Posts Tagged ‘i am thinking’

The other day I bumped into an article about BIC pens for women, in fact, there are lots of mentions online about this and lots of ridicule. I also found it funny and stupid at the same time because I think it’s a waste of money and energy to make some pink pens and sell it specifically to women. Anything made pink and sold specifically to women is ridiculous. Does a product have to be pink in order to be directed at a certain gender? I think it is useless and besides it is indeed just a marketing strategy in order to cash on naive people. Because pink products are more expensive. At least the pink, shiny BIC pen was more than double the price compared to a plain BIC pen.

If I remember my childhood now, I can’t say we did have this blatant gender segregated toys, and here I am referring to a whole PINK toy and clothing section. We did have dolls and this stuff but I don’t remember being such a big deal and I’m really sure we didn’t have a wide range of pink personal products.

So, with this in mind I have never been a fan of light colors especially pink. I also never started a war because of the pink products stating that is somehow offensive or degrading for women because I don’t think it is. What I think it is, well, uselessly expensive and just because of the color. What I do though, is avoid these products, not because of the color but because of the price.

I always buy razors from the men department and sometimes socks as I do find cheaper socks there. As about pens, I usually buy neutral ones but most of the times I get them from different places like schools, offices or courses I attend.

The same thing goes for other items like electronics. I remember a radio add from a while ago which mentioned that women can choose computers from a variety of colors. I don’t know about others but when I buy a computer, the color is the last thing of my mind. Actually I don’t take it into consideration at all, first, I look at the computer’s properties and of course, brand.

I think the most infuriating thing about the pink products is the price based on the color. I would understand if the quality is better but in most of the cases there isn’t any kind of difference. And it’s also not very nice for people who do actually like pink and have to pay extra for a product just because of its color.

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Yesterday, I had a brief talk with my flatmate about her study period in Finland and from one subject to another we started talking about things one hears hundreds of times while studying or moving here. I don’t take these things as an insult but after hearing them so many times, it gets tiring and at one point not all people have friendly intentions when they ask you about your background and motives for being here.

  1. Where are you from?

I hear this one almost all the time. In my first years here it was normal as I was studying in an international environment and met people from all over the world so we did ask each other a lot where are we from. Nowadays people ask me where am I from because of my accent. Sometimes they don’t even bother and take a wild guess: are you Russian or Estonian? Or some start talking to me in Russian all of a sudden which make me have a complete block because I don’t speak nor do I understand Russian. Other guesses regarding my nationality were Italian and Spanish. I think the closest is Italian.

I do not mind the question but given the nasty reputation that Romanians have (lots of thanks to Finnish media for that), I do have some hesitation when answering, also depending on whom is asking. The nastiest reactions I got were from older people when upon finding out where am I from they stopped talking to me and ignored me completely. I remember in particularly two cases, an older lady and a man, who looked at me so disgusted, if spitting was allowed, I think I would have gotten a phlegm on my face. Once an older guy, after hearing my country of birth, he got so close to me, started staring at my face analyzing every feature: “Yes, you have brown eyes but you are too white for a Romanian.” In fact, my eyes are hazel and yes, Romanians are white unless you don’t mean a certain minority and I guess he meant just that.

  1. Why did you come here? Why did you choose this country? What are you doing here?

It’s quite difficult to reply to these questions because, besides family ties, I do have other reasons I am here but I really don’t want to explain them to strangers, they wouldn’t listen anyway. My Romanian friend told me that some persons ask with a kind of annoyance in their voice which implies “oh no, again a foreigner, what the heck are they doing here?”. I didn’t really pay attention to it but it might be very well be. They usually shut up when I mention family ties.

  1. You speak Finnish so well!

I do take this as a compliment but sometimes it goes too far. For example, I barely manage to say “hello, nice to meet you” to a stranger and they immediately jump to the conclusion that I talk Finnish very well. I know they are trying to be polite but it’s just ridiculous. Wait until we talk about life’s deep philosophical matters and nuclear energy. Then tell me how god my Finnish is.

I do know though that I make mistakes and my language is not as good as some claim. There were at least three persons who criticized my language skills. One of them did it in a very constructive manner and I appreciated that a lot (she is a teacher afterall). The other two were just being assholes. One of them cannot speak anything else besides Finnish and the other just English but for him is perfectly ok to make fun of people who are trying to learn other languages than English.

  1. Do you like it here?

Of course, I do otherwise I wouldn’t be here.

  1. What do you think about Finland?

Again if I start a long endless discussion about things I like in Finland (and there are lots of them) my interlocutor would probably get bored so I just say “it’s nice”. End of story. If they want to know more, they can ask. I’ll gladly answer.


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Regarding my last post and some of the claims that students get too much money and they spend it on going out and drinking, I decided to write about living on student financial aid. The student financial aid includes the aid and some help with the rent – which depends a lot on the rent. Also the aid is given taking into consideration the degree so you might have it for 36 or 25 months or for another period of time depending on the length of the studies.

It is a while since I got my student aid but as far as I remember it was for around 25 months and about 450-460 euros per month. The rent was about 235 euros per month in a student apartment. Now, let’s do some simple math: after paying the rent I was left with 225 (given that the aid is 460 euros, rent includes water, electricity, internet + other administrative expenses). Finland is one of the most expensive countries in EU area and the food is quite pricy.

What can you eat with 225 euros per month? If you take the lunch at the student cafeteria it costs 2,60 euros. Let’s say you eat one lunch almost everyday at the student cafeteria – that is about 80 euros. So, you are left with about 145 euros. You also need to buy food for breakfast and dinner and one may assume that vegetables, fruits, meat (a generally balanced diet but nothing extravagant) would cost about 20-30 euros per week – 4 weeks = 80-120 euros.

You are left with 25-65 euros. There is also the phone to pay, I have a cheap operator so I pay around 10 euros per month. What’s left? 15-55 euros per month.
And here I didn’t include: products of personal hygiene, clothing items, kitchenware, books, office supplies, bus card, medicine, electronics and other items that one uses in their everyday life.

So I wonder, where do these people get the idea that 460 euros is enough to go clubbing and get drunk? This sum is barely enough to survive if parents don’t help you and if you don’t have any job. Many students do work during the summer if they are fortunate enough to find a job and save money for the school year. That was also what I did.

Of course, I’ve heard the ones who blame young people that they don’t take blue collar jobs because they are lazy and entitled. My observations show exactly the opposite but unfortunately not even these jobs are enough for everybody. It’s not that we are lazy and entitled – it’s just that even these jobs are hard to find and get. But that’s another story for another time.

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In Finland we have the so-called student financial aid. The student financial aid is not much, it can reach around 500 euros a month and it includes financial aid plus rent aid and the sum depends a lot on several factors such as the year when the studies began, the rent and so on. Some “brilliants” from the government thought that cutting student financial aid and forcing students to take loans would be a great idea to save budget money in the long run. The student financial aid is not big at all and many students do actually take loans, go to work or are helped by parents. But still student financial aid is indeed very helpful and many students from poor families can make a future thanks to it as otherwise they would have no chance to study. Even if there are no tuition fees, living costs are very high around here.

What kind of shocked me was the nasty reaction of some people who were actually supporting these cuts. The comments mentioned that: “back in my day we didn’t have such thing, nowadays the youth is so spoiled and useless”, “students are some lazy shits who know nothing but to get drunk and party”, “get a fucking job if you want to study – blue collar jobs are not good for you?”, “why don’t you study an area that gets you a safe job afterwards?”, “students extend their studies forever and get money for free”.

These claims are the most stupid i have ever read. And here is why:

“back in my day we didn’t have such thing, nowadays the youth is so spoiled and useless”

Dear jealous nostalgic, back in your days things were different. Unemployment and uncertainity wasn’t so bad as nowadays and you could afford to take a loan. Nowadays, there is no thing such as a “safe field” that guarantees you a 100% job after graduation. You might get a job, but most of the time is temporary – meaning non-stable job. We are not spoiled or useless. Times have changed and you should get your head out of your posterior and update yourself. We live in 2016 not in 1970.

“students are some lazy shits who know nothing but to get drunk and party”

This student here worked her ass off to get the degrees she has. Sometimes i had classes from 8 to 20 with 10 min. break between them and 24 exams per year plus mountains of books and courses to read. You could lose a course because you missed it 2 times. That was my bachelor degree. During my master’s i learned Finnish languange in parallel with my MA courses. Add to that culture courses and Swedish languange plus optional courses. Plus my master’s thesis. My second MA was done in Finnish (after only 3 years of studying Finnish language), plus my secondary subject was Finnish languange and culture, courses for the natives who were becoming teachers – those harsh courses in Finnish linguistics, that were not piece of cake at all. Plus optional courses and the second thesis to write. I had no time for social life and no money for partying or getting drunk. And for your information, i hate both of them. I prefer quiet evenings with friends and watching movies or playing games. So, much for your “lazy” students.

“get a fucking job if you want to study – blue collar jobs are not good for you?”

Studying full-time and having a job is extremely challenging and in my case almost impossible. During my BA studies, it was out of the question. I was rotting at class and in the library. Free time was sleeping and eating. While in Finland, i did get summer jobs to finance my studies but they were extremely hard to get and the ones i got were with some help from my husband. And they were blue collar jobs – and no, i’m not ashamed to do them. Besides is very hard to get a job that has a flexible schedule. After that, i was very lucky to get a job in my field and have understanding teachers who ignored the fact that i was missing some of the lectures.

“why don’t you study an area that gets you a safe job afterwards?”

What study field will give you a secure job nowadays? Perhaps healthcare or IT, to give some examples, but not everybody is fit, can or want to become an engineer or a doctor. And it’s good like that. We can’t have a society full of doctors and IT specialists. Also my area is not at all a useless one, since i’m trained to be a museum professional. I always loved this field and in my opinion a world which doesn’t care about it’s heritage is dead.

And unfortunately, i know people who were supposed to have a “safe” degree and the jobs they got afterwards were temporary or completely different from their studies. Because upon finishing their studies, their field was not in demand anymore.

“students extend their studies forever and get money for free”

This one is partially true, there are some people who linger on a degree for 10 years but they don’t get money for it. The financial aid is given a certain number of months and you need to have 5 credits per month to get it. No credits = no money. Also, the degrees are now limited to a certain number of years and if you don’t finish in time you need to explain that to your own department in a formal manner. The department might accept it or not. And if you want to study in another field – as far as i know – you won’t get financial aid anymore if you finished all your aid months.

To be honest, people spewing this nonsense are far beyond reality because if one knew a bit about student life and aid rules, one wouldn’t make such claims. And besides, the financial aid is not free money, you will pay it back after graduation in taxes, presuming that you will get a job and i doubt that many people will be unemployed all their lives.

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The subject of this post started from a situation I’ve bumped into quite many times namely people who make fun of women driving and say that women don’t need to drive anyway. Because they don’t know anything about cars, they are bad at driving etc. I don’t want to discuss which gender is the best at driving since this is not the point of this post but I do want to bring forward the necessity of driving and owning a car nowadays.

I was also very ambivalent about driving and I got my driver’s license quite late, around 26. I can’t say I hate or love driving. For me it was just a matter of practicality, something I needed to do because of the circumstances. While living in Romania, I said I will never need to drive or own a car. Because I lived in the capital and it was much cheaper and safe for my sanity to use public transport. Driving there is very chaotic due to bad drivers (both genders included), infernal traffic and shortage of parking places.

The situation changed completely when I moved to Finland. I live in the middle of nowhere. The closest food shop is 10 km away and other services much further than that. There is no public transport, no buses stop there. I was always dependent on somebody to drive me wherever I needed to go and it was really frustrating especially in my first years here when the schedule was already planned for you. Sudden trips to the library and grocery store were out of the question. Then I started applying for jobs and almost all of them required a driver’s license and some even wanted you to own a car. I was even rejected from two jobs because I didn’t have a driver’s license.

Here not everybody lives in a big city but usually in villages near a city or in the middle of nowhere. The situation gets even worse if you go north. You can drive for hundreds of kilometers just to arrive in the most forgotten place on earth. And people live there. Public transportation is nonexistent in some places and even if it is, the buses go so rarely that is frustrating. It has been quite a scandal when the railways wanted to take some regional trains out of circulation. A regional train that connects small towns and villages and without, people would have been in difficulties.

I dare to say that public transportation here is not very efficient if you live in a small, remoted place and it’s also very expensive. Now, Finnish railways lowered ticket prices but recently when we went somewhere we used a car and shared the gas money, if we were more people travelling. For you to get an idea about the prices: me and my husband paid around 180 euros for train tickets to Helsinki and back from our place (and I have student discount). Without it, we would have paid 240 euros train tickets! With the car it would have been 60 euros for gas two-way. Now, do the math and see my point.

So, it is quite stupid to bark at women on the driving issue. It’s not about who is better driver or not. Driving here is a necessity. And I would say owning a car although the taxes and repairs are very expensive. But if you are in the aforementioned conditions you really don’t have a choice.

We have cases in our family and I’ve heard some in which the woman never bothered to get a driver’s license because it’s supposed that the man is driving. Well, two summers ago our neighbor got a severe case of food poisoning lending him is hospital for several weeks and his wife called for our help because she couldn’t get to work. She doesn’t have a license and there is no bus going from our place to where she works. My driving instructor told me about a 50 and smth. year old lady who came to take her license because her husband died and she couldn’t get anywhere (also living in a small village).

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Surfing around internet, I bumped into a comment which went along the lines that living in a socialist state makes you basically an idiot who lives on welfare studying feminist poetry, drinking Starbucks coffee and uploading photos on Instagram from your iPhone. According to this person, people living on welfare are some lazy hipsters who live large on other people’s money. The problem is that this person doesn’t have the slightest idea how is to live on welfare in a so-called socialist state because otherwise he wouldn’t spew this kind of nonsense.

Fortunately enough, I’ve never lived on welfare but I know very well a case who did. And it was far from the description above. I’m talking about welfare in Finland, about a Finnish citizen. I really don’t know exactly how much welfare one can get now but few years ago, a single person without dependents got around 600 euros. And I doubt the sum has gone up. Add to that help with the rent and you might get something of 800 euros. Some people might think that it’s a lot of money but that’s not the case if you live in Finland.

Finland is one of the most expensive country in the Eurozone (ask Google) and living here with 800 euros without any kind of help is far from hipstering on Instagram and at Starbucks. The average rent for this person was between 450-500 euros/month (and that’s cheap). Food was about 150-200 euros per month (no eating or going out at all). And about 100 euros was left for products of basic hygiene, clothes, Internet and phone (which by the way, was not a smartphone). And there you have all your 800 euros.

I will add that the respective person was not on welfare because of his choice but because of losing his job and having difficulties with finding another one. Also in those 800 euros I didn’t mention expenses for public transportation, doctor costs (whatever one might say healthcare in Finland is not for free), medicine (in case of sickness). Going out, travelling and even buying new clothes was out of the question.

So, I wonder where did this idiot get the idea that people living on welfare are some lazy entitled shits who spend their time taking photos and drinking overpriced coffee. It might be they have other source of money than welfare because not having a job and living on welfare here without any help is very rough. And unfortunately there are people around here who have salaries under 1000 euros/month. Yeah, surviving on that is really “fun” especially after you pay the bills, plan your groceries counting the last cent and hope you won’t get sick.

P.S. I did notice that many people tend to jump at your throat if you live on welfare because they immediately assume you are lazy. These idiots are also the ones who yell that welfare should be banned and people should just get off their asses and go to work. Newsflash: many people nowadays lose their jobs and some get sick. And it’s not their fault. It’s easy to yell get a job but quite difficult to find one. In my opinion, welfare is good and at least you don’t end on the streets. In my former country, if you lost your job you did end on the streets because welfare is nonexistent.

But i guess it’s easy to bark from behind the screen at people who are less lucky than you.

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Which is the one of kid-hater. Not once i’ve heard people telling me on different occasions that i hate kids and young mothers. And that is because i fowarded on facebook some objective articles about the childfree life in general; articles that didn’t attack anybody. I was unpleasantly amazed because i never stated that i hate kids. I don’t. But because i’m childfree and never want kids then people immediatley assume that you hate them. And what about many of the childfree people who do work with kids? I really doubt that they are kid-haters.

In the first place the word hate has very strong connotations for me. To hate somebody means that a certain person did something very bad to me, so as to awaken me the feeling of hating her/him. Kids or in the above case young mothers never did anything to me. I don’t have any reason to hate them. At least i’m indifferent to them which means that i don’t care. That is not hate. And it is a big difference. These people who jump immediately to the conclusion that i must be a fierce hater because i’m childfree, are usually misguided by a choice that is not popular and implies that if you choose somthing which doesn’t involve kids then you certainly must hate them.

I want to make clear once and for all that it’s not the kids i hate. I can’t hate something that did me no harm. I can’t hate smth. just for the sake of hating. Hate is an ugly feeling that consumes you and i do prefer to occupy my life with positive feelings. But yes, i do have a problem. A big problem with people who harass me because i’m childfree, attack me verbally with the well-known tired bingoes and try desperately to tell me how wrong my life is, how i need to change my mind or are desperate to change my mind. Yes, i do have a problem with the people who insulted me over the years because i’m childfree. And those people are not kids. Are adults who are supposed to know that MY life is none of their business. Still they act like they own it and make it hard for myself to stay objective when it comes to personal matters. Those are the people i have a problem with. Not the kids or mothers. I have friends who are parents so honestly, it’s quite absurd when people throw this stereotype at me.

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life is a journey, not a destination


life is a journey, not a destination