27 May 2015

Why do I blog in English?

When a blogger, that does not speak English as their first language, starts a blog they need to decide on which language they will write. Obviously, if the blogger speaks only one language or if the target audience of the blog is specific to a certain country, the decision is simple. But when the starting blogger speaks more than one language and does not seek specific audience, which language should they blog in?

For me it was really not a question. Finnish is my mother tongue, but I speak excellent English (if my writing ability makes this statement look unauthentic, it is more because of my slight case of dyslexia rather than English abilities). My Swedish and Japanese skills are not worth of taken into account here. Obviously I could blog in Finnish, but that was really not an option to me. I wanted to blog specifically in English for couple of reasons.

SO, WHY IN ENGLISH?

Well, like I have mentioned in this blog I hope to start university this Autumn and study in Denmark. In Denmark I would be studying completely in English. This obviously requires very, very good English skills; Obviously the business terms I would need to learn from about the beginning in any language, but reading the school books and writing essays and such in English would require very good English skills.

I already prefer to read in English, so I am not too much worried about the reading part. I did very good in my high school English and I wrote a lot in English before my blog too, but in high school I got use to writing in Finnish. I want to get more use to writing lots of text in English too. Writing essays and professional text is obviously very different from writing social media and forum posts. So I kind of want to use my blog as an English writing practice.

At first when I started blogging, it took me longer to write and I checked a dictionary all the time. It was not that my English was lacking, since I pretty much every time knew the word I was checking, but I was just insecure. I have noticed that I have now become more confident with writing in English in these few months I have been blogging. I write so much faster and I rarely use dictionary (and when I do, it is about some rare word that you almost never use, like terms related to some subject). I know my blog posts do not have perfect English, but that is because I write for fun and do not really proofread. To my university essays I would of course put more effort.

Even if a person did not have great English or any other language skills to start with, using the language of course makes them better. I have quite often heard that somebody has gone to a foreign country with barely any language knowledge and in just few months they have achieved fluency. Using the language most certainly does help with getting and practicing the skills. And of course me wanting to get better at writing English does not relate to just school, but to life beyond school too.

AND THE OTHER REASON?

Besides getting better at writing in English, I also want to write in English for sharing reasons. This blog, and my other blog, or to possibly help somebody or share something interesting with people. The Finnish speaking blog reading audience is very small; There are obviously lots and lots of more people speaking English in this world (even big part of Finns reading blogs speak English), so if I want to share my stories and such with people, writing in English can reach so many more readers.

For me getting readers is not any goal, but I still want my blog to be available to any of those who would be interested in subjects I blog about. I do not think that many from Finland would be interested on my blogging subjects, but from worldwide audience there is obviously more of those who could find my blog helpful or entertaining. The main themes in my blog (at least from autumn onward, hopefully) will relate to moving into a foreign country and what problems and such I will face there. Since for many moving to a foreign country means having to speak English, it is a fitting language to blog in.

So, overall my reasons to blog in English are: 1. to become more confident at writing in English ahead of university studies, 2. to make my blog available as many interested readers as possible. I never really saw a point in blogging in Finnish, since in the future I will be mostly writing in English and the people who could be interested in my blog are most likely to speak English anyway. Now that I have gotten more use to writing in English, I find no reason why I should blog in Finnish. Actually, I find it easier to write in English, for whatever reason.


Just for fun let's mention that Blogger's spell-check found (I write in a separate program and then copy-paste it into Blogger) six spelling mistakes in this post: available x2, foreign x3 (oh, how ironic!) and onward (is it really written without s in the end?). This obviously does not count if I have in my carelessness written a completely different word in some point, but still a very good total, haha. I have actually noticed that native speakers tend to make more mistakes than foreigners. Maybe they realize that you do not have to write perfectly when blogging.

13 May 2015

My experience with birth control pills

At first I want to make it clear that I am not a health care or medicine professional or anything! All the things said in this post are based on my own personal experiences, things I have read and things I remember being told by health care professionals. This post is just about my experiences, so some facts can be wrong and you should not take this as professional advice. Every human is different, so even if this is how it went with me, there is no saying how things work with others.

I just recently quit on taking birth control pills, which I ate for about a year. When I was considering on if I should start taking them, what side effects could I get and other things like that, I searched information and stories from internet. I obviously also saw a professional who prescribed the pills for me, but I also wanted to read actual experiences. I feel that you do not always get realistic answers from health care staff, who are being told what they are suppose to say. I wanted to read about real experiences that are not affected by medicine companies or such.

That is also why I wanted to write this post. Because I searched information from blogs and found some helpful posts, I feel need to share my experience too in case if it could help somebody else. But like I said, I am not a professional and even if in your country you do not need to see a doctor before getting the pills, I advice you to do so.

If you are not interested on this matter and do not want to read about medical stuff and such, stop reading here.

WHAT, WHEN, WHY?

I have in the past suffered from extremely painful menstruation pains (so freaking bad that I only could lay in bed crying and once I lost my consciousness). It was not every single time that I have huge pains, but usually there were lots of pains. Last autumn and this spring I had my high school finals and a year ago I started to worry: What if my periods come during the days of the finals? (My cycle is irregular, so I could not know.) If they were to be very painful, there would be no way for me to actually do the exams. I could not miss the finals, so I needed to find a solution, which ended up being the birth control pills.

I went to see a nurse (I think it was a nurse, but I am not sure) who could prescribe me the pills. I asked some questions that were on my mind and she explained very, VERY thoroughly everything (even if I said I knew these things and she also drew multiple detailed pictures of uterus and other organs...). She recommend me the pills and even though she seemed to know her stuff, I was also left with an impression that it was her job to sell me those pills... I still felt a bit uneasy about the pills, but after looking for experiences from the internet and being too worried about the finals+periods combination, I decided to start taking them.

I started taking birth control pills on 14.5.2014.



THE EXPERIENCE (SIDE EFFECTS AND SUCH)

A week after starting the pills I tweeted that "I've had constant: terrible headache, nausea, stomach aches, fatigue and huge craving for chocolate. Feels horrible." I could not even exaggerate how bad my headaches and nausea were then; They were absolutely horrendous, the headache especially. I am not sure if cravings are common symptoms, but I remember my craving for chocolate was unbelievable. All this of course affected my ability to study and to do basically anything.

The symptoms started very soon after the first pill. For the first weeks it was constant and absolutely horrible. Towards the end of the first set of pills (24 days), it started to happen so that the symptoms got a tiny bit better towards the end of the day (I took the pills around 9 PM), but after taking the next pill they worsened again. During the first "in between days", I felt a bit better and the idea of having to start the pills again felt so darn repulsive. But I hoped that since the side effects had started to show signs of getting better, they would eventually do so.

And luckily they did. The symptoms started to lessen to the point when I only got headaches just after taking the pill. I think at the end of the second set of pills, it was already that much better and eventually I stopped completely having the headaches after taking the pill. So even though the beginning side effects were absolutely horrendous, they stopped fairly soon. They would still put me off starting the pills again.

The most common side effect that I came across being said about birth control pills was that they cause mood swings and can even change woman's personality (One story that I particularly remember said that the woman had been eating the pills for years and when she stopped it was like she was a whole another person; She became a lot nicer and did not get angry all the time like she did before. Many others described that quitting the pills felt like a fog had been lifted off their brains). These worried me the most.

Well, did the pills change my personality or caused mood swings? I think that the answer is yes. I did not get angry or felt like my personality had changed much, but throughout the experience of taking the pills I felt very depressed and disinterested on everything. I did not notice it at first, but after sometime it became obvious: I did not care as much about my grades as I did before, I lost all my interest on things I had previously been so excited about, etc.. Although I did not notice it immediately, I later on realized that it had started when I started taking the pills, so for me it seems obvious that this was caused by the pills.

QUITTING THE PILLS

With the pills, I managed to do my finals without periods, so they served their purpose. After the last of the finals, I finished the set of pills I was taking and stopped there. I took the last pill on 29.3.2015, so a month and a half ago.

If I did read horror stories on starting the pills and being on them, I read as many about quitting them; How quitting messed up the hormones and cycles completely, massive gushes of blood, horrendous pains, etc... I got so scared that I almost felt like not quitting them at all. But I really did not want to keep on eating them, so I prepared myself for the worse.

To my surprise I have not suffered from any symptoms after quitting the pills. (Obviously now that I say it, I will start having major symptoms...) My first periods were like when on the pills obviously since I technically had not quit yet, but I was very nervous about the next ones. Well, they stopped yesterday and I had to say that they were one of the least painful ones I have ever had and possibly the shortest. I had some pains while on the pills too and I did not feel like these were any worse than those. I was very surprised that they lasted only three days, when usually they go on for at least five and I had read so many stories about how after the pills some people's periods lasted for weeks and were very heavy. Luckily that did not happen to me.

Of course since there has only been one proper menstruation (the first one after the pills was still part of the pill cycle), this could change and I could still get some symptoms. I am still trying to be hopeful, since usually people said that their symptoms started right after quitting or during the first periods. If I end up having symptoms after all, I will write a second part and link it to the end of this post.

THE CONCLUSION

Starting the pills was very horrendous for me and I felt like stopping them right away. Those side effects went away eventually, but the changes in my mood stayed (I am now feeling somewhat better in that matter, but not like myself yet). It was too much of a struggle for me to take the pills on time. I did take them almost regularly thanks to my phone's reminder, but it was just too much of a hassle! The quitting has been so far problem-free.

Would I start taking the pills again? No. I do not think I could bear the starting symptoms again and the effects on my mood were just too much. I must say that I hated the pills. They still served their purpose of changing my periods cycle, or in fact keeping them in a cycle at all. If I in the future need a birth control, I am not going for the pills and I am currently being highly put off from any other hormonal birth control. For painful periods I shall seek other solutions.

Would I recommend them? Well, that is up to everyone themselves, but I hated them. Like I said in the beginning, people will react the pills differently so they might be perfect for somebody else. For me nope.

05 May 2015

University plans and hopes

It is rarely that things go as planned, but it is always good to have actual plans. I am that kind of person who likes to plan things thoroughly, perhaps too thoroughly and even if I know things are not likely to go the way I planned. I guess it is part of my personality.

In this post I thought I would write about what I have planned and what I hope concerning my future university studies. Since I never have been to university, I obviously do not know exactly how things work exactly. And even though things are not likely to go as planned, I thought it would be interesting to look back to this post and compare it to how things actually went when I am about to graduate (in three years I hope).

So, I am hoping to start at university this autumn (bachelor's degree obviously). I have applied to study in Denmark and Finland. Denmark is my first option, but just in case I somehow do not get into any of the Danish universities I applied to, I also try to get into some Finnish universities. I am not interested in studying in Finland for two reasons: 1. I want to study in English and I could not find a degree that is thought entirely in English, 2. In Finland there is not the exact study line, that I would like to take. I found few just right ones in Denmark, so I would like to get into one of them.

My Danish applications. Try and guess in what field I would like to study, haha.

If I actually get a spot in the university I hope (in Denmark), I plan to study the first two years there. Most of Danish universities offer a possibility to go abroad as an exchange student for the autumn semester of the last year. I wish to use this opportunity and go as an exchange student. My first choice would be go to Singapore, but anywhere else in Asia would be amazing too. Then I would go back to Denmark and finish my degree.

I do not know as much about Finnish universities. I know that here in Finland universities give more free choices about planning your timetables and study schedule. If I were go to a Finnish university, I would try to speed up my studies by planning my schedules so. It would obviously mean that I would need to work harder, but that is not a problem for me. And I could always slow down if it would get too hard for me. I would try to graduate in two, maybe two and half years. But I still hope it does not come to that since the degrees are not exactly what I hope to study.


And my Finnish applications. Same field of study, of course.

Since the summer holidays in universities are long, I need something for them too. The first and most optimal option would obviously be to take summer school classes that would help me graduate faster. In Finland this should be possible, but I do not know about Denmark. If it is not possible, then between the first and second years I would like to take some music related course somewhere. I do not expect to get a summer job then yet, but perhaps between my second and third year when I already almost have a degree. I know that in Iceland there is a lack of workers, especially in the summer season, so perhaps there? If the worst comes then I could try to hang around at my relatives' corners (like now) to save in rent.

I hope to get my bachelor's degree in the spring of 2018. After that I would like to get a master's degree. I have found just the perfect degree from the Netherlands and I plan to apply there. I also have some decent options in the United Kingdom too. These two countries are my number one options for two reasons: 1. The awesome degree options, 2. It only takes a year to complete the master's degree (in Nordic Europe it takes two years). Number two is especially important since I am already older than the average university student.

To put it in short, this is what I hope will happen in the next few years:
1st year: study in Denmark, summer courses* related to music. /study in Finland, summer courses* related to the degree. *The summer job option will be tried too.
2nd year: study in Denmark /study in Finland, summer job (possibly in Iceland).
3rd year: study in Denmark with exchange semester in Singapore (or elsewhere in Asia). /be graduated from a Finnish university and skip to the 4th year.
4th year: master's degree in the Netherlands (or in the UK).

I think that sums it up as clearly as it is possible. Of course I have some smaller plans too, but they are not worth a blog post. I know already things will not go this way, but there needs to be some sort of plan what at aim to. It will be interesting to see in a few years time what did come true and what not! I hope I will remember to check back at this post then.