Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lempiasioita - Blog Challenge and 200th Blog Post!

I got a blog challenge from the wonderfully observant Jenni of From Georgia with Love and from Pabe of Palmun Alta, who takes gorgeous photos of beautiful California. Thank you Jenni and Pabe!

The questions did seem a bit familiar and upon closer inspection I found out I had done this challenge before, BUT since the questions were not exactly the same and I absolutely love blog challenges, I'm going to do this again! It'll be the perfect way to celebrate the 200th blog entry of the new and improved Sugar Antelope :)

Favorite number: I don't really have one. When I was kid I'd always choose 13 :) Lately I've found myself liking the number 5 for some unknown reason as well...

Alkoholiton suosikkijuoma/
Favorite non-alcoholic drink: I drink mostly water, both spring and bubbly, but I do enjoy a glass of classic Coca Cola now and then :) I also like mango smoothies, yummy!

Favorite animal: Dogs, any kind of dogs. I've loved dogs ever since I was born, my first word was not "Mommy", it was "doggy"!

Facebook vai Twitter/
Facebook or Twitter: Both, but I prefer Facebook. My Twitter account is more like a location to save my link collection, I don't really have a whole lot of followers.

My passion: I love candy (Finnish irtokarkit namnam)! I am a bit picky when it comes to candy though; I've for example yet to find yummy enough candy in the U.S. And I also have a soft spot for dogs, I wish I could dedicate my life to helping them.

Favorite day of the week: Saturday, since it means all three of us are at home :) Also, the boys are in basketball practice on Saturday mornings, which means I get to sleep in, super-yay!

Favorite flower: roses, in every color but yellow.

photos from weheartit

I'm sure almost everyone on my bloglist have done this challenge, but if there's someone that hasn't, I challenge you! And if you've already done the challenge, you can always do it again ;)

Since it is a milestone entry, I would also like to thank all my readers for taking time and reading this silly blog! I really appreciate your comments, they make writing a blog so much more interesting! <3>

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Random Tuesdays 11/27/2012

Quite the view from friends' backyard in Charlotte, Vermont in 2008.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

College living, pt IV - co-ops and fraternities

After living up north for a while in a shared apartment, I got a graduate scholarship to study in Nebraska. I had never been to Nebraska before and I couldn't travel there to look for places to live in advance, so I was once again facing the reality that I would have to live in a dorm and share a room with someone. 

My scholarship covered "only" tuition, so I had to organize and pay for the housing myself. I looked at the dorms that were on the main campus and came to the conclusion that I could not afford to live in them. Luckily, the university had an agricultural campus about 4 miles from the main campus and they offered all-girl sorority-style housing that wasn't as costly, in fact it was several thousand dollars cheaper! The trick was that we as a house would work as a team and cook and clean for ourselves. Hence the cost of living was reduced to half of what it would've been on main campus.

Our all-girl house
photo from facebook

I was a bit concerned about this housing option at first, since in my previous experience, American sorority girls can be a bit catty. I later realized that my prejudiced image was due to the fact that I had been living in New England, Nebraska was totally different. Living at the house was such a pleasant surprise; there were a  couple of "you don't know Jesus like I do"-girls that considered themselves uber-Christians, but other than that the house was a friendly place, and the girls living there were a lot of fun. Living in the house seemed to be a tradition to some, a lot of the girls had had big sisters living there and some had followed their moms and grandmothers  footsteps and moved there. 

Hallway at the house, I couldn't find a photo of our room :(

My roommate at the house was B, whom I didn't have any contact with before we moved in, since she hadn't checked her emails/facebook all summer. This was the first time that I got to move in first! Our room was super-tiny, about half the size of the dorm room I had back north and for the first time since elementary school, I had to sleep in a bunk bed :D Since I got there first, I took over the bottom bunk bed. I'm a notorious sleep walker, so sleeping on top would've been a bit risky for me anyways. Despite having about the smallest room there was, we had the corner room, which was nice, since we had two windows.

Formal living room

I slept the first two nights alone in the room, until my roommate B arrived. She was a junior, who had transferred from a community college, and was really into horses and was in the school rodeo team. She was a 100 % country girl, who had grown up on a farm. We got along instantly thanks to our love of horses. The first weekend of school she took me line dancing at the local ballroom and I've loved line dancing ever since! I had a lot fun with roommate B; she took me home to her farm, I met her beautiful horses, we went shopping a lot and to parties. She spent majority of the weekends at home with her horses, so I usually had the room to myself on Saturdays and Sundays, which was fine by me. Despite having very different backgrounds, and a taste for very different kind of men (she liked big, cow dung smelling truckers), she is definitely the favorite girl roomie I've ever had. Such an easy going person and we never had a dull moment in our room!

Formal living room from another angle

Living in the house was fun too, it was such a great social experience. When we first moved in, we had a "New Women's Weekend" where we were told about the history of the house, the traditions, what to expect and got to know each other. Each new girl (a little sister) also got a big sister from the girls that were already living there, who would show us newbies the ropes. My big sister was S and she was such a sweetie. During the little sister/big sister night, she gave me a candle she had made and we lit it together to symbolize our sisterhood. I love cute bonding stuff like that :)

Upstairs fireplace

We were divided into five kitchens (there were five actual kitchens downstairs) and each person cooked for their own kitchen for a  week at a time. So basically we had to cook two or three times per semester for an entire week for 7 girls. We had to make a menu before hand and have it approved by a kitchen officer. It wasn't as hard as it might sound, even I, with very mediocre cooking skills managed it. My girls ate Finnish oven pancakes, oven porridge etc, so they got some Nordic flavor to their meals :D Besides cooking, we were assigned a separate cleaning duty for each week. Basically your duty was for example to clean up one of the bathrooms, a kitchen, a staircase etc. This you had to do everyday, but it only took like 10-20min of our time everyday, so it was not a big deal. Not surprisingly, no one ever really liked the bathroom duty :)

Study room

We had a house meeting every week and every other week we had a formal meeting, to which we dressed up for. At the meetings we went through what had happened at the house and the schedule of next week and we sang our house song. Every week one girl got a prize for making a good meal or doing their cleaning duty well. The house also organized a lot social events, we had nail polish party, panty party (secret santa style, everyone got a designated someone to buy underwear for ha) and celebrated all the birthdays and holidays together. We also had a brother-fraternity, with whom we arraigned parties, like Halloween party, together. We also had a formal dance, which was a lot of fun and the profits went into charity. The house also had sports teams and I played broomball in one of our co-ed teams with the fraternity.

Little man visiting the informal living room downstairs

After my first year there, I decided to move off-campus, since it was even cheaper than living in the house. I admit I got all teary eyed when I left the house, because I loved living with those girls! I loved the community spirit and the fact that you were never alone. The parties were fun and I feel like I got so many new experiences, which I wouldn't have, if I had lived somewhere else. 

For the summer after my first year in Nebraska, I moved into a fraternity house with my then-friend, roommate G. At that point the Triangle fraternity was using the house, nowadays it is used by another fraternity.

The fraternity house 
photo from google

Normally these fraternity buildings house only boys (the brothers), but during the summers they rent out rooms to outsiders. The rent was cheap and my workplace was within five minutes walk, so the location was perfect for me. I was at first planning on living there by myself,  but then G's original roommate bailed out and she asked me to share a room with her. G was a Nebraskan, whom I met through a friendship program for international students. We hung out quite a bit when I was living in Nebraska, but we've since lost touch. We were roommates for the summer and I don't think we could've been roommates for much longer :) We just had a completely different ideas about cleanliness. I once stepped on her peanut buttered knife that was just laying on our room floor, gross and painful... but other than the obvious differences on the perception of the word clean, we got along just fine. G helped me out a lot when I later needed car rides to the hospital etc. And later on, when I moved away from my shared house, she took my place there.

Triangle's sign back in 2009, when the house was still theirs

Stay tuned for the last part: next week I'm moving to a shared house off-campus! :)
Hope everyone is having a great Sunday!

p.s Welcome new readers!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Turkey Day!

I'm grateful for my family and friends, especially for my Mom, without whom I wouldn't be here in the first place, but without whom I wouldn't be able to study or have much of a life outside home in general either. She helps me out way more than she'd need to. I'm lucky to have such a dedicated Mom and I hope to be able to follow the example she's set to become such a great parent myself.

Mom and me back in the day :)

While Thanksgiving has become a sort of family food fest nowadays, I will copy/paste an email I received  today from the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) so that the truth may not be forgotten on this Thanksgiving either:

"Each November in America we celebrate the harvest festival of Thanksgiving.  Over the years, much lore has evolved surrounding early Thanksgivings and feelings of brotherhood and good will between pilgrim settlers and the Native inhabitants of North America.  Sadly, most of these stories are inaccurate at best, and serve to ignore or gloss over a broad history of atrocities.  In our hearts, we cannot celebrate Thanksgiving Day in the way revisionist history teaches our school children.  We still feel the pain and suffering of our ancestors as the Pilgrims celebrated their thanksgivings by theft of our lands and the genocide of our peoples. 

Still, Native Americans are grateful for all that nature provides, and many of us celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday in our own ways.  Moreover, we  give thanks every day as we greet the morning star in the eastern sky giving thanks to the Creator, our families, our ancestors and our survival.

We wish you and your families a happy holiday, and hope you are able to set images of pilgrims aside and join in gratitude for the bounty the living earth provides us.  In that spirit, let us share with you the words of “Thankgiving” from our Mohawk relatives in belief that one day there will truly be a Thanksgiving for all.

Thanksgiving Address

Greetings to the Natural World

The People
Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as people.

Now our minds are one.

The Earth Mother
We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our mother, we send greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Waters
We give thanks to all the waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms-waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit of Water.

Now our minds are one.

The Fish
We turn our minds to the all the Fish life in the water. They were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also give themselves to us as food. We are grateful that we can still find pure water. So, we turn now to the Fish and send our greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Plants
Now we turn toward the vast fields of Plant life. As far as the eye can see, the Plants grow, working many wonders. They sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together, we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for many generations to come.

Now our minds are one.

The Food Plants
With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the garden. Since the beginning of time, the grains, vegetables, beans and berries have helped the people survive. Many other living things draw strength from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one and send them a greeting of thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Medicine Herbs
Now we turn to all the Medicine herbs of the world. From the beginning they were instructed to take away sickness. They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy there are still among us those special few who remember how to use these plants for healing. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the keepers of the Medicines.

Now our minds are one.

The Animals
We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We are honored by them when they give up their lives so we may use their bodies as food for our people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests. We are glad they are still here and we hope that it will always be so.
Now our minds are one.

The Trees
We now turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many families of Trees who have their own instructions and uses. Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit, beauty and other useful things. Many people of the world use a Tree as a symbol of peace and strength. With one mind, we greet and thank the Tree life.

Now our minds are one.

The Birds
We put our minds together as one and thank all the Birds who move and fly about over our heads. The Creator gave them beautiful songs. Each day they remind us to enjoy and appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader. To all the Birds-from the smallest to the largest-we send our joyful greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Four Winds
We are all thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds. We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh us and purify the air we breathe. They help us to bring the change of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us messages and giving us strength. With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four Winds.

Now our minds are one.

The Thunderers
Now we turn to the west where our grandfathers, the Thunder Beings, live. With lightning and thundering voices, they bring with them the water that renews life. We are thankful that they keep those evil things made by Okwiseres underground. We bring our minds together as one to send greetings and thanks to our Grandfathers, the Thunderers.

Now our minds are one.

The Sun
We now send greetings and thanks to our eldest Brother, the Sun. Each day without fail he travels the sky from east to west, bringing the light of a new day. He is the source of all the fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Brother, the Sun.

Now our minds are one.

Grandmother Moon
We put our minds together to give thanks to our oldest Grandmother, the Moon, who lights the night-time sky. She is the leader of woman all over the world, and she governs the movement of the ocean tides. By her changing face we measure time, and it is the Moon who watches over the arrival of children here on Earth. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Grandmother, the Moon.

Now our minds are one.

The Stars
We give thanks to the Stars who are spread across the sky like jewelry. We see them in the night, helping the Moon to light the darkness and bringing dew to the gardens and growing things. When we travel at night, they guide us home. With our minds gathered together as one, we send greetings and thanks to the Stars.

Now our minds are one.

The Enlightened Teachers
We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened Teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When we forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way we were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to these caring teachers.

Now our minds are one.

The Creator
Now we turn our thoughts to the creator, or Great Spirit, and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the Creator.

Now our minds are one.

Closing Words
We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we have named, it was not our intention to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way.

Now our minds are one."

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Random Tuesdays 11/20/2012

Sunset in Burlington, Vermont in 2008

Sunday, November 18, 2012

College living, pt III - off-campus housing

When I first went to study in the U.S, I was supposed to stay in there for one semester, which got extended to a full year. Eventually I ended up staying in this particular New England town for three years. After my first year living in the dorms, I decided off-campus living was probably the way to go. It was cheaper and freer, and I could choose my roommates. At this particular university, freshmen and sophomores were required to live on-campus, but if you were over 21 (which I was) you could move off-campus at anytime. Unfortunately most of my friends, who were looking for roommates, were not 21 yet, so they still had to live on-campus. My new roommate, whom I found on Craigslist, was S and we shared the duplex right off campus with another roommate A. Both of them were New Englanders, S was from NYC and A from Massachusetts.

Our apartment complex, we had the two top floors of half the building

Although S and I shared a room to split costs, off-campus living was still not that cheap, but it was cheaper than on-campus living and that's what counted. Our modern apartment had a living room, kitchen and dining area in one floor and two bedrooms and a bath upstairs. My roommate S had once again arrived before me and set up the room to her liking. I didn't mind, since I knew I'd probably spend half the time with my then-boyfriend anyways. We both had beds (she had a double, I had a twin), desks with chairs and we shared a closet. She also had a dresser and I had a small bookcase. Basically the room was set up so that she had 2/3 of it and I had the rest. Later on I made her reduce my part of the rent because of that, and other reasons.

I have very few photos from indoors, but this is my friend's brother goofing around in our dining area. That's my roommate A's bike in the background.

Roommate S and I got along just fine, although I knew we wouldn't be best friends. She was a homebody and way too into smoking weed, which I was just not. My other roommate, A, on the other hand, became a really good friend of mine, probably cause we didn't share a room. He got us HBO (and paid majority of it), so I watched a bunch of tv with him and we hung out at in general. Neither of my two roommates were really into going out, but that was okay, since I had other friends to go bar hopping with. We didn't really have parties at our place either, because my roommates were bit of a loners, they didn't really have friends over either. I ended up throwing a party for my friends only once at our place, and after cleaning up the post-party mess by myself, I gave up on the idea of organizing more :)

And our living room, we really didn't bother with the furnishings :)

While roommate S and I did get along the first semester, the second semester wasn't as rosy. S's boyfriend from New York had basically moved into our room, and he smoked a ton of weed as well, even in our shared bedroom. He had just graduated from high school and was moving into herb selling business. I told roommate S that I wasn't interested in paying half of the rent anymore, since we had a third person living there. She got a bit upset at first, but later confessed that she hadn't told her dad I was staying in the room and her dad was paying the rent for whole room, so she had just been keeping my money (!). So she just lost a little bit of money that wasn't really meant for her anyways. We reached an agreement and I started paying a lot less than I used to. 

After a year of living with S and A, S graduated and A and I decided we weren't going to keep the apartment, since our lease was up and the apartment itself was a bit pricey.  My then-boyfriend had just finished his second year in college, so he was by then finally free to move off-campus. We found a place on Craigslist and moved into a rather outdated 3 bedroom apartment with two girls, whom we didn't really know, but who turned out to be okay. The apartment was downtown, so easy walking distance to both bars and campus, pretty convenient ;) and the rent was very affordable. Also, roommate A moved within walking distance of us to a studio apartment, so I visited him a lot. S moved back to NYC and is getting married to that same boyfriend next summer. So things worked out well for all of us.

Our second off-campus apartment. Once again, the two top floors were ours.

Next week I'm moving to Nebraska! In this college-living "series" that is :)
Hope everyone is having a great week!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Random Tuesdays 11/13/2012

Great Sand Dunes National Park in San Luis Valley, Colorado in 2009. 
You might recognize this photo from the "Thank you for stopping by"-sign on the bottom of the blog :)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

College living, pt II - dorms

In my earlier entry I told the tale of extra roommates in the Finnish student housing. Needless to say that living experience ended pretty soon and I wasn't keen on ever sharing a flat like that. When I first came to the U.S, I was an exchange student, and my accommodation was organized for me.  I faced the reality that I would have to not only share a flat, but also share a room with someone else. I was told I'd be living in a dorm room on-campus and I'd share that room with a fellow student.  I emailed with the university housing and asked to have an older roommate, maybe a senior or something. Well, that backfired.

My first roommate in the U.S was a German exchange student T. She had arrived first to the dorm and got to pick which side of the room was hers, which matress, which furniture she'd use etc. That was fine with me, I was okay with my side. We didn't live in a huge traditional residence hall, ours was a smaller one. Our dorm was "suite" style, where three rooms (6 girls or boys) share a bathroom together. I think there were four of these suites on each floor. The building housed 44 students and  had one student Resident Advisor (RA) to run things. This part of the campus had 4 other similar buildings and one bigger dorm building, so there were a bunch of students living there. There was a bus connection to the main campus, so we didn't have to walk, but I often did since it took only 15mins and I appreciated the exercise after eating school cafeteria foods every day :)

Our residence Hall
from google

Our room had a bed, a dresser and a desk with a chair for each resident and a small bookcase. The bed had a "leak proof" mattress, which needless to say was not very comfortable. Most of us got mattress pads to improve sleep quality. The rooms had locks, and we kept ours locked during the nights and obviously whenever we were not there. I never heard anything got stolen from the rooms, so I assume everyone else kept their doors locked as well. There was a community kitchen with a fridge, where people did steal food from, so no one really used it, except us poor international students, who didn't want to invest in a fridge. There was also a tv with a couple of channels and couches etc. I don't remember anyone using the community space much. I think we mostly used the microwave to make popcorn.

I found myself liking living in the dorms, I loved the social atmosphere.  As for my German roommate T, well, she didn't know she was going to have to share a room and was very unhappy when she received the email saying I'd be her roommate. Although in the beginning we got a long just fine, I soon started to annoy her big time. I talked too much she said and wasn't interested in her life enough. Now, I admit that I wasn't too interested in her nephews, but I did listen to everything she said. Apparently I didn't ask her enough questions about her life... She was upset at almost everything I did. When one of my American friends let me borrow his tv and we brought it to our room, she got upset and said it would bother her. Well, the tv stayed, and she watched it all the time. She didn't like my male friends hanging out in our room, she didn't understand why I wanted to hang out with the Americans in general.  She said I was ruining her English skills with my "made-up" words (I never understood what this meant). She said my reading light bothered her in the evenings and told me to go and read in the hallway. One time I gathered courage and told her it was my room too and she yelled at me how selfish I was. I think you get the picture what it was like with her :) Luckily she was there for a semester only. After she left I became friends with the other girls in our suite, who hadn't really talked to me all semester, partly because my German roommate T had complained about them to the RA and they wanted nothing to do with either of us as a result. They had a not-so-nice nickname for her, and I had no idea how much they had disliked us both due to T's behavior. I'm glad we got that sorted out and became friends, after T left.

After T's departure, I asked for a local roommate, since I seemed to have more in common with the American students anyways. My second roommate, P, was a freshman who had just turned 18 and had started college in the middle of the year. She was such a sweetheart, I felt so lucky to have her after the fiasco with the German girl. She was super relaxed and before she moved in we emailed about what she'd like to bring to the room and if it would be okay with me. She seemed really excited to live in the dorms, as I had been before my German roommate came along. P brought a fridge, since I already had the tv, and said I could use it as much as I like. We didn't end up being best friends (she felt more like a little sister), but I really liked living with her. For example, I'm not really the kind of person that likes to hug people, but when she was crying in our room after her boyfriend had been an ass, I hugged her. We went shopping together, to the gym and made jello shots :) She was pledging at one of the sororities, so I got to follow her pledging process, which was really interesting! I so wish she'd been my roommate for the whole year and I cursed myself for asking an older roommate. 

On the whole, I really enjoyed living in the dorm. If I got bored, I had plenty of people to visit and there was always something to do. Everyone was really relaxed and offered to let you borrow their books, dvds, games and whatnot. On the downside, you couldn't really get away from them either, and everyone was really gossip-y :) And for a non-drug user, living with a bunch of potheads gets a bit old sooner than later. I swear the whole building was sometimes covered in smoke, and it was weird seeing these kids (since that's what they were) dropping acid... I often wondered if their parents knew what they were doing. I guess some did, since a couple of them got picked up by their parents and sent to rehab. After they returned to school, they went right back to their old lifestyle. I have to admit I was pretty naive about drug use before I moved to the U.S and suddenly I saw people use drugs really openly, which was a bit of a shock. More than once I got asked if I smoke and when I said no, I got a surprised look. Once a guy looked at me blankly and asked "why did you come to this school then?".  Even though I was not a user, I learned quickly who was selling what and where, it was that obvious. Watching those red eyed kids made me so sad, they had so much money and opportunities, but lacked real substance (no pun intended) and direction in life. Such a waste. Needless to say my son won't be going to this particular college, although I'm sure many of the area colleges are alike. Not all U.S colleges are like that though, I'm happy to say.

Next week I'm moving off-campus :)
Happy Father's Day to everyone who celebrates it today!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mapping the U.S Presidential Election

For the last few days my Facebook news feed has been swarmed by different kinds of election maps. I've seen some of the maps several times, but some of them have appeared only a few times. 
Here they are:

The actual result of the electoral vote, everyone has probably seen this map, the newest version has Florida counted as well.

My Republican fb-buddies have circulated this map in a frenzy, it shows results per county.  It is obviously something every Republican wants to see, a sea of red. I think someone pointed out that bunch of the red areas have a very scarce population, upsetting the original poster, who was (according to their own words) a proud redneck. I'd also like to add that a lot of my Republican friends have been screaming how Romney won the popular vote and what a travesty it is that Obama won. Of course, if they had bothered to look into it, they'd realize they are wrong. But who cares about facts, truth has never been important to the Republican party anyways.

For a historian, the fact that this map (or maps) has been making rounds, is very interesting. Needless to say my few Democrat-friends have been the ones distributing this one.

Here's the newest map circulating, it's based on population. It's probably the most "accurate" one when it comes to visualizing the election results. Democrat-friends are also behind this one.
all photos from facebook

What do you think of the maps? Have you had enough of the election results already? :) I'm still on cloud 9 over Obama winning, yay for four more years!

Wishing everyone a great weekend!

edit. 11/14.2012. Here's some more maps, if anyone's interested :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Random Tuesdays 11/06/2012

Rest area near Concordia, Kansas in 2010.
Vote wisely today, America!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

College living, pt I - Finland

I've gone to five universities; three in Finland and two in the U.S and I've tried all sorts of living arraignments; dorms, co-operative all-girl housing, shared apartments and a studio apartment. All have their perks and all have their peeves. Here are some of my thoughts on college living arraignments.

When I first started college in Finland, I lived with my then-fiance, but after we broke up I moved to a shared flat offered by student housing organization. It was a three bedroom flat in a relatively shabby part of Helsinki. You couldn't choose your roommates or your room, so I was told my roommates would be a Chinese girl Z and a Finnish girl M and my room would be number 2, the middle of three rooms. When I was carrying my stuff in I met the Finnish girl M, who said she was just moving out and she didn't know who'd move in to her room. Then I met Chinese girl Z, who said she had her friend X living with her now and then (basically all the time). I'm a flexible person, so I said that's fine. For the first week I got along just fine with Z and X, they were pretty quiet. The only negative side was the constant strong smell of Chinese food in the whole flat, my coworkers said I even smelled like Chinese food when I went to work.

 After the first week three girls just suddenly arrived and moved into the third room. They introduced themselves as J, C and R and they said they were from Kenya. So now we had 6 people living in this three person flat, with only one bathroom and a tiny kitchen. I got along just fine with J,C and R too, but Chinese girl Z hated them at first sight. She told me that the Kenyan girls were dirty, untrustworthy etc. I tried to stay neutral, even though I did notice that our bathroom stank like cat pee, there were shoe marks on the toilet seat (!) and that the girls didn't really throw away their trash etc. Our freezer was full of raw meat, so there was no room for the Chinese girls' food or for my stuff. After the first week or so, I realized my Kenyan roommates had a business going on in their room and random guys would show up asking for "black girls" at our door. Two girls waited in our kitchen, while one girl was in the room with her guest... Chinese roommates and I took the doorbell off, because the Kenyan girls' guests were stopping by at odd hours. Then their guests started throwing rocks at the girls window to get their attentions, sometimes hitting mine. I have to say I was not impressed. We discussed things in a group, but somehow it escalated into the Chinese girls yelling and Kenyan girls swearing and me trying to calm everyone down. Kenyan girls decided it was time to play hardball with the Chinese and started pouring their shampoo down the drain and writing "bitch" on their milk cartons etc. Both of the groups came to me to complain about each other. I still tried to be neutral.

One day our Kenyan roommates had written a note on our kitchen wall saying they will have a Kenyan party in our flat this weekend. I decided to go home for the weekend, since I needed to study. When I came back on Monday, our flat was completely trashed; our furniture had been thrown off the balcony, and there was food on the walls etc. I decided to stop being neutral. Chinese roommate Z approached me with a written complaint to the housing organization. I didn't sign it with her, since her complaint was very colorful, but wrote a small addition to it myself. Student organization took our complaint seriously and Kenyan roommates got evicted right away.

As you may have already guessed based on the previous tale, the eviction did not go smoothly. Our Kenyan roommates flat out refused to leave. One day when I was coming home from work, my key wouldn't work on our lock. I called the housing organization and they told me that they had changed the locks so that the Kenyans couldn't get in anymore. They told me not to open the door when the doorbell rings, because the Kenyans might try to get back that way. I had had enough, I decided to move in with my then-boyfriend and forget the whole shared living experience.

After a while, the student organization offered me a studio apartment in a brand new building. They said since I had had such a rough experience with my first place I was allowed to be the first to choose an apartment in a brand new building. I chose the one with the rooftop terrace. It was awesome, student living doesn't get much better than that :)

The building where my studio apartment was situated 

Next up: my experiences of college living in the U.S :)
Hope everyone is having a great Sunday!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Daycare anxiety

I've been lucky enough to be raised by a mom, who could stay at home and could choose whether or not to put us to daycare. My Mom was able to work from home and hence didn't have to worry about the obvious financial problems that arise, when you do decide to stay at home. I'm not as lucky and have started the hunt for a decent daycare spot for our lil man. And I do so with a heavy heart.

According to one of my Nebraskan friends (a single man) I'm clingy, since I haven't already whisked my kid to a daycare. I admit that the thought of my child being raised by someone else, someone that certainly doesn't have the time to focus on my child particularly and does not care as much as I do, causes me anxiety.  I think the anxiety comes partly from the fact that I've never been to a public daycare facility and have no idea how things really work there.

I wouldn't call myself clingy though. I have no problem parting with our little man twice a week. He goes to my Mom's once a week, so I can write my thesis/attend MBA classes and he also attends university daycare once a week. The university daycare is nothing like the usual daycare facilities. They have two caregivers and  max 6 children at a time. The place is very home-like and the caregivers are really welcoming. They don't go outside or do trips though, but since it's only once a week, that's fine. Lil man is always happy to go there, so I'm assuming he is having a good time.

If only the local daycare facilities would be the same. Unfortunately that is not the case, they are huge with lots of children and few caregivers. I would rather put our little man to a private Montessori daycare, but there's none nearby. And the problem with the nearby public daycare is that it is completely full, so our lil man might not even fit there. In that case I have no idea where the city will place our lil man.

Daddy holding two-day-old little miracle

Edit. It seems blogger published this unfinished entry earlier than I meant it to be, so I'll vent more on this issue later :) 

Hope everyone is having a great week!