torstai 29. syyskuuta 2016

The Challenges Of An Expat





I know this blog has started quite heavily with stuff about cats, but today I want to talk about being an expat.

It's not the first time that I'm living out of my own country. I did an exchange year in Japan in high school so I do have some experience of the challenges of living abroad. This time still does feel like a completely different case for me. 

In Japan I had a clear purpose and plan laid out for me for my year. I had a school to go to and people helping me to navigate my way in the new culture. It is still one of the hardest things I have ever done, but I did manage really well to integrate, feel at home and learn the language in Japan. Even though I had support, I was essentially alone there. This put me the very heavy but helpful pressure to give my absolute best to fit in. I simply could not fail since I would have been sent home if I wasn't doing well enough. Also I did have more chances to put myself out there since the school environment offered plenty of them. I started the japanese archery (kyudo) and it played a great part in my integration and in making friends.


In France it has from the beginning been different since I have my husband to rely on at all times. Also, this time it is not for a year but for years that I need to find my place here. This is not a vacation; I need to be able to work. This means the need to acquire a considerably better level in the local language than in Japan. And so far french has proven to be much harder for me than japanese. For a finn even learning the proper pronunciation is a big challenge. If you asked any french person I know if I can speak french, they would tell you that I do speak very well. But I'm not perfect and I am insecure. When I get nervous, I make mistakes and it's hard to pronounce properly. There's times when I speak seemingly effortlessly and times when I question everything and I end up speaking like a total beginner. I was expecting to learn the language much faster since in Japan my progress had been so extremely fast. I know it is amazing that I do understand and speak french without ever really learning it from book, but the length of the process is still frustrating when your life is on hold meanwhile. 

I have the need to be needed, to have my own friends. From what I have done research on the subject, it seems to be typical for the expats to have the need to meet people but at the same time have the fear of rejection which makes the matter much more complex and painful. I have been in France now about half a year and I have tried to connect with people, but no solid friendships have been born from those efforts. Some of the people have been expats themselves, but for whatever reasons I haven't been able to befriend anybody. One of the reasons is that I do not want to insist if the person her/himself doesn't seem interested. Maybe I should insist, but I prefer to try to guard the little self confidence I have left. Because a fact is that, when you enter a country and its culture as a total stranger, you end up feeling insecure, lost, out of place. Expressions are different, people laugh at different jokes and you need to master language well to be fast enough to take part in conversations. People don't understand you and you feel like nobody understands you. Being here as a married person with no job makes my situation different from those who are here for example for erasmus. They have their group of erasmus students to share their experience with. I haven't been able to find someone who would be in the same situation as me and would like to talk about it. You know, have a coffee and talk about things. I'm a person who looks for depth in people so I'm a difficult one as I don' want just the first person who I meet as my friend.


Then there is the aspect of finding a job. Working keeps the mind healthy and so on. Being the whole day at home with nobody needing your skills is not healthy. I have been in a slow process of getting there, but it is all too easy to get impatient. The first step I took was to contact the local employment services who got me an intensive french language course. Next step was to get me more experience and competence in the job that I wanted to pursue. I succeeded in getting accepted to a receptionist course which includes a three week training in a local hotel. The course starts next Monday and at least it will make me feel more purposeful and give a chance to meet people.





Fleas



I'm sitting in our kitchen/living room with Noki on my lap. Our couch is naked without its cushion. Our front yard is full of plastic bags with our clothes in them. Yes. We have fleas. The drama started yesterday morning when I was petting Noki who had been shivering strangely for a while. I caught a glimpse of a small light brown bug swimming through his forehead hair. So started the googling to check exactly what kind of bastard we are dealing with. Instructions were to clean everything  the cat has ever touched. Carpets, clothes, cushions etc.

Of course one of the first things to do was take care of our cats. Noki was starting to get less and less active, shivering and breathing rapidly. We treated both cats with a special flea repellent and especially Noki is feeling so much better today. Last night I was sobbing next to him to my husband that he's gonna die before the morning if we don't do something more. All animal clinics were closed so we couldn't do but wait for the morning and then go to vet if needed. Luckily Noki was more energetic already this morning and I had been overreacting.

The product we used kills all the fleas that come in touch with the cat. This makes the cats our number one weapon against these little assholes since they are attracted to the animals. If you let the treated cat walk all around the house, it will end up attracting and terminating a great amount of the bugs. Then again, I wish they had a similar product for us humans. I can tell you I'm putting a considerable amount of will power into staying calm despite of paranoidly scratching my head...

keskiviikko 21. syyskuuta 2016

The Calm Returns


After two badly slept nights caused by our newest family member, things seem to be getting more normal now. All in all our new baby kitten has been much easier than Manu was when we first got him. We have also named our kitten "Noki" now that we know it's a male! The first two days Manu was hiding around the house and at the sight of Noki he just made low growling noises. Today was a turning point though as both Manu and Noki vanished under the kitchen cabin. We could only hear Manu's growling and note Noki's silence. We went meanwhile to do some groceries (since the vet had assured us that a grown cat would not hurt a kitten). When we came back, both cats had emerged from hiding and the atmosphere felt immediately more relaxed in the house. They had apparently managed to settle their things and now we are able to have them both roaming around the house!

On the video you see our Noki doing what he loves most: eating hair :D


             

maanantai 19. syyskuuta 2016

New member of the family has arrived!

My mother-in-law is a woman of many connections. Whatever you need, she has the right person to help you. The idea of a little brother or sister for many has been warming up in our minds for a while now and  it seems that when the time is right, things happen. My husband's mother's friend had a big surprise when her cat one day introduced her six newborn all black kittens! Did we want one? Oh yes.

Yesterday we packed ourselves in our little Skoda in order to go get our new baby home. We had already seen the kittens for the first time a bit over a week ago, but they were still just barely 8 weeks old so we decided to give it more time. We are still not sure of the actual age of the kittens, but my guess is maximum 10 weeks judging from the size. They were born in the countryside and lived mostly outside so the owners weren't sure of the actual time of birth.

Since we already have Manu, we wanted to make sure to pick a good match for him. Male or female - didn't matter much since we plan to get the cat castrated. We needed someone that is sociable without being too dominant. We also looked for cautiousness in the kittens. We live next to a road so a cat that is too brave would have been a big risk. There was one kitten in the litter who always came first from hiding to eat and wasn't scared of cars. We ended up getting the third kitten that came out from hiding. We still don't actually even know if it is a male or female :D We didn't want to traumatize it by trying to analyze its lady or man parts. We will know next week at the vet. Makes it a little hard to figure out names though!

How did Manu react to the newcomer? We could immediately tell when we came home with the kitten that he was puzzled and feeling even a bit betrayed that we would come home with an other cat. Manu is a special cat in the way that he is not really strongly territorial except for me and my husband. For Manu his home is where we are so we will have to try to be super careful to show him as much love as we can. He is not used to sharing his mama and papa and he kept coming for cuddles all yesterday evening. He was sitting behind the door of the room where we put the kitten and he kept coming to me to get reassurance that everything is okay. Poor Manu, as of the moment he has placed himself in the safe under the kitchen cabin...

I was also fairly sure that the stress would manifest itself by Manu peeing around the house. As usually, it anyway happened when we least expected it. We were in all tranquility enjoying a little evening drink on our couch when my husband said he pretty much smells pee from somewhere. Well yes, he was pretty much sitting on top of a pool of it. We made a MacGyver inspired solution to protect the couch from more damage for the night.


I'm pretty sure cats actually train you for being an efficient parent :D



tiistai 13. syyskuuta 2016

The Palatossut


Salut!

I have finally finished my first knitted socks for this coming winter (I don't say autumn because it's still 35 degrees in the South of France...). I learnt to knit at school, but I'm really a total beginner since after junior high school I have done just one knitting work per year. I started easy and cheap (my yarn was 100 percent acrylic) to minimize the pressure and financial losses :D You gotta start somewhere!



In finnish these are called "palatossut" which loosely translates to piece socks. As the name suggests they are normally made of 8 garter stitch squares that are just knitted together in a certain way. I made my socks by just knitting already all the squares together and then just stitched the sides of squares together according to this guide. You can use as many colors as you wish for the squares. I used only one color because my first try on these ended up as...grhm.. failure and I ran out of my blue yarn. So of the first pair I have now just one sock, which is actually waay too big for me. My feet are size 37 and in the guide they instruct you to create 19 stitches for a size 38-39 sock. Well, I was hasty and thought size 38 would fit me just fiiine...but nope. Lesson learned and I did my next socks with just 16 stitches and they turned out better! Just wish I had had some pretty colored yarn to combine with my mixed light color one. Anyway, these are quick to make and make a great christmas present. I will be making them for my family in different colors and with better quality yarn this time.

The second sock from my first attempt turned out like this. It is so big though I'll give it to my mother in law after making a proper pair.

My history's teacher back in high school used to comfort us with this phrase: "You have the ability to learn." You are a human being and you learn even if you don't want to! Want evidence? 


My first sock looked like this...


The only way from here is up hahha! I bought some cotton yarn yesterday to try out some crocheting this evening now that my socks are done. Will report the results soon!

PS. Sorry for crap quality pictures. I have to use my age old ipod for the moment until I get a better camera in use.

maanantai 12. syyskuuta 2016

On Commence!

Hello, bonjour & moi!

This is Madame Manumus opening the connection out to the world. You are in for a lot of random blabber, second class handicrafts, cat pictures and mighty Manu knows what else because I don't. I'm a young new wife lost in translation in her new country trying to learn how not to stress and just breath, trying to build my life and find the right path by exploring absolutely everything that happens to spark even the tiniest bit of passion in my heart. This blog is most of all for me to put down thoughts, moments and inspirational things. It will be a scrapbook without rules, filled with everything that means something to me.

Let's get started with the introductions!


I have landed on France from Finland and I'm in the process of adapting myself to my new world. One might ask why I write in english, but I will actually be writing probably both in finnish and english in this blog. English is very close to me now as it has for years been my way of communication in my everyday life. Sometimes I miss the beauty and funny words of finnish so then I just switch!

This blog will hopefully work as a motivator for me to dig back up my artistic side that I have neglected for some years now. I have started knitting and crocheting again as well as painting with my little water colors. It has been typical for me in the past to get interested in something, try to compete in quality with all those more advanced and then give up because I wasn't good enough for myself. Well, I have now decided that failure is the mother of progress and I will keep doing whatever seems pleasurable for me no matter the results! Right now I'm overall very excited about all things diy. I will be sharing some of my first projects soon.

I appreciate the little things in our ordinary everyday life. Having a good cup of coffee, reading good books, the embrace of my cat and finding a good new song. I look for beauty everywhere and eventually I will be sharing photos and maybe even my outfits etc.

Some other interests of the moment: photographing, crocheted bralettes, making videos, getting fit through healthy eating and exercise, second hand clothes



And this is Manu! The black cat so black it's almost impossible to photograph him...

I never used to like cats much until I met in Japan the kindest and most loving black cat called Hanzo. Ever since there has been a special place in my heart for these little black creatures! A year and a half ago me and my husband made a three hour trip to the French Alps to get our baby cat. He is a solid part of our little family as he has in his little short life been through many adventures with his Mama and Papa! He has been in airplanes, trains, busses, in Parisian cafes and hotels. He has been to Finland and back, this little adventurer. He has imprinted on his two humans stronger than any other cat I have seen. He meows when he hears our footsteps approaching the house and he runs the curved stairs down to give his salutations. He is the real star of the family.

So that's it for the first introductions! By the way: I got a lot of inspiration and support from Daft Punk's song "Giorgio by Moroder" to start this blog. The song has these lines: "Once you want to free your mind about a concept of harmony and of music being correct, you can do whatever you want. So nobody told me what to do and there was no preconception of what to do." That goes for everything in life. Let's forget about being correct and just do what feels right to us. That is the only way to be truly original and happy.