Monday, September 30, 2002
culture shock
those endless dreams and restless nights came back to me again.

i should not have accused my old bed for my bad quality of sleep. it's the problem of myself... i've been not so happy these days. i feel uneasy and impatient easily when being with somebody. i feel bored to join those parties when those french or italians all speak in their own languages. i feel tired, physically and mentally. i feel lonely and helpless. i don't know whom can i talk to or ask for help. i began to lock myself in my room or in my own world. i even wanted to be alone...

anyways tomorrow is another brand new day and another brand new month. in Taiwan october is always my favourite month. it's a month of glory and hope. many national holidays (which means many school day-off) we don't have a distinct autumn view, but the weather turns cooler and comfortable. last but not least, i was born on this month. :P

Peking Opera Blues
this afternoon I happened to see this 1986 Hong Kong movie directed by Tsui Hark. I mistook it as another film "Beijing Rocks," which i always wanted to see. there's only Finnish subtitles, i cannot understand those Cantonese lines... but it's still fun to watch this movie. and it made me nostalgic to see Brigitte Lin, Cherie Chung, Sally Yeh, Wu Ma... in the 80's. Actually i thought their acting was awful, and the music was also quite funny. this movie, however, is said to be a "landmark film in Hong Kong cinema." this review helps me to understand the story and to appreciate this movie. how wonderful if i could understand the lines or Cantonese...

Friday, September 27, 2002
my awful cooking...
i have no class today. so i went swimming in the morning. there is a swimming pool which is the largest in finland near my flat, just 2 minute walk. after that, i was so hungry and wanna cook something for lunch... i found cabbage and some minced meat from fridge, and thought maybe i could do steamed cabbage roll and stir-flied cabbage...

the latter one was ok. but the cabbage roll was a disaster. like the girl Shimamoto in Murakami's "south of the border..." i always finish all the dishes in my plate no matter there is some food i don't like or what. but this time i have to say sorry to the food. after forcing myself to eat some mouthful of the roll (actually, it's just as some big leaves with some horrible flavour meat...) i threw them all... i feel guilty, but...

anyway, i have to accept the fact that i got no talent for cooking. i hope the phrase "practice makes perfect" would apply to me... i envy those who can cook delicious food. and i think it's a blessing and gift that to be able to cook for their beloved family or friends.

Thursday, September 26, 2002
yesterday i went to the first class of "Vexed sex: gender trouble and recent British fiction." we have to read a british fiction every two weeks, which is really a big challenge to me. i've never finished reading a book in english. i spent the whole 2 months of summer vacation reading Hemingway's "the Sun also rises," which is actually a very thin book, but i still left the last two chapters unfinished. today i borrowed Angela Carter's "the Passion of New Eve" from univ library. i just tried to read the first 5 pages of chapter 1. it took me about half hour (heey the same pace as
Lokman when he's in taiwan?) there are many words i cannot understand. i don't know whether should i consult the dictionary when reading english books. i can get the main line of the story, but would miss some details which may be some keypoint to the whole story...

btw, i went to one city library which is said to be the biggest one in finland and just 5-minute walk from my flat. amazing, i found lots of chinese books there! in fact i havent read those book i brought from taiwan, but i was so excited that i still borrowed some books home, including Eileen Chang's short stories, which i already read before!! i can also borrow some music CD or DVD from library. they have quite large collection from pop, jazz to classical music. (well, no chinese nor japanese music though :P) there are also many art performances and museums in helsinki. i can get some student reduction or free entrance. i wonder when would i get bored of living here.

but i'm a bit getting bored of the food in Uni-cafe... it's the cheapst and way to have lunch here. only with 1,80-2,35 euros you can get quite a good meal and be very full. at first i thought the meal they offer are really delicious, and during the first two weeks i was expecting the lunch at uni-cafe every day!! but just as the weather turned cold so suddenly, i lost my appetite and the lunch is not so enjoyable to me anymore... anyway it's be better for me too. i eat too much recently, especially those high callories food as chocolate, bread with butter, pasta... on my god...

Tuesday, September 24, 2002
the finnish way of weather?
when the sky is blue, it's cold. when the sky is grey, it's warm... i seem to wear too much today. i feel hot now!! today we have 13 degree c, the highest of the past 10 days.

The lovely, lively Stockholm...
last night, after discussing with stacy for about 1 hour, finally i decided to go to Stockholm with some other girls at the middle of October. we will leave by ferry in the evening and arrive in Stockholm the next morning. i wonder whether the so-called one-day trip is enough to see this city. that's why i hesitated... anyway let's see.

Monday, September 23, 2002
together alone?
it's an issue about pachinko and karaoke we're going to talk about on the class of
sports and leisure in contemporary japan. i thought of it when going to Porvoo, the second oldest town in Finland and about 1-hour drive from Helsinki, with another taiwanese girl and one japanese girl yesterday. it's indeed a lovely town. the houses there are colourful and beautiful. although on sunday, almost all shops are closed, we found a cafe and enjoy a nice afternoon tea and the warm sunshine. however, sometimes i felt i wanted to go alone and exploring the small old town on my own pace...

i seldom feel bored when being alone. it doesn't mean i don't like to be with people or i don't need friends. but i need time for myself only too. i wonder whether my friends would think i'm weird coz i often lock myself in my room, while they're all gathering together in the flat, chatting, smoking, drinking or eating... or going to some parties or pubs. and i'd rather travel or visit some places by myself than with people. but i dunno... while travelling without friends, sometimes i feel too lonely. on the other hand, i feel as losing some freedom and bothering while travelling with others. i wonder whether i'm used to being with myself too much, so that i have difficulty to go back to be with people? am i abnormal? what should i do? :(

Sunday, September 22, 2002
mind vs heart??
when you're trekking or doing some sports, after a while you feel hot from your inner body, but somehow you feel cold from the outside world. you THINK you should put on jacket, yet you don't WANT to... then what would you do?

yesterday i went to Nuuksio national park which is about 45 minutes' drive from Helsinki, and we had a nice walking thru the dry rock forest and wet swampy rockvelleys for 7-8 km!! at first it's really nice, to have a deep breath the fresh air with the freezing wind, to be amazed by the sparkling lakes and clear blue sky and shining autumn leaves. but when we had to catch the bus back to espoo train station, otherwise we would have to wait another one hour, and i had a dinner appointment for the mid-autumn festivals. so we had to walk very fast... at last i didnt know whether i was hot or cold, and whether should i put on my jacket...

finally we arrived at the bus stop two minutes before the time. but after 10 minutes, the bus didnt come... coz we forgot it's saturday and the timetable is different from the weekday. the bus left just 8 minutes before we got there... what a nice day anyway.

Saturday, September 21, 2002
some of you may wonder what the hell i'm studying here. as it's my fifth year in university, i don't have to care about those credits, so i can take courses whatever i want.

1. French (6 ECTS): it's taught in finnish, but i met a very nice finnish girl, who translates whatever the teacher is talking about to me. besides, i've studied french for one semester in my school... frankly speaking, my teacher in NTU teached much better than the one here (je m'ennuie de vous, Jacques!!!) so far there's no much problem.
my aim, however, is to practice my speaking, not to learn those grammer... the finnish girl told me the students here are more independent and they have to learn by themselves a lot. the teacher is not very important to their studies... (well, hope i didnt misunderstand her words.) anyways i'm thinking whether should i take this course.
i wanted to learn german as well, but i always skipped the class (it's taught in finnish, too...) maybe i'll go to the self-access lab to learn by myself... if i have the nerve. :P
Language of politics and politics of language in People's Republic of China (4 ECTS): what a long course title, huh? i think it'd be a good chance to practice my english, to study a subject i've been familiar with, in another language...
3. Sports and leisure in contemporary Japan (4 ECTS): this is also another topic i've been familiar with, as taiwan has been influenced by japanese culture and is 'japanized' to some extent. interesting course, but it seems i have to read lots of materials...
4. Vexed sex: gender trouble and recent British fiction (4 ECTS): the course begins next week. seems difficult from the course description. there are another courses i'm interested in: "Gerder and translation" and "Gerder and genre in russian cinematography." anyway i'll go to the first class next week and check them.
5. Political and socio-enocomic life of russia in the mirror of the internet (2 ECTS): it begins at the end of october and only two weeks (each time 4 hours) sounds interesting, anyway.

the following are those course i want to take in spring:
1. heroes and villains in japanese film (4 ECTS)
2. post-soviet petersburg (2 ECTS)
3. everyday life of a soviet city in the 1920s-1930s. ideologies of socialist reconstruction and change of routines and identities (2 ECTS)
4. russian spiritual experience (2 ECTS)
5. urban culture in russia (2 ECTS)
6. a russian/american travelogue (2 ECTS)
7. madwoman in the text (4 ECTS)

ps. the ECTS is just a reference for myself that how much hour or work i would have to study for the course, as 1 ECTS credit refers to an average input of 20 hours of work by the student.

the warm summe days has gone. people said it turned cold suddenly this week. indeed , when i came back from Lapland on Monday morning, on the way home from Pasila train station, i felt my thigh as frozen and thought it's even colder than Lapland. and today when i arrived at helsinki centre at 2pm, it's only 9 degree, only half temperature of last week. in the early morning, it'd be approximately zero degree. cool, huh?? i wonder when will the so-called minus 20 degree come? but the air is quite dry, thus not so unbearably cold as taipei's winter... at least, i'm still wearing skirt sometimes. :P

Thursday, September 19, 2002
when do you often have dinner? in taiwan, usually people have dinner around 6-8pm. but in europe, the dinner time seems different. during these two weeks, i always have my dinner after 9pm or even later. sometimes it's due to the 'party' of my flat, sometimes just simply because i got home late or what... yesterday i asked my french flatmate, she said in france they often have dinner so late too. and it seems that dinner is not the most important meal of everyday to europeans?? coz sometimes my friends would just have some pizza or cookies with tea, while we're used to have some better dishes at dinner in daily life...

Monday, September 16, 2002
across the arctic circle...
when i woke up from my unstable sleep, i found we're surrounded by trees, and heavy mists. after the 12-hr trip of night train, we arrived at Roveniemi at 8am. it was raining, and cold. i began to worry whether i could survive thru the following 3 days. when i left Helsinki, it's warm and i had no time to check about the weather in Lapland. actually my friend told me about the trip just one day before it. i was fascinated immediately and wanted to go with her. so the next day after my french class, we rushed thru the same road for 3 times for getting a stamp from the university in order to buy a student discount card at the railway station. unfortunately i didnt bring any certificate to prove i'm studying in the university, so i had to get a temporary uni-card by paying 12 euros. and then when i wanted to withdrew some cash from ATM, i couldnt read the instruction in finnish at all. after failed for 4 times, my card was eaten by the machine. i was totally in lost and panic. hopefully later i went to the bank and they told me i seemed to remember the wrong password and my card will be sent to my flat in couple of days. but i began to hesitate whether should i go to Lapland under such impetuous decision and deficient preparation...

anyway, finally i bought the round-trip ticket to Roveniemi and went back to my flat to pack my stuff. i just have a small nike backpack, and compared to others, my baggage was incredibly small. i wonder whether i was too ignorant for travelling... i just brought a small jacket, a sweater, a knitted jersey, two t-shirts, a normal trousers, pajamas, a wool scarf and a silk one. and i wore just a pair of plain shoes. i don't have a big jacket nor boots which could protect me from water, winds and coldness.

so at first it's kind of miserable. and something made us unpleasant... anyway later we took a bus and went north for about 1-hour drive to a hostel
Visatupa. after knowing that i'm from taiwan, the host gave me a warm handshake and smile and told me that i was their first chinese guest! :-)

during the two days we had great sauna in the evening. there is a lake just beside the sauna hut. and yes i did run into the lake when i feel warmed enough or couldnt stand staying in the hot and steaming sauna hut, which is a very traditional smoke sauna, using burning woods and heaten stones, and using a ladle to throw water on the sauna stove, which then gives off more steam and heat. what a pity that i cannot swim... but i still went to the lake four times for the first day and twice the second day. :-) if you've never tried, you'd think it's incredible and impossible to jump into such a freezing lake. yet you'd feel amazingly refreshed if you did jump into the water. it's cold, but fantastic. i think i'm addicted to sauna now.

we had a small hiking the second day. the autumn nature scenery in this northern land was marvellous and stunning. the sunshine was not so shining nor warm as we had in helsinki. the wind and the air was chilling. but i was amazed by the thousand colours of the trees and plains. and felt the fade of the summer and the breezing of winter's coming... and sometimes the lands were as some soft and damp thick carpet. when walking to these areas, it's really not a very nice yet even horrible experience, as walking wrong into some forbidden and mysterious zone...

we left Visatupa on the third day at noon and went to Santa Claus Village, where the offical arctic circle maker is. it's cool and like an unreal a dream to cross the painted line on the ground. and there is a joint of signals directed to different cities of many countries and marked with the kilometers to show how far they are, like London, Armsterdam, Berlin, Tokyo, NYC... and i was so surprised to find Taipei on it!!! and my friends were amazed how far it is: 7804km.

last but not least, what i also enjoyed the most during the trip was to meet some new good friends. there were 21 people in the whole group. most of time i was just with 3 italian girls, one german guy and a scottish boy. the 3 italian girls are the typically italians: very nice, friendly, energetic, funny, and talkative. sometimes i felt they're too noisy though. :P

well i think the weather here do begin to have some influence on me... i felt i became a colder and more quiet person, i don't mind if i'm viewed as cool and unfriendly, i enjoy living in my own little world even when being with others... but thanks to those new friends here, they're really nice and made me feel i'm not alone or blanked as outsider... i do appreciate them whole-heartedly. :-)

Friday, September 13, 2002
from lapland
yes i'm in rovenieni now, the capital of finnish lapland and hometown of santa claus. wel, maybe it's a bit too early to get here. anyway later...

Wednesday, September 11, 2002
cold people...?
heard this from a spanish guy (who looks like Enrique Iglesias very much :P)
he thought how amazing the weather or the climate could influence the poeple that much. for instance, in europe, the nordic countries are the most wealthy, having a high living standard and competition. on the contrary, the south europe are not so well-off. but they seem to enjoy the life more and happier, while the scandinavia has the highest rate of commit suicide and the people are often viewed as 'cold peopel',,,

and he said it's also the same in spain. people living in the north, like in Madrid, his city, are more wealthy and competitive, while the south people as in andalucia dont work so hard and they don't earn so much money. but apprently, they are happier and more simpatica than north people. my italian flatmate said it's also the same in italy. and in taiwan, although it's very small and in the world map, it's quite south to many countries, people living in the southern taiwan earn the repetution as more friendly and hospitality, while well-off taipei citizens as me are said to be arrogant, sophisticated, cold and hard to get close to...

it seems that money cannot bring people so much joy and a happy life. which kind of life would you want?

Monday, September 09, 2002
music brings people together
my first weekend in finland was quite nice. i stayed at dorm the whole day on saturday coz i was really tired and had to make my study plan (duh. i'm really fed up with finnish the language. why can't finnish the people have some nerve to make some english explanation for foreigners?)

on sunday i went to Suomenlinna, a small island south-east to helsinki, 15 minutes by ferry. we walked till a rock beach and sat down. a greek guy brought guitar and began to play some songs. i really love pink floyd's "wish you were here." actually i don't miss home or taiwan very much, but sometimes still wonder how they're doing there...

it's really nice to find there are so many people love the same music i love or i always want to listen to. and i think music really helps me to get close to them. some are even interested in chinese pop and asked me to how them. really nice, huh? :-)

Sunday, September 08, 2002
party party party
what if you live with a french and an italian, or when your dorm is called "little italy?" (erh myself even dunno what i'm saying now)

we're having party almost every night at my flat. the day before yesterday was my italian flatmate's birthday. when i got home at about 9pm from the welcoming dinner treated by an officer at our ambassy (well, it's called sth like culture and economic office of taipei...) and just opened the elevator door, there were already dozens of people gathering at our flat, having beer, talking, smoking, and on the stove a delicious pasta tomato sause was boiling... as time went on, more and more people came. it's really quite freshingly interesting to me, as i just have seen such kind of party on tv or movie before. but well, i cant say i really like such socail occasions... sitting or standing there, forcing yourself to smile, talking and asking questions like "what's ur name?" "where do u come from?" ... "ok nice to meet u. talk to u later." duh.

and sometimes i feel a bit lost and adrift at how to make friends with those europeans... as they seem to gather together naturally and enjoy talking to each other. anyway it's just some tiny problems of myself. they're really really nice people. and so far i enjoy living here quite much and feel quite free.

when i arrived at amsterdam, some question arose from the deep of my mind that whether this continent is really what i longed for. i think i'll come back to taiwan with my answer after one year.

Thursday, September 05, 2002
it's not just warm, but HOT here!!!
finally, i'm here again. well, amazing, when i arrived at helsinki on monday's afternoon, my first impression is not like "wow it's so cold here." but rather "ufff so hot???!!!" people said it's the best summer since the past 100 years. i'm quite lucky, huh?

i seem to get used to this northern city quite soon. and surprisingly, there are bunches of exchange students from other european countries, especially french and germans!!! (heeey who ever said that no european would like to come to finland? :P) my roommates are french and italian. hehe i hope i'll have delicious dinner every night later. :-)

well, during my 22-hr trip, we stopped at Bangkok for about 1 hour. i was really shocked when walking thru the airport and seeing those people from different countries. not till then did i REALLY realise that i'm flying to another totally different world. then we arrived at amsterdam after 10-something-hr flight. (wow it's really tiring and unbearable, and i felt that the distance is really far...) but frankly speaking, i dont like schiphol airport very well... i felt unease during my 4-hr stay there... and just wanna leave there as soon as possible...

anyways, just wanna let you guys know i'm doing fine here. ok later...

wordsworth's garden
for oft when on my couch I lie
in vacant or in pensive mood,
they flash upon that inward eye
which is the bliss of solitude;
and then my heart with pleasure fills,
and dances with the daffodils.

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