Friday, March 31, 2017

Hello Easter Break!

Today is the start of my Easter break, which also means that I've been in Nottingham for two months and I'm halfway through my exchange. I thought I would take this opportunity to reflect on my time here so far, and maybe also give you a better insight into how a normal day would look for me here.

One thing I've definitely noticed here (but I wouldn't say it is a surprise really) is that I really love living in my hometown and in my country. Although I obviously appreciate all the wonderful experiences I've gained through my exchange and I do love travelling to new places, I can't really see myself living abroad in the future. There's just no place like home to me!

The courses here have been more demanding when it comes to workload (three novels/books per week) but generally I think my courses back home have been more demanding. I think it's mostly because here in England, we will only be assessed and graded on our final essay or exam, and that counts as your final grade as well. In Finland the lecturer will take into consideration all the work you do or produce during the course - that includes assignments, homework and usually even participation. Therefore the motivation is higher to actually do the work throughout the course - not just count on writing a good essay. 

The days have gone by very quickly here, probably because my weekly routines keep me busy, even on those days that I don't have any courses. I also have to say that we have a really great group of exchange students here, so you'll always find someone to hang out with and very rarely do I feel lonely. And I obviously do get to see André very often, which I know is one of the hardest things for the other exchange students who have their boyfriends/girlfriends back home.

Starting from next week I get a break from those routines and I'm obviously so excited about travelling together with André, but I can't lie and say that I'm not looking forward to staying in a hotel! No more dirty kitchen sinks, overflowing garbage cans or weird odors in the bathroom! 

Today I'm going on the last bar crawl before the Easter break, and then tomorrow I will take the train to York! From there we'll travel to Edinburgh on Monday, and I won't be back until next Saturday. So until then, have a great week everybody!

Bye bye Raleigh Park! (The building on the right, that's where I live)

Monday, March 27, 2017

Castle Conwy & Snowdonia

Yesterday me, André and approximately 200 other international students took a day trip to Northern Wales. We had a pretty early wake up since the bus was leaving Nottingham at 7.30. On top of that, between Saturday and Sunday the clock was moved due to daylight saving's and we lost an hour. But still we woke up very eager and I even managed to sleep on the 3 hour bus ride to Wales.

The first stop was Castle Conwy, which was built between 1283 and 1289 and it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. We had about 1,5 hours to spend in Conwy, so we first walked inside the castle and took pictures from the towers. Medieval castles are cool and all, but I wouldn't say there's so much to see in the end - after 30 minutes we decided to go and get some coffee and take a look in the city. It was a small but a very cute city with lots of coffee shops and even a nice little beach. After a quick bite it was time to start making our way to Mount Snowden.











The trip to Snowdonia, which is a national park in Northern Wales, took about 45 minutes. We were amazed by the views on the way but had no clue that it was just about to get even better. The bus dropped us off and we began ascending the Miner's Track, which is one of the most popular and one of the easiest trails. In the beginning it was pretty easy, but the views were still terrific. 





After about an hour the trail started to get a lot steeper, but we continued on. I have to say that at the end, the road was very steep and rocky and it did feel a little bit dangerous. At one point we must have been maybe 20 minutes from the top when we realized we still had to get down and we only had about 2 hours left (which is how long it took for us to get where we were). Some people decided to continue to the top but me, and most of the others thought it would be safer to start making our way down. It felt pretty great to get where we were, and I was definitely pleased with my effort.







I know it doesn't look that steep or hard but when you walk this road for about an hour, IT IS HARD



The way up was tough, for sure, but the way down was so much worse for me. I am very scared of heights but when I was going up the mountain, it didn't really bother me because I didn't have to look down because I was focusing on choosing the right rocks to step on and so on. But on the way down I could constantly see the steep hill and the sharp, uneven rocks. It felt as if one wrong step would lead to me falling down, and I really started to panic. I would say the first bit was the hardest, and I could feel how my whole body started shaking and the lump in my throat grew bigger and bigger. At that moment I really wished there was some other way down, but with the encouragement and help from André and my friends I made it down. I was still scared the whole time, and could literally not do anything but try to concentrate and go slowly, but I did it! And that, in some way, was a bigger accomplishment for me than going up the mountain. 

After our track we still had a 4 hour bus ride home and we were all pretty exhausted from the hike. The bus was really hot too, so it felt heavenly to just come home, take a shower, eat something and then go to bed. I also would have had a 6.45 wake up today but decided that after yesterday, I definitely needed to sleep in. I mean I haven't missed a single seminar or lecture yet and I had a lot of early mornings last week so I definitely felt like I was worth it! All in all the trip to Snowdonia was wonderful and definitely an experience I will remember for a lifetime!

Wagamama's

Hello! It's the Monday after an awesome weekend and I have lots of pictures to share with you, especially from our day trip to Wales yesterday. But those will be complied in a separate post, so this post will focus on the other fun stuff that happened this weekend!
First of all I was having a great hair day and it needed to be documented

So like I mentioned, André came back to Nottingham on Thursday, and on Friday after my classes we just took it easy and made some dinner before meeting up with the other exchange students in the evening. The original plan was to go and play pool, but the place we had picked out turned out to be a members only bar, so we ended up at a bar called The Bank instead. They didn't have a pool table, but the drinks were cheap and they had room for our rather big group, so in the end I don't think anybody cared even though we didn't get to play pool. 

The only picture I took on Friday :D

On Saturday the weather was so wonderful - sunny and close to 15 degrees. Me and André definitely wanted to take advantage of the weather and headed to the Arboretum to catch some rays for a couple of hours. Once we got hungry we headed to Wagamama's which is a place I have been duying to try out for as long as I've been in Nottingham. I guess it's mostly Japanese food but they also have some other Asian dishes. André had a Noodle dish and I chose the Chicken Teryaki Donburi and it was sooo good. That pared with the chili squid we had as an appetizer and the Japanese asahi beer, I couldn't have asked for a better meal. Definitely recommend on going!




The rest of the day we pretty much spent in bed, napping and watching How To Get Away With Murder. We just finished the first season and we're both dying to find out what happens next...

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Things to look forward too

Blogging two days in a row? I know, it's almost unheard of. Actually I have a day off today (like every Tuesday and Thursday, lucky me) and I've already managed to do the majority of my not-so-big to-do-list: finish my formative bibliography assignment which is due tomorrow and do the laundry. André doesn't arrive until half past 9 tonight so I basically have a full day of no plans, and even if it is sunny outside it is sooo windy, so I don't really feel like stepping out of my room either. 

Instead I thought I'd do a blogpost on some of the fun things I have planned for the next few months, and although I might've mentioned most of them, this time I'll go in on the plans in more detail.

Snowdonia

This Sunday me, André and a bunch of the other exchange students are taking a trip to Snowdonia, which is a mountainous region and a national park in the north of Wales. The trip is organized by Citylife Nottingham which is the organization that has organised the pub crawls and the meet and speak events I've been to in the past. They've also made a lot of other trips to various parts of the UK, but this is the first one I will attend. The weather is supposed to be pretty nice this weekend as well, and from what I've seen the views are absolutely stunning so I'm looking forward to a beautiful day out in nature!

Just a few pics I found through a google search... it looks so amazing!



Edinburgh & Glasgow

On the 3rd of April me and André are going to Scotland! I'm so happy I get to go back to Edinburgh after 3 years! Some of you may know that I got the chance to go to Edinburgh in 2014 through my department at my University and stay there for 3 weeks. This time I really want to do the things that I didn't do last time but also show André the places where I spent my time during those weeks. As for Glasgow, I don't know what to expect because I've never been there before. But from what I've hear, it's a very cool, hip and urban city which will be a joy to explore!
One of my fondest memories from Edinburgh was hanging out in the meadows with my classmates!
Last time I just took pictures of the castle but didn't go in - maybe this time I will? 

London

Obviously the recent attack in London was very scary and very sad - it makes you wonder if you can ever really feel safe again or if these types of horrible, senseless killings are just what we have to regard as a norm nowadays. I don't want to get too much into my views on the current political state of the world but I just feel sad seeing this cycle be repeated and not knowing how to make things better. I guess all we can do, as individuals and as human beings, is trying to spread love and understanding, and not to choose hate, anger or revenge. 

I very much look forward to mine and Andrés trip to London, especially because I'm finally going to see The Phantom of The Opera which has been a dream of mine ever since I first saw the movie when I was 11 years old! We're also planning on visiting the British Museum and Tate Modern, obviously doing some sightseeing of the biggest attractions and maybe even doing some shopping.

And you bet I will be singing along!
 And in May...?

I just received confirmation about the last exam I have here, which will take place on the 5th of June. The news is both good and bad I suppose - I actually have my accommodation until the 6th of June, which works out perfectly with the exam date, but I was hoping that the last exam would have been a bit earlier because the other deadlines for my essays are before the 12th of May. That essentially means that between the 12th of May and the 5th of June I have nothing. That's almost a month of no classes... Mine and Andrés families are visiting in the last week of May, but other than that I have no plans. So I guess that means I should start looking into other places to travel to while I'm still here. I'd love to go somewhere in Southern England, like Bristol, or perhaps to Ireland, or maybe even France? The pans are very open at the moment, and I guess it mostly will depend on what my financial situation looks like at that time!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

St. Patrick's & Shitty Hockey

It's been a while but I've been waiting for the pictures from St. Patrick's day to get posted on facebook, so that I could use them here. Unfortunately, they ended up not posting the one picture of me and André that I was really looking forward to seeing :( So that was a bummer but luckily I still managed to take some pictures myself!

The St. Patrick's Day bar crawl was a lot of fun and I especially liked it because all of the places we went to were new to me apart from the first bar. I really liked Revolution and their specialty seemed to be a very wide range of different vodka flavors. They had everything from peanut butter & jam to apple to birthday cake to popcorn, and although I did not have any myself, they looked and smelled really good. I also really liked the last club Pom Pom in terms of the look and kinda interior design of the place, but it was very crowded (not a surprise considering it was St. Patrick's day) and in the end I got very tired so we did end up not staying for that long. But I did have a really great night and I loved that André was there to experience it!



On Saturday I woke up with a soar throat, and I just knew the exchange student flu had finally caught up with me. Pretty much everybody I know has been sick and somehow I've avoided it, but now I must've been infected my André. So Saturday was a very chill day and we spent most of it in bed to be honest, but we did manage to make a quick trip into to the city to have something to eat. We ended up with Five Guys and omg, the burgers are just so. good. It was the second time I ate there and it was even better this time I'd say.

On Sunday me and André went to the movies to see Logan. We had both heard that it was good and it had gotten pretty good reviews, and although I thought it was good (and it referenced one of the books I just read for one of my classes here which got me real excited) I didn't find it amazing. It was just a little bit too violent for me and honestly, I'm not really that into Wolverine either way. Speaking of superheroes, I just read that the new Avengers movie will be filmed in Edinburgh during the time that me and André are there! Who knows - maybe I'll meet Robert Downey Jr in a couple of weeks?

My favorite character from the movie was definitely Laura, she reminded me very much of Eleven from Stranger Things... can't wait for season 2 btw!


On Monday it was time for André to go home, but not or long because he'll be here again tomorrow. His easter break has already begun and he has five (!) weeks off, and since everybody in York has either gone home or travelling, his campus is pretty much dead. Otherwise my Monday was spent in bed, trying to get better. Right now I feel much better than I did a couple of days ago, but I think I'm still a couple of days away from being completely well.

Yesterday me and some of the other exchange students went to see a friendly game of hockey between Nottingham Trent University and The University of Nottingham. I obviously know that hockey isn't as big here as it is in Finland, but I still didn't expect the players to be as bad as they were! I mean, I would say that when we played hockey during gym class in high school in Finland we played much much much better than they did last night... The players were falling on the ice, not hitting the puck and it was all a big mess to be honest. So it was definitely a bit of a let down but at least I got to hang out with some friends and have a beer. And besides, the last hockey game I went to was an NHL game, so maybe my expectations were just a little bit too high :D

I was really feeling my bun yesterday, and so were other people apparently 'cause I got lots of compliments on them!


Today I've already been to the University campus for a lecture and seminar, and afterwards I stopped my Andrea's for some sushi and coffee. I've been contemplating the last to days whether or not to go to basketball today, and I've finally decided that I feel well enough to go, but I will try to take it easy. The weather is really awful today, so before that I will just crawl in bed and perhaps watch an episode of How To Get Away With Murder which me and André just started watching!

Monday, March 13, 2017

I'm a witch

The last week pretty much flew by and now it's already Monday again! Last week I had something fun planned for pretty much every day, starting with some coffee in a cute cafe with some of the girls, as well as some shopping. I also had basketball in the evening, which is pretty much always a great time. The last session was really fast-paced, and I was so tired afterwards, I fell asleep before midnight, which is pretty unusual for me!

I also facetimed with Emppu and I miss her (and my other friends) very much!

On Thursday the weather was so nice, and England isn't exactly known for having good weather, so I took the most out of the sun and headed to the Arboretum, which is a park close to the city campus. It was so nice to just sit in the sun and read a book, but I did also get company from Lisa and her boyfriend later on. I'm definitely heading back to that park again, as soon as the weather allows it! In the evening I went to Andrea's place for some wine and crackers, and we also made a very brief appearance at the meet and speak. All in all I had a wonderful Thursday, but I couldn't wait to go to bed because on Friday I was heading to York to see André!


Decided to start in time on a book which I will have a presentation on this Friday. I was feeling a bit panicked because the book is over 500 pages! When I took a closer look, however, noticed the book actually consisted of four different books, and I only had to read the first one, which was like 120 pages. I felt very relieved, to say the least...

Apparently though, I have terrible luck with trains. Last time I took the train to York it was over 40 minutes late - this time the whole train was cancelled! Fortunately there was another train I could take, but it did leave an hour later, so I was forced to wait by the station for that time. I was pretty frustrated, just because my trips to York are short as it is because I have classes on both Friday and Monday. The most important thing I guess is that I eventually made it to York and had a really wonderful weekend!

On Saturday André made me some pancakes for breakfast (how lucky am I not to have a man who makes me pancakes?) and after lunchtime we headed towards the city. We just strolled around for a bit, but also had a light lunch snack in form of a roast sandwich from the York Roast, and at three we had tickets to the York Dungeons. The Dungeons is basically an interactive theater, which tells the (rather scary) stories of York in the medieval times. I've actually been to the Dungeons in Edinburgh before, and it was one of the favorite things I did there, so I definitely wanted to go to the one in York as well. I don't want to give too much away if there's perhaps someone thinking of going, but I laughed and I screamed and eventually I was burned at the stake (it's true, I'm actually a witch). Anyways, I highly recommend going if you have a chance!
The flowers by York Minster were beautiful!

Awkward posing, lol



On Sunday it was already time to leave, but this time I did not feel as sad as the last time (didn't even shed a tear!) because I knew I would see André soon again. And although I love to go to York, I do have to say that two people sleeping in a bed that is meant for one person is not very good on my back... luckily I have a pretty big bed here in Nottingham where we both fit just fine! This week I feel like is going to go by even faster, because I have lots of things to do: Tomorrow we are celebrating Anne's birthday and I'm actually going a bit wild and going out in the middle of the week (can you believe it? Little old me! I used to do it plenty of times in my younger days but it's been a while, I have to say). On Wednesday I am planning on attending my nine a clock lecture (oh lawd help me) and I obviously have basketball in the evening, then on Thursday evening André will be here so I'll have to finish my homework, work on a presentation and go grocery shopping and on Friday we're going on a St. Patrick's day pub crawl! Fun week ahead, and I'm soooo ready for it!