Back On Track

It’s been a while, so a quick recap is probably long due. I spent most of my summer, amazingly long four months, back at home in Finland and it was wonderful. Not because I could live at home for free (though hey I’m not gonna complain) but also because even though I loved my first year in London a bit of unwinding was very welcome. It was great spending time with my family and not having to hurry anywhere, just being on vacation: no timetables, no exam stress and no annoying voice in the back of my head telling me that I should stop watching Netflix and get back to studying. Long story short: an amazing summer.


So now I’m back in London (and so is the annoying voice in the back of my head if anyone was wondering) and starting my second year at university. Or well I already started it about a month ago, but honestly it doesn’t seem like it has been that long… Which isn’t because our professors would be going easy on us, believe me. It’s been full steam ahead since day one, but then again thanks to that I haven’t had any time to get stressed yet so that’s gotta count for something.

Street view from near the new flat

So many things are brand new this year. I’m no longer living in halls, but in an actual London flat with a few friends, but more on that another time. Also as mentioned, I am now a second year student which totally kicks first years ass because firstly, I know where everything is and where things happen and how stuff works and don’t get lost anymore (almost ever), and secondly, because everyone knows that second years are totally better than first years. I also started to play field hockey, which I kind of suck at but at least I’m trying really hard. I have in addition started informing everyone who calls it just ‘hockey’ that field hockey is not ‘hockey’, ice hockey is REAL hockey and field hockey will forever be on the second place and should be called field hockey so that there is no confusion. So far, no great success. I also think that some people may find this mildly annoying and have considered starting to work on my people skills.


I’m sure that there are more things that are brand new and shiny but none come to mind at this moment, so this should be enough for now. I have made a promise to myself and to my mother to try and write more in here, and try I will. No promises of expected results have been made. But so far so good, and I have to say that second year is turning out to be a really great one. Let’s hope it stays that way!

A Quick One From Switzerland

It’s already been a few weeks of my quick weekend in Switzerland, but I though that, hey, better late than never! So here it goes.

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The weather was quite gloomy throughout the weekend, but I kind of like rain, so it didn’t matter!

I was visiting this smallish town in the German speaking part of Switzerland called Basel, and I was there no, not on a vacation, but rather doing some work in the form of EYP -European Youth Parliament – and chairing a committee regarding climate change and whether nuclear power should play a role in resolving it. By the way, in case you’re interested, we thought it shouldn’t. The whole weekend was great and so rewarding, but also super busy and tiring. This is why I sadly had very little time to explore Basel.

To be honest, I didn’t think it would be a huge loss before I got there, since it has only a bit over 165 000 inhabitants. But I was so wrong. Friday morning I had few hours to just walk around before our extremely time-effective session started, and I was blown away by the beauty of this city. And the ice cold wind, but anyways. One thing that I thought was especially great was the fact that the river Rhine flows through this city. I have this weird obsession with Rhine, maybe because my last name allegedly somehow stems from it, but I’ve always thought of it as the king of the rivers. So you can just imagine how thrilled I was to find out that I would actually see it! Yay! (Yeah I know it’s weird, but I like Rhine. Or the Rhine? No idea.)

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Another picture of Rhine just because

Another fun fact about Basel: its airport is simultaneously not only in Switzerland, but also in Germany and France! So technically I visited all three countries! Though I’ve heard that airports don’t really count for that… But my real point was that if you ever happen to travel to this multi-national airport, pay attention to the exit you’re taking. I took the right one, fortunately, but I can just imagine what a pain it would be to find yourself in Germany when you were aiming for France or something like that, because I have no idea how that would sort itself out. However I really loved this airport, also just on the level of thought, because I love multi-national co-operation, and this is a perfect proof that it exists. And let’s just leave the fact aside that its probably just because it boosts the economy of all three countries.

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Anyways, bottom line, I had a great weekend in Basel and it positively surprised me! Though not regarding the level of prices – Switzerland is still ridiculously expensive. But for me it was still worth it, and everything was so efficient and ecologic and clean that I might just wanna move to Switzerland at some point. If I win in the lottery.

Love for Paris

You know that feeling when you travel somewhere you’ve heard about so much from so many people and you’ve really looked forward to your trip, and when you finally get there, it ends up being a disappointment. I’m sure that this has happened to everyone at some point or another, but I can honestly say that I can’t imagine anyone feeling that way if they went to Paris. I’ve been there multiple times, even lived on the outskirts for a year, and I’m still not even close to being sick of it.

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There has been this huge Paris hype since…umm I don’t know, like, the 13th century, when Paris was the largest town in Europe. It has also always been a center to the cultural and intellectual development in Europe, and a major tourist attraction for longer than you may think. Maybe it’s because of this, or just the extraordinary beauty of architecture wherever you go, but Paris has an enormous amount of character. I realize that this may not be the most clear choice of words, but I really don’t know how else to describe it! I feel like Paris is a city that is truly alive. Not just with the millions of people roaming it streets at the same time than you, but with its history, everything that’s happened in the city. It’s still there, all of it. More vividly than in any other place I’ve ever been to.

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The sight of Louvre from the highest floor of Musée d’Orsay

Paris is one of the ‘places to go to’ on every single self-respecting bucket list, and not in vain. But the obvious popularity of this city also results in vast amounts of tourists all around the year, which means that if you’re just visiting the most iconic spots, all you get is the touristy experience. And don’t get me wrong, Tour Eiffel and Champs Élysées are definitely worth a visit! But if you leave it there, you’re missing so much.

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Paris is full of hidden pathways and beautiful spots, and the best way to find them is to just roam around. I always used to take any metro line inside Paris and get off at a random station and just walk around until I got tired – this is a great way to spend time if you want to invest in a one-day ticket and want to see some more of Paris. Or if the weather is nice, just walk along the Seine or follow one of the smaller streets and see where it takes you! And don’t worry about getting lost, just keep a metro map on you and you can spot yourself on it every time you run into a station.

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You can see all Paris from Sacré-Coeur

I could name so many beautiful, lesser known places in Paris, but honestly, it’s the best if you get to discover them for yourself, and this is also how we keep them unknown, right? But in case you’re planning to visit Paris only shortly or really want to hit the most famous spots, google is your friend. A few of my favorites are: Tour Eiffel, Jardin du Luxembourg, Musée d’Orsay and Sacré-Coeur. As a last tip, don’t try to hit too many places in one day. Instead, choose one or two close to each other and discover the surroundings of these attractions. All of Paris can’t be seen during one trip, but it can be thoroughly enjoyed.

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Proven: Ireland is Good for You

The infamous Spring Break in the US stereotypically consists of getting a ticket to a summer paradise somewhere on the continent and getting very much drunk with thousands of other university students. Well, in Europe this tradition hasn’t really found its place (yet) so during my spring break from uni – which is much needed tbh – we gathered a group on friends and checked the where we could get the cheapest flights from London. Happened to be Dublin.

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View from the south side of the river Liffey (‘Life’ in Gaelic)

So that is how a very international group of nine ended up in an airbnb (which turned out to be more like a scam – note to self: don’t trust people online) in the capital of Ireland and spent a very memorable 3 and a half days in this beautiful, but truly very rainy & windy city. Though all the Irish being so nice and helpful really made up for it, despite the occasional difficulties of mutual understanding – or maybe it was just difficult for us. Still absolutely love their accent.

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This was during one of the rainiest times – same river though.
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Poland, 2 x France, Luxembourg, England, Austria, Romania, Finland + Germany missing

I have been to Dublin before, but that was when I was around 12 so this time was like visiting it for the first time. However, I have quite recently visited Cork, more in the South of Ireland, and I really loved the city & the Irish people so I and high expectations. And Dublin did deliver. Four days was really the perfect amount of time to visit the main attractions without still getting too bored, at least for me since I like to take things slow and do them in my own time. Then again, we were a relatively big group of people and there were different kind of travellers among us – some may have been happy with a bit less than four and some may not have been too upset with an extra day. However, we managed to please everyone in the end.

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A more natural side of Dublin! There are plenty of huge parks all over the city.
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The Dublin Cathedral is definitely worthwhile, it is absolutely gorgeous and surrounded by a huge park and a playground

If you are looking to visit Dublin soon, or are just browsing for possible destinations, let me give you a few tips that will for sure come handy if you happen to end up in this city.

1. Take loads of warm clothes and layers and do not forget waterproof shoes!! That was my mistake… Spent all the trip in soaking wet Converse. #notnice

2. An umbrella is really a must, but take good care of it. One of my friends lost hers to the wind and we haven’t seen it since…

3. Ireland is Eurozone, au contraire to the UK, but they do use the same kind of power sockets than their neighbours – so the one’s with three little bar things. Again, we did not know this.

4. Alcohol is very expensive due to the high taxation and it is not sold after 10 pm. This we did google beforehand. Prioritizing at its best.

5. On the other hand, taxis are very cheap and the town isn’t very large, so getting from one place to another was super easy! We walked most of the time.

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The Dublin Castle. Some of us also took a tour inside which I do strongly recommend.

Voila, I think that was all for now! Oh yeah, and if you’re into hitting more than  one destination at once, the Dublin airport is the home for Ryanair so cheap flights are a serious possibility – I flew from there directly to Paris for 15 euros. Also, Irish countryside is supposed to be gorgeous, so it should be worth the while to take a few extra days and explore the meadows!

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The days may have been rainy but the nights were beautiful.

Well as I said, I’m recovering from our holiday (four nights spent in a two-room flat with nine people in it is not child’s play) in Paris so the topic of the next post should be fairly obvious!

Why Yes England Has Brunch

A fun fact: brunch has actually English origins, dating back all the way to the late 19th century. Or maybe this is common knowledge and I’m just the dummie here? In any case, this wonderful concept of mixing up breakfast and lunch is honestly something that makes the world a better place to live in. Really. I mean it’s pretty genius. So, we decided with a bunch of friends from uni that we needed to find out whether British brunch could improve the overall image of British breakfasts.

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Queuing in the rain for a loong time… But almost at the door at this point!

IMG_8167 – kopioFinding a place to have brunch in London isn’t too hard, but you should still Google around beforehand to avoid the ever so awkward fumbling around when randomly looking for a place to eat, and eventually just ending up having the regular British breakfast at yet another pub. Not that I’d have anything against pubs though.

We chose our destination beforehand (aka my friend chose, I actively avoid responsibility) and ended up at The Breakfast Club at London Bridge. We made one critical mistake though – we did not make a reservation. First of all, the time to queue was well over an hour  already when we got there around 11 am. (Okay, confession time: I was late because I slept in. This is why brunch normally happens after a Saturday, not a Friday! Still, ever so grateful for my friends for queuing for me too ❤️) On top of that we were 6 people, which did not help the situation. The overall waiting time for us ended up being over 1,5 hours, so lesson learned. Make a reservation.

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Five hot chocolates and one latte – proper drinks in proper mugs for proper adults

However, once we did get in and finally got seated (after an episode of being difficult customers and asking for a specific table not so close to the door in order to avoid the freezing breeze outside… Yeah, I know but it had to be done) it was totally worth the wait. We got our food really quickly, and it was so good. One of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had! So it has now been proven: you can get good food in the UK, and even a good breakfast!

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Naturally we all ordered pancakes, but being 6 people we still had a quite a few different varieties. They all came with maple syrup, no matter whether it was pancakes with bacon or with berries, but even with the salty sides it all played together surprisingly well – so be brave. The dishes were huge and in the end I couldn’t even finish mine, so the guys were kind enough to help me out with my last pancake – almost fighting over it so yeah, it was definitely good.

The Breakfast Club has quite a few restaurants in London, so feel free to pick the most convenient one for you. Most of the breakfast dishes were around £10, so a very reasonable price for a breakfast and lunch – because trust me, you won’t need lunch after this brunch! They also had nice 90s hits playing, so points for general ambiance. And for good looking waiters. Overall, it was definitely a brunch worth having.

Humans of Europe

A week ago I had the opportunity to take part in this crazy cool program, organized by the Youth European Movement (YEM) all over Europe! Obviously I was contributing only to the part happening right here on London, but it does feel kind of meaningful to know that the same thing is going on in other places too.

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Anyways, I trust that most of you have heard about this facebook page called “Humans of New York”. If you haven’t, no worries. Basically the idea is that people in New York are stopped on the street and they’re asked to tell their story – so how they got to where they are now, or how they feel, or what kind of crazy stuff has been going on in their lives. You wouldn’t believe how insane some of their lives are, absolutely unbelievable! But all true.


So, inspired by this, YEM has created a similar page called “Humans of Europe” – I trust the name to be quite self-explanatory. But since YEM largely works in universities and other academic circles, the questions asked from the people they stop are bound to be something more than just stories. They all have something to do with the EU: what it is to be European and whether there is a common European identity.

Maybe you can guess it already? Yes, I was stopping people on the streets.

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I’m sure everyone has come across people who stop others on the streets – for whatever reason it may be. But being one of them, that’s a whole another story. If you’ve ever had to do it, you know that it’s incredibly easy to lose all faith in humanity in mere seconds. We were moving in groups of two or three, all young and all well dressed – to  put it bluntly, we didn’t look like druggies or homeless people or any other sort of creepy. And we thought that people would be nice. Or even polite. I would have even taken a fake smile. But no no.

“I am actually half South-African, half Middle-Eastern, but I was raised in Belgium. I think of myself as a Belgian, and it feels odd to go home to SA because I’m not from there, I am European.”

Look, I do admit that we might have come off somewhat odd in the beginning – it is surprisingly hard to try to spot someone suitable (not in a hurry, not in a big group, not likely to yell at you) without staring at them intensively for an extensive time when they walk towards you or vice versa. We might have spooked a few tourists, yes I am guilty. But after noticing our mistake and getting a good drive on, I think we looked very innocent! A bit naive maybe, but we weren’t selling anything, not tricking people, nothing of that sort. But the amount of people waving us off like we’d be an infectious disease, giving us these ridiculous lies and excuses, or just being good old rude, was astonishing. Admittedly this shouldn’t be surprising, and I may be culpable to some of these myself, but I promise, no more. Stops now.


“We are both from Greece, and we’re studying tourism. We’ve definitely noticed that there is a common European identity, strengthened by open borders and increased travelling opportunities.”

However, I’m not all negative. We met some wonderful people who were genuinely happy to answer our questions and let us take a few pictures, and those people honestly made my day. It was also interesting to hear from these people, all over the Europe and outside, what they thought about the EU and how they perceived themselves. It was a great experience, and I would definitely go to the streets again.

Now after these few sneak peaks, go like the ‘Humans of Europe‘ facebook page for more!


Hola Mallorca!

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The whole island was like made of little alleys

I spent the last weekend in Mallorca. Yup. In January. At least there were not that many tourists! And I wasn’t there to bathe in the sun anyways, I was taking part into a Regional Selection Conference of European Youth Parliament España – EYPE. Don’t worry though, it wasn’t me under the pressure of getting selected: I was there as a chairperson of a committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, and my delegates were the ones under observation. Even though it still meant long days and little sleep for me as well!

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Now enough about that, I know your focus in here is on Mallorca. And I’m happy to tell you that this island is absolutely beautiful. Just stunning. Unfortunately I had no time to explore it further due to the actual work I went to do there, but even just after seeing Palma, I know I wanna go back. The city is a perfect combination of charming, archaic, timeworn buildings and more recently built ones, and they merge perfectly creating the most pleasant surroundings.

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See this is what I mean with the architecture merging! How awesome to see that.
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The church front really was this beautiful

I was actually really happy to be there in January – even though I must say that Mallorcans are clearly not the ones to be trusted if you wanna come back to nice warm place in the evening – because of the lack of tourists. Mallorca is like the main tourist source, or at least one of them, to Germans and Brits and during the warmer months and holiday times, this place is packed. Just in 2014, there were over 23 million people passing through Palma de Mallorca airport. And trust me, this is definitely not the number one layover spot! My guess, at least 20 million were tourists, and that’s a lot for an island that has less than 900 000 inhabitants.

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Flags of Mallorca, Spain and the EU. Had to snap a picture, I do love the EU

However, like I said before, it’s not hard for me to understand why all these people want to go to Mallorca. Flights were not overly expensive, and neither is accommodation nor food – as long as you stay away from the most obvious tourist spots, which is fairly easy if you’ve ever done any sort of backpacking.

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This was definitely one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen. And no lies I probs have a picture of it from every single angle!

Last weekend was definitely not one of the most relaxing ones, because I was honestly working, and I did get sick after it like I always do after a weekend of EYP, but it was soo worth it. Mallorca, I’ll be back! And definitely seeing the whole island then.

ps. There was a video made of the EYP session I was taking part in. Go check it out! (try opening on a computer if it doesn’t work on your phone)