Saturday, 7 January 2012

See Facebook for more

I came back from a holiday in Finland yesterday. To read about my trip, and learn more become a fan of Frozen in Finland on Facebook:

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

New professional practice blog

As I am now in England I will no longer be updating this blog, at least not until next summer. I have a professional art practice blog, where I will document the work I am currently doing - portraits of the many significant people I met during my time in Finland. I hope my readers here will take a similar interest in this work.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011


I feel I need to thank the following people:

My parents, for their help and generosity, despite thinking this was an awful idea; my friends in England for their encouragement; Emmi, Emma and Tommi, Suski and Niklas, without whom I doubt I'd have managed; Heli and Iida, who were wonderful to live with; Jaakko; Toomas, Heli, Meri, Tari, Nelli, Vikke and Maria, Juli, Tero, Maria, Petteri, Kata and her family, the Setala family; Suomen Filateliapalvelu; Little Britannia; all the people who have read this blog, commented, sent me emails and packages, recognised me in the street, and generally been lovely.

Nice one.

The end of year essay

I'm still shocked that it's all over, and I'm not quite sure how to put it all into words. I'm still trying to get accustomed to being back in England, I'm feeling very slow and tired, and still quite unhappy. Things are better than expected - I thought I'd be crying constantly at this point. Turku already feels so far away, even though I've been talking to my friends pretty much constantly since I left. Everything feels like maybe it was just a dream.
I look back on the past year with pride and happiness. I came through a lot of things, many of which were far too personal to write about here. As you all know, the circumstances in which I went to Finland were not the best, and when I think about it I realise more and more how utterly miserable I was a year ago. Being in Finland encouraged me to get my life back as I wanted it to be, and I certainly did do that!
Living in Finland was definitely not always straightforward. At times I was so scared I could have jumped on a plane home, so frustrated I could have killed someone, and so confused I just wanted to curl up and cry. However, I can say with absolute certainty that it was worth the trouble I endured. Although my memories of winter mainly consist of unhappiness, it wasn't too long before things turned around. It certainly wasn't easy, as I have stated before, but it worked out. I really think that one of the reasons this blog has become so popular is because I haven't pretended that everything was perfect all the time. I've been honest about the problems I've experienced, most of which are just an unavoidable part of immigration.
Despite these things, I've had the chance to learn so much, try many new things, and make wonderful friends, some of whom I cannot imagine my life without. On so many occasions I just stopped for a moment and thought of how amazing it all was. I think when I first arrived I didn't really believe I could make it through, but I did. I am a much stronger person today than I was when I went to Finland. I found so much happiness in Turku, even when things weren't quite going to plan. I've learned to look past the difficulties, and appreciate all the good things that there are. I really never thought that things would go so well for me, even though I often had to struggle through.
I have had so many wonderful new experiences in the past year; opportunities I would not have had in my own country. Not all of them were huge or significant, but they still mattered to me. Even things like trying a new food have their value. I'm so glad I got to travel a bit and see some new places, such as Tampere and Norway. I've learned so much about a foreign culture, which has been fascinating. Even though I've done many good things, I still feel there's more for me to do in Finland. I missed out on some things I hoped to do, due to time and money constraints. I never went to Sweden or Poland, and I never went to Muumimailmaa when it was actually open. But I will, I know I will, because I'll be back.
After a while I really felt at home in Finland, and on Monday I felt like I was leaving my home. It amuses me that I feel this way because on my first visit to Helsinki, two years ago, I didn't even like it much and suspected that I wouldn't return. How things have changed! Maybe I just needed to spend more time in the country, or maybe Turku is the place for me. There are so many people who are close to me in Turku, and a few in other places, and maybe that's why I was so comfortable. I'm impressed that I managed to find people who I got on with so well and became close to, considering the cultural and linguistic barriers. I have been extremely lucky.
Luck is definitely the overwhelming feeling for me. I feel lucky to have survived, to have received so much help, and to have been so fortunate. If I hadn't needed to leave now I doubt I ever would have.
I'm very much looking forward to the holidays I'll be taking in Finland in the coming year, and to moving back permanently next summer. I'm just going to keep working until that day comes. I think I'll be visiting Tampere and Turku in December, and I can't wait, even though it'll be dark and cold.
I think the whole experience was too immense to just describe here. I don't think I can really explain it all. However, I would encourage anyone who wants to do the same thing to just do it. Whichever country it is, however hard you think it'll be - just do it. There will be numerous difficulties, and you might think you'll go mad, but it is a hugely rewarding thing to do. My life is much richer for having had this experience, and has also improved immensely. I think it might actually have saved my life, although I never thought the effect on me would be so great. I have no regrets.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

It's over

I'm now in England, at my parents' house.
Right now I'm not feeling very happy, plus I'm pretty tired and listless, so I'm going to take a bit of time to calm down and relax before writing the "end of year essay." Maybe tomorrow. Basically, I'm safe, I'm alive, and I wish I was in Finland.

Friday, 2 September 2011

The last week

I cannot believe this is my last week in Turku, but at least I am having a wonderful time.
It started on Tuesday, when I got a lovely surprise in the evening. I was sitting outside a bar having a drink with Emmi, we were chatting normally, and she suddenly told me not to scream. I didn't understand what she meant, she looked away, and when I looked in the same direction my boyfriend was there walking towards us! He was meant to arrive on Wednesday morning but he decided to secretly come early, and Emmi was enlisted to get me in the right place at the right time. I was laughing hysterically for about 20 minutes! It was brilliant.
The next day I decided I'd like to have a long walk around the city to see some places that have been special to me. My boyfriend isn't very familiar with Turku so we both enjoyed it, and we walked for a couple of hours. We visited a couple of parks which I've spent time in, including one with views of all of Turku. I've written about going there several times, and it's a place I'm very fond of. We also walked past the house I lived in when I first came here, and alongside the river. As I was pointing things out to him I realised how many important places there are for me here, and how much I've done. It was a really nice thing to do whilst I still can.
We didn't do so much yesterday, except go shopping with Emmi, but tonight I'm having a leaving party. I hope I can see many of my friends over the weekend, and I'm looking forward to it.
I'm still sad to be going, and it hasn't quite sunk in yet, but there are a few positives. New people have moved into my house this week and it doesn't feel the same. One of my flatmates agreed, and she now wants to move out too. I don't mind leaving the house now. More and more i'm looking forward to getting back to my education; I'm definitely ready when it comes to that. I'm glad I have something to keep me busy in the coming year.
This might be the last entry I write whilst in Finland. When I get to England I will write something to try to sum up my feelings and experiences, and get started on a professional blog about my art practice. I hope my readers will take an interest in that too, as I'm planning to make work about people I know in Turku. I've decided that the Frozen in Finland Facebook page will remain, and contain more updates about the artwork. Hopefully no one will lose interest. Who knows, maybe when I come back here I'll resurrect this blog.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Finnish things I'll miss

There's now only a week to go! This time next Monday I'll be getting myself together - meaning, having a massive freak-out. As sad as I am, I'm really looking forward to going back to university. I've got some really good ideas going, and as I'm sure the tutors will be insistant on seeing how the past eyar has affected me, I'll be making work about the people I've met here. When I get back to England I'll probably start a professional blog about my art practice, so maybe you can all read that instead of this.
Anyway, as time is runnign out, here is a list of stuff from Finland that I'm really going to miss.

1. Hesburger
Maybe it's because I'm a vegetarian, but I'd rather have Hesburger than any of the chains in England. The veggie burger in Burger King is at least edible, but I wouldn't go near McDonalds. The falafel burger in Hesburger is a beautiful thing, and I'll miss it. I should definitely get food from there once more in the coming week.

2. Karelian pies
I consider this to be Finland's Cornish pasty, as it originates from one specific area but is now popular everywhere. Plus I'm from Cornwall so I like the idea. They are extremely tasty - definitely my favourite Finnish food. I'll be able to get them from the Suomalainen Kirkko in London, but they'll probably be very expensive. I'd encourage people to try them, because you won't be disappointed. I don't eat them with egg butter, as I don't like hardboiled eggs, but even on their own they taste amazing.

3. Lonkeros
This is a Finnish alcoholic mixed drink, and many Finnish people have been astonished to hear that they don't exist in England. I can understand that, as they're probably the most normal thing to drink after beer. They come in lots of flavours, my favourites being Cranberry and Mojito. They're pretty cheap too. Hopefully Finnish visitors to London can stick a few in their suitcases for me.

4. My house
I actually really love the house I live in now. We all make jokes about what a dump it is, and to be fair our flat isn't very well maintained, and not always as clean as it could be, but I still love it. It has character, and I've had a good time there. Even though I have the shitty small room due to my lack of stuff, it's cosy and comfortable. I can hear the tuomiokirkko bells ringing in my bedroom. The building is old and beautiful, much nicer than the more modern buildings. It's in the centre of town, so everything is accessible, and I've been very happy there.

5. The river
I'm lucky enough to live close to the River Aura, and I've enjoyed many walks alongside it. It's a bit murky, but all summer it's been lovely because so many special events for the Capital of Culture have been happening in that area. There are little pieces of artwork all around the river, which has been interesting to see. When the weather was warmer I often sat by the river and sketched or read a book, and it's been lovely. Of course, we can't forget the little dip I took in it at Juhannus. My finger is still misshapen. Living in Finland literally scarred me for life.

6. Arnold's coffee shop
This is a chain, and I'm not sure if it's Finnish or foreign, but I know it doesn't exist in England. They have amazing vegetarian toasties. Emmi and I have spent many hours there drinking coffee and putting the world to rights. It's not particularly unique or exciting, but we've spent a lot of time there, so it's important.

7. Recycling cans
In Finland, and I think other Nordic countries, you can recycle drinks bottles and cans and get money back for them. It's not a lot of money per item but it adds up. Not only does this system encourage people to recycle, it can save you when you're really broke. On more than one occasion taking cans to the shop has allowed me to have dinner that evening. You used to be able to do this in England, and I think it's a wonderful idea that should work everywhere.