25 October 2015

My 24th birthday

I was actually originally going to post this as a part of the previous post, but I suppose the occasion requires its own post. So, as the title gives away, it is actually my birthday today. As of today, I am 24 years old. Which is a good age number, since 24 is one of my top favourite TV-shows of all time, haha.

My birthday tradition for few years (since 2009 actually) has been to organize a little photoshoot for myself. I hate being in front of a camera and I am not one of those selfie-takers, so this annual photoshoot is one of the only times I take photos of myself. So it is kind of a big deal to me. This year however, I am currently living in a hostel in a shared room, so setting up my photoshoot is not a very practical idea, plus I am already uncomfortable enough taking photos myself, let alone with audience. So my photoshoot will be delayed until 3.11. I will more of celebrate my birthday then.

Since I do not have new photos for this birthday (yet), let's post couple of old photos!

This first one I do not know exactly when it has been taken, but according to my father it is from a photoshoot (taken by a professional) for my first birthday. He does not remember if it was taken exactly on my birthday, but very close at least. I have recently posted this on my Instagram and Facebook (oh yeah, I have one of those nowdays), but I just want to post it here too, because this photo always makes me laugh!

Making evil plans since 1991. Okay, this photo was taken in 1992 obviously, but you get the idea.

This other one I took in 2012, on my 21st birthday. This is for some reason one of my favourite photos ever taken of me.

Twenty years between those two photos! Are you able to recognize it is the same person? I will post a new comparison photo once I take the photos for this year too.

On a conclusion: Happy birthday to me.

My new life

Hello World (or at least my blog)! Mariya here, long time no see. Oh, where to start. It has been about three months (is it really that long! That's what she said..) since my latest blog post and a lot of things has happened since. It would be literally impossible to show them all into one blog post, but let's give a quick sum up:

1. I moved to Aarhus, Denmark
2. I started at the university

Okay, that is a pretty short sum up, but these two facts cause that I have had very eventful months. I will definitely want to write more about these things, as I have mentioned before, so we will get more deep into these matters little by little. But let's start with this short notice message.

When I most recently blogged, I did not realise it wouldn't be for a while until I blogged again. I assumed I would always have time for blogging, since I truly enjoy writing, but it turned out not. August was a very stressful month, since I needed to start preparing for moving, even when I did not even have a apartment or anywhere to move into. Moving to another country is always stressful, and I can say that if you have no idea where you are going, it is even more stressful. So, how did that end up? I will soon write a blog post about my arrival to Denmark.

But yes, I was way too stressed and worried about moving and starting at university during August, that I could simply not write even if I had some time for it. A lot of my time during my last weeks in Finland, went to organizing my things (I got rid of most of things, or left them with my father to be sold in a flea market) and stressing.

After arriving Aarhus, you can believe I was even more stressed with constant living place issues and the start of school. On top of that I left that piece of shit, which use to be known as my laptop, back in Finland, which made blogging decently hard. It took me couple of weeks to find that perfect computer and convince myself to spend so much money on it (meet Tonni here, or on the other maybe I will blog about her later on).

I do not say that I have time for blogging now, because I am constantly super-busy with school stuff, studying from morning until late at evening six days in a week, but since I truly enjoy writing, I will make time for blogging and writing. I do not know how much I will have time to write, but I will at least write. I am FINALLY getting a permanent place to live in 8 days, so maybe that helps something. We will see.

I have so many things to write about, that I have no idea where to start from! I promise there is lots of interesting things to come up (living in a foreign country, what I found weird about Denmark, university studies...), so stay tuned!

31 July 2015

University admission!

Yep, that is a (lovely Instagram) photo of the university admission letter I received today! Actually, I checked the university's website yesterday to find out I was admitted, but I wanted to wait for the letter before announcing it. And I just confirmed that I take the study place offered, so I am officially going to university this Autumn! It is not a huge surprise, but let's give it a round of wohoos.

So, in just a month (!!!) I will be starting at the university. The university I got accepted into is in Aarhus, Denmark and it was my number one option, so it worked out perfectly. There is so much things I need to do before, most importantly get an apartment! Bank account, telephone subscription, bed... All the things I am going to need! August is going to be so hectic.

I know I have not been very active on this blog lately, but now it is to change. I have had not much to blog about recently, but obviously with this new chapter in my life lots of interesting things are going to happen. This is exactly the reason why I originally started this blog: To follow my journey living in a foreign country and other things related. So now we are getting to the point! I am still wondering about starting vlogging, but at least here in this blog, I will be talking about my experiences.

This post may seem a bit messy, but that is how my head feels like currently with so many things to take in consideration. But there is definitely lots and lots of interesting things to come starting from 1st of September, so stay tuned!

30 July 2015

Finnish school system basics

[This post has no photos as of yet, but will receive them later on. As of now, my computer is not cooperating well, since somebody (read: me) spilled a glass of water on it. Please bear with me until the problem is solved!]

Since in my previous post I talked about my university entrance examination and about the Finnish higher education application system, this felt like a good time to take a deeper look into Finland's education system. This blog is not just about my life, but I also want to feature things from the Nordic life style. Obviously since this is still my blog, these things will be talked about from my point of view and personal experiences. For more proper text, try Wikipedia or something. If you want to read about these things from somebody's who has experienced these things point of view, this blog is here for you. Hmm.. I think I just wrote something that should be in this blog's introduction (once I finally finish that)!

I do not want to write a dry, boring post and will of course feature my own comments and experiences. The main focus is on the high school system, since this post is part of my high school related posts and it is the one I mostly want to talk about.

[Here will be a photo]

In Finland students start their schooling the year they turn 7. There are few exceptions, like when your birthday is very late that year, but I do not know much about that. In example, I started the first grade on 1998; I was still 6 years old when the school began, but turned 7 in couple of months. Before the beginning of the primary school, children can take preschool for a year. Preschool is not a very serious thing, since you basically have some lessons in the middle of your kindergarten day. At least, this is how it was back in 1997, but it could have changed. I think I actually could have read that the preschool is nowdays mandatory, but I am not sure.

The primary school in Finland consist of 9 grades, three of which are upper level. The school year runs from around mid-August till late-May or early-June. The school year is divided into two parts: autumn semester and spring semester, the Christmas holiday being the divider. At the end of the autumn semester, you receive a mid-term diploma and the real diploma for that year you get at the "spring festival", which is kind of a graduation party thingy.

The difference between the first 6 and the last 3 grades of primary school is not too big. During the grade 7-9 you have more options (like choose between some subjects) and it is less class-formed; In the first grades you basically have all the lessons together with your own class. In some, most I think, places you will change the school after sixth grade, since they usually have separate schools for upper and lower grades. Many still have the same school mates, since students just usually switch to the nearest school. And of course it gets a bit more serious in the upper levels, but otherwise it is pretty much the same throughout the primary school.

[Photo to be placed here]

After graduating from primary school, Finnish youth has couple of options (I am obviously speaking on default standards here): go to high school, go to vocational school, go to work or something else. In Finland you are only required to study primary school, but after that school becomes voluntary. Since it is very hard to get a job without education and you are 15-16 when you are out of primary school, youth usually goes to either high school or vocational school. This is of course if they get in, since many schools, high schools in particular, have high grade point requirements to get into the school.

High school and vocational school are considered the "second degree". They both last 3 years on average, though you can sometimes speed up your studies, ie. by taking more classes at a time. And of course you can study on a slower pace. Particularly in high school you can affect the speed of your studies with your course selections, while in vocational school it is more predetermined. It is said that high school is more of academic studying, while in vocational school the focus is more on the practical sides. Some people argue over which one is better; in high school you study many subjects, though the hardness of the studies is respected and it is better degree while applying to higher education. Vocational school focuses only on your study subject and you graduate with a profession. In my opinion, both have their sides, but on default I would say: if you want to study on an upper level (university, etc.), high school is a better option.

I will talk more about high school after these two paragraphs, but first let's take a look of options after second degree phase. Like on the secondary level, the highest level is divided into universities and polytechnics, aka. academic vs. practical studying once again. You could say that from high school you go to university and from vocational school to polytechnic, though this is not accurate by all. Of course some do not even study on a higher level, especially after polytechnic. There are entrance examination to everything, besides high school, and you tend to need high GPA, so not everyone who wants to get to study in a university or a polytechnic.

You apply to universities and polytechnics through same means, so they basically are very similar study options. Only majors differences are that for my knowledge polytechnics have less possibilities for master's degree -likes, while in universities master's degree is the main thing. In Finnish universities you actually get accepted to both bachelor and master degree the same time, so you do not have to apply again for the master's program, if you wish to carry on studying. Bachelor's degree takes 3 years, master's 2, though this can be affected by your course choices and studying speed. On default, getting polytechnic degree takes more time than university. My knowledge for the higher education comes from secondary sources, since I have not studied in it, so I do not think it is fitting for me to say much about it in this post.

[Another photo spot; please bear with me!]

And now finally the high school part. If a student goes to high school straight from primary school, they usually start high school at age of 16. Besides regular high schools, there is also ones for adults, usually known as "evening high school", since the classes usually are held at evening, due to many of the students being at work during daytime. Many evening high schools have an age limit of 18, so underage students can not get in, unless perhaps in a some special circumstances. In Finland, there is also an option to study both high school and vocational diplomas at the same time, though this usually takes longer and is obviously harder. Those studying for a so called "double degree", usually take their high school lessons at the evening high school, even if they are underage.

As it is clear from reading this blog, I studied in an evening school, so mostly my experiences are from there. Though the differences are not that big, since we are talking on the basic level. The biggest difference is that in evening high school, you need less courses to graduate and the unnecessary crap is cut out (aka. gymnastics, arts...). In Finnish high school, students continue mostly the same subjects as on the primary school. Here is a list of the subjects and on parentheses how many courses you need to study each:

Mother tongue and literature (6)
Second national language (6)
Foreign language (6 on A level, 5 on B level)
Mathematics (10 on higher level, 6 on basic level)
Physics (1)
Chemistry (1)
Biology (2)
Geography (2)
History (4)
Social studies (2)
Philosophy (1)
Psychology (1)
Religion / Ethics (3) *you can pick which of these you study
Gymnastics (2)
Music / Art (1-2)
Health education (1)
Student counselling (1)

I think that gives you an approximate idea what Finnish students study in primary school and high school. You need 75 courses to graduate, so you need to take electives besides the mandatory courses. Since besides getting the high school diploma, Finnish students need to also take part in "finals" aka. matriculation exams, many students take electives on those subjects they take their finals on. There are electives outside this list too, but mostly it is these subjects.

The "finals" are held twice each year and you can decide when you part-take, though mostly students take their finals on the spring they graduate, though many spread their final examination, ie. taking half in Autumn, half in Spring. You need to write at least four subjects; Mother tongue and literature (in Finland there is three national languages) is mandatory unless you are a foreigner as then you must write Finnish as secondary language. The other three mandatory subjects you pick from: Second national language (Swedish to most), Foreign language, Mathematics or one from most of the other subjects. You can not ie. write multiple foreign languages as mandatory subjects. For example my subjects were Mother tongue and literature, English, Mathematics and History. The Finnish high school finals seem to be impossible to put in short, but I hope you got at least some idea.

I think that is most of it. This post only dealt with basics of Finnish education system; There are of course many other things that could have taken noticed, like the double degree option and apprenticeship, but this post is already very long as it is and I do not want to bore people. I know I said I would feature my own experiences too, but gosh how long this post is already! Perhaps I will make a sequel, if anybody wants me to. More information is of course available in the depths of the internet and you can always ask me, if there is something you want to know more about!

18 June 2015

University entrance examination

About two weeks ago, on 3.6. to be precise, I took part in my first ever (and obviously hopefully the last) university entrance examination. Now I want to write about the experience. Perhaps this post will help somebody who is about the have an entrance examination by giving an example of how things go or perhaps somebody will find this as an interesting look into the (Finnish) university world.

I applied to study business in various Finnish universities, so obviously this post is related to that. I know many other subjects have different types of entrance examinations and different schools have different procedures, but perhaps this post gives some kind of imagine what the exams could be like. I will also tell about my feeling throughout the day.

I would assume that somebody applying to study business, would have enough English skills to read this post, but if it would help anybody I can of course translate my thoughts into Finnish too. And I of course answer all questions, both Finnish and English.

As a background info, here is how the application and entrance examination systems work: In Finland there is a joint application system (other Nordic countries too, give or take on Iceland). This means that you send one application during each application time. In spring you apply to start the next autumn and in autumn the next spring. Most university programs (the progress is the same with secondary schools too) start in autumn, so spring is the main application time. In the application form you can apply to seven different programs, in both universities and polytechnics. You put your desired programs in a preference order; This means that if you get offered a place in the school you put first, you can not be offered a spot in the others. So, you get offered a place in the school that is the highest placed on your list of those schools that you are eligible to get into.

Some programs require an entrance examination, some do not. With business programs, there is a joint examination: All the business schools work together, so that you only have to take one exam and not a separate one for each school you applied to. (Though some specialty business degrees have their separate exams. These are usually the programs taught in English, so they have an English entrance examination.) You take the exam at the school you put as your first choice.

I put Turku as my first choice, even though the degree taught in Kuopio is my number one preference. This was because: 1. The city of Kuopio is so complicated to get into, that it would have been very expensive to get there (I would have had to stay at a hotel and take two or three trains to each direction) and 2. Turku has so high points required to enter, that I would not get those. Turku is also easy to get to (easy as only 12 hour train ride to each direction), so I decided to do my exam there. I could have put some closer location as my first opinion too, but those had lower point requirements, so I would be in risk of getting there instead of Kuopio that I put as second.

So after a sleepless night (I can not sleep in a train), I headed to Turku University.

Turku University's Business School

Honestly, I am not that interested on studying in Finland (in this post I talked more about this), so I was not very motivated to read the books. And since I was half asleep (I literally almost fell asleep couple of times and I never have fallen asleep while sitting up nor in a crowded room), I most likely messed up the entire exam. Oh well.

The first thing I did at the university was to find out where I was doing the exam. Since Turku University has so many applicants, they are spread out the campus to do the exam. The applicants are put into places alphabetically, so finding your place is easy. I came there almost an hour early, so I had some time to kill. I actually kind of wished that I had not, since I tend to get really nervous if I just stand there and wait for the exam to start. At least I had some problems to solve, like my soaking feet; At was a downpour a bit before while I was out walking towards the university, so my shoes and socks got all wet. Solution? I bought dry socks from a nearby store and changed to those. After that I was that creep who walked around the university in her socks (of course I did not put the wet shoes back on). I probably looked like an idiot, but thankfully I have stopped caring a long time ago. :D

Around the time the exam was to start there was a name call. I was a bit nervous, since I am fairly shy person and my throat was so sore that I could not really get a word out (I forgot to take a throat pastille until it was too late to do that). Luckily I survived with at least some dignity (okay, holding my wet shoes in my hands was not very dignified and made it hard for me to pick up the paper I was handed to). If you are nervous about the name call, my tip is to stand close to the person you are suppose to answer to. That way you do not have to yell "present" from all the way across the hallway. I purposely made my way closer when it was time for the name call.

Couple interesting points about the name call. I noticed a lot of the people called, were not even there; I was the seventh to enter the examination room and like over 20th to be called. This surprised me a lot actually. Other thing was that it took a long time, around twenty minutes. It was very boring to sit there and wait for it to end. I remember listening to the names and it felt like it was going to drag on forever (I remembered the last name to be called from the sitting order)! Who knew there were so freaking many people with the last name Häkkinen... It took about 20 minutes to get through the name call.

After everyone was seated, it was time for the instructions. Everybody needed to check their papers, calculators (you can only bring pencils and rubber with you, everything else is given to you) and sign the answer sheet simultaneously. The examination began at 10.22.

The examination books

The questions are on a pile of paper and you need to mark your answers on a optical answer sheet ( = you black the correct circle). They give you proper instructions on how to do everything, so I would not be worried about that. In Finland, the business school exams include only multiple choice questions. Most of the questions had four options, though there were also true and false questions. This may make the exam sound easy, but some of the questions were very complex and the answer options can fool you around. Also the calculator you get is very basic, so you need to be able to do the math parts without proper calculator.

In the train I actually heard somebody talking about the exam they had taken and I was very lucky I did not have to do that. They were applying to social work program, I think. They had been giving a 40-page pile of papers in the exam (I am fairly sure it was forty, though it could have been even more) and told to read it and answer the essay questions (four questions, some with multiple sections, if I recall correctly) based on the text. I am very slow reader, so I would have not even finished the papers in the four hour exam time, let alone had time to write my answers. I suppose this works very well for some, but for me this sounds like a nightmare.

In the business examinations, they give a list of the books the questions will be based on like a half year prior. You need to study three books and the things taught in a high school economic mathematics course, so overall four books (unless you did the mandatory math course in high school). This requires a lot work, so for some the exam type mentioned in the previous paragraph would sound more preferred.

You get one point for correct answer in the multiple choice questions and half a point in the true/false questions. For a wrong answer you lose half of what points you would receive for a correct answer. You can leave as many questions as you like unanswered. Unanswered questions do not take away any points. There are different amount of points granted for different books, so I myself focused more on those that gave more points.

The examination lasted for four hours. You can take a supervised bathroom break, though they advise you not to. You can not bring food or drinks to the examination room, so I at least became very hungry towards the end of the exam (even though I ate a protein bar just before the name call) and it too affected my performance. I sat on the first row right in the middle (they seated you in the name call order and I was amongst the first ones), which I found a bit bothering since the supervisors sat right opposite to me. Also, when people handed over their papers to the supervisors and talked to them, they did it right in front of me. This bothered my focus occasionally and I definitely had one of the worst seats of the room, if not the worst.

You can leave a hour after the exam starts. I sat there the entire time and find it hard to believe anyone could finish in just one hour. Since I could hear what they talked with the supervisor while handing in their papers, I believe that the most of whom left early were there because they had to and had no interest on getting into the school. Some also asked for a paper proofing that they were there to give to army, so I assume some also had participated to skip a day of army. It seems pretty much all of those that requested the proof of presence paper, left very early on, which just backs up my theory.

Well, like I said I probably messed up since I was so unfocused for multiple reasons and not well-enough prepared. But it is all good, just as long as I get into some Danish school I applied to. The results come about a month after the examination (they handed everyone a paper with dates and instructions about the results). I am interested to see how it went, but I bet not that well. At least I am one experience richer now.

Somewhere in this sucking photo taken through moving train's window, you can spot a rainbow I saw while heading home. A good sign?

I think that was about that. At least I now can not think of anything else to say on this matter. If you have any questions, I will try to answer them as good as I can!

08 June 2015


This is a fairly short post to announce in this blog a somewhat major point in my life: I have officially graduated from high school!

The official graduation day was 29.5. or 30.5., but since I do not live anymore at the city where my school is, I did not participate the graduation ceremony. But I did visit Turku last Wednesday, 3.6., for my university entrance examination (more about that later!). While I was there anyway, I had arranged for me to go pick up my certificates and hat from the school, so I received them few days ago.

I am very pleased with the grades I received and many people have been quite surprised by how well I did. When I went to pick up my hat and certifications, I was actually surprised: I received a stipend for doing so well in the school!! I was really taken back, since I had not expected this at all! It was not any huge amount of money (in my opinion it was a lot, but overall), but it was more of a symbolic value to me, since I have never received any stipends or such. I am afraid that I was so stunned, that when the office clerk handed the stipend to me, I did not show any gratitude for receiving it. Which is definitely not the case, since I am very happy and thankful for receiving it!

The Finnish student cap, aka ylioppilaslakki

Nordic fact of the day: When Finnish students (I believe this is the case with other Nordic countries too) graduate they receive a student cap to commemorate the occasion. Or actual students buy them themselves or their relatives buy them one. In my case, I received my cap from my school for free, since there is a foundation who donates those to all the students from my school. The hat is usually worn at May Day celebrations, which in Finland celebrates workers and students.

It feels kind of weird that this part of my life is over now. I still can remember when I was just considering the option of going to high school, around three years ago. Three years felt like a forever then, but I am surprised how fast in the end it went. As cliché as this may sound, but I learned a lot in the school and (as hard as it may be for me to admit) I think I grew up as a person, even though I was already an adult when I started. At least I learned that I can be a good student and learn things properly.

I learned a lot about many other things too:
I learned a whole new language (okay, I studied Swedish in primary school too, but could not remember anything when entering high school studies) and found out I am actually very good at mathematics. I learned appreciation towards physics and chemistry; I still do not like them, but understand more (my physics number went up from primary school 5 to 9, and chemistry from 7 to 10!).

Hmm.. perhaps I should have photographed the translation of the high school certification! (I have not yet received a translation for the matriculation certificate)

And most importantly my GPA went up from primary school 7 to 9.7 (9.666666666666667 to be exact)! This was the most important thing to me, since I went to high school just to get good papers, in order to get into an university. I have applied throughout the years to different schools with my primary school papers (vocational schools, obviously not universities), but since they have been bad (Just to clarify, the highest grade mark in Finland is 10, 4 being lowest with 5 being the lowest pass grade.) I have not usually been even invited to entrance exams. I believe with these papers I should be getting into an university!

I think that is all I wanted to write! I know I said in the beginning that this is going to be a fairly short post, but it seems I had more to say than I originally thought. Well, three years is a long time, so of course there is things to say about that time. Since this blog kind of wants to also introduce the Nordic culture and lifestyle, I want to write more about Finnish (high) school system. I also feel like writing some kind of motivation post, even though I tend to not like those. And also that university entrance examination post is coming up. So more about this subject is yet to come!

27 May 2015

Why do I blog in English?

When a blogger, that does not speak English as their first language, starts a blog they need to decide on which language they will write. Obviously, if the blogger speaks only one language or if the target audience of the blog is specific to a certain country, the decision is simple. But when the starting blogger speaks more than one language and does not seek specific audience, which language should they blog in?

For me it was really not a question. Finnish is my mother tongue, but I speak excellent English (if my writing ability makes this statement look unauthentic, it is more because of my slight case of dyslexia rather than English abilities). My Swedish and Japanese skills are not worth of taken into account here. Obviously I could blog in Finnish, but that was really not an option to me. I wanted to blog specifically in English for couple of reasons.


Well, like I have mentioned in this blog I hope to start university this Autumn and study in Denmark. In Denmark I would be studying completely in English. This obviously requires very, very good English skills; Obviously the business terms I would need to learn from about the beginning in any language, but reading the school books and writing essays and such in English would require very good English skills.

I already prefer to read in English, so I am not too much worried about the reading part. I did very good in my high school English and I wrote a lot in English before my blog too, but in high school I got use to writing in Finnish. I want to get more use to writing lots of text in English too. Writing essays and professional text is obviously very different from writing social media and forum posts. So I kind of want to use my blog as an English writing practice.

At first when I started blogging, it took me longer to write and I checked a dictionary all the time. It was not that my English was lacking, since I pretty much every time knew the word I was checking, but I was just insecure. I have noticed that I have now become more confident with writing in English in these few months I have been blogging. I write so much faster and I rarely use dictionary (and when I do, it is about some rare word that you almost never use, like terms related to some subject). I know my blog posts do not have perfect English, but that is because I write for fun and do not really proofread. To my university essays I would of course put more effort.

Even if a person did not have great English or any other language skills to start with, using the language of course makes them better. I have quite often heard that somebody has gone to a foreign country with barely any language knowledge and in just few months they have achieved fluency. Using the language most certainly does help with getting and practicing the skills. And of course me wanting to get better at writing English does not relate to just school, but to life beyond school too.


Besides getting better at writing in English, I also want to write in English for sharing reasons. This blog, and my other blog, or to possibly help somebody or share something interesting with people. The Finnish speaking blog reading audience is very small; There are obviously lots and lots of more people speaking English in this world (even big part of Finns reading blogs speak English), so if I want to share my stories and such with people, writing in English can reach so many more readers.

For me getting readers is not any goal, but I still want my blog to be available to any of those who would be interested in subjects I blog about. I do not think that many from Finland would be interested on my blogging subjects, but from worldwide audience there is obviously more of those who could find my blog helpful or entertaining. The main themes in my blog (at least from autumn onward, hopefully) will relate to moving into a foreign country and what problems and such I will face there. Since for many moving to a foreign country means having to speak English, it is a fitting language to blog in.

So, overall my reasons to blog in English are: 1. to become more confident at writing in English ahead of university studies, 2. to make my blog available as many interested readers as possible. I never really saw a point in blogging in Finnish, since in the future I will be mostly writing in English and the people who could be interested in my blog are most likely to speak English anyway. Now that I have gotten more use to writing in English, I find no reason why I should blog in Finnish. Actually, I find it easier to write in English, for whatever reason.

Just for fun let's mention that Blogger's spell-check found (I write in a separate program and then copy-paste it into Blogger) six spelling mistakes in this post: available x2, foreign x3 (oh, how ironic!) and onward (is it really written without s in the end?). This obviously does not count if I have in my carelessness written a completely different word in some point, but still a very good total, haha. I have actually noticed that native speakers tend to make more mistakes than foreigners. Maybe they realize that you do not have to write perfectly when blogging.

13 May 2015

My experience with birth control pills

At first I want to make it clear that I am not a health care or medicine professional or anything! All the things said in this post are based on my own personal experiences, things I have read and things I remember being told by health care professionals. This post is just about my experiences, so some facts can be wrong and you should not take this as professional advice. Every human is different, so even if this is how it went with me, there is no saying how things work with others.

I just recently quit on taking birth control pills, which I ate for about a year. When I was considering on if I should start taking them, what side effects could I get and other things like that, I searched information and stories from internet. I obviously also saw a professional who prescribed the pills for me, but I also wanted to read actual experiences. I feel that you do not always get realistic answers from health care staff, who are being told what they are suppose to say. I wanted to read about real experiences that are not affected by medicine companies or such.

That is also why I wanted to write this post. Because I searched information from blogs and found some helpful posts, I feel need to share my experience too in case if it could help somebody else. But like I said, I am not a professional and even if in your country you do not need to see a doctor before getting the pills, I advice you to do so.

If you are not interested on this matter and do not want to read about medical stuff and such, stop reading here.


I have in the past suffered from extremely painful menstruation pains (so freaking bad that I only could lay in bed crying and once I lost my consciousness). It was not every single time that I have huge pains, but usually there were lots of pains. Last autumn and this spring I had my high school finals and a year ago I started to worry: What if my periods come during the days of the finals? (My cycle is irregular, so I could not know.) If they were to be very painful, there would be no way for me to actually do the exams. I could not miss the finals, so I needed to find a solution, which ended up being the birth control pills.

I went to see a nurse (I think it was a nurse, but I am not sure) who could prescribe me the pills. I asked some questions that were on my mind and she explained very, VERY thoroughly everything (even if I said I knew these things and she also drew multiple detailed pictures of uterus and other organs...). She recommend me the pills and even though she seemed to know her stuff, I was also left with an impression that it was her job to sell me those pills... I still felt a bit uneasy about the pills, but after looking for experiences from the internet and being too worried about the finals+periods combination, I decided to start taking them.

I started taking birth control pills on 14.5.2014.


A week after starting the pills I tweeted that "I've had constant: terrible headache, nausea, stomach aches, fatigue and huge craving for chocolate. Feels horrible." I could not even exaggerate how bad my headaches and nausea were then; They were absolutely horrendous, the headache especially. I am not sure if cravings are common symptoms, but I remember my craving for chocolate was unbelievable. All this of course affected my ability to study and to do basically anything.

The symptoms started very soon after the first pill. For the first weeks it was constant and absolutely horrible. Towards the end of the first set of pills (24 days), it started to happen so that the symptoms got a tiny bit better towards the end of the day (I took the pills around 9 PM), but after taking the next pill they worsened again. During the first "in between days", I felt a bit better and the idea of having to start the pills again felt so darn repulsive. But I hoped that since the side effects had started to show signs of getting better, they would eventually do so.

And luckily they did. The symptoms started to lessen to the point when I only got headaches just after taking the pill. I think at the end of the second set of pills, it was already that much better and eventually I stopped completely having the headaches after taking the pill. So even though the beginning side effects were absolutely horrendous, they stopped fairly soon. They would still put me off starting the pills again.

The most common side effect that I came across being said about birth control pills was that they cause mood swings and can even change woman's personality (One story that I particularly remember said that the woman had been eating the pills for years and when she stopped it was like she was a whole another person; She became a lot nicer and did not get angry all the time like she did before. Many others described that quitting the pills felt like a fog had been lifted off their brains). These worried me the most.

Well, did the pills change my personality or caused mood swings? I think that the answer is yes. I did not get angry or felt like my personality had changed much, but throughout the experience of taking the pills I felt very depressed and disinterested on everything. I did not notice it at first, but after sometime it became obvious: I did not care as much about my grades as I did before, I lost all my interest on things I had previously been so excited about, etc.. Although I did not notice it immediately, I later on realized that it had started when I started taking the pills, so for me it seems obvious that this was caused by the pills.


With the pills, I managed to do my finals without periods, so they served their purpose. After the last of the finals, I finished the set of pills I was taking and stopped there. I took the last pill on 29.3.2015, so a month and a half ago.

If I did read horror stories on starting the pills and being on them, I read as many about quitting them; How quitting messed up the hormones and cycles completely, massive gushes of blood, horrendous pains, etc... I got so scared that I almost felt like not quitting them at all. But I really did not want to keep on eating them, so I prepared myself for the worse.

To my surprise I have not suffered from any symptoms after quitting the pills. (Obviously now that I say it, I will start having major symptoms...) My first periods were like when on the pills obviously since I technically had not quit yet, but I was very nervous about the next ones. Well, they stopped yesterday and I had to say that they were one of the least painful ones I have ever had and possibly the shortest. I had some pains while on the pills too and I did not feel like these were any worse than those. I was very surprised that they lasted only three days, when usually they go on for at least five and I had read so many stories about how after the pills some people's periods lasted for weeks and were very heavy. Luckily that did not happen to me.

Of course since there has only been one proper menstruation (the first one after the pills was still part of the pill cycle), this could change and I could still get some symptoms. I am still trying to be hopeful, since usually people said that their symptoms started right after quitting or during the first periods. If I end up having symptoms after all, I will write a second part and link it to the end of this post.


Starting the pills was very horrendous for me and I felt like stopping them right away. Those side effects went away eventually, but the changes in my mood stayed (I am now feeling somewhat better in that matter, but not like myself yet). It was too much of a struggle for me to take the pills on time. I did take them almost regularly thanks to my phone's reminder, but it was just too much of a hassle! The quitting has been so far problem-free.

Would I start taking the pills again? No. I do not think I could bear the starting symptoms again and the effects on my mood were just too much. I must say that I hated the pills. They still served their purpose of changing my periods cycle, or in fact keeping them in a cycle at all. If I in the future need a birth control, I am not going for the pills and I am currently being highly put off from any other hormonal birth control. For painful periods I shall seek other solutions.

Would I recommend them? Well, that is up to everyone themselves, but I hated them. Like I said in the beginning, people will react the pills differently so they might be perfect for somebody else. For me nope.

05 May 2015

University plans and hopes

It is rarely that things go as planned, but it is always good to have actual plans. I am that kind of person who likes to plan things thoroughly, perhaps too thoroughly and even if I know things are not likely to go the way I planned. I guess it is part of my personality.

In this post I thought I would write about what I have planned and what I hope concerning my future university studies. Since I never have been to university, I obviously do not know exactly how things work exactly. And even though things are not likely to go as planned, I thought it would be interesting to look back to this post and compare it to how things actually went when I am about to graduate (in three years I hope).

So, I am hoping to start at university this autumn (bachelor's degree obviously). I have applied to study in Denmark and Finland. Denmark is my first option, but just in case I somehow do not get into any of the Danish universities I applied to, I also try to get into some Finnish universities. I am not interested in studying in Finland for two reasons: 1. I want to study in English and I could not find a degree that is thought entirely in English, 2. In Finland there is not the exact study line, that I would like to take. I found few just right ones in Denmark, so I would like to get into one of them.

My Danish applications. Try and guess in what field I would like to study, haha.

If I actually get a spot in the university I hope (in Denmark), I plan to study the first two years there. Most of Danish universities offer a possibility to go abroad as an exchange student for the autumn semester of the last year. I wish to use this opportunity and go as an exchange student. My first choice would be go to Singapore, but anywhere else in Asia would be amazing too. Then I would go back to Denmark and finish my degree.

I do not know as much about Finnish universities. I know that here in Finland universities give more free choices about planning your timetables and study schedule. If I were go to a Finnish university, I would try to speed up my studies by planning my schedules so. It would obviously mean that I would need to work harder, but that is not a problem for me. And I could always slow down if it would get too hard for me. I would try to graduate in two, maybe two and half years. But I still hope it does not come to that since the degrees are not exactly what I hope to study.

And my Finnish applications. Same field of study, of course.

Since the summer holidays in universities are long, I need something for them too. The first and most optimal option would obviously be to take summer school classes that would help me graduate faster. In Finland this should be possible, but I do not know about Denmark. If it is not possible, then between the first and second years I would like to take some music related course somewhere. I do not expect to get a summer job then yet, but perhaps between my second and third year when I already almost have a degree. I know that in Iceland there is a lack of workers, especially in the summer season, so perhaps there? If the worst comes then I could try to hang around at my relatives' corners (like now) to save in rent.

I hope to get my bachelor's degree in the spring of 2018. After that I would like to get a master's degree. I have found just the perfect degree from the Netherlands and I plan to apply there. I also have some decent options in the United Kingdom too. These two countries are my number one options for two reasons: 1. The awesome degree options, 2. It only takes a year to complete the master's degree (in Nordic Europe it takes two years). Number two is especially important since I am already older than the average university student.

To put it in short, this is what I hope will happen in the next few years:
1st year: study in Denmark, summer courses* related to music. /study in Finland, summer courses* related to the degree. *The summer job option will be tried too.
2nd year: study in Denmark /study in Finland, summer job (possibly in Iceland).
3rd year: study in Denmark with exchange semester in Singapore (or elsewhere in Asia). /be graduated from a Finnish university and skip to the 4th year.
4th year: master's degree in the Netherlands (or in the UK).

I think that sums it up as clearly as it is possible. Of course I have some smaller plans too, but they are not worth a blog post. I know already things will not go this way, but there needs to be some sort of plan what at aim to. It will be interesting to see in a few years time what did come true and what not! I hope I will remember to check back at this post then.

27 April 2015

Mold exposure symptoms?

In my few previous blog posts, I have mentioned that I have recently had major health issues. I felt like I wanted to blog about that, since maybe it could help somebody or possibly help me, if somebody reading this has some useful comments (if so, please leave a comment!). Perhaps it is best to start with a disclaimer:

I am not a health care professional. All the things mentioned in this blog or based on real-life experiences, articles and comments found from the internet and things I have been told by doctors.

So, I and multiple other people I know have suspected that my symptoms, that have been going on for a long time, have been caused by mold in the apartment from where I just moved away. There is no confirmation on this, expect now that I have lived elsewhere about three and half week, my symptoms have gotten so much better. I could be wrong about this, but all seems like this was the case.

As a background information I need to tell that when I was a child, I lived in multiple apartments that had mold in them. I believe in two or three different apartments, though I do not remember exactly, especially since kids are not told so much about this kind of stuff. We eventually moved out of those apartments, but overall I was exposed to mold quite few years, maybe even six to seven. I myself do not remember, but my father recently told that we once went to a holiday and when we came back, the air in the apartment felt so horrible and hard to breath.

I have had health issues through my youth. I do not know if these have something to do with the mold, but they could. I am very often in fever; ie. during my primary school years (when we were living in the mold apartments) I was sick so often that people believed I was just faking all the time to skip school. I have also throughout my life always been very tired.

The symptoms caused by mold are similar to those caused by flu. These are in short the symptoms listed on the website of The Organisation for Respiratory Health (which is a major health care organization here in Finland):

  • Eye and respiratory symptoms
  • Increased amount of respiratory infections
  • Abnormal fatigue
  • Frequent headaches
  • Mold can raise blood pressure and pulse
  • Asthma and shortness of breath, even radiological changes in the lungs
  • Upset stomach and diarrhea
  • Muscle and joint symptoms, sometimes rheumatic disease
  • Skin symptoms, ie. redness
  • Increased amount of facial herpes infections
  • Neurological pain, numbness of the limbs
  • Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS)

I have also read that exposure to mold can cause lifetime long symptoms, in person's overall health, in example it can lead to infertility. Sinusitis is a very common mold symptom.

I moved to my latest apartment in the summer of 2012. (There was possibly mold in my previous apartment too.) In that autumn I started at high school. I just recently noticed, that whenever I tell something about my school time, I usually include the words "I was sick back then". That should tell something about how often I was sick while living in that apartment.

Last autumn (2014), my health had a major crash. I remember feeling very sick during my math finals and barely able to do the exam. That evening or the next morning I felt so much worse and I checked my temperature, which was 38.5 Celsius degrees (according to google that is 101.3 in Fahrenheit degrees). My normal body temperature is 36 to 36.2 (96.8 to 97.16), which is about half degree less than most people's temperatures, so on somebody else this would mean a fever of 39 degrees. I do not even remember when was the last time I had this much fever.

I was diagnosed with sinusitis (infection in sinuses). My doctor said that there rarely is so clear results from the ultrasound (sinusitis is diagnosed with a small ultrasound machine). I got antibiotics. My fever went down, though not completely. I was still feeling very sick.

I visited doctors multiple times within the next six months. All of them told me it was just a flu and would go away with time. Nobody I know that I talked with considered a half year long flu normal and I was all time told to go to see a doctor, but results were always the same. Only the last doctor I saw couple weeks before moving out, said that maybe there was something wrong in my apartment's air (no mold mentioned though).

This actually makes me a bit angry now; I compare what I told the doctors to what is said about mold symptoms and it feels like I am a textbook example of mold exposure patient. The mold symptoms explanations I have read are almost exactly what I told my doctors. From the list above I had pretty much all the symptoms: of all the ones I could tell myself I was only missing facial herpes (though come to think about it, I have no idea how a facial herpes is suppose to look/feel like). Still none of the multiple doctors I saw mentioned mold. Yay, Finland's public health care!

The last months in the apartment went mostly sleeping. I slept so much I can not even imagine how many hours it was in total. I had constant flu-like symptoms and I felt so sick. I barely was able to get through my school work. Even thinking about doing something else was too tiring. In example, I am a huge fan of The Hunger Games series, but I have not yet seen the most recent movie which was released in November. I just did not have the energy to get to the movie theater, which I could see from my window, let alone sit through a movie. Even staying awake two hours to watch a movie, that I had anticipated, was too much. That is how in bad shape I was.

Few weeks before moving out, I seriously started to suspect mold as the cause. It did not make any sense that it would be this long lasting flu. I compared my symptoms to the mold exposure symptoms, and like I said it was a perfect match. My father said that since I have been exposed so much to mold in my childhood, I would react more heavily on mold exposure. Internet confirmed this theory.

Here are two photos I took just before moving away. They were like this even when I moved in, but nowhere near this bad. The black parts got bigger while I lived there. I could not see the first one, since it was mostly covered by a table, so I was surprised it was this bad:

In front of the radiator. The floor was actually a bit elevated around the black.
black by the kitchen sink

"Mold", was the first thing my father said after seeing them. We obviously could be wrong, but they do look like mold and considering my symptoms, it is a very good guess.

I have now lived three and half weeks at my father's place. I have read that it takes time for the symptoms to go away, some may never leave. But so far I am feeling a lot, I mean A LOT, healthier. My nose barely runs, I rarely cough (my father mentioned this already sometime ago), my nose/cheek area does not feel painful, eye symptoms are gone, headaches have lessen, I am still tired often but not as bad as before, etc... I consider this as yet another sign of that there was mold in my previous apartment.

Now I think all I can do is just wait. Like I think I stated before, I have never been completely healthy, so I do not expect to get totally healthy, but hopefully to the state I was before moving to my latest apartment. I strongly suspect that the mold exposure as a child ruined my health. Hopefully this new exposure (two and half years of exposure sound really worrying) did not make things worse.

My advice: if you suspect there is mold in your apartment, act on it! Moving away is a lot less trouble than possibly ruining your health. For me this may come too late, especially since the worst of it was done while I was a child and unable to affect on this myself, but I am hoping that maybe this post could someday help somebody.

Well, that is my story. If you have any comments (advice, questions, anything), please comment. Any input is highly appreciated!

20 April 2015

From Turku to Rovaniemi

As I am always in the swim (I have no idea did I use that term correctly, I just tried to google for a fitting idiom...) here is my moving story, only two and a half weeks late! Well, it is not like it is a post that should be on real-time anyway.

So, I use to live in a city called Turku, which is located in the southwest tip of Finland right by the coast. I want to write more specific post or two about Turku, especially from the point of view of a visitor, so I will not talk about the city more right now. Let's just say I lived there for nearly five and a half years. I do not have any deep connection with the city, but it must be the best city I have lived in so far.

Here are few photos of the city center. I took them the day I moved away:

Looking at the market square.
Also looking the the market square, though from the opposite corner. I have walked home this way so many many times.
The market square.
One side of the Hansa shopping center.
This beautiful building was almost at the neighbour of the house I lived in and I still have no idea what it is. I believe it is some sort of a museum.
My home street. I lived in the pink building ahead.
The view when stepping outside from the building I lived in. Also the length of street that I walked to most in Turku; my main grocery store is visible as the third building on left and the library is just one block from there.
The view from my former window.

By the looks my latest apartment was fairly good, but honestly it was the worst one I have lived in; ie. zero sound proofing and a neighbour that played music loudly most of the nights, mold, which possibly (most likely) caused me all kinds of health problems (about which I will soon write more about), et cetera. I so will not miss this place, but since it was a really old building, from the 1920s I believe, it was so much more beautiful than more recent boring buildings:

Doors in the building. My former apartment on the left.
The building's doorway.

I had my father and my brother helping me with the moving. Since they came from hundreds of kilometers away, my father drove to my brother's place at the previous day and then they drove to Turku early the next morning. My father had borrowed a van from his friend, but unfortunately it was a tad bit too small and we have to leave three chairs behind. Which was not such a big loss since they were in fairly bad shape already. Amazingly my moving helpers managed to fit everything else in the car.

I myself packed rest of the stuff inside and tried to save my energy (referring to the health problems mentioned above) for the last (or second last actually) high school exam. Luckily my last exam, that I needed to do at the school, was on the moving day and not the day after. This meant I could move away smoothly and not have to stay at a hotel or something for one night and then follow my stuff with train.

This is how the packing process looked like:


After I was done with my exam (from which I got one of my best grades in a subject that has been hardest for me!), the moving party set away from Turku. And I said goodbyes to the city, not knowing I would be going back there in couple of months for a university entrance examination, haha. We drove to my brother's home almost 400 kilometers away. It was already very late when we got there and my brother had to get up really early to go to work. Me and my father had to also get up early, but we got couple more hours of sleep than my brother. Which is good since we had a long drive ahead...

Before we left the area where my brother lives, we made a short stop at my brother's ex's home. There I met my niece for the first time. She was born almost a year ago, but since they live so far away, I have never visited them before. Evaluation: my niece loves to rip and eat my long hair. My father's long beard also got its share of rips. :)

From there we got approximately 550 kilometers to go. We had to make couple stops at Oulu and Kemi in order to get me food and an internet connection, since we realized we did not have enough time to get to Rovaniemi (where I was moving) in time before stores close. Besides those and few mandatory service station / rest stops, this is what most of the day looked like:

On the road again...
550 kilometers is a LONG drive, especially if you are tired and have driven almost the same amount the day before (= overall app. 1000 kilometers). It was a bit easier for me, since I did not drive the car (I have never gotten a driver's license), but still extremely boring. There was not even a CD player in the car. And it was very crowded; the van's back was filled to the last centimeter. After the trip to the grocery store in Kemi, we had to fit in four full plastic bags of food and some of my stuff to the cabin. They did fit in, but all the space to move even a little was gone:

My leg space too was shared.

At least I got some delicious salad from a store in Oulu:

Yes, I am one of those people that just MUST photograph their food.

The photo couple of photos ago showed what the almost entire way looked like. There really is nothing interesting on the roads in Finland and we did not even drive through any cities really. (Though we drove through the city of Jyväskylä on the first moving day at very late hour. I have to admit it was very beautiful with all the lights and nice buildings). The most interesting thing for me was the endless amount of wind farm windmills (or how do you call them?) around Kemi. I absolutely love those. Besides being a good source of energy, I find them looking very pretty. Obviously I had the spend lots of time photographing them (not like there was anything else to do anyway):

A small collage of some of my photos of the wind farms.

Finally 20:28 o'clock there was this familiar sign welcoming us:

On a side note: a camera's flash and these signs do NOT make a working combination.

We still had over an hour to drive, since the city of Rovaniemi is huge (by area) and the sign is at the edge of the limits and we were heading to my father's place which is far from the city limit where we entered the city. But at least it marked the last leg of the drive!

I am originally from Rovaniemi (the city of Santa Claus at the polar circle in Finnish Lapland), so I was sort of coming back home. Even though I really do not feel this city as my home anymore; I have been gone for so long, that everything has changed and honestly I do not thrive here. Luckily this is only a temporary living situation.

The reason behind of moving away from Turku was that I wanted to save in rent money. I do not need an apartment here in Rovaniemi, which means I can save a little. I am hoping to get in to a university in Autumn, so every cent is welcome addition to my savings. And also since the apartment in Turku was causing me health problems, I really needed to move away from there. And on top of that, I need to store my belongings in my father's storage anyway, since if I will move to Denmark in few months, I will definitely not be dragging all of this with stuff me. So, moving here made sense in many ways.

17 April 2015

Life right now

I have been less active on this blog, partly because with all the school work it is hard to find inspiration and partly because for the same reason my life has been fairly uninteresting recently. Besides I have been sick for months now (more on that later), which just adds up to these. But I made a decision to focus on this blog too once I have moved and am finished with the school work. Since that has happened, I will try to start blogging on this blog too.


My high school studies are at that point now that I can say I am done with the school! *Insert some confetti and party horn sounds here.* I have the mandatory amount of courses done and I am done with the finals. My history grade from the finals is likely going to be (at least based on the pre-grading done by a teacher) not as good as I hoped with the amount of studying I did, but other than that I could not be happier with my grades. 2 and half years of work definitely paid of. I will write a deeper analysis of my high school studies later on.

Though I still have one more high school course to do. Few weeks ago while I was sending my university applications, I found out that one of the universities required more history and/or social studies courses than the others. I had totally missed this previously since all the schools had same requirements in Danish grades (I am applying to universities in Denmark) and it did not cross my mind that they would have "translated" those into Finnish grades differently. So, I must do one more history course in order to fulfill the requirement. I was kind of hoping to be done with high school now, but at least it just one more course and on an interesting subject.

I have now send my university applications to Danish and Finnish universities. For Danish universities there is no entrance exams (which I think is a good thing), but for Finnish universities there is. Denmark is my number one choice, but I am going to study for the Finnish entrance exams just in case. There is three books and also a math course, that I already did in high school, to study, so I am going to be focusing on those too. I will be doing to entrance exam at the start of June in Turku (from where I just moved away and now I must travel back there, haha!).


The next month and a half I will be focused on the studies mentioned before. After that and possibly at the same time, I plan to study more Japanese and piano + music theory. Since in Autumn I will be most likely starting in a university, I want to take summer more easily to rest. But I find Japanese and piano fun to study, so I do not think they will stress me out. I also want to start exercising my actively, since so far my exercising has been a bit irregular. I just bought new running shoes; I have never run before, but maybe now I will. I also want to practice riding my bike, which I have not done in years. Roller skates could be a lot of fun too. This probably ends up so that in few months I will be blogging about hitting a reindeer with my bike...

As you might be able to guess from the reindeer comment, I am currently living at my father's place in Lapland (Northern Finland) in the middle of nowhere. There is nothing but forests with reindeers here. Since there is nothing to do around here, I am filling my time with the activities mentioned above and of course blogging. It is almost an hour to the closest city and I get car sick, so I am mostly staying put here.

I do also have plans for some travelling. I obviously need to save many for university (number one reason why I gave up my apartment), so I can not spend a lot for travelling. Besides the day trip to Turku for the entrance exam (I have some other plans too for that day), I need to go to Helsinki for a English language test (IELTS), which is required by the university I applied to. I am hoping to go to Tallinn, Estonia's capital, at the same trip. It is only a two-hour ferry ride from Helsinki to Tallinn and Estonia is a fairly cheap country, so it should be affordable, since I anyhow need to go to Helsinki. Also we, me and my father that is, have talked about taking a road trip to North, into Norway and possibly Sweden too. I really would like to go to Alta, Norway to see the rock carvings there. We could visit some other places on the way too.


Well, like I said I plan to be more active on this blog. So far my life has not been that interesting for a life-style blog with me focusing on the high school studies. Now there is more variety to write about. And if I get into a Danish university, then starting in Autumn I have so many things to write about! If this happens then I plan to write ie. about how a foreigner sees the Danish society and culture, and what obstacles a person can face moving into a strange country (I have only briefly visited Denmark) completely by herself and without really understanding the language.

And since a picture is worth a thousand words and videos must be worth even more, I have plans to start vlogging too. I have no experience in video editing, but since I am highly interested in video editing, I hope to get a hold of it. I think my experiences from Denmark would be more interesting on a video than text. But I want to start vlogging already in order to get practice so that by Autumn my videos will be decent. I think I need a lot of practice on being comfortably holding a camera, especially in public places! I still need to plan on this a bit more. And, quite essentially, I need to get a vlogging camera!