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.

Coffee Snob

Too hot. Too cold. Not enough foam. Too much foam. The coffee is bitter.

Latte art à la Frothy Monkey. My favorite coffee shop in Nashville.

Yes, I admit, I have become a coffee snob. Many, many moons ago when I moved to the US, Starbucks was the best coffee ever to me. Or at least very close; nothing could, even back then, beat Italian cappuccinos and French espressos. And small Parisian cafés have always been the one and only place to get properly made Café au lait.

Then came along Tully’s, Peet’s, and Seattle’s Best, latter becoming Starbucks’ subsidiary over a decade ago. But all chains. Over the years, Starbucks has become my overpriced emergency coffee provider. You know, those late evenings when you arrive to a new city and the only place open is a Starbucks at the airport, or even worse, a Starbucks at Target or any other large store. But somehow the girl gotta get her caffeine fix.

Earlier this week, I was coming home from a trail run when an instant coffee craving hit me on the highway. It was of course the rush hour so getting into one of the quality coffee shops in Nashville would have meant quite a detour so I chose an easy solution: swing by the Starbucks that has drive-thru. And oh boy, what a disappointment! The coffee tasted so burned. While driving and drinking my coffee from the paper cup, another piece of reality hit me (don’t forget that there is a little treehugger in me). Why on earth do I drink low quality coffee from the paper cup instead of sitting down in a coffee shop, supporting local business and sipping the coffee from a real mug? Why is the life so hectic that I wouldn’t have time to sit down and enjoy the coffee, not to treat it as a consumable? It really is not but drive-thru is kinda convenient sometimes.

The first and last pumpkin muffin with almond latte at Plumb Line Coffee in Clarksville, TN. Perfect spot for working, studying, or people watching.

Anyways, back to the coffee. Do you know why some coffees have the burned taste? Because coffee beans used are low quality, and by burning them, it is impossible to tell what quality they were originally. Burned beans tastes always burned – even if it is the best of the best bean, or total junk. At the same time the medium roast, high quality coffee has balanced, soft taste, and aftertaste that lasts and stays good, doesn’t “burn” in the mouth. Lower quality coffees often are a little acidic, which why the aftertaste can be pretty yucky.

So, once again, the chain, fast coffee shops have made it to my no-go list, and sit-down coffee culture is back. Maybe, after all these American years, there is still a little European in me, too? And don’t even get me started about teas, at least not today …. one day I will write about my adventures in the world of Darjeelings, Oolongs, and so on.

How about you? Do you care where you get coffee, or drink whatever you can as long as the caffeine content is high?

At home I prefer French press from freshly ground beans. From the Moomin mug, of course 🙂