Back in Business

This spring I’ve noticed that I haven’t been that faithful to my beloved camera, having neglected it during my thesis writing process. Now that my studies are finally over, I can once again focus on my other interests, such as photography.

A couple of months ago, my “not so trustworthy” work companion resigned i.e. my computer died on me, leaving me not only deprived of Photoshop, but it also left me in a problematic situation where I had to write the rest of my thesis on a laptop smaller than most women’s purses. This is one of the reasons why updates on this site have been scarce during the past months, but I am working on correcting this void of pictures and text here. Starting today.

Now, for many when I say I am from Finland, the image in their mind is that I live here among Penguins, Eskimos and other characters related to cold snowy scenery. Many are even disappointed when I, like the mythbuster, bust their images and stories about Finland, unraveling the country to be a fairly normal European state. Especially Helsinki feels like any other seaside city. For some reason though, I have been more “camera shy” here than I have in other places, not taking my camera out as easily as in some other cities. Today as I toured the busy marketplaces in Helsinki, I noticed that I had far less of an edge to take pictures. Why? Because there were tons of tourists taking pictures as  well, thus no one really noticed that I snapped a few “hipshots” of random objects ( which are usually the most interesting to me).

It is no secret that Helsinki is not as busy, pedestrian-wise, as Berlin, where I could easily take pictures about anything, since everyone was doing this, but try taking a picture in mid-March at an intersection in midtown Helsinki: You will get noticed. Sure many at this point say that “so what if you get noticed?”, well, there is some culture aspect of myself, which makes me at times want to blend in with the masses, not on purpose, but that’s how many feel in Finland “don’t stick out of the crowd” “just follow the others” “do what others do”.  The only way to get rid of a mindset like that is to act against it. Sure, it might be at first difficult for some, easy for others, but in general we should all learn to live not fearing what others think of us.

Again, this is perhaps just me being me, but I thought I’d share my 2 cents alongside a couple of nice photos that I randomly took during my walk in the city today.

I couldn’t decide which one of the traffic light pictures was best, so I made a compromise and put both up. Feel free to tell me your opinion, whether colours are in or are two gradients enough to make a picture.

 

“Red brick” Wednesday

Good day people! As promised the cold pics keep on coming like the hits from your local radio station (with a bit more originality in the selection though ;) ). Among these photos is one of my favourite pictures of this year, so far. I don’t exactly know why I like these “red brick buildings”, but I at least think they look nice when contrasted to the white snow :)

More photos again tomorrow, don’t forget to check ’em out!

 

Spring-Cleaning

As mentioned in the previous post a while ago, Spring often brings along with it not only the warmth of the soon to arrive summer, but for many people the sudden enthusiasm towards household chores. A phenomenon first mentioned in 1857 (Merriam-Webster), spring-cleaning is the task of doing a thorough cleaning of a place. I already did some cleaning here on my page, but now it was time to go to work on my picture folders and take out the trash (so to speak)!

This spring I have been heavily occupied with my Bachelor’s thesis ( which is nearly finished, thank you for asking), but I still managed to go out and take a lot of pictures, which I sadly didn’t really have time to work on in photoshop…that is until now. Seeing that even in the coldest corners of the world (ok, Finland is still relatively warm) the sun has done its magic and scorched the earth so efficiently that snow is nearly a thing of the past, I felt it was also appropriate to get the “snow” out of my picture collections. I devoted an hour today to go through my folders like a raccoon going through trashcans, finding eventually some bits and pieces worthy of my time.

This week I’ll be serving up a couple of cold pictures from late February  each day till Friday  so as to not overload people with sudden feelings of “chillyness”.  To start the week off here are the first few cold pictures to remind us, when we complain about the “not so warm” weather that it could always be worse.

The Tallest Building in Helsinki

For someone who’s never been in Helsinki, or looked at pictures of the city online, it might come as a surprise that the tallest building in midtown HKI is a mere 15-16 floors,give or take.  Now, I am not going to lecture you about it’s history, that you can find on Wikipedia(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hotel_Torni). However, what I am going to do is simply share a couple of photos of the Nordic capital that is Helsinki. So, without further ado I give you a few glimpses over this lil’ ol’ town, which I took as I had a coffee up on top of the Hotel Torni in the rather nice Cafe Ateljee.

 

 

 

 

 

Changes

It’s been a while since I last wrote here, me being mainly preoccupied by other things in my life. Probably the biggest change that has happened during my “radio silence” is that I no longer reside in Germany, but in Finland, yet again.

I left Berlin on the 23rd of December, arriving in Finland nearly directly for Christmas. The last weeks that I spent in Berlin were without a doubt one of the most, sentimental or tough ones I had yet gone through, because it really felt, and still feels, that I merely left behind 1,5 years of my life in Berlin. Living abroad I can say, cheesy at it may sound, changed me for the better. I was already a rather independent person as well as outgoing, but being able to live in a new country and moreover being able to integrate into that culture was something I will never forget. I truly started to feel like a Berliner, not a random tourist living in Berlin, but a Berliner.

It is an odd feeling when one returns to their “own culture” and country, these “reverse cultureshock” symptoms are very familiar for people who have lived abroad for a period of time. I myself luckily was preoccupied with a bunch of things, when I returned to Finland, not having time to sink into my own thoughts about this sudden change in my surroundings. The Holiday season kept me from thinking about the life I had in Berlin and comparing it to my life in Finland. It is only now that I am here, back in Helsinki, writing this that I have had the time to fully start to understand my experiences abroad, and actually that was the plan. During this Spring, whilst I am writing my Bachelors thesis, I will also have a critical look on the Finnish culture and see whether I really want to spend the rest of my life in this country or would I consider living abroad again.

My initial feelings being back up north ( as in North Europe), are a bit mixed. To a certain extent I enjoy how clear and easy everything is, considering everyday issues such as bureaucracy since here everything can be done swiftly online, whereas in Berlin I had to queue in physical offices often to get things done. This said, the whole “efficiency” of everything also brings to mind a very “black and white” society. What I mean by this is that, everything is regulated and there is no “middle ground” in anything, or so it feels. Laws and rules are to be followed to a T, and while this is a mostly a good thing, preventing our “peace loving” society from going into chaos, it does also make the whole country feel a bit dull.

During my stay in Berlin I learned to understand more fully that up north, as in the Nordics, people are not trusted as much to make decisions by themselves but there are laws and guidelines to tell them what they should do and when. Me being a young student, the most notable difference is the alcohol legislation. In Berlin if a person wanted to buy a beer, it was up to them to decide when they wanted to buy it or if they felt like going to a club later than usual and leave in the morning they could do so. In Finland, alcohol is sold between 9 AM and 9 PM, after which if you want to have a casual beer, you have to head to a pub or a bar, which close at 1.30 AM or at latest 3.30 AM. Now I understand that the culture here is very different, but it just takes time to realise again that I am living in a country with very strict control from the state. Control does not always have to be associated with negative thoughts, the state here has a lot of control over people, but on the flip side of the coin the state also helps its citizens a lot. For this I do love Finland. Nevertheless, it will take me a bit of time to get re-integrated into my own culture, if I want to do this that is.

It is funny to see how many stereotypes about cultures actually are rather true. I was for a walk in the city center, here in Helsinki, and started to notice that people rarely look each other in the eyes, but rather keep their heads low and tried in all situations not to draw attention to themselves. Now, I am not saying I would be terribly different from said street dwellers, but I just found it funny how silent we indeed are as a people. The culture itself is not going to change, that is up to each and every individual themselves to decide how they want to act. Finns will for a long time be the silent, “shyish” but trustworthy people of the North.I at least will try to challenge myself to continue breaking those stereotypes, striking conversations with strangers and being even more polite, to begin with.

Only time will tell, where I will find myself after this spring. The biggest challenge for me this spring is to write my thesis and start to wonder what to do next. I am strongly considering applying for masters programmes here in Finland and at least in Germany, but beginning a working career would not be out of the question either if the right opportunity were to come along.

The next blog posts will be far more “lighter” topic wise, as I will try to get back on track with taking photos and such, but I will also be heavily preoccupied with my thesis work, so we will see how often I am able to post stuff online.

To end the first post of the year,  here are a couple of pictures taken during the past month, one being the last one from Berlin and the others depicting my up north home-town.