3 January 2020

I have done a bit of a one-eighty. This is merely a result of a year full of existential questions: 
who am I, what do I like, what do I believe in?

Looking for that direction I lost.

I am in my last year of my uni degree now and I find myself asking the same question all the time: what do I actually want to do? According to my casual research — aka conversations with trusted friends — this is fairly common among final year students and especially common within final year creative students.

I started university with a set goal, a bunch of ambition and a great lack of experience. Cue the experience and everything else got turned upside down. For a good while I thought I had lost all that ambition I had as an 18-year-old college student stuck in a little town, dreaming about a grand future in a metropolitan city. Now that I have lived in London for almost two and a half years I, ironically, miss the little suburban town back in Finland. I miss the trees and I miss the scarcity of people. There’s way too many here (and the Christmas tourist wave has not helped a bit!).

My degree and life in London in general have shifted my goals to a whole new perspective. I no longer want to do any of the things I was longing for just a few years ago. In fact, I have no clue of what I would like to do. I might just take that piece of advise and apply to everything and see who takes me — and then figure it out from there by eliminating all I can’t stand.

Reflecting on 2019 I complained way too much. I still complain way too much but I am starting to try to accommodate to my situation and see all the good in it rather than pining over something I had in the past. Truth to be told, I would not want to repeat all of college even though I am very reminiscent of that time. I probably wouldn’t want to move back to that little town because finding a job there was absolute hell. So I am starting to appreciate London in a more realistic manner than when I first moved here in awe of a lamppost.

Some of that ambition is being gained back and, consequently, goals are starting to form from the fog I have been staring for the past twelve months. Next week I am going back home to deliver a presentation at my old college. Building the presentation has been a great push to reflect on my time here. I don’t want to discourage anyone from coming to study here but rather to provide a disclaimer to think twice rather than jumping into something this big like I did.

I am hoping this is all just part of actually growing up (I am starting to genuinely see the appeal of a Monday to Friday office job). It is hard changing as a person. Appreciating completely different things and feeling alienated from your past self puts you on thin ice.

I stopped social media and writing my blog almost two years ago. Back then it was a conscious choice to retain my mental health to a somewhat sane level. Over time new reasons emerged and I started to pay attention to the culture and behaviour on and around social media. Why do I take all these images and post them online for everyone to see when I don’t really care about other people’s pictures of their breakfasts? Why do I need to share my thoughts on a platform like my blog? I don’t really remember why I started doing it. Most likely someone else I knew had a blog and it seemed like a fun thing to do.

There’s just so much online. There’s so much I am in constant battle trying to avoid it and enjoy something real, outside urls and hashtags. Yet here I am again. Because reading back, looking at the images from the past communicate that clarity that I yearn for now. I could just write in my diary but writing for myself doesn’t require such structure and curation as publishing online does.

I cannot really justify hating social media and writing here. It does make me a hypocrite. Being this lost demands some action, though. In the past this blog earned me an internship and help me develop my writing as well as other communication skills. That’s my reason to write again: to give me something productive (ish) to do and hopefully gives me some direction. If having a blog helps me to get a job, I’ll do it anytime.
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22 April 2018

Where: Portobello Road, Notting Hill // When: Mon to Fri 8:30am to 4:30pm, Sat to Sun 9am to 6pm
What's there: cafés, boutiques, cute houses // How much: coffee about £4, cakes about £5
How to get there: central, circle or district line: Notting Hill Gate

Sister Jane is open Mon to Sat 10am to 6:30pm and Sun 12pm to 6pm

Portobello Road is just so lovely on a quiet Wednesday afternoon! Indeed, the same road Julia Roberts walked down in Notting Hill gets rather crowded time to time so make sure you go on a weekday rather than weekend or high-season. 

The crowds are not here for nothing, though. Listed as a Wes Anderson destination in London's Time-Out magazine, this is probably one of the cutest neighbourhoods you'll come across. Pastel-coloured walls and doors are so incredibly photogenic it would be a shame to forget your camera. Opt for a cute outfit to match with your surroundings.

Once you need a break form this mini-semi-professional photoshoot head down the road once you spot a tall white house with Sister Jane's logo on the wall. Walk through the courtyard to find yourself in an adorable café. Farm Girl's waiters will welcome you immediately and seat you while you mesmerise this aqua-tiled vision. 

Take your time with the menu and experience the multiple wait what?!-s. The place has probably the most hipster-y coffee menu. No wonder the place is founded by an Aussie. Unfortunately, I cannot vouch for the drinks since I had already had way too much caffeine that morning, but my lovely friend Katy ordered a chai latte and seemed to enjoy it very much. 

Foodwise Farm Girl serves wonderful-looking lunch that is relatively pricy. Most of it is vegan, or at least gluten or dairy free. Personally, I opted for a rose cupcake. I paid £4.50 that sort of hurt but, man, was it good! I also have to give tons of points for presentation. The china was as lovely as the dog head created with pink sugar. You'd think this much pink would get too Umbridgy but no, we're fine.

A good way to rate places, at least in my opinion, is by their bathrooms. Again, Farm Girl scores high. It's almost as walking in to a Glossier pop-up shop: pink, red, big mirrors and neon lights. The poor waiter got very confused when in the end I started praising their lovely loos. Still, a good bathroom is like a cherry on the top. If it's done poorly it can ruin the whole experience.

Overall, the place is a tad bit pricy but I would go there again. The atmosphere is relaxed, the environment instagrammable and the service very friendly. A friend of mine refers this as convenience cost.

The main reason I ever go to Portobello Road is Sister Jane's flagship shop. Cute, cute, cute! It's right upstairs from Farm Girl (very convenient!) in a two-level attic space. I first discovered Sister Jane in Cannes, France a few years ago and fell completely in love. The clothes are about £60 and very good design. I own quite a few pieces and can definitely vouch for their quality. The best thing is that they organise sample sales once a season. Last time I walked out with six pieces that cost me £30 together. What a bargain! The shop is definitely worth checking out even if there isn't a sample sale. It's like another kind of wonderland.

What to bring: a Wes Anderson outfit, to match with the doors // camera, preferably polaroid

Matching background for my outfit!
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8 April 2018

Where: Columbia Road, Shoreditch // When: Sundays 8am to 3pm 
What's there: flowers, farm and cafés // How much: bundles from about £4, cash
How to get there: overground: Hoxton

My favourite flowers

Sundays are, believe or not, a bit slow even in London. I don't know if it's my mother's persistence on avoiding shopping Sundays or just the general quietness of the end of the week that often takes me to a market of some sort. Having just stated London is dead on Sundays, the markets of London, on the other hand, are absolutely thriving! And it is the most miraculous thing you've ever seen!

Hop on overground and head to Hoxton station. It's a nice and brisk 10-minute walk to the market. Don't forget to get some cash on the way: there's is a sneaky cash machine on a blue wall, easy to miss. The way to the market is relatively easy and if there's any difficulties, just follow the trail of people carrying bouquets. Foolproof!

First thing you'll hear is lovely chatter and a guy playing a guitar. The vendors are shouting the most creative Cockney chatter. "The worst mistake of your life!" yells a man pointing at my bouquet behind a massive mountain of tulips. A little spring shower doesn't matter either. Quite oppositely, it only makes the atmosphere cosier.

It is worth walking up and down the road before buying anything, just to make sure you can grab the best offer. But don't contemplate too long. These flowers go quickly! Instead of pre-made bouquets opt for bundles and get crafty back home. It's a fun and hygge-approved way to spend a Sunday afternoon with family or friends. Also, it comes much cheaper and somewhat homelier as well.

Once you're there, check out the little streets branching from Columbia Road. There's loads of little hidden boutiques selling incredibly cute vases, pots and tin boxes. Keep an eye for artesian cafes too. After all, it's sort of early and if you're anything like me, you've only had a cup of coffee this morning. On the other hand, it is worth suffering for a little longer and head to Brick Lane to Beigel Shop to spend that leftover cash. Trust me, these bagels never let you down! Get some plain ones to take back home. They're only £0.30!

What to bring: comfortable shoes, don't even consider heels // canvas bags, at least two //
a raincoat, rather than an umbrella // sunglasses // cash, £20 should do for flowers and bagels

On your way to Brick Lane, do stop by Hackney City Farm to say hello to their chickens, ducks, goats, baby goats (they'll melt your heart!) and donkeys. Despite its numerous parks and commons, London still lacks the animals this countryside gal is used to. A fifteen minutes with these furry friends are worth a month's therapy sessions.

Beigel Shop on Brick Lane

Sunday afternoon bagels and planting

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7 January 2018

I’m sitting at a café in Helsinki airport and I just stopped to think about this whole year. There was really low lows but also, in contrary, really high highs.  As my father said in his speech on my graduation: Kaisa is a person who feels everything, it’s never neutral. I lost that for a moment but I managed, with great strength, different sort of strength I’ve known before, to get past that.

This year I have taken action and I must admit admiring myself for that. I felt stuck so I moved on. I felt bad so I made an effort to feel better. I solved problems. I pushed myself outside my comfort zone, for the first time in ages and it felt so good. It was exactly what I needed.

As I’m writing this on New Year’s Eve I can say I am in a place in my life I feel good. I feel happy. I feel safe. I feel passionate. I feel comfortable in this very moment. In some point I found myself trusting the world and the people around me. For that I am extremely glad. I am back being that fearless me I used to be. 

In 2018 I want to work on that last insecurity I still have. I am starting running again. I am starting stretching again. I want to get in shape in order to being able to like my body as much as my mind. I have a strong feeling this will also help with mental stability which is an issue I am far bored of standing for anymore.

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4 December 2017

My hair turned yellow. Taylor Swift's new album was horrible first but okay after a few rounds of listening. Wine, all kinds of wine, is really good. My brain is able to pull an accidental all-nighter. Turns out clothes don't wash themselves and the house is going to be cold if you forget to turn the heating on.

Autumn in London was magnificent. I am surprised the amount of anxiety I've had has been pretty much non-excistant. I have to be honest, when I first applied to this uni I was scared of how it was going to be. Of course, it's very different: it's not academic, it's not that theoretical, it's insanely intensive and most of all it's so much fun! 

We have a squad and it's just wonderful. We go to events together, we have parties together, we go out together, we have photo shoots together and we sit in the student lounge laughing at everything together.

I'm heading back home to Finland in a week. These three months have been filled with hallways, lectures, laughter and learning how to manage life on my own.
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