I thought I would dedicate a post for this important event and memory in my life because it still lives on vibrantly in my memories. Not only mine, but my amazing bestie’s as well. I simply love this chance we were presented three years ago.
Three years ago, we took a long haul flight to Finland on a one-week school trip for the TD girls. I remember being all excited and wide awake despite the flight being so late at night because it was a place I really wanted to go and I had really been looking forward to the trip for weeks. To top it all, I was going with my best friend and I was going to room with her. It would be her first time flying out of Asia to a cool country (literally!) and I was so psyched to share her first experience with her. I couldn’t wait to experience it for myself too.
I remember that even the flight was memorable, where we transited in Germany for a domestic flight to Finland after at least 10 hours on Lufthansa airlines. I remember the plane didn’t have personalised entertainment sets and so as you can imagine, there wasn’t much for us to do on the plane. I didn’t mind, because I absolutely hated watching movies or playing games on the plane. I still do. We slept most of the way and talked to a Swedish woman beside me.
Transiting allowed me to have the experience of taking a bus to the plane and climbing up the stairs to board it. The plane really looked huge before me and the night air in Germany didn’t help since we were waiting outside the plane due to the crowd waiting to board! It may seem normal to you, I don’t know, but to me it was my first time boarding a plane in that manner, and so far it still is my only time. So I found it fascinating. I’d always watched in movies or read in books about passengers who took planes in that manner, but because I was never really exposed to it, I never really knew about it and I never thought that I would get to experience that. Well, I was wrong, and I’m glad I was.
I clearly recall that the first thing which struck me upon landing in Finland was the coldness of the air. Eleven degrees celsius. That was the temperature when we landed, and I was underdressed and freezing cold in my yellow banana jacket (yes, wearing that jacket and a then-favourite yellow shirt was how my bestie came up with my nickname, banana). Nevertheless, I still ate ice cream in the cold there anyway, and I don’t regret seeing my bestie eat one too~
I remember my first meal kind of woke me up, because I realised that Finland didn’t really have rice. Here, rice is the staple food, and it seemed strange and foreign that they didn’t have rice readily available. We were served barley as our first meal of the trip. It was the meal I didn’t like the most. Nuff said.
I don’t remember many details from the trip since it was three years ago, and I definitely forgot bits that I would dearly love to remember now, but anyway, one other striking point about the first day in Helsinki was that since it was summer, there was never night. Cool right? Again, it might seem normal to some people, but here in this hot tropical country that I live in, day and night is absolutely normal, and they occur at about the same time every day, every year. No major changes like the sun setting after 9pm or rising at 4am. No such thing as a dark blue midnight sky instead of a black one. That was what struck me so much in Finland. I actually stayed up to watch the sunset because I wanted to see how night looked like in Finland. I waited from 8pm to midnight until I realised that the sky was never going to darken any more than the dark blue night sky that blanketed the city.
I won’t say exactly what we did during the trip because there was too much and honestly I can’t remember every single one of them in detail. But one interesting fun thing that we did during the trip was to prank call one of the boys’ rooms. There were 4 boys in our trip from the junior college that our secondary school was in collaboration with, and my bestie decided to prank call one of them and act as a lost Finnish man who didn’t really understand English. So she took one of the random Finnish cards in the hotel room and read it off over the line, pretending to be the annoying man who called the same number a few times and couldn’t understand English or the explanation from the boys that he had dialled a wrong number. Afterwards the bestie called the same room again, this time acting as the man’s friend who knew English, and apologising for the man’s lack of understanding of English and disturbing them. I could barely stop laughing. I remember the boys talking about it in a supermarket the next day after the bestie hinted something about it and both of us had a hard time trying to keep straight faces whilst the others discussed about it. 100% success. No one even suspected us. xD
Another weird thing my bestie and I did was to run up half the city at 9pm -local time here in my country, not in Finland- because we had wandered too far to check out a cool shop and were running late to return. It was epic, running upstreet like no other and relying on our sense of direction (thankfully, it was good) and our memory to lead us back to wherever we were supposed to meet, which wasn’t even familiar to us because it was a new place. I remember we ran all the way for nothing because half the group got lost. Haha.
We checked out a few famous tourist attractions in Finland and also went to the university(?) library as well as the Finlandia Hall. We even went past Nokia headquarters and found out random stuff like how Swedish would compete with the Finnish with a mobile-throwing competition. Our trip became an architectural trip instead of an exchange program and I remember that it was how my interest for architecture was reignited through seeing the amazing architecture of the buildings there. I also remember feeling a sense of dejavu when I gazed at a row of buildings from the bus we were in and it looked so familiar. Perhaps it is so. But these were the interesting parts of the trip because these were memorable and definitely fun at that point in time. It was definitely one of the best times spent in my life.
However, despite all the material experiences that I got during the trip, I think that the one thing that attracted me the most was the sense of freedom I felt strongly over there. I don’t know what’s with me and a sense of freedom, but in every country I go I look out for the countryside, for the big, peaceful “space” that I seem to crave so hard for. That’s one of the factors that make me love a place so much. I love how free and relaxed I felt, how I found that by looking around at space, I actually gained a sense of tranquility within myself and I suddenly felt that the world was good, that every care I had in the world could be tossed freely into the wind with no regrets, that there was no such thing as stress and sadness and everything was like floating white clouds in a blue sky, that I was contented with what I had and I did not need anything else at all, that I was comfortable being alone or being with someone that I was close to, that I had achieved my goals and was living the life that I had always wanted. I always get that feeling and I absolutely love it. I love how I can lie to myself that I am not in reality when I’m in such places and on such trips, and that I am in an out-of-the-world experience that I will never get to embrace again. To some extent that is right, because no two experiences are exactly the same and that is what makes everyone unique. Because each and every one of us have gone through different experiences which is special to us only. I don’t know how I got that mindset of freedom, but when I get it, I love the place. That’s why I love Finland, New Zealand and Switzerland. I got the love and the freedom from nature.
I think I can live a world of my own in the countryside, with miles and miles of green pasture surrounding me and mountains in the distance. A bubbling, peaceful stream or river could run along the fields near my house, perhaps no more than a hundred metres away, and I could actually hear the crystal clear water gurgle contentedly every day and watch it make its way down to somewhere I don’t know. I think having an orchard might be calming too. With seasons. So that I could watch the pretty flowers (especially bluebells!) bloom in spring, enjoy the warmth of summer with a touch of the cooling breeze that the countryside will have, count the number of orange and yellow leaves drop from trees and experience my favourite winter season all in one year. All goals accomplished.
I know I don’t have to be a loner, and honestly, I’m not. I’m just someone who prefers fewer company to a large crowd of strangers which will totally freak me out. I could drive out in a car to the village for supplies and I could go travelling and see the world as my wish always was. I could swim happily in the stream and bask in the sun. I could trudge in the snow like those mysterious people you read in books, with a trench coat, a beanie and high boots. I could decorate my own place the way I like; I could even build my own house with my own size and design to my liking. Perfect. What a beautiful dream. What beautiful places there are in the world.
That’s why I’m really going to go back to Finland, but this time I’m also going all the way up north to Lapland, where I believe I can find even more of this relishing releasing sense that I seem to subconsciously seek after. Trust me, I do. Just look at my header picture and at the minimalist themes and you’ll know. I don’t think it’s anything weird to like these kind of stuff and actually I’m really proud of it. I’m glad that I have something that I love, and this something is pulling me to all parts of the world and making me love travelling. I don’t like this urban stuffiness I get every day.
It’s almost as if I’m describing a kind of space and freedom one would only ever see in heaven.
I believe it exists in this world. You just have to keep looking and embracing it.
Peace is everyday. It’s within.
I think I’ve been slacking off on blogging and photography these days whilst my dance practices have been going crazy; it’s going to increase to every day for the next two weeks as our concert date draws nearer. I’ve been busy as heck with all my IB work and commitments and dance that I actually didn’t manage to do a lot of things that I personally wanted to do. Even though the one-month break supposedly starts next week, I don’t think I’m getting any break this holidays with the amount of studying I have to do for my exams right after June and with the intensity of dance practices. There is no break for me until I finish my IB exams this November.
Even then, I found a lot of new passions and a lot of things to think about and to work on. It makes me excited but there are so many times that I feel so down to the point that I just feel like giving up, you know? That feeling. Of course I never give up because it’s not in my nature to do so, but I feel like that, and every other dream that I wanted just falls flat on me. I’d like to collapse on them instead. I think my life would be a lot more fulfilling that way.
No matter what it is, I have lots of plans for improvement… if only life would allow me to. If it doesn’t, I’m going to have to be a lot more resourceful and get things into order the way I like it with my own cheap way. It’s not a bad thing. I could probably save on a lot. But there’s just a bit more which would be unreachable in this current state and by the looks of it, I don’t think it’s within my reach anytime soon. That’s alright too. One day I’ll be able to touch it when the time is ripe. When the dull grey clouds clear and show me the clear blue skies again. I’ll be able to smile just like the Earth does. Bittersweet.
I thought of getting back into the habit of documenting my life, be it in journal form or right here on my blog. I think I need a lot of discipline to keep at things, but I really want to keep at them because if I get the habit, I’m going to be able to smile. I think that the simple things can benefit a lot. Perhaps I’m not like most people who look for love and a lot of other things. I’ve decided to put love out of my mind (no, I’m not pushing it away or not loving. I’m going to give lots of generous love to everyone around me but I don’t think I want to put the romantic love as a priority) and focus on doing the simple things that I think will make me contented. Doing the things that I love and that will make the people around me happier. Doing the good things that will make my life become closer to the life I wanted. In case you’re wondering, the life I wanted isn’t perfect. It’s nothing that close and it might just be an illusion, but I think it’s a feasible idea and I do think that I could do with more order in such a convoluted world.
I’m going to start with small steps today. It’s something like my post earlier on Carpediem, about the 100 things you could do each day. Something like that. I think it will work if I start small and I think I can easily start with something I can relate to.
Since I just turned 18 this year, I’m looking forward to learning to drive after my studies this year and although I don’t think I could get a car, I want to be able to drive around to the places I want and see nice things. Since I live in this place where I have no hope of driving far, far away for a relaxing getaway, I think I have to make do with driving to the less populated areas. In New Zealand my family rented a car and drove around the North Island visiting places and that enabled me to sit in the car for long hours admiring the countryside with the lush green rolling hills and the wide fields. I totally loved that. I think that was probably why that was one of my favourite trips because I’m not fond of tours at all. They’re so rushed and I feel like you hardly get to take a breather and get to appreciate a place long enough before you move on to the next destination. I like the car because it can be my private haven for me to sit inside and muse about anything. I also don’t have to wake up at 5 in the morning every day to get to school and transfer from bus to train and then to a bus again when I’m always sleeping on these public transports and squeezing during the super-early morning peak hours. Believe it or not, the trains are already pretty packed (to me at least, because I don’t like too many people around) with majority of the passengers standing close to one another at 6:30am in the morning. I don’t get a seat to sleep or to rest my back from the heavy backpack I lug around… so I sleep standing. Yeah, I do. Once I get my car I probably want to find a hidden spot where I can be alone and then drive there once in a while. I don’t think I’d get to go there at night, though.