Relaxing Sunday and encounters with Chinese

Dear Internet,

It’s Sunday evening again. Time to write some blog again. Today has been quite active Sunday. I studied some Chinese in the morning, then took some of my belongings to my friend’s place. I’m in a happy situation, that I can give away my apartment for the time I’m travelling (2½ weeks), so that I can save money on rent. Also got to meet some old neighbors, which made me happy. Living alone is sort of nice, but today’s experience made want to be closer to people again. In fact, I actually don’t have many friends here outside work/kendo/Toastmasters. Or I keep telling myself, that I’m too busy to meet those few people I could meet. Also, I’ve been trying to be active even on Sundays, meaning that I try to study, exercise and prepare for the next week. I think, I should allow more free time for myself to have social life with people.

A funny thing happened. I decided to have a healthy dinner at McDonald’s. Didn’t really think what to eat so just got something familiar. I have to say, ordering at McD’s is so easy. They have a machine that you can use for ordering and paying with credit card. They will even bring the food to your table, so you can take all your time selecting what you want and sit down to wait for them bring you your meal. But back to the story, as I was sitting and fiddling my cellphone after eating my hamburger, a young Chinese girl sat opposite to me. She was wondering how to use a cellphone charger that was connected to the table. I started helping her and I could pick up few words she was saying. She didn’t even try to speak English to me, she was talking in quite clear Mandarin all the time. By clear, I mean that it was easy to hear the vowel and consonant sounds, although I wouldn’t understand the meaning of words. Her boyfriend showed up and sat next to her, with a tray full of food. They started offering me their food as well, so I started eating their French fries one by one (I had just had my own meal, so wasn’t that hungry anymore). How nice of them. I didn’t want to leave, so we kept conversing in my bad Chinese. The boyfriend had so thick dialect and fast pace, that I couldn’t really understand anything what he was saying. Problems have solutions, so we started chatting on WeChat. The girl left early and I stayed with her boyfriend chatting with bad Chinese. That was actually quite fun. I should do it more often 😃

I have also discovered, that the local Starbucks has some special handmade coffees as well. I tried a pour-over, which wasn’t a new thing for me, but was better than normal coffee. But what was more interesting, that the next day I tried something called Siphon coffee brewing (pictures below). They said that there would be more body and taste in the coffee, so I gave it a try.

So, I had coffee that looks like it’s made in a lab. Or with a bong. A new experience what so ever. Will try it again when I have time. I have also discovered, that there are many traditional tea stores close to my apartment. Funny, how you don’t realize these places before you have stay here for several months. Always pretending to be busy. I should start trying them more often. I think I’ve had local traditional tea only twice while I’ve been here.

On the other hand. Work has been going well. Have energy to do stuff. A Typhoon came twice this week, on Wednesday and now on Sunday. Preparing for next week’s trip to China and Japan. Going to be busy and fun, I hope.

See you next week!

Lauri

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Life in HK, WeChat, history etc.

Dear All,

It’s this time of the week again. I’m sitting in Starbucks and trying to be creative. This week has been quite active. Not really sure why. When I returned back to HK, settling down felt so difficult. This week has been the opposite. I’ve been able to concentrate and get lots of things done. Maybe even too much things, considering that normally I’m not this active. I hope the feeling continues.

I have to say, that during past few months I have integrated Chinese WeChat-messaging application to my worklife. (Those who are not familiar with WeChat, it’s similar to WhatsApp, Line, Kakao etc. Except that it has almost a billion users.) Especially when communicating with Mainland Chinese, they tend to answer to WeChat more faster than to email. Taken, if they ever response to your email (or even read it). Such a difference in communication culture. Also what I’ve become fond of, is the voice messaging function. No, it’s not a new function. I think it’s been around for several years already, but I have just lately realized how convenient it is to communicate with leaving voice messages, rather than typing. Voice can have so much more information than text. And sometimes it’s also easier to just press a button, babble for 30sec and then send your greetings or whatever you wanted to convey.

I have also explored my surroundings where I’m living. It’s funny, I have stayed in this same apartment since March, and now I have realized few nice restaurants close by, big Starbucks and a rather affordable GYM, that I’m planning on joining. It’s funny how when you’re busy (or just think that you’re busy), you don’t really see what’s around you, except your favorite grocery store, laundry service and couple of 7elevens. Well, I think it was similar in Finland as well. Haha.

This week I met a dear friend of mine, who has also been staying in Asia for several years. He used to be a high school exchange student in Hong Kong and he learned a lot about HK history from his host family. He was telling me about all sorts of things about past poverty in HK, people growing up in harsh environment and martial artist battles in early 1900’s. This makes me thinking, how valuable homestay experience can be. I remember, when I was staying in a family in Japan, we discussed about the 90’s recession and how the life was back then. After all, my host family was in working force that time, so they could tell their experience in how the “bubble economy” affected their life and raising children. Well, sounds good, but that homestay experience wasn’t such a great success, but that’s a story for another time.

IMG_20170818_133055
Swedish meatballs. Traditional Hong Kong dish 😉

I also participated in Nordic Summer Lunch on Friday. Go to meet other Scandinavians, or Scandinavia-minded people. One way to network and find new people to hang out. Hope to see everyone on barnight next Friday 😉

I think this is going to be it for this time. Tomorrow I’ll start an effective week again and prepare for a trip to Mainland China and Japan. Work work work, busy busy busy.

Best,

Lauri

A week in Thailand

Dear Internet,

I just came back from a little over a week trip to Thailand. I was visiting one of our (Asia Exchange’s) partner universities and our students. It was really nice to meet so many students who are getting their first experience of living and studying abroad. Makes me feel really old, since my study abroad experiences have been few years behind. But the international life continues in Hong Kong. I have discussed with some of my adult friends, who have also told me about the long-term effects of adapting into a new culture. Although I’ve gotten used to life in Hong Kong, I can say, that I haven’t yet adapted 100% to the local way of life. I’m not sure if I ever will be.

But anyways, it was my first trip to Thailand. I was suprised, that the weather was actually cooler and less humid than in Hong Kong, so it was much easier for me to be there, haha. But then someone said, that it’s low-season, meaning that it’s not the hottest and most humid season. I suppose it’s going to be similar than what I’ve experienced in HK or Japan.

At Thailand, I learned, that the Thai people smile for everything. There are 13 different smiles with various meanings. It felt similar to Japanese smiling, since in Japan they are showing their official side by smiling. In that sense, it wasn’t a complete culture shock to me. More like, something familiar but a bit different.

This trip was culturally very interesting for me. I think, that I could stay longer in Thailand as well. Learn the culture, learn the language. You know, it’s what I like to do. Also, spending time with students made me secretly want to work in a university again. Haha. Perhaps someday again. Someday.

Tomorrow I’ll take part in a Toastmasters Speech Contest. It’s going to be fun, because the genre is Humorous Speech. I’m not sure, how it’ll go, but it’s going to be a new experience anyways.

A shorter one this time.

Best,

Lauri

Long time no see

Dear reader,

It’s been a while. I have to admit, I haven’t been that active with my blog during the summer. I spent my summer in Finland and came back to Hong Kong a week ago. There has been lots of ideas about what to write about, but I never really had time to sit down and write. Well, that’s life.

It was interesting to notice, that when I took my flight back to Finland, my life changed completely. I mean, I got back to the life that I was living in Finland, rather than continuing my hobbies in Hong Kong. I visited Toastmasters in Finland, which was nice, but I didn’t do kendo, although I had been prepared for that. Many years ago, I remember reading a story of someone who had lived abroad for five years and he was explaining the same. When you go back, you get back to your old life. Now that I have experienced the return to home country several times (remember, I have studied abroad many times), I could say that getting back to the old life might not be the best option. When you live abroad, it changes you, and you might not be fit for the “old life” anymore. I remember this was very difficult for me back in 2012 January when I came back from Japan to Finland.

Coming back to Hong Kong has actually been quite mentally exhausting. It helps to have local hobbies (Toastmasters, kendo) and know the surroundings, but I just don’t feel that excited here. Maybe it takes while to get used to the life again.

Like I mentioned in my May post, I have gotten married this year. Although we officially got married in May, we had the ceremony (blessing by church) and party in July. It was very heartwarming and nice day alltogether. The weather was really awesome and lots of friends and family gathered to our party. I’m not sure if my wife wants to post any pictures online, but I’ll post a few if I can.

The week went by quite fast. I’ve been dealing with jetlag and settling down in HK. I think this has been the worst jetlag-experience for me so far. I’m not sure why, but getting back to the life has been quite difficult, like I mentioned before. I’m trying to keep work-life-balance in my mind. There’s no point to exhaust myself to the point that I have to take sickleave from work. Luckily, I have noticed, that all my hobbies bring me energy and make my life more meaningful in Hong Kong. Not just the hobby itself, but all the people who are related to Toastmasters in HK and our kendoclub.

Now that I got back to the same room, that I was using in Hong Kong, I realized that there is quite nice noodleshop closeby. They have Taiwanese gyouza (dumplings) and noodles and weren’t that bad price either. This food makes me miss Taiwan. Luckily, Taiwan is only 1hr flight away from HK 🙂

And still few words about the intercultural angst. Lately I have started talking about these feelings to others and I’ve been happy, that people share their experiences. Even if it’s someone who stayed many years abroad and returned to their home, or someone who grew up in a different culture than his/her parents, it gives pleasures me greatly to know that I’m not alone with the feeling of living between cultures. In Finland, I noticed, that I had lots more energy everyday rather than in HK I’ve been feeling quite exhausted, sleepy and tired all the time. I came to realize, that living in my native-culture was much more easier, than living abroad. I mean, this is quite obvious, right? But it actually takes a lot to realize this and say it out loud, rather than just live your life without really giving it a thought.

Well, this is it for this week. Hopefully I’ll get back to you all on next Sunday.

Best,

Lauri

Routine week, ideas of support and some hiking

Dear All,

It’s this time of the week again. Time to write some blog!

This week has been quite energetic. I visited one really weird event on Monday, but was able to meet some friends there. Did kendo on Wednesday and Saturday and was working hard the other days. Maybe too much work, since I’ve been feeling a bit exhausted during the weekend.

I’ve been continuing on writing that learning diary. It’s kinda a fun to write down stuff and it takes only 5-10 minutes to do so. I’m not sure if it has helped me that much, but it’s a start. It’s going to be easier to keep track on my feelings for life, if I can record something written from time to time.

Today I woke up, studied some Chinese, slept again, woke up again and went out to see some friends. We decided to go on top of a small mountain to see the sunset. It was fun and not hard or exhausting at all. I should do that more often. I’ve just been obsessed with sleeping lately, so I haven’t had time to go hiking. I’ve still been looking for a balance in my life. I’ve been trying to avoid too much exercising and too much work. You know, work-life-balance. It’s difficult. Sometimes you have more energy than normally and sometimes you’re feeling more down than other times. I quess that’s life.

Today I was watching a short video that’s part of an online course that I bought last autumn. It was about mental support. Yes, I’ve talked about this before. I’m just thinking that, I should take some of my hobbies to the next level and try to include more people around them. Mainly the language learning. I feel that I would be more efficient if I got more support from… basically anyone. I used private teachers/tutors, but I would need someone to support me with studying outside classes. Like homeworks and so on. Something like language coaching. Peer support, setting goals, monitoring progress, giving me peptalk and such. I’m social and I need some kind of support in order to be more motivated. I can do stuff alone as well, but I work better, if I can do things together with someone. You know, “Let’s do it together!” kind of feeling.

In Hong Kong the atmosphere feels quite supporting. At least in my social life here, people seem to be happy to support me. Toastmasters, Kendo etc. The feeling is so much different than in Finland, although I’m starting to think that there were some few nice people in Finland…

Anyways, I still have few days left in Hong Kong. I’m flying back to Finland for the summer. I’m just running out of rye bread and Finnish chocolate. Good time on going back home. So next weeks post will be written in Finland.

Well, this is it for this week. Some new ideas again next week.

Lauri

Rest, Learning diary, Ice Hockey

Dear Internet,

It would seem that my new blogging routine is going to be on Tuesdays. I think Sunday is still better. Let’s hope I manage to write again this Sunday.

So what’s been going on. Last week I was super depressed first, but in the end I started being effective again. I’ve been catching up speed since Thursday or Friday and work has been going well. Huh huh. Still, long days are long.

Last week I had some sleeping problems. Yes, again. My rhytm went crazy and I wasn’t feeling good about it. From Friday I’ve been waking up properly. Having a proper daily routine actually makes me feel better. I hope I can keep it up.

Last Friday we had an after-work with my colleagues. Something we hadn’t done before, although we have been working together for few months. It was fun to have the team together outside of work, but I think we talked a bit about work related stuff. Anyways, we had some Lebanese food and went to a skybar. Hong Kong is full of skybars. So there are bars on rooftops of skyscrapers with great view.

I also started a new habit. I started writing learning diary. Or more like a short normal diary with some points of what did I learn today. I call it a learning diary. I try to keep it short. I have a small notebook (A5, I think) and I’ve restricted one entry for one page. So few points what was good today or bad or what made me feel good/bad/energized/depressed or anything. Maybe in time, it starts to look more like real learning diary. I used to write diary few years ago. Especially when I was in the army. I also found one entry from my current notebook, which was from January 2016. I was feeling down that time, so it’s nice to realize how much my feelings have improved in such a short time. Lots has also happened. I’ve been changing workplaces and even countries and cultures. I wonder where I’ll be in a year or two.

What else. There was the Finland-Sweden ice hockey match on Saturday. A group of maybe 30-40 Finns (and few Swedes) gathered in a bar in Hong Kong to see the game. Unfortunately we lost and had to endure all the hoorays of our Swedish companions. The match started past 1am. So I was super tired, but managed to talk with some people. We even had an afterparty at one couple’s rooftop. Wasn’t drinking, but we continued the evening until 7am. I was at home before 8am. I’m not sure when was the last time I stayed up until 8am and was sober. Probably when I was 18 and doing newspaper delivery during nights.

On Sunday, I just slept at home. It felt good. I had an online Chinese class at midday but after that I decided to stay home and rest. I think I should do that more often, since I have a bad habit of filling my schedule with too many hobbies and then being exhausted. I was thinking, maybe I should try to have Sundays free from any plans. Just stay home and read a book or watch TV or do something to take my mind away from the everyday stress.

Kendo has been good as well. Been getting some good vibes and ideas from the practice. Feeling like part of the team. I wonder what I’ll do in Finland. Continue there or just have a 7 weeks kendo-holiday. Since I’m going to live at our summer house, I can go running in difficult terrain (lots of uphills) and swim in the lake everyday. Don’t need a gym card or anything.

This week I’ll try to be effective and hardworking. So far it has been working. Just have to remember to sleep enough and not to drink too much coffee.

See you next time!

Lauri

 

Kendo, Finland, Marriage, feelings, huh huh

Dear Internet,

I’ve been silent for a while. First I was busy with kendo tournament. Then flying to Finland. I tried to start writing at Qatar’s Doha airport, but just didn’t have energy to write more than few sentences at the airport after a 8hrs flight. Then I was in Finland for a week. Then flew back to HK during Sunday. I had a 7hrs transit without internet, so again, I forgot to write. Then I started to forget that I actually had a blog. Interesting. Well, that’s life.

The kendo tournament went really well. It was a team tournament and my team won the first two matches, but at the knock-outs we lost. We had a nice international team and good spirit. Although the day was long, the feeling for the whole tournament was great. Never had similar feeling in Finland. I’m glad I decided to up kendo again at HK. We also have really quality practices and a lively group for after-parties.

Trip to Finland was nice. Although flying with transit flight is always a pain, Qatar airways was actually really nice. I spent the first flight watching movies and second flight sleeping. But you know, sleeping in airplane isn’t really a quality sleep. You wake up tired and dizzy. It was nice to visit Finland even for a short trip. My girlfriend’s sister came to visit Finland as well. So distance working and a family visit. Then came the actual purpose of the visit. My girlfriend and I decided to upgrade our relationship status from “engaged” to “married”. Yup, we got married. There’s going to be a bigger party later, but officially we have been married for almost two weeks.

I also visited our (Asia Exchange) Tampere office on Friday of that week. It was nice to be connected to the main office after being in HK for four months. I’m going there for the summer as well. Looking forward for it! In Finland I realized that it’s so much easier to get around in your native culture. Although I’m used to HK already, staying here feels to be taking more energy than giving it. I’m sure that after being in Finland for the summer, I will be more settled with my feelings whether I want to stay in HK or move back to Finland. Life in Finland is more relaxed, but Hong Kong has more to offer to me. Such a dilemma.

I’ve realized lately that I’m actually quite busy. At the same time I’m trying to have several hobbies and relax. I work 40hrs a week, go to Toastmasters, do kendo twice a week, go to fitclub once or twice a week and usually have a Chinese and Korean class. I also have bought two books lately, that I barely have time to read. If only I had more time and energy.

Anyways, when I was stuck at the Qatar Doha airport, I bought this book “The 80 minute MBA”. Since lately I’ve been thinking that I could continue my studies by doing an MBA, this book seemed like a good purchase, although it was really expensive (airport prices…). Actually, I wanted to check online if I could buy the book on Kindle and read it with my iPad, but the airport wifi was out of order, so couldn’t do so 😦 so I ended up paying 10USD more for the book. Well, at least I was entertained for few hours at the 7hours transit. Oh yeah, about the book. It gives some hints on to what kind of things should you think when considering an MBA. Of course, it’s not the whole course, but gives some idea on what and how to think.

Also, what I have lately realized that I have actually build a nice social life here in Hong Kong. I have nice colleagues and boss, I have Toastmasters friends, I have kendo friends, I have fitclub friends. Also some friends outside these groups. When making the decision, if to stay here in HK or going to Finland, I have to consider, that I have to build the social life all again. So it’s not just work I’m doing here, but also my hobbies here are important for me.

I think this will be enough for this time. Let’s hope I will have energy to write again on Sunday. See you hopefully then!

Lauri

Relaxing Sunday and lost cultural identity

Dear Internet,

This week has been better than before. I suppose the change in nutrition and the start of exercising had its effect on my sleeping problems. I don’t say the problem has completely been solved, but this week I have been able to wake up much earlier than before and been much more effective at work.

So what has changed? I started drinking more water. Around 3-5 liters per day. I’m more aware how much sugar I consume. I also don’t consume that much caffeine daily. When I came to Hong Kong, I would drink 3-4 cups of coffee a day plus 1-2 cans of Coke. Now I barely have one cup of coffee. Haven’t had Coke since I came back from Japan. Also instead of eating bread and cookies, I eat fruits and vegetables. (Those who have been to Asia know that bread here is mainly sweet with lots of sugar, therefore not very healthy. I miss my ryebread 😦 ) Funny thing, I actually bought a cookie yesterday, but didn’t really feel like eating it. Eventually I ate it, but it actually felt a bit bad to do so. Interesting, isn’t it.

I haven’t been to Toastmasters in a while. First I was sick, then three weeks away for business trip. Then the meeting was cancelled because of Easter. The other day I was thinking of the impact of Toastmasters for me. I think that the one most important part has been that I have learned to be more open with my feelings. It’s like, when you are sharing a story, it doesn’t really have an effect if you don’t put feeling into it. This is also something I have started feeling in my everyday life. Although I don’t do it enough, I think I have started to take few steps forward on the act of sharing emotions. Somebody might think that, “hey isn’t that normal?”, but when you have grown up in Finland, you know that talking about emotions and feelings isn’t normal. I’m pretty sure there are people who come from cultures where talking about feelings isn’t normal. This also takes me a step away from my Finnish roots. Or at least, that’s how I feel about it.

With a few friends I have talked about the feeling of being left out between cultures. It’s like, when you live abroad and find something new about yourself, but cannot really get back to your own culture. You’re not part of the new culture and don’t feel that you’re anymore part of your own culture. You’re somewhere between. I suppose those who have parents from different cultures might have this feeling when they might not completely be accepted to the culture where they are growing up and live far away from the culture of their other parent.

I’m glad that I get to have some routine days. Being three weeks on the road was actually quite exhausting. Now I just have to keep exercising and preparing for the upcoming events. Next Sunday there will be a Kendo Tournament here in Hong Kong. The next day I will heading to Finland for one week. Busy busy.

This Sunday has actually been quite nice. I slept late, woke up, relaxed, went to Starbucks to write some blog. Have been chatting with friends. Picked up laundry and bought some fruits. Back in Finland, one person from our Toastmasters club once gave a speech about how you should relax, since that is the time when you can dream, learn new things and recharge your batteries. Quite often I forget that and try to put too many things in my calendar. Especially for weekends. It’s so easy to think up lots of things for Saturday and Sunday, but sometimes it’s good to just stay low and do nothing. Well, I also had a Korean class, which went much better than normally, because I was more relaxed than usually.

Some pictures of this week’s meals. I was able to take part in a fancy dinner. Also tried something new this week. There are few restaurants we go to everyday so it’s nice to have something else once in a while.

See you again next week!

Lauri

Personal Support

Dear reader,

This week has been terrible. Last time I was in a capsule hotel when I updated my blog. The following morning I took all my airline-weight-limits exceeding luggage and was able to board the plane. Although I had bought ten extra kilos for my luggage, I still had to resort to lying and smuggling about half of my stuff to the plane. I used to do this a lot, back in the days, when I went to Japan for kendo. I think I’m getting too old for that. Maybe next time I’ll just take the minimum amount of luggage and try to stay within the weight limits.

After arriving safely back to Hong Kong, I’ve been feeling exhausted and dizzy all the time. I also decided to do a life-change and start more healthier life. Before going on a business trip to Taiwan and Japan, I bumped into this personal trainer in Hong Kong. I contacted her and we started chatting and decided that after I get back to Hong Kong, we’ll start to work on losing some kilos. I’ve been about 20kg overweight for so long. I feel tired easily, I’m in bad shape and I’ve been having problems with sleeping and waking up. If working with personal trainer makes any of these three problems better, I think the money invested will be worth it.

This takes us to today’s topic. Yes, I decided to have a topic, instead of writing what have I been doing. Today I want to talk about personal support. Especially paid services. I’m not sure is it a Finnish-thing, but many times when I think of investing money into something, people around me start making up ways to get similar service for free. Very sweet of them, but usually it doesn’t really work.

Let’s take an example of a language learning. Few years ago I tried this service called iTalki (www.italki.com). In short: iTalki matches language learners and teachers/tutors for online (Skype) classes. It’s 1-on-1, so you get all the attention from teacher/tutor. So for about a year and half I was trying to learn Chinese every now and then, but from last fall I decided to become more determined with studying Chinese and Korean and started investing more money in private classes. These classes cost about 10€/hour. Especially with Chinese, many tutors are even cheaper than that.

Anyways, when I would mention about this to my friend, many would answer: “Hey, I have a Chinese friend, you can talk with him/her, don’t have to pay.” A nice gesture, but in the end it doesn’t really work. At least not for me. Having a private tutor is good, since you don’t have to feel embarrassed about speaking, since you don’t really know the person. I’ve tried similar with friends, but I would be really nervous about talking to friends that I usually talk with some other language. Also, many iTalki users contact me in order to have “language partner” relationship where you would purely exchange languages with someone without any charges. Sounds good? Yeah, but doesn’t really work. Tried that with about ten people. I think one or two language partners were helpful, but others either disappeared right away or the communication didn’t last for longer than two days. Or the people were real weirdos from the start. Really, lots of weird people!

I suppose the problem here is the inner motivation. I mean, when I was studying Japanese, it was really fun to write emails to friends in Japan or give them a phone call every now and then. I was highly motivated to improve Japanese, although I didn’t want to take classes or study “properly”. But learning through friends and interaction with people worked well in Japanese. I just haven’t had the same kind of motivation with Chinese or Korean.

Let’s get back to personal support. So I’m paying some people to teach me Chinese and Korean. It works well, since I can decide when the classes are and I get one hour of time to concentrate just in language learning. My teachers/tutors also prepare material and really try to encourage me to study. I think that is worth paying for. I’m just wondering, where does the feeling of not paying for services come from? I think I’ve been feeling similar earlier, but if you really want to improve on something, paying for help is not a bad idea.

This takes me to my latest activities. So I met this personal trainer who wants me to help me start eating better and lose weight. This includes exercising, every week measuring body weight and size and everyday reporting of what I’m eating and when. This is also a service I’m paying for. Personally I’m still on a trial-period, meaning that I will try for few weeks and if there are results, I’ll decide again whether to continue or not.

I haven’t mentioned this to too many people, but again, investing in personal support made people think that I’m putting my money into some magical beans. It’s nice that people start offering help with going jogging together or giving tips what to eat, but so far it hasn’t really helped. In Finland, I had one friend whom I was jogging together. It was fun, but finding suitable time from both schedule was difficult. Now that I’m in Hong Kong, it’s just much easier and efficient to go to some paid exercise rather than starting to look schedule for two weeks from now on what to do with who and where.

All in all, I hope that although I’m investing some money in this new lifestyle, it would at least make me start a better lifestyle, if not give me some results on weight loss or sleeping problems.

Well, at this point it’s just wait and see. I also have to prepare for a kendo tournament at the end of this month, so some workout is more than welcome 🙂

Let’s enjoy the last days of Easter and get back to work on Tuesday 🙂

Lauri

Two weeks in Japan, feelings and future plans

Dear reader,

I’ve been in Japan for the past two weeks. Also, I didn’t write a blog post a week ago. I decided to sacrifice one blog post by getting some much needed rest. Although writing a blog is fun, it takes time and energy. Sometimes you don’t have these and then you have to prioritize. Luckily I’m the master of my own blog, so I get to decide if I write or don’t. Quite obvious, right?

So what have I been doing here? In short, I attended Slush Tokyo for some work and after that continued to do some fieldwork in Tokyo. I met many friends in Tokyo and afterwards I headed to Sendai to meet more old friends. It was good to be back in Sendai, since I used to stay there for three months in 2008. Sendai city is not too big, it has wide roads and if you go out from the city, you can experience some carefree suburbs or almost a countryside. That is the kind of Japan I actually like. Not too much action, just being in middle of buildings and enjoying the day. Also Japanese countryside is something you should experience. Especially on summer. You can walk on a quiet street and listen to frogs ribbiting on ricepad and stare at stars.

So, I’ve been extremely busy with work in Japan and sometimes I have felt really exhausted. Still, I was able to meet some friends in the evenings and enjoy my stay in Tokyo. Sometimes I was so exhausted, that I started losing motivation. I’ve been trying to motivate myself with coffee and sweets. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But I’m still alive. I could add a sentence about comfort zone here, but personally I hate it when someone says “you have to leave your comfort zone”, so I’ll write about comfort zone some other time. On the other hand, I learned a lot about myself on this trip. What kind of work I don’t want to do and what kind of work I would like to do.

On Friday, I was heading to one of smaller cities in Japan. The busride took over three hours per one way. Instead of taking my laptop out and start working, I decided to give a short moment for myself and enjoy the ride. It was such a zen-moment. I was thinking about the people I had met and feelings that I had during the past three months (since I came back to Asia) and how it has changed me. All the old friends that I have met, all the new friends that I have made, I’m glad that I had decided to take the risk in end of the year to come back to Asia. Although my life was more stable and balanced in Finland, I think it was lacking challenge and the atmosphere I missed from Asia. In the past three weeks that I’ve been in Taiwan and Japan, my thoughts about future have taken few steps forward. I still want to spend my next five years (at least) in Asia, but I’ve become more open for other options. For example, I’ve been planning on doing Masters or MBA in Taiwan or Korea, but now I’ve been starting to think about China. Also, I can get support from my friends who have specialized in China more. It’s good to have friends whom you can ask for opinions or help.

It’s funny how thoughts change. Last summer, I was still thinking of working in Finland. The kind of work that I wanted to do was difficult to find, but luckily Asia Exchange was able to take me in. Now I’m back in Asia and planning my future here in Asia. I feel like this is the place for me to be in. At least for now.

Also, a happy thing is that my internship (yes, I’ve been an intern for three months) ended in the end of March and my boss decided to hire me. Conquering Asia takes more than three months, so I’m glad that I can continue the work that I started in January.

Also, this week, when I was riding the bus, I was feeling that someday I could have my own business. Since I want to support students with their plans to study abroad, I could be councelling students about where to study abroad and what kind of information they would need. It’s just a thought, for now. I could even do it for free at first. Try it out, see how I feel. Of course, I wouldn’t quit my job for this, at least not at first. (My boss might be reading this, have to be careful what to say…) Anyways, this is one possible path for me that came to my mind during the past three weeks experience.

Well, it’s time to get some sleep. I have an early morning. Here’s some pictures from the past two weeks:

 

From Capsule hotel,

Lauri