10 + 1 Questions About Living Abroad

Yet another blog challenge, pretty interesting one.  I got this idea from Paula Gaston’s blog; she also writes in English here. You definitely should check her site – she is a pretty cool lady living in sunny California.

1. What is the best thing in your country? 

People. Variety. Options. Certain kind of freedom. I love the way how people are friendly and outgoing here in the US. It’s easy to make friends and be social. You always feel welcome everywhere. Variety of everything – as this is a huge country, there is always something to see and do from beaches to mountains, from white sand to white snow. I also like the initiative and appreciation of the hard work – it is possible to accomplish things here with the dedication, and many people are eager to do so.

The politeness here is also on its own level. To me it is extremely rude if someone doesn’t hold the door open, offer to help carrying big items, or doesn’t look at you when they are talking. Sir, Ma’am, excuse me, how are you, you’re welcome, thank you – all these should be in everyone’s daily vocabulary.

2. How about the worst? 

Long distances… it takes about the same time to fly from Anchorage, AK to Miami, FL than from the east coast to Europe. As a fitness and health nut, I wish cities were less car-centric and more walking friendly – little exercise doesn’t hurt anyone.

Sometimes the constant gogogo attitude is a little overwhelming. Drive-thrus, fast service this and that… maybe sometimes it is a good idea to slow down and sit in the coffee shop sipping that coffee without rushing from A to B and gulping the coffee down from the paper cup.

3. If you could travel anywhere in the world, for free, for two weeks, where would you go?

This answer would probably change every day but right now to Orkney Island in Scotland to do some wreck diving. Or may to Micronesia, to dive WWII ship wrecks in Truk Lagoon.

4. Where would you travel again?

France. Val de Loire has a specific spot in my heart: French there is perfect, and such a joy to speak, food is delicious, and my wine connoisseur heart smiles there constantly. Or Italian Alps. Or French Alps. Oh, how I miss climbing there!

In all honesty, there are so many places where I would go again. Out of about 80 countries I have visited, I have always found something charming in every place. Something worth going back.

5. Which Finnish food do you miss the most abroad? 

Bread cheese. ‘Nuff said. The Wisconsin variation of it just doesn’t taste right.

6. Do you think you could move back to Finland one day? 

No. I can’t see myself living in Finland again. Visiting is lovely but I doubt I could get used to the general atmosphere and way of living there.

7. What is the most exciting/interesting holiday in your country? 

4th of July. No matter what political stance people may have, on that day it feels everyone belongs to the one, big family. I also love Thanksgiving – decorations and hosting the big dinners. Plus the fall is gorgeous here in Tennessee.

8. What was the hardest in moving abroad? 

Nothing. Or maybe decluttering the house before packers came. But other than that, I just picked up my stuff, hopped on the plane and that’s it. Simple.

9. Could you imagine living somewhere else than in your country or Finland?

Yes. I wouldn’t mind living in Sweden, Denmark, Scotland, Austria, Germany, Italy, or France one day. Maybe at least part-time.

10. What was the most memorable moment of 2017?

This year has flown by extremely fast. One of the very memorable moments has been diving in Iceland, between the continental plates in ice-cold water, 34F (~2C). Absolutely loved it, and can’t wait to go back. I still have so much more diving to do there!

10+1 And the bonus question – are you going to travel somewhere this year? 

The rest of the year is actually going to be non-stop traveling ….. already trips booked to Florida, Washington state, Colorado, Sweden, Germany, Austria, California. And more will come, for sure.

Labor Day 2017

First Monday of September, Labor Day, has been a federal holiday in the US for over 120 years. Its original intention was to pay tribute to the American workers and their contribution to the economy. Today, it is more of a symbol of the end of summer (and starting of schools – some have already started the semester before the Labor Day).

But Labor Day is also a great three-day weekend to do something fun. It’s often a last chance to do a quick trip somewhere, or if being more into the labor part of it, to get that pending home improvement project or two done. Or at least prepare the home for fall and winter. I had a wonderful plan to head up north and go wreck diving either in Great Lakes or Tobermory, Canada, take Sophie with me and rent a dog-friendly cabin (by the lake). Sounds like a perfect long weekend plan, doesn’t it? However, it didn’t quite work out that way.

Sophie and I

I woke up too late once again for the holiday weekend as I didn’t know if I was supposed to be on a business trip till the weekend or not. When my work schedule got confirmed, my frantic Airbnb search resulted only in cabins that would sleep 6+ people and cost over $300/night.  That is a little too much for the dog and I, even though we love to travel in style. But no matter how I was doing the math, a mega size cabin, gas mixes for diving, dive boat, gas to the destination and everything else would have made it one expensive long weekend. So staycation it was.

This year’s Labor Day plans consisted of my new love, chalk paints (more about this stuff later, a great way to waste even more money) and outdoors fun. Besides, I got a cold on the plane on the week leading to the Labor Day so even local diving was out of the question. Starting to cough my lungs out at 90ft/30m doesn’t sound tempting at all. My sister has been redoing some of her old furniture successfully with chalk paints that apparently are a big hit, and a common thing, in Europe, something upscale (read: expensive) here on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. One of my guest bathrooms have been screaming for a facelift already for quite some time so last week I felt terribly motivated. I am going to paint the bathroom.

New color!

As soon as my sister heard about my idea, she had one word: chalk paint. First thing on Saturday morning I then headed out to C’est Moi in Nashville outskirts and came home with a bag of paints. Goodbye to ugly brown vanity, welcome gorgeous Annie Sloan Provence! Stay tuned, I will describe the whole chalk painting process in a separate posting. Besides painting, it was an activity weekend. My horse, Mr Peanut got his exercise as well as Sophie had to get her running up.

Sophie and I will do a charity 5k in Nashville in less than two weeks, and my lazy pup really hasn’t been running in an organized manner. Chasing barn cats and squirrels is not counted. That being said, we spent Monday on trails in Beaman Park: got a good 4-mile run and Sophie got to play and cool down in the water afterwards. She was super thrilled about the running in water, kept playing and splashing, tried to submerge her head underwater, and wondered why the water poured into her eyes and ears. After the run, we did a quick stroll in the city – Nashville is such a dog-friendly town and it’s always a blast to hang out at my favorite coffee shop with Sophie. She gets water and treats while people or dog watching.

In fact I am glad I opted for staycation this year. Nice, relaxing, low-key. In fact a true treat with my busy schedule of 250+ travel days a year.

Cooling down after the run