maanantai 29. kesäkuuta 2015

When it's time to go

On our first class here in Vietnam I tried to be super social and friendly since I knew that for some people breaking the ice with a tall and occassionally quiet European must be hard. I even put ridiculous pictures of me on my introduction slide show and quoted myself at the end: "I may be tall but I'm as gentle as a koala."

From the beginning I had put a goal to myself: Just be yourself, and only yourself. For new people my stone-cold and serious shell can be confusing and even scary. The ones back home and now here who have got to know me better can probably tell people the opposite. During the project I've had my own personal struggles and that might have given an image of me being an extremely reserved and serious person. I feel sad for not being able to bring my endless smile and positivity to the classes. However, at the end many students and organizing committee members said that their image of me has totally changed - in a positive way. Thank you all for saying those words - I'm glad that being myself was enough for you to break the expectations you had towards me.

There are two things we can all learn from what happened here:

1. Never judge anyone by the first image
2. Be who you really are

It's such a shame to suddenly say goodbye to the people you became so close with. Feels like everyone's showing their best sides at the moment of farewell and it breaks my heart. But I know this all is just a part of life and it's neither like the people and friends I've met have gone anywhere nor the memories have been sweeped off our brains.

Travelling abroad for a longer period of time teaches you so much about life and yourself, gives a whole different perspective to issues and helps you appreciate what you already have. Can highly recommend doing that! I can't wait to eat grilled salmon with summer potatos, taste vanilla ice-cream with strawberries and see my friends and family but I know that after few days back home I will long for Bun Cha and driving the motorbike in the chaotic traffic for sure.

See you soon

Larry the Russian

keskiviikko 17. kesäkuuta 2015

Definitely not a city boy

During the past weeks Hanoi has offered me many great experiences. However, it was amazing to visit the countryside in Mai Chau although it was only two days. Hearing only the wind, cows and grasshoppers taking noises after 3 weeks of chaotic and busy lifestyle all around you made me so relaxed and calm. We cycled around the rice fields, hiked 1200 steps to a cave inside a mountain, enjoyed some delicious local food and spent our night in a bamboo house surrounded with lizards and insects (luckily we had a mosquito net). Alright, I ended up returning home with a fever but other than that, our trip was succesfull. Thanks to my lovely roomates for sharing it with me!

Coming from Finland having no intonations in your mother language makes it really hard to learn a foreign language especially here. A tiny difference in how you say a word makes a huge difference and you can find yourself insulting someone when you tried to thank someone. Another thing is that you really have to pronounce properly for the locals to understand you. How many times have we gone to a taxi and tried to pronounce our address without having a mutual understanding? Every time. Then you give up and show the address on google maps and the driver days: "aaaaah, nhat chieu!!" Yeah, that's what I just said!! Rule number one of taking a taxi here is keeping google maps always on. The driver won't know the way even when he seems to be very certain about it. Suddenly, he can stop the car in the middle of an intersection and ask you for the way.

How come we don't have Vietnamese restaurants in Finland? Or do we? The food here is amazing. Not better than Thai but still. Fried noodles with beef and chicken, Pho, Bun Cha, Banh Xeo (no I cannot pronounce any of them understandibly) and noodles with noodles. Haha, we eat rice too. Okay, just googled "vietnamese restaurant Jyväskylä" and there is one!!

It is difficult to see photos of your family and friends getting ready for Midsummer. If I could only be in two places at the same time haha! Still, I'll be home soon and won't miss out the long evenings of Finnish summer. Oh, how I miss playing beach volley!

I hope everyone back home is having fun spending "nightless night" with their close ones and staying safe. This hasn't been the easiest trip I have taken but certainly has given me some new thoughts about life already. Maybe struggling and losing your nerves is just a part of the learning experience and growing process and I'm willing to pay the price.

Stay tuned

Ilari, Larry, Rally, Eluhree

torstai 4. kesäkuuta 2015

Ha Noi living

So this time in English to let my international friends know what I'm talking about..

Plans change and for me they changed fast. First, I was looking forward to and preparing myself for the months I was going to spend in Kathmandu, Nepal. Secondly, mother earth wanted to remind us of its power and thirdly I was searching for flights to Hanoi, Vietnam.

Well, now I'm here and familiar with the cultural differences (traffic, food and customs) and my work here. I couldn't have asked for better people around me! All the uncomfortable issues back home are constantly in my mind but these people make me get over them with their constant interest towards me including the spamming on my FB wall (thank you Kimberley).

Basically, me and 5 other international interns are teaching English and cultural knowledge to local youngsters aged between 15 and 25 with the local AIESEC organizing committee. We've only had 2 classes so far but they've both been an educating experience for all of us. Telling about me and my culture, getting to know with our students and building a great team spirit among the course has been rewarding and I'm sure it will be for the rest of the weeks as well.

Me and my roomates, Sean, Shan Ling and Kimberley (yes they're all from Hong Kong), have been around the city and planned short trips to for example Ha Long Bay and Sapa rice fields. Travelling as well as everything else is really cheap here and when you're out here you just want to take the most out of it without overthinking your account balancy. While I was hesitating about leaving here my mom told me wisely: "You will always find money from somewhere."

That's it! Almost two weeks down and 3 left. Can not wait what this journey will bring me next!

If you want to follow my journey in south-east Asia and later on in Europe, you can do it on instagram (@konttinenilari) or basically anywhere you can find me. Xin chao!