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Getting back to my (green) roots

IMG_0465So here I am, almost 7 months since my last post. It’s been a bit of a rough spell these last few months. But spring is here once again and that alone is enough to make me feel better. This year however, spring did not only bring flowers, sunshine and vitamin D. It also gave me perspective.

A couple of weeks before my birthday(always a good time to start over or contemplate your future) I felt so incredibly stuck. Frustrated and stuck. Stuck at work, stuck with myself, stuck with finding a new job. And frustrated at the world. Frustrated because I want to change this world. Help it become a better more humane place. One in balance with nature. The problem was that I had no idea how. No matter how I tossed or turned I could not come up with a plan to ‘fix’ the world into becoming a sustainable one. There was so much I wanted to do. Help reduce plastic, built forests, stop animal cruelty, help people realise that underneath our clothes and religions we are all the same and we all want to be happy, help humanity see that we need all the different species of animals and creatures on this planet. That we should care for them instead of exploiting them. But you know as well as I do that there’s no single cure. So I tossed and turned, frustrated at my helplessness and unable to find how I want to contribute to a better planet. So, before you get your hopes up, no I didn’t magically find the way to a better future. But I gave up, in a way, of trying to fix it right now. If I didn’t know how I wanted to do it, I couldn’t do anything. I had thought about it over and over again but I just couldn’t find a way that I’d be able to follow right away(or in the near future). So instead of forcing myself to keep thinking and hitting that brick wall I let go.

I let go and the moment I did I realised that even though I couldn’t do anything big this instant, but I could start small(I already knew a small change can have a big impact since I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 10 years but somehow forgot). So I vowed to cut down plastic use, and become more aware of where I put my money(we vote with our money, so might aswell do some research and ‘vote’ for the type of companies I’d want to support). I had already vowed to use up the tea bags we had left and only buy loose tea in the future, started experimenting with different oils(in glass bottles) to try and stop using moisturizer from plastic containers, bought a Mooncup after reading a positive review on Ikbenirisniet(which I haven’t had the chance to try yet) and become more aware of what I bought that came in/with plastic overall. Flashforward to my birthday, where I got a two small greenhouses which then caused me to create a square meter vegetable garden on our balcony and, suddenly, trying to produce at least a part of our own vegetables was on the list too.

After my birthday in March I went on a yoga & meditation silence retreat (Human Awakening, who were absolutely amazing and I definitely want to come back next year but I’ll save that for another time!) which allowed me to create more space and quiet in my head too. In the meanwhile I also started as some sort of junior employee at the IVN (Institute for Nature Education and Sustainability). An organisation focused on bringing people in contact with nature and educating them, with loads of different projects focused both at children, adults and the elderly. This change in work really helped improve my overall feeling too. Even though I’m not directly responsible for the projects they do, I help with them, and in turn do atleast something remotely helpful to our world.

So here I am now. 3 weeks into my new habits and so happy with the progress I’m making. Even though the steps are small, and some take time (such as stopping to use teabags(I had a LOT of teabags) atleast I’m doing something.

I’m hoping to pick up on writing again, but I won’t be too hard on myself. Either way, I’m already excited at the thought of keeping you guys up to date about all of this!

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Having second thoughts about your choice in a degree or university? Here’s some advice.

©Helewidis @deviantart.com

A while ago I was talking with a fellow student who wasn’t quite sure about her studies any more. Did she really want to continue here or was she in the wrong university after all? This made me think back on my own life.  After highschool I did a college degree of 4 years in Multi media design, already in my second year I noticed that  this was not something I would want to do for a living. I enjoyed designing and everything around it, I just didn’t enjoy it when I was forced to do it for someone else. I did continue and graduated in order to be able to go to University. My university choice was something different, Environmental science. But in the first semester I realised that the courses were not at all like I had imagined, I quickly dropped out after that. Suddenly I had no other options, nothing else I knew of that I wanted to study. I travelled for a couple of months and then it hit me, I wanted to go into the field of Leisure& Tourism management however, after having chosen the wrong study twice I was very doubtful of my own mind and scared that I would make a mistake again. But now I know, I finally made the right decision. Not because my university is good, or the courses are interesting, but because I now know what I want to learn and what I want to do with it after graduation. Because to be honest, my university isn’t always that good, and the courses sometimes are really boring. But I can now find the motivation to deal with it and keep my motivation high because I know where I’m going.

But how do you find a course that fits to your needs??

©tabascoterrier @deviantart.com

  1. It’s important that you know what you want. I’ve met a lot of people who are studying just to be studying. Ofcourse you will have trouble with motivation then, if you don’t know where you want to go you’re less likely to take steps forward.

  2. There is no such a thing as a perfect university or perfect degree.  I realized that many students do not fully grasp this concept. They believe their university should be perfectly aligned to what they want to do later on in life. But here’s a fact: There are too many different people with different wishes in similar fields as you are in. There never was and there will never be a degree or university that directly connects to your wishes and needs alone.

  3. You are in charge of your own learning process.  Once you accepted that your degree course will not supply you with everything you want to learn, it’s important to become pro-active. My university never taught anything about theatre productions, so I joined a theatre group and produced a play for it. I know for sure that I learned  about 90% more about theatre productions through this experience than if my university had given me a theatre production course. Being pro-active is so important, I can’t press it enough. If you’re following a tourism course and you’d like to be involved in eco-tourism but you feel your university doesn’t give you enough courses about that, don’t just sit around! Go to the library, find books online, follow eco tourism blogs, go eco volunteering, find courses outside of your own university that might cover it! You will learn so much more if you do it by yourself! And you know what is a bonus? You will be creating unique knowledge! If there are 50 students from your university applying for the same job, all with the same degree and skills, those who took developed knowledge outside of university are more likely to stand out positively!

  4. Don’t be ashamed or afraid of doing more degrees. When I graduated in Design, I thought I would never use the skills again, aside from personal use. How wrong I was! Studying management  I realized what a blessing it is! How many newly graduated managers are specialized in design as well? By having two completely different degrees I suddenly created my unique selling point(which also really helped me in getting the internship I wanted). If there is any advice I would give you it’s: Go on, get a degree in something you’re interested in, and then get another degree is something that you also like but is something totally different! You’re young, you still have time!

In the end, the choice is yours. What really helped me as well was trying to imagine with which choice I would be happier in the future. Ask yourself “If 5 years from now, I would look back on the decision I’m about to make now, which choice do I think would make me feel more satisfied or happy (or which one am I least likely to regret?)” It’s a long shot, but sometimes it just gives you this extra push. It pushed me to go to New Zealand and quit the degree I didn’t enjoy, back then I asked myself this question and New Zealand was the answer. Looking back on it, I could’ve never have made a better choice. What will make you happy.

Any thoughts or tips are very welcome. If you have a question or are stuck with your decision, don’t hesitate to ask me 🙂

The public library: a living room of Turku

As I had mentioned in my post about Zucchini, one of my best Friends was visiting me a couple of weeks ago. Together we took the train to Turku and there we were joined by our Swedish friend (Quite the international group!). We spent 3 days in Turku in total, Saturday morning until Monday evening. This was actually more than enough. I’ve started to become more and more aware of the fact that most of Finland really is, just made for summer visits; a lot of the interesting and fun things are closed down or finished before the end of August. Our stay in Turku, wasn’t unpleasant however. When in a good company, you don’t need a lot to keep away boredom. We spent a lot of our time walking around town, but the cold made us seek refuge wherever we could find it. One of the locations we stumbled up on, was the Turku Library, a place I had been wishing to visit anyway.

The new building in the front and the old library building in the back

You see, I have this obsession with books and anything that has even the smallest thing to do with books. Whenever I get to a new city I try to pay a visit to the library. I’ve visited quite some libraries on my travels because of this. some beautiful, others quite dull. But the one thing that I have seen in almost every library so far, is that unless it’s a super famous library (such as the Trinity College Library in Dublin, which has exhibitions of the Book of Kells and a very old library part called the long room which makes it a huge tourist attraction) the normal libraries in general are usually very quiet.

But not in Turku. Oh no, the Turku library was completely crowded! This was true when we visited on Sunday afternoon, as well as on Monday afternoon (A work day!). Never in my life have I seen a library so full of life and people, it was quite refreshing to see!

Because we entered the building from the café, the first thing we stumbled upon was the new paper hall. Filled with newspapers and tables were people were reading a newspaper, or typing away on their laptop. Quite the surprise! Especially when we found out that it was this crowded everywhere in the library. The Turku library consists of several different rooms and sections. On one side was the old building, with the general/normal library a floor above this was filled by the music and DVD collection(quite extensive!) and literature on music.

On the other side of the newspaper hall were the children’s and young adult books. Which was a lot bigger than any children’s section I’ve ever seen! Most of the books were obviously in Finnish or Swedish, but there was a huge section of books in other languages too, even in Dutch!

Despite usually preferring old looking libraries, the children’s part of the library was definitely my favourite. The library had put a lot of effort into the design and facilities of the children’s area. A Zeppelin hovering above steam-punk styled check-out machinery, a weird Lego like blob in the middle of the area, big windows, a reading pit, big blown up tires that you could sit in, and even small details, like glass tiles on the floor, showing a dolls house, fairy tales or the underground book sorting system where you could see carts with books passing underground. I could really see how this would speak to the imagination of children. Heck, even as an adult I loved walking around and exploring the place!

One of the things that melted my heart was this little girl sitting in one of the blown up tires reading a book out loud to herself. We sat down for a while, not too far away from her and at one point she ran off (on her socks) to get her parents to listen to the story she had been practising on her own.

The little girl reading her book

What I liked so much about this library is that it felt so incredibly welcoming. It was like all the locals had made this library into their living room, Turku’s living room, where anyone could come to work or read, or just relax for a bit. It’s quite an interesting concept, especially since so many people believe books and especially libraries, to be a thing of the past. Turku’s library showed me a way how a library could really become more than just books, it could become a community meeting place. We too, got to experience this feeling and ended up spending a lot more time in the library than originally expected!

My friend and I, reading in the window (A special thanks to Jessie for making this photo =) )

So yeah. This library completely changed my view on libraries and I hope to find more libraries like this across the world. What do you think? Have you ever been to the Turku library or any other library that you found particularly amazing? =)

Café Rongo: A real-life project

The first experiment results

So as some of you might be aware, I’m currently on an exchange in Finland for my bachelor in Leisure management. One of my courses here at Haaga-Helia is called Designing Services, the course has several real life projects and the one my team chose was the case of Café Rongo. Café Rongo is a small café in the old town of Porvoo, Finland. Owned by a Finnish woman and her partner from New Zealand the place has a cosy, international atmosphere. Recently they opened  a second location in the cultural centre of Porvoo: The Art factory. Our aim of the project is to specify the target group and find out if the concept of the old town café would also work in the new location.

The course focusses on several real-life experiments and this week we started the first one. We’re documenting everything on a public blog, so if you’d find this interesting and like to keep up to go check it out: Café Rongo meets designing services