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A while ago, when i was still studying for my first MA, i was applying for all kinds of summer jobs to support my studies. Strawberry picking being one of these summer jobs. I applied two summers in a row and unfortunately, i was never chosen. I didn’t even hear from the employer. The second year, i called to see if there would be any chance of me getting a place there for a month and a half. I was told kind of coldly that the jobs were already filled. Weird enough vacancies were advertised through the whole summer but i was told they had no jobs. Weird enough but okay.

Later on i read an article (i think it was HS) where the owner of a strawberry farm was complaining that Finns are not interested (to be read too lazy) in strawberry picking jobs). I got really pissed because my experience proved otherwise and even people i knew went through the same. Not surprisingly, i also read the comments and people confirmed what i already experienced. We were all in the same boat and here we were, this guy calling us not interested (lazy).

I am anything but lazy because i grew up at a farm and all my summer holidays as a kid, I’ve spent them helping my grandparents with farm work. And it was a lot of hard work! My first though was, if so many of us wanted these jobs but we weren’t chosen what was the problem? Anyway, i soon found out that it wasn’t our lack of interest, laziness or language skills (in my case). No, it was the wages. People do demand a fair wage because the living expenses here are quite high. One needs to live with the money they earn.

Media here has made a tradition is writing articles most of the times siding with berry farm owners and scapegoating the locals (preferably unemployed) or young people that they are too comfortable or lazy. And now it’s that time of the year when media starts complaining again for the lack of workforce within berry picking. In the article one can find why people here are not actually picked for these jobs. Usually, in Finland they managed to bring people from Thailand to pick berries because the farm owners can pay them much less than they would pay a local. But this year not so many of them made their appearance because authorities from Thailand warned their citizens not to go to Finland for work because they won’t get a contract. Which is worrisome if we are to think Finland prides itself of being fair country.

Not too long ago, there were also problems with a berry farm owner accused of human trafficking. These workers were basically lied about the conditions and the wages they receive upon coming here. And then the most important question: if you fuck up with people like that, then how do you expect to get workforce? First, you push away local workforce because they demand a fair wage, then you bring people from Thailand and abuse them because keeping them in horrible conditions and paying them almost nothing is abuse, let’s say it straight – slavery.

I wish media would stop siding with these strawberry farm owners because it’s hurting both us and the people who are brought here for tiny wages. Although i’m not surprised at all given the lies that usually media spreads about unemployed people in general in order to manipulate the general public into hating them and then using politics to kick these people who are already on the ground.

If you can’t find workers, first look at yourself because most likely the fault is in your company. Are the wages decent? Can the workers survive on them? Strawberry picking is not a difficult job intellectually but physically is quite challenging .The wages don’t have to be very high, i knew i would not make a fortune from strawberry picking but i still wanted to work because money is money and it would have helped me a lot during the school year. Then consider the conditions, for example, lunch break, facilities (kitchen, toilets) and transportation. Strawberry farms are also not situated in the city and it might be difficult for younger workers who do not have a driver’s licence or a car to get to work.

 

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There is one thing that my parents taught me is extremely low: stealing. As a child i was never encouraged to steal fruits as many would do because “come on they are just kids” and i actually knew what would follow at home if i did that.

But to my unpleasant surprise, i did witness some very stupid reactions towards some persons who managed to secure their property against thieves and even have the courage to mention that on social media. I will talk here about trespassing and stealing from another’s property. I did witness that a lot and unfortunately i was also a victim of it. Mostly kids were stealing fruits but also adults managed to cause lots of damage to two of our apple trees and a quince tree. My grandparents and parents put lots of effort into growing those trees and yes, they were on our land so therefore our property.

The arguments i saw on social media defending children stealing are completely irrational and damaging. People were just invoking that kids are kids how can one be so evil? First, kids or not, trespassing on private property and getting stuff that it’s not your is still stealing, no matter the age. I don’t blame the kids, i do blame though the ones not teaching them. I was told very straight by my parents that such behavior is unacceptable and if i wanted cherries from our neighbor i should ask her. Which i did. And guess what? I got cherries! Second, the one defending their own property is not evil, it’s theirs, they worked for it and they have all the right to take measures to stop the thieves. These irrational reactions from people happened in Romania which does not surprise me at all. In other places people would call cops on you. And then people wonder why they have so bad reputation abroad as thieves. Well…it starts young and with these attitudes.

Two unfortunate events i did witness were some brats ripping of almost half the branches of one of the apple trees that my great-grandfather planted. I caught one of them inside our garden ripping of the apples and throwing them to the other two who were near the road on the other side of the fence. When i told him to get off our property he started swearing and threatening me. I went to get our German Shepard who was trained to attack any stranger who would trespass on our property. They did vanish and my grandpa made an official complaint to the local police which of course, didn’t do anything.

The second one was when several young men from our village stole quince from our tree. Me and my sister were in the garden and told them to go away but they started ripping off the quince and throw them at us, swearing and calling us names. My sister was badly hit by one. Grandpa went to the police and made them pay for the damage just to hear that later one one of them threatened to beat the shit out of me and my sister when they catch us.

Remember: the apple and quince tree were OUR PRIVATE PROPERTY ON OUR LAND and still they had the audacity to steal and threaten us when we called them out. But by no way, defend kids stealing instead of teaching them to ask if they want any fruit. Encouraging this behavior will make it even worse as demonstrated with the group of guys who not only stole our quince but they also attacked us. On our property. I really doubt somebody would say no, i wouldn’t have said if those asked for apples or quince.

But they didn’t because unfortunately, where i grew up, there is a complete lack of disrespect for others’ property and many consider stealing very normal especially when a kid does it. Because it’s just a kid. But tomorrow it will be an adult and it will continue to do that…

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I remember reading a while ago an article about sanitary pads tax and how that should be lowered (from 24% to 12%), including tampons, absorbants and incontinence pads. In Finland, a pack of average absorbants (14 pack, normal size) is between 2.30-3.50 euros and here i don’t count in cheap brands which are an absolute disaster because of their low quality. Don’t ask me about tampon prices as i don’t use tampons (i did when i used to have periods but only when i was swimming and they were extremely uncomfortable). And before judging me why i don’t use a menstrual cup – i tried but it was a disaster and i guess because of endometriosis which suspicion was later confirmed by a specialist.

But, i’m writing this because it amused and somehow disgusted me the comments left by men who demanded that they should also get tax-free razors. Look, you just don’t compare sanitary pads with razors because if you take both genders into consideration, women also use razors. And quite a lot if you take into account that some of us are quite hairy. Add to that wax, hair removal creams, hair removal devices or hair bleaching. Because society sees us as disgusting monkeys if we dare to expose the smallest amount of hair in the places deemed by the almighty society not fit to show hair on. And to add to that razors for women are more expensive than men’s. I saw that with my own eyes in the grocery store one day when i compared the prices out of pure curiosity. As a guy you can go around with an unshaven face but dare to go out with hairy armpits as a woman (search for death threats that some women got because they dared to show their bushy armpits in public).

So both of us we need razors but only us need sanitary pads because well, damn biology. You can stop your period but then again you need money for the meds to stop it. And now i’m talking about lots of women who struggle with money and for whom 2.30 euros is a lot of money (not to mention women who have heavy or extended periods and they might need 3+ packs of absorbants per month). In this case about 10 euros per month is lots of money. Nobody said about giving sanitary pads for free although it might be a very good idea for the ones who live in poverty. But lowering the tax would be of great help. And whoever can stand a menstrual cup, i do advise them to buy it because even if it is a bit pricey, it will save a lot in the long run. I would use one if i could as most of sanitary pads are also manufactured from synthetic products which are not healthy for the body or environment. There are better sanitary pads namely cotton and organic pads but they are a bit more expensive than their synthetic counterparts.

In Finland the brand Vuokkoset sells organic bio-degradable and cotton absorbants and pads.

 

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Do you know when you just take your trash out, throw it into the bin and forget about it? Yes, i know because most of my life i did exactly that. I never had to take care of my own trash, i just sorted it and threw it away. Out of sight out of mind. But for me,  it was not out of mind because i thought many times where does my trash go, how is it processed, is it totally recycled, then how it is recycled?

Well, this last weekend i found out, at least a part of it. Since my other home is in the countryside, we needed to buy a compostor because the place where we took the organic trash was full. Another option was to order a trash bin from the city but i think the costs would have gotten higher since you have to pay monthly for the trash bin and trash delivery services.

So, before i had to do research what kind of compostors are on the market, how do they work and how one uses them. Then we headed to the grocery store, at the department where they sold compostors and ordered one as they didn’t have them in stock at that very moment. In one week the compostor was delivered at the local shop and we had to pick it up together with  three sacks of woodchips to throw over the organic leftovers so they can turn into soil. It took a while to arrange the spot where the compostor would be placed and then another while to assemble it. I started reading the instructions including what you can and cannot throw, possible problems, compost temperature and maintenance.

It took almost a whole day working on assembling and informing myself about how to use a compostor. And things are not ending here. You do have to maintain the compostor and when it is filled, you need to take the soil out and assure that it functions properly.

If somebody is curious and interested, the compostor we bought it from Biolan, 220eco model suitable for a household of 1-6 persons and it costed 469 euros. The composter was also registered and there are some more accessories that are needed especially for winter and for mixing the compost. I would have loved to write my own experience with composting but for the moment i just threw organic trash only two times. Let’s see what happens in about 5 months.

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This issue has been pressing me for a long while. To be more specific since i started taking regularly birth control pills in my early 20’s and noticed that one cannot get them as subsidized meds as with most of prescription pills i had. Why this issue bothered me? Because i wasn’t taking them for birth control but for a condition that was later diagnosed as endometriosis. This disease has no other treatment than hormonal one which includes birth control pills.

I tried to look into the matter and why these pills cannot be prescribed as medical treatment for a disease. In Finland, doctors tick a box on your prescription: for disease, other reason. Birth control pills with the exception of only one brand cannot be ticked under “for disease” box. Why? Right now i cannot think of any other reason than legislation which is quite complicated and involves legal aspects and the fact that birth control pills are mainly seen as used for recreation (sex) which society is still quite taboo-ish about and cannot stand women getting a free pass when it comes to it.

Still, the last reason still doesn’t have an excuse because the doctor can very well prove you have a medical condition which requires the pill as a treatment and therefore prescribe it under “for disease” category. I don’t see why it is that complicated unless there are legislation factors involved. Diane brand of pills is subsidized and used to treat, for example, acne. Why couldn’t other birth control pills be allowed to be used in treatment of other diseases?

There are lots of medications which are used for several diseases. Birth control pills are mainly used for birth control but they help with many other issues such as endometriosis, PCOS, acne, amenorrhea, PMS, menstrual cramps, heavy periods etc. The fact that only one brand is subsidized is not enough because this one brand is not suitable for all women. I couldn’t stand Diane, it made me sick. I tried several brands with no success until i came over one and i stayed on it as i didn’t have any serious side-effects. It is one of low-dose hormone BC which probably explains why my body tolerated it.

Some birth control pills are affordable but other are very expensive and given the fact that not everybody has an optimal financial situation, they should be on the subsidized meds list, if not for preventing pregnancy, at least for disease. Some of gynecological diseases are crippling as endometriosis is and because the pill is the only treatment for it, it should be recognized as one by insurance companies. Not to mention that most of painkillers are not subsidized either, the disease might cost one a lot.

On the other hand, it doesn’t surprise me that the pill is not considered medicine as endometriosis is still not understood and patients wait years for diagnosis. Also, the disease gets very few money for research although it is as common as diabetes and asthma. At least, this little help could be welcomed by many.

As about the judgement from people, i would say it should be ignored. The judgement usually comes from the fact that these pills were created and mainly used to prevent pregnancy and as i mentioned, this thing does not usually stay well with some people especially that women use them. Most things i’ve heard are usually related to side-effects. Every medicine has side-effects but when it comes to the pills, it’s so amazing how people become so suddenly worried about your well-being and need to remind you about what you do to your body. When we all know it’s not about that. You wouldn’t lecture a diabetic on their meds, right? What’s the point in judging me? If i’m not taking the pill then i have to take painkillers which are actually worse and they do not stop the growth of endometriosis as the pill does. Alternative medicine is not an option because it doesn’t work, i also tried that.

All of us who take meds for one reason or another, are very aware of the side-effects and what we get ourselves into. But as for now, there are unfortunately no better choices. I am though grateful that i live in a place and age where i have access to this treatment.

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If there would be just one department for the whole country, 40 places, entrance exam once in four years, would you have the courage to give it a try? I did and it was not just “give it a try”. It was: i studied very thoroughly for the entrance exams and familiarized myself with the profession years in advance.

I’m talking now about the conservation studies, an area i set my mind to go into six years before i attended the entrance exams in 2016. I didn’t write about it until now because as probably you might have guessed, i didn’t make it and i really didn’t need any judgement. The heartbreak after this very long process and the blame i took from myself were more than enough. And the feeling of failure made it even worse.

I fell in love with conservation after attending basic studies in museology while studying for my first masters’. We had a course in Museums and Collections which lasted a whole semester and we had lecturers who worked in conservation, one of them being the chief of the conservation center i volunteer at now. The field fascinated me because it is so complex and unique in the sense that it combines humanities and science in a very innovative way. Since i am a person interested in both but chose humanities because of reasons stated in an earlier post, i said to myself “this is it, i want to study this. How can i do that?”

The only place one can study conservation in Finland is at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki. There was a department for building conservation in Western Finland but it was shut down few years ago. There were only ten places for each specialization and the entrance exam once at four years, basically when one study program finished, new students were taken in. My main interest were artifacts, textile, paper or art conservation. The only problem was that the study program was only in Finnish and my language skills were not at all very good back then.

But in 2016, the university took in new students and i decided to go. That’s when the fun started with chemistry studies, as chemistry was on the exam list. Luckily, just basic chemistry was required and i was able to study that by myself while practicing color tests, drawing and folding paper. There was a color test, handicraft test, chemistry exam, interview and depending on the specialization, another exam testing your skills.

I sent my application papers in March and in May i was invited to the entrance exams which lasted for two days. I was very nervous about the chemistry exam but in the end that proved to be the easiest part. I found the handicraft exams to be so much more difficult especially the one we had in the first day where we were asked to make a coffee mug out of cardboard and paper. That was a complete disaster and i’m very sure that it was the main reason i failed. I still hate paper mugs to this very day. After the first day, we were informed who made it to the next day. My first choice was artifact conservation and failing to see my name on the list i just turned to leave barely keeping my tears. When i remembered that i put all the choices on my application list! And there i was admitted for textile conservation! Not bad but how could i manage? I mean i don’t know much about working with textiles and i was sure there were applicants who had seamstress studies behind. I was disappointed and angry but i decided to go to the final exam and interview. The exam wasn’t bad, we had to sew a small purse and we had one as a model so i did quite ok given the fact that i rarely practiced textile handicrafts.

The interview went fine until the last part when i couldn’t keep my mouth shut and i asked if one could actually transfer from textile to artifact conservation. Maybe you kind of grasped why this question might have proven to be fatal for my chances of getting in. I realized what i just done on my way back from the university and i thought i am the most stupid person on this planet. The whole experience left me with a bitter taste because i knew i could have done much better. The fact that i waited so much to attend this exam and study there, left me frozen; i got so stressed and excited that i couldn’t even focus properly on the exam. Another factor was the amount of applicants, i guess there were hundreds, which really intimidated me.

But to my surprise, i found out that i was the first on the reserve places at textile conservation. Unfortunately, nobody gave up their place so i didn’t make it. This kind of result brought two feelings: i was very glad to make it that far with so few places, with so many applicants and barely any experience in textiles (and studying chemistry on my own!) and second, it brought the huge disappointment of being so close but yet so far.

I tried not to take it as a complete failure but as an experience, learn from it and give it another try. I know that this field is very specialized, job are quite scarce and studies last for about four years full-time but i guess when you like something, you have to go after it. And be committed to it.

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Halloween has passed and i’m a bit late with this post but i’m trying to find the time to write about this because it’s a subject i cannot just leave behind unmentioned. I grew up in a place that didn’t celebrate Halloween but anyway we started to celebrate it in secondary school as i was attending a special class with intensive English language program. I enjoyed it a lot because we used to have so much fun dressing up and carving jack o’lanterns. I remember i dressed as Snow White, Red Riding-hood, a clown (not the scary one), witch, vampire or any other story or literary characters i happened to enjoy. This tradition was kind of forgotten when i started university, although we went with my colleagues to heavy metal gigs usually on Halloween or watched horror movies but we didn’t dress up anymore. I noticed that it’s kind of hard to keep it going when you don’t have people who are into it like you are. And unfortunately, i met lots of criticism, too, because Halloween is not a traditional celebration for our culture. Well, i never cared about that anyway, and never understood some people’s needs to ruin what you like because they have certain beliefs.

This year though Halloween was a bit more special because it basically lasted the whole October. This would be my style of celebrating it and i was also quite positively surprised that shops had more Halloween decorations, candies and the PR around the holiday was much better taken into consideration. And to my ultimate joy, i also found some people that are very into Halloween and created a whole program around this theme.  The whole “show” consisted of Facebook live streams and podcasts themed around horror movies and it goes under the name of It’s Not Human. The two guys involved in the project are Jacob Lyle and Alexander Koch, two actors living in L.A. and liking Halloween a lot, of course. And horror movies. I found out about the whole project by following one of the on Instagram. At first, i was not sure if i was going to follow the whole project, at least when it came to live streams because the time difference is about 10 hours but since i am going through a very difficult time, i thought this might be a good chance to get my mind off things.

They made a schedule with the movies they were going to watch and i saw, to my surprise, i haven’t seen some of them – to my surprise because i watch lots of horror movies and i thought I’ve seen most of them. They also had 1960’s-1980’s movies which i wasn’t familiar with. So, the whole idea was to watch the movie at the same time with them while watching the live stream. I did manage to do this for some movies, not all of them, because of the time difference but also because they did stop the live stream schedule after a while. They did mention that it was lots of work and quite tiring which i understand very well given the fact that i’m also into some projects which eat lots of time and they are also not paid (this blog being one of them). Also, i found it quite difficult to watch the movie and the live stream at the same time especially if it was the first time when watching the movie. Most of my attention went into the movie and the live stream took a secondary place together with commenting.

I managed though to watch all their movies on my own and some extra of mine at the same time and listened to their podcast which discussed the respective movies afterwards. The idea was great because it has introduced me to some classics that perhaps i wouldn’t have watched otherwise. The whole movie schedule had a different theme weekly which made it look very organized but unfortunately, i couldn’t really “digest” the serial killer week or movies involving violence against women in general. I have to mention that i hate movies like The Saw or Hostel (not on their list) and anything of the kind. I love horror movies which involve the supernatural like The Conjuring but i never find them frightening. I don’t really have horror movies that scared me, maybe Silent Hill is one worth mentioning, it gave me an unreal feeling but that’s also because the whole atmosphere in the movie is anxiety provoking. I did continue to play the game because it still remains one of the horror movies that had an impact on me although the game was by far less scary than the movie.

Going back to It’s Not Human, the podcast it’s really worth listening to because besides the interesting facts about movies, the guys also tell horror stories and have different guests on the show. It’s also interesting to hear their opinions and views on the movies, as professional actors. For me, at least it’s very informative and interesting to listen the movies discussed because otherwise i would just watch them without further information and perhaps skip on many details. Sometimes there are spoilers but i’m never disturbed by them because i don’t care about spoilers and sometimes i actually do want to watch something i haven’t because of the spoilers. Also after re-watching some movies, i saw them differently and noticed some details that skipped to me the first time.

I can say it was very easy to follow them live or listening to the podcasts because the atmosphere was very relaxed and their personalities are the same as the people i’m hanging out with, so at one point i felt i was just listening to friends. But first and foremost it was fun and it has helped me a lot to keep my sanity through this difficult time and made me smile when i thought i couldn’t even carry on though the day. I do hope the guys do continue at least somehow the project because it’s worth it and there are many of us who do appreciate it. A big thank you!

You can follow It’s Not Human on Facebook, Instagram, SoundCloud and iTunes.

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