Day 4 and 5 included corny spa treatments for couples and northern light sighting on our street. Pretty exciting!

I made the decision not to continue the vlogs. It was a bit stupid of me to imagine it wouldn't take as much time as writing traditional blog posts - in addition to editing the footage, the filming in itself is super difficult! I struggled to find time and space to sit down and have a monologue with the camera because I was never alone - you can't even imagine the discussions had in the background of my clips if I hadn't muted the film... (My favourite: beautiful scene from a picturesque little street - Alex's voice in the background says "What makes you think you're a bitch?")

Another reason is the obvious unpopularity of the vlogs. I figured people might not have as much time to read blogs during Christmas time, but the stats for my last two posts have been a bit sad: compared to my normal 300-500 clicks per post, my latest one was viewed only 90 times, out of which a mere 30 people actually watched the video. It's simply not worth the time. I'll stick to normal blog posts and written rants in the future! Thanks for everyone who watched the vlogs, I actually had a lot of fun doing them.

Merry Christmas for all of my lovely readers!

Have you ever seen northern lights? Is the experience worth the hype? Share your experiences in the comments below!

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Day 2: intense running around Helsinki. Day 3: Even more intense running around Helsinki. Vlogging is hard when you try to meet 10 people within 48 hours... All this running came to an end when we were stuck in a train for 14 hours from Helsinki to Kolari. Here we go!

I put a map of our train trip here in case you're not super aware of the geography of Finland:

What's the longest train trip you've ever taken? Any tips on how to survive long journeys without losing your mind? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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It's here: the cringiest thing I've probably ever done. Rejoice! It's time for terribly amateurish video editing and a bunch of awkward silences.

Our Day 1 consists mainly of travel from Dublin to Helsinki. It's surprisingly awkward to film yourself in public - full-time vloggers, I have no idea how you have the guts to do it. More in tomorrow!

Watch underneath or open the link in YouTube HERE!

How did I do? Suggestions, tips, anything? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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You say it's not a big deal, I say I'm scared shitless. Why? I don't even know where to begin. Let's make a list...

So, it has been said: I'm spending my Christmas in Finland. Not just anywhere in Finland, but in Lapland, which is why utter fear is not the only emotion I feel for Christmas right now - I'm actually kind of excited. We have TONS of plans from corny Lappish spa treatments for couples (prepare your butt, Alex) to horseback riding in the mountains. Now that I put it like this, it actually sounds pretty damn sweet.

BUT that's not the reason why I'm terrified. There are other things.

Our villa in Levi, Finland. Photo from levi.fi
    Once you lumberjack, you never lumberback. In other words, my special Canadian someone is a true bliss, but he doesn't speak Finnish. If you have ever brought a foreign friend or a significant other to a dinner table full of people only speaking your language, you know how this will go down. I will basically turn into a Talking Head for Christmas, simultaneously trying to listen to the conversation and interpret it in English on the spot. 2 hours in and you're done. It's really, really tiring.
    It doesn't matter which way we try to look at this. I don't live in Finland. And if my previous proper trip to Helsinki last summer tells me anything, it's that the feeling of going back to a place you once belonged but don't know anymore is slightly haunting. Things can change a lot in two years: new shops, new buildings, new systems. It will be a rollercoaster of emotions, and I know I'll feel a bit 'off'. It's my first Christmas in Finland since I left!
    Ten days is not a lot if during that time you somehow try to devour all of the people, places and things you didn't have time to see during those 6 months you were gone. Having a relaxing holiday back in Finland is not an option for most expats, but I'm determined to forcefully have at least one day just for Alex and I to go around and enjoy the famous Finnish silence. The rest of the time I'm probably neurotically staring at my calendar, trying to figure where I'm supposed to be and how the new public transport tap-in machines work.
    You read it. I'm crazy for all things editing, and video editing is something I have wanted to practice for a long time. I figured spending a few hours editing footage a night is going to be more enjoyable than trying to write blog posts, edit photos AND write all my assignments due over the holidays. Will it be cringy? Yes. Will it fail? Probably. Will it be a pleasure to watch? Possibly, if you enjoy cringe. Our plans should be exciting, though: a train trip across Finland, a week living in a villa in Lapland, horseback riding, northern lights, spa treatments, eating reindeer, a lot of multicultural awkwardness and one big Finnish adventure.
Map from Google Maps

Our plane from Dublin to Helsinki leaves on the 19th, through Copenhagen. 19th - 21st we will stay in Helsinki, after which we take a 12-hour night train to Kolari, from which we head to Levi, Lapland. On the 29th we fly back to Dublin through Oslo and spend a New Year here.

Is vlogging an absolutely terrible idea? Have you ever spent a Christmas away from home - or at home after being away for years? Share your experiences in the comments below!

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Everything has automatically a little bit more craic if you add the word "Irish" in front. Let's try:
  • Irish Breakfast
  • Irish Coffee
  • Irish Pub
  • Irish Dance
  • Irish IKEA
Now that I look at the list, somehow I feel like everything becomes "Irish" if you add a ton of alcohol and a couple blood puddings in it - none of these were part of our IKEA excursion though, sadly. Nevertheless, the expedition still had some pretty good craic! Did I say enough "craic" in this post already?

There's something about shopping for furniture that really makes me feel settled in a country. At this point, only after 2 years of living abroad, my feeling of being rooted in a certain place is still really dependant on this sort of external, fairly concrete activities to tie you down - I'd like to see you try and fly our new bookshelf in a luggage back to Finland! They're like anchors: nothing can pull me back now that I'm clinging on to my new house decor nail deep.

Alex and I moved in together - again. This time it's just the two of us, in a lovely little studio apartment a short sprint away from Phoenix Park. I'll take you to a house tour when we get everything settled (house tour = spinning 360 degrees around with a camera in a studio this size!), but for that to happen, we needed to test our relationship in the classic form of IKEA shopping.

The public transport of Dublin is terrible. I don't even know where to start. The only positive thing I can think of is the double-decked buses. They're fun.

Alex: "What do you think St. Pumps did to become a saint?"

Our task of the day was to find a bookshelf to replace the TV stand the previous owner of the apartment had left there. Obviously we ended up buying at least 15 other things, but...

Because why wouldn't you want a bath tub in the middle of your living room?

This is a funny thing: if there's one major difference between IKEAs in Ireland and e.g. in Finland, it's the fireplace. Almost every room exhibition displays a fireplace in it, whereas in Finland they occur really rarely. That's definitely for a reason though: most flats actually have fireplaces. Even ours (in a sense, you'll see later).

But of course the props are still all in Swedish. It's funny to sink in the middle of all this Swedishness: seeing all those Ås, Äs and Ös makes me feel at home, and 10 minutes in I expected everyone around me to speak Swedish.

"Mrs. Santa just got a lot hotter..."
"Shut up."

We got really excited about this rocking moose. The Canadian senses are tingling.

And what on earth are you even doing in IKEA if you don't plan to eat some classic Swedish meatballs? Well, Swedish for the Irish... Just plain meatballs for me.

Looking at this photo I realise how tired I actually look. Jesus. This year has been the worst of my entire life, by far, but somehow I never realised how it has started to reflect on my face. Onwards to new challenges!

... In this case, to assemble furniture. I can't say for sure, but Alex said "tabarnak" at least 20 times during the process. But we're still together, so that's good news.

The result! As you can see, we do have a fireplace, kind of, and even as a nonfunctional one we wanted to have it on display somehow. It starts to feel like home in here, for the first time in this country. Ireland, you're not so bad. The living conditions you offer just somehow make me hate life and everything coming with it.

What kind of things make you feel at home in a new country? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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You know how sometimes when travelling, upon opening your mouth and ordering your food in language X, the waiter looks at you for a while and then proceeds to ask "Where are you from?" or "That's a funny accent, where did you get it?" Well how about when that happens every day?

English and I have been happily married for the past 2 years - it easily deserves the status of my primary language of communication. To anyone who has ever wondered how often I speak Finnish in my everyday life, the answer is never. I somehow never end up skyping with my friends or family, so six months can easily pass without me saying even a word in Finnish out loud (excluding all those awkward moments when a foreign friend wants me to demonstrate how it sounds like, in which case I usually say "hääyöaie" and watch their smile instantly melt away). But as someone who spent her youth watching American TV shows, pursued an exchange semester in the UK, worked for a year in Canada and then studied in Ireland, my English accent is nothing but consistent.

I'm a sponge. A linguistic sponge. I sound like the mutilated lovechild of all my previous homes, and even places that have never been my home (looking at you, USA), and there's nothing more simultaneously entertaining and uncomfortable than a native English-speaker trying to figure where this monstrosity comes from.

So now that I'm back at living in an English-speaking country, I've taken some time to think whether or not I should try and pursue the local accent. Some influence is inevitable, for sure. I already find myself pronouncing certain words with an Irish twist, and the rhythm of my intonation is really going through some growing pains (almost literally - I sound like a teenage boy trying to gain control over their own voice). However, I feel kind of embarrassed of trying to use local words - in Ireland, things are always just grand or just a wee bit weird. Is it too self-righteous to try and sound like an Irish?

There are, of course, some traits of the Irish accent I find hard to mimic:
  1. Firstly, the R. For my entire life I've comfortably used the classic British, non-existent R, but suddenly I'm supposed to pronounce them? No effin' way. The worst part is it isn't even like the American soft R - it's something in-between the rolling R and the American R. How on earth do you make that sound?
  2. Th. That sound. when you hear an Irish person say "that", you know what I mean. It's like their tongue is stuffed somewhere deep in their throat in the beginning, and then it just kind of emerges like a spring of some kind from the depth of the Irish mouth, and makes this super deep and sharp gzth. Jesus. I don't even know how to describe that.
  3. Sometimes the letter E is O, but sometimes it's not. Sometimes U is E, but sometimes it's not. Depending on the accent, I think all Irish have a different interpretation on how to say these letters.
  4. The Irish don't pronounce the G at the end of verbs. I'm gettin' a wee bit frustrated with this one. ("one" of course pronounced as something that sounds pretty much like "wune"...)
I love Irish English, and sincerely wanted to believe it would naturally grow on me after a while. Seems like that's not going to happen without some effort after all. I wonder what's different? In the UK it took me two weeks to catch up on the Midlands dialect, but now, after half a year in the Emerald Isle, I still sound like a weird mixture of French-Canadian, Finnish and God knows what else.

Is the accent even important? Should I just go with the flow and let my hybrid English get loose? Getting understood is, above all, the most important thing when speaking a second language - right?

Do you think it's important to adopt local dialects? Or does it come out as a bit pretentious? Should non-native speakers always strive for the local accent? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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