Since I’m leaving tomorrow (!) and will (hopefully (!!)) have a great time and many adventures, I’ll use this blog to keep everyone at home updated. We all know I’m terrible at answering emails, so this will hopefully convince everyone at home and in the US that I am alive and well. (which I hope I will be!) And so that my family in the US will understand, I’ll write in English.

I’m leaving tomorrow for Munich, Germany, to work there until the end of August at an HR firm, as part of a mandatory internship for my master’s degree. After that, I come home for 1-2 weeks to do a reexam before I go to Vienna, Austria, to do an exchange semester. I come home from there at Christmas, and then I have one semester left before I’m done with my masters.

To days to come, then!

 

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I’m currently in Riga working on a two-week consulting project in course on creating international firms.

Here’s what I’ve observed so far:

– There are surprisingly many dads with prams walking around.

– Dogs, however, are scarce.

– Food (everything) is incredibly for a Swede and we’ve been eating out almost every night.

– The scars of the Soviet occupation seem to have faded very little in the 20+ years since the independence.

– People in service jobs tend to be extremely service-minded.

– Most companies have absolutely no idea what they’re doing.

– The Ukraine situation worries the Lats.

– Buildings are a mix of incredibly worn houses and remarkable historical buildings.

– We are a curiosity at our office and people constantly poke their heads in to say hi.

– Skirts are much longer here than in Sweden and my Swedish-length ones have been slightly conspicuous.

– Programmers are and look the same in any country.

Deadline and final presentation is on Friday, so back to work.

 

 

Yes, these are normally done before December 31 but since I always procrastinate, it seems oddly appropriate to do it two weeks into the new year.
Did you do something in 2013 you’d never done before? YES! I finally, after many years of thinking about it, started taking ballet lessons. And it was as difficult as I had imagined, and even more fun.

Did you make any big changes? Except from the ballet? No, not any big ones, but plenty of small ones that made life easier.

Did any of your friends become parents this year? One of my cousins did! A fantastic baby girl that I adore. But it seems 2014 will be the big year (see post below!) which makes me feel old and immature.
What countries did you visit? Let me see… Norway, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Holland. a very Euro-centered year. Did anything make you very happy? My parents, because they usually do. My close friends, who always are a joy to meet. Doctor Who and all its fans (sad but true!)

Is something missing in 2013 that you want from 2014? A little more excitement! I’ve gotten good at only doing things I truly enjoy and taking time for myself and resting, now I want some adventure!

What do you wish you’d done more often? Worked out. I know it’s good for you, I know I like it afterwards but bloody hell, I think it’s so boring. Also, called friends whom I don’t see everyday. I’m not a phone person, so I usually don’t.

What do you wish you’d done less? The obvious thing here would be “eaten less candy” but actually, I enjoyed all the candy I ate in 2013 immensely. I think it would be all the lunches and dinners I bought because I didn’t feel like cooking.

Favorite TV-shows? Easy question. Doctor Who. 😉 I always watched a fair bit of Supernatural and loved Broadchurch when it was on.

Best book you read in 2013? How to choose?? I also feel I haven’t read that many new books this year. I did enjoy The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemsin a lot.

What was your biggest success work-wise? Graduating college! So that would be when we turned in our thesis and when I found out I passed the accounting exam I studied all summer for.

What was your biggest success in your private life? Becoming better at small things like keeping my apartment in order, seeing my friends and doing enjoyable things. And ballet. Always ballet.

Where you happier or sadder this year compared to other years? Happier, without a doubt. But I also think life gets better and better for every year that passes.

Something you wanted and got? A fantastic dress for our diploma prom!

What did you do on your birthday 2013? I had class, and then I had my relatives over for coffee and cake, and a nice dinner with my family before we went to the opera. Very quiet but lovely.

Is there anything that would’ve made your year even better? More excitement! It felt like a very quiet year.

What made you feel good? Spending time with friends, watching Netflix, dancing, doing well in school.

Best new people you met? The people in my grad school class, undoubtedly.

Most proud of? Graduating college. Sometimes, it felt like I would NEVER get there.

What will you do better in 2014? Say yes to more things, and take more chances. It sounds like a horoscope, but it’s true. Procrastinate less (heh. let’s see.)

 

I just found out a friend of mine from high school is pregnant.

She’s having a baby.

[pause for stunned silence] 

This is someone I’m not in contact with that much any more, but there is still something special about someone you spent so much time with (and who is your age) having a baby. This is the first of my friends to take that step and it feels so strange (and if it feels strange for me, I can’t imagine how it must feel for her!)

I won’t lie and say it doesn’t feel a bit melancholy for me. I’m a firm believer in “women don’t need a partner to have a complete life” but I do want children, quite badly.
A dear friend of mine and I always joke about the fact that we can’t spend any time working in cafés because we just look at the babies instead.

At the same time, I’m a logical person. I realize I won’t have children for at least five or ten years, least of all because I don’t have a partner to have these children with.

And what would I do with a child now, anyway? I’m still in school, I don’t have a job…

As things are now, my friend’s life is very far from my own.
And damn it all to hell, if that doesn’t make me a bit jealous.

It’s my birthday tomorrow. I turn 24.

There’s nothing remarkable about that really. I can’t say whether it’s me or the Swede in me that feels a little disgusted at drawing attention to it. We jokingly say about Swedes that that they’re modest to a fault, and that to stick out and draw too much attention to yourself is wrong.
That may be. 

In any case, pointing out that it’s my birthday, holding a celebration, even writing this blog post; is it self-absorbed of me? Or simply human? I’m not really sure. The truth is that I look forward to it. I get to spend it with my family, and with my brother, whom I haven’t celebrated a birthday with in a few years; something that always feels wrong to a soul as sentimental as mine. I’m not sure about my brother, he doesn’t articulate things like that. I look forward to celebrating with my friends, especially those I don’t see very often.

Most of all, I think it’s that very basic human need of being remembered that having a birthday satisfies. “We love, to learn we are not alone.” as CS Lewis wrote.

 

 

I’m a classical introvert.

No one ever believes me when I tell them that, and indeed, I didn’t believe it the first time someone told me I was an introvert either.

‘Introvert’ has been the year’s buzzword, in my opinion, after the publication of several books on the topic, most notably Susan Cain’s “Quiet”.

Introverts, we are taught, get energy from being alone. Extroverts get energy from being around people. Introverts are drained of energy when around people and need time alone to recuperate.

Those are really the only definitions of introversion/extroversion. There are a number of traits that are often applied to introverts though, that they’re shy, not very talkative, don’t enjoy physical contact, making speeches, don’t have a huge circle of friends but rather a few close ones and a host of others.

Which is true of many, many introverts.

But not me. I’m very (some say too much!) talkative.

I have a fairly large number of people I consider close friends.
I’m an excellent public speaker.
I always speak with cashiers (and have no trouble speaking with people I don’t know)

 

But I’m so extremely introverted in other ways. We recently went on a trip abroad with my master program, and after 4 days away, I needed a week to catch up with myself. It’s kinda like a hangover, I’ve overdone the socializing and will feel bad for a little while.

I don’t particularly enjoy clubbing.  Give me a nice dinner any day.

I loathe mingles (but I do them rather well. But not for longer than an hour or two)

I love having friends over but I have no qualms about telling them to go home after a while. (which is rude, I know)

However, what my point is, is that introverts usually enjoy spending time with people. I know I do. I love people. I love meeting new ones. But it needs to be in limited doses. Just because I sit down for a while and don’t say anything doesn’t mean I’m sad. I just need a break.

It’s something I need to learn how to balance in my coming work-life, and something that’s always good to reflect on. How do you get energy? Do you get energy from the same things that make you happy?

And the need to be alone isn’t the same as wanting to be lonely. Loneliness is awful and isolating.

 

 

Something that I’ve kept very quiet about up until… Well, this year, is my love of dance and especially ballet.

I really truly adore to dance.

The only problem is that I’m extremely bad at it. As in, falling over my own two feet in a normal aerobics class bad. And I’ve felt like to even mentioned my interest to other people was to infringe on the art of dance.

Well, I don’t know what happened, but this summer I finally decided that wasn’t going to stop me anymore, and signed up for a beginner ballet class.

I’ve now completed about half of my first semester and I have some reflections about it.

 

Many of the “worries” I had before I started have been realized.
I really really don’t have any natural predisposition for ballet.
I have weirdly aligned hips, so I’m knock-kneed and have extremely little natural turnout.
And very little coordination. It’s actually the reason it took me so long to learn how to drive, I kept getting confused when I had to drive (do physical things) and keep an eye on the traffic at the same time.
I’m not unmusical, per se, (I am a singer, after all) but I don’t have much sense for rhythm either. If I don’t count obsessively, I get super lost.

And don’t get me started on flexibility. Right now my biggest problem is my back that prevents me from doing other streches properly.

Part of me had hoped that I’d just imagined all that, and I’d just be a natural. We have some people in my classes, they just have amazing turnout, great postures (skinny!) and it can make me so jealous sometimes.

BUT (and this is the big but)

God HOW I try. It’s extremely tiring working against my body all the time, essentially, but there are few times I’m more focused than when I’m in class. And if I hadn’t read beforehand that corrections are a good thing I’d probably be crying after every class, because it seems I can’t do ANYTHING right, the way the teacher keeps correcting me.
And I’ve done so many releves that I’ve overworked the muscles in my right foot (my weaker foot) because my body simply isn’y used to it.

And it makes me wonder why I love this strange artform so much, when there’s nothing in it that suits me, really.

But I DO love it.
I thought that maybe once I started class, I’d realize it was a temporary crush or something. But even when I get so frustrated because I can’t even get my heels to touch in first, whenever I get out of class, I feel a little bit lighter.

I just adore it. All of it. I want to know and learn everything. Oh, I can’t describe it; it’s like there’s a hole in me that I wanna fill with all the knowledge and I just wanna fit all the puzzle pieces together.

I didn’t really have a point, I sort of just wanted to preserve these thoughts for myself.

Back to studying.