tiistai 30. joulukuuta 2014

Recap in English

So, I promised to a few people that I would try and write some posts in English as well, as Finnish doesn't really Google translate spectacularly well. If at all. By the way, you can find post in English by the very inventive tag of *drums, please* English. I can't promise there will be gazillion of them, but I'll do my best. Most likely, as the Finnish will deteriorate as time goes by (yes, it does go quite quickly), it'll actually be easier to write these posts in (bad) English. Or well, it doesn't really "go", it just becomes this horrible mess of anglicized Finnish words that only another expat understands.

Anyway, name of the game: 5 months in Nepal, volunteering for an organization called Loo Niva Child Concern Group. Desk job, no great thrills in that sense, but let's face it, I am a bureaucrat by nature and this is what I do best. White collar, sit all day, jam your back and shoulders kinda job. We all have our strengths, right? Mine happens to be able to type and sit with relatively little whining for hours on end. Anyhow, the organization advocates the rights of the child and specifically, the right of every child to good quality education. This is what I know from the papers I've read, more specific info will follow later.

Right now, I have approximately 3 weeks until my plane takes off from Helsinki airport to land in Kathmandu circa 14 hours later. I have received a Lonely Planet book on Nepal, I have read project descriptions, I have brushed up on my development cooperation knowledge and spent hours looking at the funny letters that I oughta understand but I am not sure if my poor, overworked brain can take in any more information.

Making the decision to go for a volunteer period was, as my life usually if, made last minute. I sent in the papers on the day of the deadline, and suddenly was at a point where I realized that I need to hand in a request for a leave of absence at work. And kinda figure out how to make it financially. Not that I hadn't saved up, I had. But there were expenses I did not anticipate. Renew passport, get vaccines of all kinds, figure out insurances, and so forth. And in the midst of all this, fail to realize that the tax receipt I'd handed in the year before was couple of grand short and end up paying 40% tax on my December paycheck. Shite, shite, shite. So much for any Christmas presents.

Why Nepal? To be honest, it's partly because I am a wuss. I had two options when I applied. One was Loo Niva, the other placement was in Zambia. And by Zambia, I do not mean Lusaka, but far far in the countryside. Now, I am of course a worldly woman, having traveled quite a bit and lived abroad several times. Just never anywhere really that would challenge me linguistically or culturally.

My first hop into the unknown was when I was 13. That was the good old U.S. of A. And while in Minnesota, it was not exactly a challenging environment. Second hop: London, 3 months bar tending. Workmates mostly Ozzies, so that was rather exiting but mostly in the way of taking the almost three months to try and understand what the heck they were trying to tell me.  Next stop, another summer in London, in the rough east, but again, yeah. Then a year in Scotland. And my lord, I still do not understand a born-and-bred Aberdonian anymore than I did when I arrived. Excitement factor: deep-fried everything. Even Mars-bars. And haggis, of course. But that was, despite appearances, actually very nice. And my lord, the cold and the dampness and the mold....Then, NYC for 3 months, interning at the Finnish Mission to the United Nations. Excitement factor: the subway in the small hours. But with the help of street-smart friends, I lived to tell the story.  Final stop before this, 6 months at the Embassy of Finland in London. Now, this is where it got rough. Well, on my scale of things anyway. Leaking roof, the excitement of living in a council flat in a dodgy part of Hammersmith, an ever-growing mold collection in the bathroom, the attack of bed bugs and subsequent poison-routine. Fun times, still.

So I guess we can all agree that I have not faced that much excitement or great big challenges. Unless you consider a deep-fried Mars bar to be one.

The furthest I've gone east is Thailand back in 2006 for a quintessential backpacking trip that uni students do and the most exciting thing was taking the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. No stomach problems, slight burning issues (redhead genes), no major insect or snake bites. Running water. Nice beds And so on and so forth. Point being, I am not a traveler, but rather whatever the opposite of that is. I found a sorta translation for the word that I would use in Finnish (pardon my French for what follows): candy-ass. In short it means that I like my beds comfy (unless out camping which is pretty cool too), my water drinkable from the tap, my stomach not taking a beating due to different bacterial strains, and my insects relatively disease-free - you get the idea.

Back to my point. If I was to make it in a country in a region unfamiliar to me, it might be a good idea to stick to the capital for the most part. Capitals are, by and large, easier for dumb non-travelers like me. Baby steps, I decided. And, I have a friend there already, which will help out tremendously. And Nepal has nothing but positive associations for me.

So it will be a good start but also, it will, absolutely, be a sobering experience for me.

Anyway, the count-down begins round about now. Let me know what you want to hear and I'll try and comply. Otherwise you will just get my stream-of-thought ramblings - another one of my fortes.

Til later!

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