Countries visited in 2013

During a cozy and calm breakfast on a rainy morning with Melissa in Växjö we shortly reflected on the countries we’ve visited this year. Quite a lot for both of us actually! Since so many media channels bombard us with random 2013 lists these days I’ll hereby provide you my sum up of all the countries I’ve visited during 2013. 
Sweden – I celebrated my 23th birthday in Sweden and a bunch of Swedish men sang to me while floating on the Baltic Sea.

Austria – Ballooning fun in Filzmoos!

Netherlands – One week of being extremely sick during winter and some precious summer weeks with a lot of joyful cycling fun. 

  
Lithuania – My second semester of my Journalism and Media Analysis study.

Poland – A cold but adventurous journey to Bialystok with Jun and Yi.

Latvia – My dream came true, flying in a balloon over Riga, twice! 

Germany – Driving from North to South and a hop over the border in order to visit Nordhorn.

France – Ultimate enjoyment in the beating balloon heart of Europe. So many balloons and so many awesome friends in the northern part of France.

Denmark – A visit to my friend Astrid from Copenhagen. What a lovely city with handsome inhabitants.

Estonia – The third semester of my master program, an exchange at Tallinn University, time flies!

Finland – Finally I could show my father why I’m so fascinated by Finland.

I started the year in Sweden and that’s also where I’ll end it. The upcoming year will be an exciting one with many uncertainties till now. I’ll be writing my master thesis and if everything goes following plan I’ll graduate this summer. The big question: what’s next?

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Christmas in Sweden

Time for yet another blog post, however, not from the Baltics this time. Currently I’m in Sweden spending some lovely calm days with my friend Melissa from Germany. She’s an exchange student in Växjö, which is not really-really south, but located kind of south in Sweden. 
Previous week I left my little room in Tallinn just before seven in the morning. At Tallinn’s Lennart Meri airport a small Flybe/Finnair plane was waiting for me. A Finnish one, since its callsign started with OH-. In less than an hour we were in the promised land: Sweden. We flew towards Stockholm’s Bromma airport and therefore spotted the city center from an extremely low altitude, beautiful. I took the public transport to Stockholm’s Cityterminalen and that worked out perfectly fine. The people I came across were all very helpful in guiding me the right way. Such a delight, and oh, so many people speaking English perfectly fine.
I waited for some hours in Stockholm before I could take the bus to Växjö. The city centre was filled with last-minute Christmas shoppers. Luckily I found myself a little quiet spot at the Kulturhuset where I looked through two lovely photography books on metro’s and Danish design.
The bus from Stockholm to Växjö was fully booked. It was lovely to feel and see the Christmas atmosphere. Instead of big boring suitcases the bus driver put many Christmas-themed jute sacks and unavoidable, practical blue IKEA bags into the bus’ trunk, filled with dozens of presents of course. Next to me, at the front seats of the bus, was a very kind Swedish lady who was on her way to visit her daughter and grand children in Alvesta. She told me about her family and we furthermore talked about stereotypes concerning surrounding countries. I thought it was quite unique that she whispered to me that she thinks Danes are more friendly and open than Swedes. When I asked her about her opinion about the Finns she sighed, stating they’re… ‘different’. We also shared some laughs when imitating the southern Swedish accent (from Skåne). When I told her my home university is in Lithuania she looked kind of puzzled. “It’s close to Russia”, I said. Her eyes grew bigger and she made a sound which didn’t seem to be too positive. I felt a bit sorry for the Russian couple which was sitting right behind us, but I doubt if they understood our conversation. After 6,5 hours of touring through Sweden I finally arrived in Växjö. Melissa was waiting for me and it was such a delight to finally see her again. 
I’ve been here for almost a week now and I’ve not been bored for a single minute. The last few university weeks were pretty hectic so it feels so good to have some days off now during which there are no obligations at all. I can sleep a little longer, walk and cycle around through the beautiful nature here, eat some delicious food and just take it slow. Being surrounded with fun people is also very comfortable.
So, what have we all been doing lately? I have no clue about days and times simply because it’s a holiday now, but I can sum up some of our activities. One of the most typical for this time of the year was probably the fact that Melissa and I got ourselves a Christmas tree. Not a bought one, but a self-cut one, from the forest. We got it down with a simple IKEA kitchen knife and transported it home by bike. Now it’s the pride of the living room. There are lights in it and self made decorations and there is even a collection of booze under it from ‘Santa’ (Belgian/Austrian contribution). Besides this I’ve:
– visited the campus of Melissa’s university
– strolled around Växjö’s city centre
– walked around cozy neighborhoods in the dark
– hiked around one of the many lakes
– been amazed by a random Swede on the fire stairs telling he was so lonely, asking if I wanted to have a friend for an evening
– climbed the roof of the student dormitory
– had a cozy Christmas diner
– offered some food to a curious Greek handyman who was so kind to come over to the dormitory on the evening of the 25th after the electricity in the kitchen had disappeared
– even visited the church, which is quite uncommon for me
– had a lot of fun
– eaten a lot of candy
And now it’s time to make a gingerbread house!

"Ja, hallo, ik woon op Lul 30" – De voor Nederlanders vreemde Estse woorden

This is one for the Dutchies!
Het komt nogal eens voor dat ik raar opkijk van sommige Estse woorden. Deze zijn een beetje flauw en hebben over het algemeen een hoog poep en pies gehalte. Mocht je stiekem wel nieuwsgierig zijn, dan heb ik hier een lijstje:
Reet – Nee, dit is geen neerbuigend woord voor kont, maar een heuse vrouwennaam. In combinatie met een ‘foute’ achternaam wordt het echter nog erger. Zo lopen hier namelijk mensen rond die Reet Made heten. Iew, aarsmade, vies. Ook Reet Tiit (inderdaad, uitgesproken als tiet) is er zo eentje. “Hoi, mijn naam is Kont Tiet, aangenaam”.
Kaksteist kuud – Een klassieker onder de buitenlanders die in Estland verblijven. ‘Twaalf maanden’ in het Ests. En hoe je dit uitspreekt? Nou, precies zoals ‘cocks taste good’!
Kutse – Een uitnodiging. Ik keek nogal raar op toen ik lieflijke kaartjes zag staan waar met grote koeienletters enkel en alleen ‘kutse’ op stond. Het doet me een beetje denken aan woorden als eetze en werkze. Ik wil alleen niet weten wat “Ok doei, kutse he!” zou kunnen betekenen als het een in Nederland geïntegreerd woord zou zijn.

Pippi Pikksukk – Hij kwam tijdens een eerdere blogpost al voorbij maar toch past hij ook binnen dit rijtje. De Estse Pippi Langkous. Pippi pik suck. Nou, daar gaat de onschuld.
Terviseks – Proost! Heeft dus niets met geslachtsgemeenschap te maken als je je drankje aanstoot met een Est.

Küttepuud – Brandhout. Hier wil ik niet eens een voorbeeld bij verzinnen.

Pikk – Een straat in de binnenstad. “Ja, hallo, ik woon op Lul 30”.
Kotzebue – Ook een straatnaam. Waarschijnlijk was iemand het kotsbeu toen de straat ontstond.
Piiskopi – Het houdt niet op met de dubbelzinnige straatnamen. Dit is er weer een.

Perekond – Familie. “Hoewel jij eerder een appelfiguur hebt, heeft zij juist meer een peren kont”.

Genoeg flauwigheid. Het wordt tijd dat de vakantie aanbreekt! Nog twee examens te gaan…

‘World chick’, Baltic correspondent for LINDA.

For all Dutchies wanting to know more about what’s going on in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania: I’ve got some news for you! Since several weeks I’m the Baltic Correspondent of http://www.lindanieuws.nl. This website belongs to the successful Dutch monthly magazine LINDA. by tv presenter and actress Linda de Mol. The tone of the brand is straightforward, short and clear and with a delicate hint of humor. The aim is to reach active and self conscious women and to show that beauty and brains can be combined well.
One of the website’s sections is called ‘Wereldwijven’, or, world chicks in English. Here several brave Dutch women based all over the world report on the news. Even though I’m currently residing in Estonia, I also write about topics that concern Latvia and Lithuania since I’ve anyways lived there as well. 
I’m very pleased I can show my writings to a wider audience in this way. As a future journalist this is a great possibility to learn how to write short but accurate articles and to determine what’s newsworthy and what’s not. It feels good to shine a light on topics which aren’t actively covered in other Dutch media, which was for example the case with the Russian import ban on Lithuanian dairy products.

Curious about what I’ve been writing till so far? Have a look at