2016 might not be a year missed after all

During this week, the time between Christmas and New Year, I have come across many great reflective posts, funny memes, people’s new year resolution as well as people’s complaining about this moment – when the theme is always “new year, new me”.

To tell you the truth, I am often not among people making new year resolutions either, and I am kind of anti the cliche vibe: new year, new me as well. This is not to say I have never been like that in my entire life, so I am not here to judge or criticise anyone. In fact, I like this period between Christmas and New Year. It gives me the impression that holiday is not yet over, there is still one day to look forward to: the very moment our past 365 days went into burning flames in the sky. I have felt unsettled inside, as if a wave is rising up or an a bird is dying to fly out of her cage. That usually is a sign for me to write.

I think my recent posts have been much about what silver lightnings I saw within the dark days. They have fulfilled enough of reflection. Hence, right now, at 11am Finland time, on New Year Eve, my post is simply about inviting you all to join me in this one task. Are you ready? Okay, close your eyes. Ah, actually, no, I am kidding, that step comes later once you finish reading, because it does not make sense if you close your eyes now *awkward laugh*.

What I love about this last day of the year, is how emotional you can get. I might not be all for the cliche “New Year, New Me”, but I am all for the cliche “damn, how fast a year can pass”. You hear that often on this day. It is hard to believe the year is ending, on the very last day of the year. But 2016 to me is fast, insanely fast, in like a blink of an eye.

I don’t know how 2016 has been to you, but to me, I have not had many big milestones or achievements to count while looking back at this year. All I could see was the painful moments. Before Christmas even came, I got the most nervous thinking about today. I couldn’t get myself to actually believe 2017 is so closed. I did not know if I was ready for it yet. I did not know if I had gained enough energy and stability for a new start or a new chapter. Like everyone else who might share this feeling, I was scared 2016 has been a year missed for me.

But my alone Christmas gave me tons of time and space to think, to actually look back at what really happened this year. And as many of us, I think I have overlooked my own small milestones too. Do you recall the difficult days of this year, when you thought you could not continue anymore, whatever that “continue” means to you? You thought you would give up, perhaps a job, a task, a project, friendship or relationship. You thought something was too hard for you to do, to get over. You thought you could not do it alone. You thought you were a failure. You believed the future to you was blank. And remember the highly exhausted moments? Today, on this day, let’s rewind back to those times mentally, and you give your past selves a hug, a pat on your shoulder or simply say with a smile: “You have fought enough, relax a little, it’s okay to be tired, it’s okay to feel beaten down. But you will not be beaten down for long, you will fight it through”.

The best part of New Year Eve is this ability. We are now in the future moments our 6 month ago version desperately wanted to reach to. 6 months ago, I also desperately wanted someone to give me a hug, tell me those exact things. I wished for a person who could just do that without me even asking. I did have a person being there for me. It was just a bit not the same as I wished for in my mind. I realised the reason for that is because no hug would be better than the hug from the future me, the only person who truly understand what I went through.

I don’t remember if I have ever done this in other years, but I guess this mental hug is the most revolutionary for 2016. Be prepared to feel a little sad, guys. It is not supposed to feel so easy as it sounds. It took my breaths away when I wandered back to such moments, to look at myself crying in pain and hopeless to find the light at the end of the tunnel. Whatever I might have been avoided sometimes not to think about, I wandered back there too. It is the last day of 2016, what the hell, right?

I guarantee you though, after such journey, after sadness comes relief. Isn’t it unbelievable that you successfully fought through? Do you feel like a superhero? Well you should. Be a superhero on this very last day, you are soon about to be the champion in 2016. Join me in embracing your winning moments on this last day, before you get prepared for another 365 days to come.

Tonight, when the fireworks are burst in the sky, give all of your bad memories into those flames and look at them burned. I always see the fireworks as the tool for me to let go of things briefly. I can imagine the very bad things of mine turn into such beautiful things in the sky. The light will take over me, let me to treat the firework as a personal gift for me. Right there, I also think about the good days that I normally forget. Even if 2016 has been the worst year I have lived, I would be too selfish to forget the small rare good moments keeping me alive. Those moments are the ones worth staying closed with me.

You see, we as human, we are very strong and persistent even if we think we are not sometimes. We are not given many chances to appraise ourselves for this, but New Year Eve is one of those chances. So I hope you party hard tonight! I hope you go out and see the fireworks and most importantly, you have done the mental comfort to your past selves!

Finding your stable feet

There have been quite a few posts on my blog, in which I shared about my feelings towards different places I have lived in or have been to. Jyväskylä is probably the most mentioned city. You see, I came there before I even turned 18 officially, and the place was very much a representation of my big life milestone. I also lived in London – UK, in Breda – the Netherlands, Mandelieu La Napoule – France, and now, I find myself in a coast city: Vaasa – Finland. In addition to these cities, I have been to other few places for short to medium length travelling.

If you have read some of those posts, it may not come as a surprise that I usually develop connections with the places I stepped my feet in.

London was where I found a fresh young girl falling in love madly. London taught me the very first real but crooked definition of “love”.

Breda kept within it my Erasmus exchange memories, the laughter, the drunk parties, the friendship, the companies, the partners in crime and the one that got away. The Netherlands was how I brought myself back to excitement of being in a new place, making new friends and having a new purpose to dip myself in experiences.

Then, in Mandelieu La Napoule, I hid. I got defeated in these last 1,5 years. I was blinded with my own failures, I came back to my oldest passion – travelling/ moving to a new city, or perhaps, come back to also my most common excuse for escapism. Southern France gave me the peace behind every single wave rolling on the beach surfaces, behind the winds floating through trees while I pushed myself to hike towards higher and further point; but of course, to trade for such peace, I lived with lonesomeness.

Finland. Well, Finland became my second home town years ago, and has always been. In a way, I feel I am re-born here. Certainly, my relationship with this country has began to face obstacles and plenty of wonders. Even so, I doubt I would ever change my way of looking at it the way I am looking at it now – after every each time I return here after being in a different place – as if I am looking at the most familiar place to me ever.

I take pride in telling others the places I have been to, and lived in. Even though I take joy in dazzling others’ eyes when I tell them those places as my life achievements, they are also more than that. They have become parts of my identity. To tell people about my different types of crushes for these places, I am reminding myself of how I am living closely to my ‘coreness‘. Sure, it sounds romanticized, but sometimes, the things which sound most cliché, are unfortunately deniably true.

It is easy to forget the dream you had when you were kids. And I am not even talking about all the silly dreams we had, like being a superman or cat-woman, or a princess/prince/ king/ queen (despite the fact that the idea of having a castle is still very tempting now and then), etc.

But I mean, THE DREAM. The one and only one dream, speaks to you the most, and stay with you the longest.

For me, it is travelling, even before I am aware of what the term “travelling” would mean. This very special kind of dream seems the most challenging to keep. Because it is not unrealistic, you know you might be able to make the dream come true one way or another. But it is also unrealistic, years of growing up and attempting to be an adult at least has taught you much.

I have not lived enough to out-say other more experienced people about how to achieve your dream eventually. This post is not about that.

This post is for me to share the other side of my dream: the breaking-up phase with my places. As I know how lucky I still am, I don’t normally say out loud to myself the holes made inside me sometimes, after I leave a place.

Being on the move is great. Being on the move also equals not settling down, either physically, geographically or mentally, sometimes all. The excitement for exploration I depend on is short-lived. After certain time living in a place, you may fall back into a life with usual pattern plus repetitive daily activities. I myself find me in boredom. I see myself being curious about what may be different in some other places. I see me starting to look at tickets, jobs, paper work process and day-dream about being able to just pack and go.

So, people usually say, being on the move sounds exciting but one cannot always be on the move, and do that forever. And I usually laugh away their sayings. I laugh away even more if people add the ideas of starting a family and living permanently in one place. But there is nothing wrong with those ideas. In fact, I secretly agree with those people in parts. Being on the move requires you to be emotionally adjusted. Being on the move makes you realise you have never had a particular place where you call home, and you can just buy tons of housing decorations without wondering what to do with them when you move again, at least for the next many years. Being on the move requires financial support, if you are to hold a limited passport. Being on the move means you cannot promise to make a work contract for years. Let’s not talk much about what being on the move might affect to your relationships, I guess, we are all somehow aware of that price.

I laugh away, because still, being on the move is my very important dream. To imagine me forgetting it, is scary. To think about the things I cannot have in exchange for what I am passionate about, is challenging, (hell, many times, really challenging); but yet satisfying. It reminds me of my ‘coreness‘. All the places construct the very present me. I know that my future me will be even more evolving with new places I will be in.

I guess, my very main message is that even if I am seen as living my dream, I may not have every ingredients to make a perfect life; the same for everyone else and every other situations. Food for thought (?): nothing in life can be in total perfection.

I don’t know if I will ever have stable feet. But I know I have no desire to find out anytime soon.

Shooting stars

What do you think about when you lie under a sky filled with stars, waiting for the magical sight of shooting stars? 

What parts of your life flashes through your head when you are on top of a mountain which is nearly 1000 meters and you can see a whole wide view of Provence Alps and a bit of Italy?

What does your mind and your heart tell you? 

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I would never get bored of looking up at the sky and seeing all the stars shining up. I recalled in “The Shadow Years” of Hannah Richell, it said:

The lightsglimmering up there in the sky are probablt nothing more than the residual flare out of stars burned out of many millions of years before, beamed at them from light years away. She gazes up at them and wonders how something so lovely can be nothing but a lie–an illusion–a dark deceit.

That is true. But it is still hard to remember about such illusion when all one can see is the sparkling beauty. I and B went up to the mountaines again, searching for shooting stars. It was windy, and colder after staying there long enough. We did not carry tents or sleeping bags with us, except for one cover to lie down on. So, basically, we were partly lying on rocks. But everything was worth it.

Everything else was worth those moments, for you totally forgot about how scary the space out there could be, how stars could actually be just dark deceit; for the only thing you might have was your sense of romance, of poet, of silence and of wonders in being alive.

So, what do I think about during moments like those?

First, I really did not think about anything. I think too much normally sometimes. When these priceless moments come, I simply stared. I kept trying to keep my eyes opening and staring at that vast beauty of the sky.  All I had was me and the stars up there.

But the desert is so huge, and the horizons so distant, that they make a person feel small, and as if he should remain silent. – Alchemist, Paulo Coelho.

Slowly later, I was brought back to what happened to me recently. I thought about another adventurous place I was in couple of days ago, and a week ago. I thoughts about me on the frozen lake in Finland months ago too. I always thought about those days, as if I tried to examine myself whenever I was brought back to that past chapters & how I would or would think. How I coped with those memories this time, I would question.

Moments after, I was brought back even further to the past, to the points where I could not get accustomed to the fact they were my memories. They all felt like they belonged to someone else. But maybe, they did belong to another girl.

I sat up, and walked further to the city view in front me, as I knew this could be my very last moment for now to be there, at that exact spot.

Who would one hope to be with in these moments? Who have I lost in life to exchange for these moments?


More than a week ago, I returned to Jyväskylä. It was a returning trip similar to any other trips I had done before. This time, it was a big thing for me. To return to my past and face it.

Being here, my mind wandered back to a life I built in France. 4 months being there appeared as an illusion that I just doze off into in a very long nap. Everything here is the same, yet very different. Walking past the streets here which I took almost a thousand times, I imagined myself as someone with special power, jumping back and forth between here in Finland and there in France. That was what actually happened in my head. The transitional moments are always the weirdest. I always feel like I don’t belong to any particular places when my soul is split.

But before my Finnish soul within the lakes & forests rushes back, I want to be high still with the shooting stars and my crush for France. Just some warming up steps. 

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Gourdon Village
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Auribeau Villahe
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Port de la Rague beach
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Along the coast to Cannes
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St. Raphael

 That is what I do, and that is what almost every of us does at least once.

Present is what you are told to focus on, but without past and future, your present is not wholly. There are ghosts from the past you avoid, there are uncertainty in the future you cannot handle. My present will not be real if I refuse to wander back or plan ahead.

I know it sounds cliche. But I have done that, I have done my part of avoidance. And I am telling you, no matter how far you run, it will catch you eventually. There is one thing to do is facing it. You might be more prepared than you think. 

Memory Traits

Have you realised how much we have become impatient with everything? 

A sculpture designed by a Spanish artist. Taken by me.
In Antibes, France

Think about those moments when you sit in front of a computer, ah no, maybe moments holding your phones, and 3-5 seconds of page loading or the length of texts might already push you to do something else. At least, I am sure speaking from myself.

Some days were so much packed, I did not have enough time to even finish a catch-up conversation with a friend. What I have realised about being busy is that, such satisfied feeling of having purposes is addicted. There are goals to look forward to, there are projects to be done, there are meetings to go to, there are posters to be created and there are social media posts to be updated, for example. You don’t get to wonder why you do this, you just do it because time is limited, and deadlines are waiting. You don’t replay your life in your head like playing a video recorder file on computer, because when there is free time, you spend for sleeping, or hanging out with friends you haven’t had time to do with. At least, that was my life before I got burnt out.

Then, there was that moment when I was forced to stop, and started wondering. This wondering has lasted longer than I expected it to be, unfortunately.

But, this wondering transformed my head into a movie player of my memories. If you are fan of Grey Anatomy like I am, you might remember this sentence someone said in there, “how amazing memory works”.

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In Jyvaskyla, Finland

Memory flashes back, not fully, we mix things up and we filter certain things. When only good parts come out, some will call it a result of nostalgia, or grief. To me, it is like a path full of traits. One step you take, you might stumble onto a trait, which will soon either turn to be a picture or even a whole book’s chapter containing parts of my life within. Some moments, memories are so vivid that they became strangers to me. My self-consciousness kick in and I wonder if I am acquainted with the girl in my memory movie.

Today, I sat quite long under the rain, in the middle of forest. I walked long under the rain too, but I am not sure why this detail matters to you. So, I was there, staring in that empty areas of the air, tried to unburden myself with every single rain drop touching and sliding on my face. My memory went back to those days when I was this little kid running around with other kids under the rain, naked. It was our excitement act when we knew it was going to rain. I recalled myself being all hyper about the rain back then. We would run around, made these big laughs when we stood under any big water pipes that poured a huge amount of water on us. We would feel dirty and fresh at the same time. We would not bother screaming a bit more because the rain’s sound had blocked other people’s ears. Then, our parents would call us all in since the longer we stayed, the higher chance we would lie on beds next days. We were like those growing flowers needed fresh touch of water, besides the harsh sun shining. Then, I thought about me being a teenager and began to look at rain in more sad ways. Rain then became a symbol of hiding tears that cannot be shown in public. Rain then became a mysterious, romantic but sad ending for any kinds of broken childish relationships.

I even recalled me not liking the rain for a period of time. Reason for it, I cannot remember. It might have been I have had enough of grey colour and gloominess living in Finland, London and the Netherlands. But the rain was the first difference I noticed after moving to Finland for a month, because it was different there even though it was also so much the same. My life was taking a turn.

The rain was there too when I had to bike home fast from school in the Netherlands, while the wind kept slowing me down. Some days or weeks later, the rain remained but I was not alone.

I got soaked wet in the rain also biking home fast from a morning shift at work in Finland, during last autumn. When I reached home, my tiredness took over all my body. I quickly took out my clothes, changed to dry home clothes and crawled into the bed, under warm blankets, preparing for a good sleep. Those moments were extremely good, because my sleep was not bothered by disturbing images.

Today, the rain was there, slowly filling into my emptiness.

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In Mandelieu, France

I thought about “memory movie player” because I was amazed how much I got to rewind back to my lives now, while there was time everything just got slipped by so fast that I did not even think twice. I opened one of my journals, and I saw this small paragraphs I wrote about this same thing, but not with rain; it was with a part of road I took to go home. It was on one of last nights in Finland, months ago. That road brought me back to the time while I was still working for AIESEC and biking through the path for like 1000 times. Few steps further, I was brought back to the night of LAS seminar—an event of AIESEC—the night I first started to talk to Jo. Many more steps further up, I turned to look at the lake view in my city, allowed its extravagant beauty to hug me. I recalled me thinking to myself “You only start to appreciate things in a positive way when you have to say goodbye“.

 

“Every good party has to end”. But it sucks.

I am unsure how to start this blog, honestly. As I shared with you all before in one of responding to daily prompt of Daily Post WordPress, I used writing for containing my thoughts. That is one reason for me to start this blog post, but somehow my thoughts and feelings are going out all over a glass, I am still unsure how to wrap them all into words here.

Two of my best friends were here for the last week. I knew about this trip already when I left Finland, moving to France. And I think I am passing through the phase of adrenalin drying out.

It has also been more than a month I have been living in France. But everything passed by as if days have not been counted. I had my ups and downs, which is normal to each of us but amazingly good for me, because there are ups moments. Even so, the downs tick-tock still has its weights. I could sense myself withdrawing into my own sensitive shell. I could see myself being afraid to be against a big world out there, including my own family and friends, who do not understand me. Maybe there is no “being against” after all, you know. Then again, even knowing so does not prevent from failing in those battles, I fail to be in control of my thoughts. At the end of the day, it was just me being bitter at my own feelings and me sitting at the corner of the room dried out from exhaustion.

So, I was glad they came. I just didn’t think I would be so sad when they left, as something were taken away from me again. Over the past month, I suppose my accustom or effort of being on my own somehow works out well. I grew slowly another forgetfulness. I forgot how much I also enjoy being around my friends, all the laughter and joy besides the sorrow they might remind of, even though they have nothing to do with the cause, they were just there. Their presence here first felt awkward, the same tone of emotion when I started this post. I had stuff to say, but not sure where to address and how or if they would like to hear. Such awkwardness lasted for more than an hour, I would say, in Nice.

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The big main square in Nice, which I can only assume placed at the center of this city. Nice was nice, my trip was too short for me to describe just yet about it. Maybe another time…

Then, we had a dinner, and things took off. Dirty version of conversations and common thoughts, all the things you can only feel most comfortable to talk with people you love. A tune of excitement started to rise up inside me, as my friend said “There is a reason why we became closed friends“. Yes, we have been closed friends, we have been through ups and downs, they have witnessed me changing from one person to another person whom they might not even realise, and yet they still stay even though wall of distance appear naturally (or healthily?). I forgot, you know.

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Those are the two. I thought of keeping them anonymous, but well, why?

You look good. You look tanned. But this Mediterranean looks suits you“, she told me over the dinner. I smiled because I think so, too. I was glad that somebody also saw it, my improvement from my ability of holding onto the “ups” moments. It could be little desperation of approval, but at least the comment made me be certain of my decision to drop everything, drop friends and flee to a place, in which I hope to find my certainty (?). A question mark is there since I yet figured out what exactly I was looking for. Or it could be as my friend said, “you do know, you are just afraid to admit yet“.

Dinner led to a spontaneous going-out night. It was fun, and if this can make it more clear or whatsoever, it was literally fun. So fun that I woke up next day, in the same hostel room with them, opening my hangover eyes on a strange bed and couldn’t help wondering why I did what I did. The following hours, and the journey turning back to Mandelieu (they would come there later) were weird. I felt ashamed.

But what for, really?

I woke up next to people I see almost to my family, it could have been worse. I did not do anything reckless, as some other times. I simply loosened up, and allowed the joy bubble sucking me in. But I felt ashamed. I had not been socialising that much for the last month. Maybe, it was the alien feeling then. I hoped so.

When they arrived at Mandelieu, my thoughts were forced to stop. I needed to be a host. I lied on the bed that night with my friends, and the awkward vibe was lying in between us again. I kept wondering why, when I was brought back to many times before when we were so closed, and talked so deeply into lives we would never be control of. Next days passed by more easily. I was opening up again, if those were right words to describe. I talked, shared a bit, laughed, sometimes stayed quiet for resting my head from the unnecessary thinkings. Most importantly, I let myself being driven back to my life I flee from, my Jyvaskyla. In the last night they were here, I and my friend took an evening walk, towards those deep convos we used to have. There were moments we opposed to each other. I couldn’t understand why she said what she said, and most importantly, I couldn’t understand why I could not see what she saw. I was not furious, but I did think of withdrawing again. I was glad she didn’t let me. The ending note was reached by our agreement of “not trying to make sense of everything“.

I agreed of “not being so hard on myself, and not running, and that I have done more than I can see“. And she agreed of “being so judgmental sometimes, she couldn’t embrace the differences, and that she was not perfect herself either, but she wanted to help“. So maybe I have indeed changed, or I have not yet let go of 1000 layers of emotions, or we are reaching a point where two closed friends start to drift apart in their world’s perspectives; I still felt wholly being there next to her. I forgot, you know, that everyone needs people.

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Our last time on Mandalieu beach

 

They left yesterday. Hearing their steps echoing in the wind, I wanted to cry. I know I would miss them for the next few days. I know I would tend to clean, to busy my mind out of such emptiness. Most of all, I know that I was a bit scared of loneliness, and my inability to fight inner battles alone again.

Starting of this post is difficult, as well as the reason to have it here instead of my personal journal. I got interrupted in this point here to go seeing a concert. I became a thinker again flowing within the music of Edith Piaf. I kept wondering why. It might have been that time was not enough. One week sounded enough for a holiday but it was not enough for me to share with them. I had trucks carrying loads of things and if I have to unload somewhere, there should only be while with them. It also might have been I like hanging around with people and not good being alone or strong as I wish I am.

So, when I came home an hour ago, watched Friends (as usual), the episode of “The one with George Stephanapoulos“, a bell was ringing in my head. These friends are my Magic Beans (if you are Friends’ fan, you will know what I mean; if you are not a fan, I am sure you might know the show and the episode anyway). And I would be so damned one day if I let them pass away now. At least, I would like to believe they would still be there.

I guess, behind all those imperfect words and long expressions, I just hope your reading this helps you see, it is okay to need people. I have been told, taught and reminded continuously, human beings are created for connections—a connection we should embrace, instead of blurring it. It does taste bad, the flavour of being misunderstood or being judged on; but I can see now it does not taste much better, the flavour of loneliness when you need [magic beans] the most.

Jyväskylä and 1000 questions to answer (2)

I cannot believe I have been delaying this quest for such a long time. It has been hectic, well, comparing to my other hectic period, it has been not so much hectic but it has been hectic enough for me and my brain, in this particular difficult time. I have been back and forth on the roller coaster, and sometimes on the big wheel going around the circle. Going along with me is my feeling towards this city. Anyway, let’s continue with the quest.

Can you measure what you see? Height? Length? Breadth? Weight? Why does it have to be these dimensions? What shapes do you see? Are they tall and slender? Are they round? Are they flat and wide? Are they square? Are they symmetrical or asymmetrical?

No I can’t actually measure what I see with particular metric measurements. I usually walk around the city and measure the view with my feeling for its beauty. Sometimes, the view is grey but I measure it with my mood ruler and as rare as it might be, the view then can turn to be yellowish brighter in my head. I walked around this city, the same routes over and over again, which I would never imagine in my last year (possibly last time being here), new memories are still drawn up, added to whole picture.

But Jyväskylä  is not a flat city, unlike Breda in the Netherlands. It goes up and down, also like a roller coaster. The part that is most flat would be the main lake, I don’t think it exactly lie in the middle of the city, but I’d like to think so. I’d like to think every time I walk home or invite friends over to my place, I told them, you are about to go to the other side of the city, or you are at the other end of the bridge, it’s a different world over here. It is true on some levels, as in my area, I rarely bump into people I know from school or work. I have two closed friends living near here, and of course my flatmates. That would sump up it. I would not worry accidentally running into anyone. I feel as if this side of the bridge is for me, and whatever happened to me, bad feelings, confusion, or bitter-sweet memories remain on the other side of the bridge. Below is the picture of my side of city, on a almost-full moon night.

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Usually the shapes I see are tall and slender. High buildings. Trees. Then they are also flat and wide. Blue wide sky. Lakes. Long roads. In the winter, there exists many foot steps into the snow, as if some kid is trying to draw something artistic on a white painting with no clue what he/she wants to draw. After winter, when spring fever starts to appear, like now, snow melts. More brown weird shapes of snow lies along the street, in this or that corner. Even so, I don’t think people pay much attention to those when there is a round bright Mr. Sun in the sky.

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So yesterday, I walked home with my best friend and I realised I only had one week left before I flew to France. The “graduation feeling” rose up even higher. I realised I had spent 4 years in this city, changing from someone I barely recall existing before to this new person that I am on a quest to find again. We talked a bit about how it was being here on the first few days, in the first month. Something tightened inside me. I am going to miss this city, as much as I am going to miss all the days, weeks, months I spent within it. Something else even tightened more when I told myself when I would come back here. I tried to recall whether I had such same feeling when I left Vietnam, I mean, I was born and lived there for even more longer amount of time. Back then, the excitement of the world half across the globe might have blurred mostly the nervous and fright. This time of moving, for first time, I feel more scared, closer to the day of moving. Something existing in here kept questioning me whether it was already time to say goodbye. But you know, I have been searching. I searched around, looked around on my every single walk home and to school. I wanted to see a sign, maybe, telling me it was still worth staying even though it seemed like not. I just still cannot find it. I do, though, recognise my original adore for Jyväskylä. Unfortunately it is not strong enough for keeping my feet on this ground. Reasons pushing me to leave, to DO something, are stronger. You might think if so, then why I am still in such a confusion. Honestly, I don’t know. But I cannot keep staying and figuring out. Something has to be done for me to figure out, right?

Maybe I won’t say goodbye just yet. Maybe I’ll keep that goodbye until I am ready to do so.

Jyväskylä and 1000 questions to answer (1)

Remember 1000 potential thousands questions about the city I quoted before? I woke up today with an idea, thanks to some sips of coffee and some browsing up and down my own blog. I was urged to share more about Jyväskylä, and because maybe I should. I am about to leave it again, stating all the reasons why I can’t stay. But it is not the city getting worse. It is just the city getting too beautiful for my sorrow memory to stay in.

So how about answering those 1000 questions bit by bit, throughout this last month until I leave?

What does the city feel like? What does it smell of? What does it taste? What sound do you hear?

As I said, when I first arrived, the city felt nothing to me. Too much space for me to fit in. Too silent for me to hear. Sounds contrast but it was true. Once you get used to listen through the noise, somehow your brain gets freaked out when there exists no noise. Silent sometimes can become a scary thing. Now, the city feels a bit blur. My senses have been blinded in a way that I have to run the memory tape in my head or walk slower or take a deeper breath or stare a bit longer, for all the past feelings with this city rising up. Can’t say it did not help, remembering act: trying to find the first few reasons why you fall in love. Jyväskylä feels like a christmas tree, in below picture (and by the way, that one was also taken during Xmas 2014 in the city).  It has all the lights, it is blinking, it is beautiful, it is shining. However so, it is just a traditional christmas tree. There are no other light colours, except the most basic one. On top lies a start showing a bit more creative effort. And it is surrounded with snow, little white snowflakes which I always wish I have a quality camera to be able to catch the moment. In its simplest form, it is quietly beautiful.

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It smells of leaves in the fall.

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It smells of fresh blossom flowers in the summer.

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It probably tastes green in the summer too. It tastes more flavourful, with more people dressing in bright colours on the street, stepping out of home sometimes only for sitting on the stairs under the sun. It tastes a little luxury; as people are always afraid the sun might be scared away so they put whole lot effort in trying to grasp light as much as they can. It tastes like the sweats from all the bodies, sunbathing, or running.

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It tastes less flavour coming to the fall, for all the greyness wrapping everything. Even so, the core ingredients from summer is still lingered to stay. It tastes of the contrary. It smells watery, owing to the rain. It smells of the sadness from people to say goodbye to the summer and their quietness. Fall is the start of a new study year, or maybe a new job, whatever it is, the beginning of something can be stressful.

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I like the sound of ducks in the summer. They are everywhere. One was so closed to me while I was lying on the grass. Or sometimes, they were even closer to my snacks.

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And it sounds like Christmas songs in the winter, the cherry rhyme even if there plays no music around. Everyone’s moving is notes to the whole song. The rushing to department stores for Christmas presents, the busy bubble everyone is inside walking around everywhere due to all the arrangements before the holiday comes. The talking of people sitting in coffee shops, with Christmas decorations all over, to catch up with friends or relatives, possibly before they go on winter holiday somewhere warmer. The sound of staplers and wrapping paper in the bookstore. And then the sound of slow disappearance of sound itself, when it comes nearer to Christmas Even, and before I realise it, almost everyone has found a place to be for their Christmas.

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So that’s it for the first day and first attempt to give something back what I owed Jyväskylä. I hope you have also sensed what I sensed.

There is always a secret you love about your city

Today is Sunday, a normal Sunday, as usual, being lazy, and not wanting to complete anything or failing to do so. Because it is Sunday. I spent my whole Saturday yesterday studying about my thesis research, about Helsinki. I read through different secret stories revealed by the locals living there, about what they think the unique about this city is. I also had a post earlier sharing some thoughts about the city myself. So on an average Sunday morning, I realised something: have I ever shared with you the secrets of the city I am currently living in? 

I guess the answer is no. I mean, its name has probably appeared in few posts I wrote, Jyväskylä, but I doubt if I ever had one dedicated post talking about it. So then, here it is.

I have been living in this city, up to this moment, nearly 4 years. The time I actually lived here was not fully 4 years, since I spent 6 months in London, then another 6 months in Breda, the Netherlands; and some months back and forth, and some short holiday trips. But here was where I placed my first ever steps on an European country. Here was where I first ever put on this rather thick jacket for me at the time, even though it was only autumn, just because I grew up in a city having sunshine throughout 365 days a year. Here was where I had the first horrible week of sleeping alone, living alone, cooking alone, and being homesick to the maximum. Here was where I had to walk nearly 6,7 km (which is now normal to me) to the center, in order to find sheets, beds, blankets for a warmth sleep but failed. Here was where I realised, despite all of those hard first steps, I was so excited of this new life that I never thought of giving up. That was the reason I was never afraid enough. People asked me whether I was scared deciding to move across the globe, alone, right after graduation from high school. I would be damned to say I was not. Then they said even so, I was so brave. My little secret for such braveness was the excitement I could not hide. I was like a pony, who knew the moment she started running, she would fall as many times more than she expected, but she was so ready to leave the starting point. So then, if anything, that was my high peak, I was much stronger and more brave back then, than I ever could be. I told you all I owed Stockholm, for helping me realise a lost part of myself I was not able to find. Then some other good days, I would share to you how I also owed London for turning me to become more mature, how I owed Breda for letting me have this amazing Erasmus experience with my Erasmus family, and how I owed Poland for lightening up something inside me I thought was dead. Nevertheless, the place I owed the most would be this city, but I have never admitted to myself enough, because it has slowly turned to be my second home. You know how we see our homes, we only appreciate it just when we are about to leave it.

Jyväskylä, to me, is a small city. To some of my Finnish friends who came from a much smaller village or town somewhere else, it is rather big. It is placed in the central of Finland, which has approximately 132,000 people living in. The city is sometimes called a student city as well, for it has three to four main Universities: my University (JAMK University of Applied Sciences), University of Jyväskylä (JYU), AO Vocational School and I think HUMAK. Nevertheless, JAMK UAS and JYU are the most two popular education institutes attracting students around, including international ones like me. Unlike JAMK UAS, JYU does not offer English Bachelor Degree, only Master Degree; and there are quite a lot of students worldwide coming to study in this University. It is rather popular for its quality. Initially, I chose JAMK UAS to study in my field, since I thought it was the closet one to what I like to pursue for my career: event management. I got accepted to another University called North Karelia for International Business degree; but I was not sure back then what I would actually study in that field and what I would actually like to do after graduating. I spent 3 years of high school, doing something I was told the best to, not something I wanted to, and I paid the price for it. I did not want to do the same for University. Back then, I thought I figured everything all out, turning out that it was only a tiny small step into this adult world, where everything is sort of always mixed up and never based according to the plan.

I arrived to the city when it was weekend. I literally did not spend much time reading about Finnish culture. I rarely did those kinds of things, maybe I always enjoy a bit of surprise or I was just too disorganised to be prepared 100%. I read little about Finnish people; but the fact that weekends were usually empty outside, was not in my prepared mindset. Coming from a place where everyone has the habit of pouring out on the streets on Sundays, to see friends and spend time with family and so forth, I found Jyväskylä nearly a “dead city” during that first weekend. Everything was so quiet. The roads were too empty. I had too much space. You might laugh now a bit if you have had experiences with Finland and Finnish culture. I was not comfortable with the luxury of free space around me, at first. Now, I do. In fact, now and then, I find myself demanding for one, this is how adaptation to a new home affects you, you might not even recognise how much it has changed you.

It was autumn, a bit chilly for me; however so, it was beautiful. Leaves were lining on the streets, and gathering at the end of almost every trees. Nature is the most amazing thing about Finland. I did not have nature closed to me that much in my home city in Vietnam. And in spite of years getting accustomed to life in Finland, I always find myself in awe facing with the nature beauty. This kind of beauty, is never enough to experience. Autumn is when the contrast is allowed in its free form. You might find a tree having two colours at the same time, half is red and half is green. I live in this area called Kuokkala, passing across the main bridge of the city, to go to school, center or anywhere else. It was a big challenge in first few months, even near to a disaster with all the walking and time wasting. Now, I see it as a lucky charm I was given. The bridge is one of my favourite spots in the city. I witness the changes of nature beauty every time I cross the bridge. It is either the autumn, when I can see the forest further away with two colours, some yellow dots, some green touches, and the almost perfect stillness of the lake. The reflection is most resembled to a mirror.

 

Or it can be winter time, and I called it Winter Wonderland, when I saw the lake from the point it was only water to the point the surface started to be frozen, and then filled with snow above; and when spring time comes, people begin to skate. Speaking of spring time, it is another time contrast appears: the sun shines above and the white snow under are not melted but glowing with light yellow tone. These pictures below do not showcase my description, but they are the amazing moments I capture, explaining why I call my city a Winter Wonderland.

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But summer time. Summer is extremely luxury in Finland, when the sun is shining proudly in that blue sky and white clouds. And you might think such view could be so cliche; but all I can see in my home city when I lifted up my head, was electrical wires and skyscrapers, then, this cliche view is yet still fascinating. The summer time is also when everything turns to be so alive, you can feel it in the wind, the people you come across, and it can make me form an unconscious smile on my face. Summer time does not allow you to be sad or depressed, as it is too short for such thinkings. You gotta enjoy while you can. The summer 2014 was my first summer time in Finland, and I spent almost whole three months being alone, and searching for soft touches of mother nature. I found new other favourite spots, as you might see from these pictures.

 

I love living in a country where there exists 4 seasons, the diversity in life. Weather in Jyväskylä is as much unpredictable as other cities in Finland. I woke up on days when there was heavy rain or fog in middle of summer time.

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Or a fog storm on a fall day, too.

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The best thing of all, is summer nights. I am a huge fan of summer nights. Here is what I wrote on a random summer night for my Tumblr old blog.

I love the summer nights. Don’t you? I love when it is chilly kind of way cold, and then the sky is so dark you can see the stars blinking. And comes along the low and faded noises of people half far away half near talking, drinking celebrating summer parties. Recently, I had three different moments of summer nights. The first was when I still got him lying next to me, after a romantic dinner, and I was happy enough everything went still. We then got called to go to the center by a friend. The quiet night became another party. We got into some small fights during the time. But moments we rode the bikes together to and back from the center were perfect. I had him.
The second time was one week after he left. I was alone in the place where there used to be an “us”. I stood in the balcony, and the sky above was sparkling with purple, and there were noises from all the young people driving motorbikes, from cars and from people talking. Everything was different kind of stillness. Because I missed him, all the nerves went numb.
The third one was few moments after I turned 21. I was again standing in the balcony, back to my home in Finland. And the sky was fully with white dots, just as the night we were sitting in the garden, looking at the stars. It was more chilly this time because it is Finland. But the coldness did not only come from there.

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The beauty does not only stop there. Days, nights, but also evenings, during which there are light pinky sweeping lines in the blue background sky. Those moments I feel as if I can just be still, being sucked in the views. I find no hurry in life, find no worries. I had almost all these moments being in Jyväskylä. The first year I spent here, was me finding my ways into new life, challenging and exciting. I then left to London in the first summer, returned with big nostalgia for England. Bit by bit throughout spring time, I loosened up, being slower re-enjoying this city with much different self. I left during Christmas 2014, for exchange in the Netherlands. I returned in summer time, and again, allowed myself bit by bit returning to quiet vibe of Jyväskylä. The fall started with many events, fastening me in unexpected way again. Though, that is the key thing of this city. I move back and forth. I turn from this one self to another self, and every time I leave it, then return, I always find a difference. It is as if, the city does not have to change; but only how I see it, changes.

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Just for a random Sunday, feeling blessed to share the quiet secrets of this slow-paced city.