there for a while more before I changed to here. I heard about WordPress the first time through my friends who gave me advices on writing blogs.

Since I started writing in high school, I have always been writing for myself. I used to be bad at literature when I was in Junior High School, but for some reason, when I got to write freely years later again, I found my secret crush for writing. It was supposed to be for my own self only, I felt free thinking so. I am not following any rules of writing, I express the words in the way I felt like most at the time putting them down in the screen. Then, one some random day along the way, I got to read a random blog of a random person. My crush in writing developed into something bigger ever since – a passion, a dream. I thought of starting my own blog. But I am shy of bringing one of the most private things in my life to public; and there is even high chance I will receive criticism for doing the things I love. Time passed by. I remembered about my own self before moving to Finland. What people see me, mattered to me so much that I did not recognise I let go many parts of me. The day I moved to Europe, I made a promise to change, and to never treat myself in such a way. I am free; and I want to share with the world what I meant by that word “free”.

Tumblr was my first step ever into this blogging world. I have not yet felt the sense of new year 2016; hence, there could not be better moment than this to start something new. I wish to write not only for myself; but also for you now, who wish to read something random on a boring day, who want to kill time waiting for something, who think one might find a light through others’ stories or simply who accidentally found this blog. This is my corner online, but if we fit in the way of thinking, you are always welcome to stay 🙂

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/hanniidang

You can find through this link some of my old posts.