daily blog

How This Blog Came to Be.

Good morning/day/evening/night to you all out there!

I have to confess that this blog is an invention which took a long time to finally manifest itself into the virtual world. But now that it’s here, I’m unbelievably grateful for all the support and positive comments you have provided me with! I was truly afraid of having to face the dark side of the social media with all the hate and trolls spreading only negativity and sorrow around, but with your support I think I can proudly stand up against anything! Thank you to every kind soul out there that has read (and hopefully enjoyed) my writings. You truly mean the world to me! ❤

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Today I would like to tell the whole back story of why I wanted to start this blog – and how terribly long it took me to have even the preliminary skills and courage to put myself and this content out there. I never have (and hopefully never will) taken any like, share or comment for granted – especially when all this is still relatively new to me.

I actually once had a pretty childish bet with one of my closest friends. I’m not going to tell you what all that was about, only that the consequences for him would have been to wear a kilt at his working place for one full day. Sadly, I was the one who lost so as my punishment I was to start a blog where I would openly share my thoughts and expressions about the world. That was back in 2013 then. And I founded this blog as late as April 2018.

As you may have already noticed, this blog doesn’t necessarily fall into any given or fixed category. I hope that in the future my dreams will come true and this will truly become a full-time nomadic travel blog – with maybe even weekly vlogs included! But even then I want to keep the content real but very creative as well. I think after spending the majority of my childhood alone in the countryside surrounded by books and films, I’ve developed myself a very culture relativist view on life. Studying two different majors in two different faculties has also helped to learn how to see that there’s always multiple different sides to the story. After all, even science is often highly narrative.

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My partner actually wrote a song about this; calling it being a ‘rainbow mind’. Also for me, it often times feels as if my brain would be filled with colourful wires, connected a little bit differently that most other people. Or then I just have gotten used to paying attention to details and combining them in a unique (and rather post-modern, I’d say) way in my head. Ultimately it all flows out as phrases and clauses that follow some sort of crazy – and hopefully entertaining – story.

I would once again want to remind you that I am truly here for you: if you have any questions, comments or requests about my content, I’d be delighted to read them in the comments section. Also, I’d love to see my blog getting new followers from all parts of the world so you guys sharing this and inviting your own normal or nomadic friends to follow me would make me so happy!

Yours truly,

Miah

Russia, traveling

Love at First Sight – Moscow and Me

As you already may have heard, I’ve planned to start a blog for quite some time. This is another post that I should have made and published years ago.

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In 2015 I was looking into the future. Now I am gazing back.

Today I’m going to share you pics from my very first trip to Moscow, the grand capital of Russia, where lamented layers of history can still be read from the architecture, atmosphere and culture in general. Also, in the end of the post I will give you a small introduction of arriving into Moscow by air – and a not-so-surprising musical treat to play in the background when you plan your trip…

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A flying rainbow ballerina.

Even though many describe St. Petersburg as the cultural capital of Russia, for me somehow the ‘soul’ of the vast nation can be better found from Moscow. Purely geographically speaking, there is no denying that the city is located more in the centre whereas St. Petersburg was intentionally founded by Peter the Great to be closer to ‘the Western Europe’.

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An old piano left to be admired right next to the river in Moscow. I guess every passer by, local or tourist, can try their luck at playing it. The bridge you see in the background is actually a metro station. Unfortunately, I’m not able to recall its name but I do remember it being a relatively new one! Metro stations in Russia are usually always worth visiting. With the cost of one ticket (around 40 roubles; approximately 60 cents) for the public transportation, you can see as many spectacular works of architecture you want!

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A view to the river near ‘Kitay Gorod’ (‘Chinese City’).

Approaching Moscow by air in the night time is a small spectacle itself. The illuminated ring roads and other lights make the city appear as it was covered in gold and diamonds. (Which metaphorically can be seen as quite an accurate description since most of the wealth literally flows into the capital from all over Russia.)

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A small Russian airport where I took off in 2015.

Arriving in Moscow happened for me through the Domodedovo airport but your destination may vary according to the direction you are travelling from. All in all, there’s four different commercial airports in Moscow: Domodedovo, Sheremetyevo, Vnukovo and Zhukovsky International Airport.

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The front of Domodedovo airport in Moscow.

After landing and passing through the security controls, you may (and probably should) take a train into the centre of the city – of course depending the location you’re staying.

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At least a couple of years ago, when the train line was relatively new, a one-way ticket to the city or back to Domodedovo airport cost around 500 rubles (approximately seven euros). Please correct me if I’m wrong to give you guys a more accurate number!

It may sound expensive compared to the general Russian price level but I guarantee that the train is the most efficient way of getting to the reach of the metro system. So, in other words, it’s definitely worth buying the ticket. After all, flying to see Moscow from the other side of the world is already an investment in itself.

Last but not least, here’s a musical treat that you may already be familiar with… A song that has inspired me and many others to travel to the mysterious and bizarre capital of Russia.

‘Moscow Nights’ (or ‘Nights at the Moscow Suburb’ as the direct translation would suggest) was recorded and released in 1955. Interestingly, the lyrics were originally written about Leningrad (nowadays St. Petersburg) but after the request from the Soviet Ministry of Culture, the lyrics were changed to the ones we have learned to know and adore.

Above we have a version of the song with Russian subtitles combined with quite high-quality pictures (way better than mine) of Moscow. And below I linked the version with translated English subtitles so that friends from all over the world could enjoy the meaning of the lyrics. That version is performed by my absolute favourite baritone, Dmitri Hvorostovky, who sadly passed away late last year. Luckily, through his career and work in music, we can enjoy his artistic heritage hopefully forever.

Yours,

Miah

popular culture, Russia

Why Russia?

I’ve been fascinated by the Russian cultural heritage, or the myths and narratives surrounding it to be exact, since early childhood. The representations of Russia indicated (often from a very orientalist stand point) that it was to be considered as something mystical, exciting and a bit unknown, in the East. If Russia isn’t accepted as a part of Europe (but it is still something else than Asia), what is it then? A bizarre but intriguing mystery with an eventful history and debatable politics?

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Finland is one of the neighbouring countries, located in the West from the Russian perspective. Historically speaking, we’ve also been a part of the kingdom in the 19th century before becoming independent in 1917.

I personally grew up in the South Eastern corner of Finland, and we’ve always had a lot of connection with Russian people. My mother’s best friends from work were originally from Russia, and she used to tell funny stories of their times together. Even though the centre of my home town was small, Russian tourist buses often made stops in order for the passengers to shop there. Also some of my bilingual school friends had a parent or two that had moved here from Russia. Even I have some Russian blood from my father’s side. Amongst the relatives, it’s indeed rumoured that there would still be some relatives dwelling around the Lake Ladoga area near St. Petersburg.

What it comes to cultural products, I think that the 1997 animated film ‘Anastasia’ linked below has been a huge generational experience for people my age. I can still quite vividly remember gathering around the television as a child while the nurses at the kindergarten would set up the video cassette. I remember crawling next to my best friend since I was genuinely terrified of the evil Rasputin character trying to kill the beautiful young princess who had just discovered her true identity.

Later on the Russian telenovela series ‘Bednaya Nastya’ (which literally means ‘Poor Nastya’) shown on Finnish TV-channel 4 charmed many people into studying the language and culture more. I wasn’t the only one sold by the braided hairdos, extravagant costumes and ‘traditional’ settings since there were at least a couple of other girls in my class who were also motivated by this particular series. Even though I don’t even own a television, I wonder why there hasn’t been more telenovela series bought for Finnish broadcast? In my opinion, there would be a lot of people interested from all ages and walks of life. (MTV hire me, please!)

Anyway, here’s a link to the tune ‘Mne ne zhal’ (my translation would be ‘I don’t regret’) with some clips of the series as well. If you’re not familiar with the Russian Cyrillic letters, here’s a good chance to take a look how they are! Isn’t it exciting how different they are from the letters we use?

I have been listening to perhaps one of the most internationally and commercially successful Russian pop duo since I was a kid (‘All the Things She Said’ was a huge hit back at the time), more actively since high school though. I think that this kind of music somehow represents more accurately my experiences of the contemporary Russian culture. This crazy Russian disco mentality definitely has enhancing impacts in my study motivation (especially combined with three or more cups of coffee)! Try it out, learn the lyrics and see for yourself…

Till this day I’ve been studying Russian language (hence the resemblance to my robot necklace…) since the beginning of high school which means approximately eight years already! It was obvious for me to keep studying Russian at the University language centre which eventually led me to dig the culture a it deeper. I started to enrol myself into courses about Russian cultural history (feminism, for example) and to spend six months as an exchange student in the small town called Izhevsk in the Republic of Udmurtia. After that I’ve regularly had a valid visa for all kinds of trips to Russia, mainly in Vyborg and St. Petersburg that are easily reachable from Finland.

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I bet that this robot knows the Russian grammar by heart. I still don’t – but I am trying!

In the future I will definitely do more posts about my previous and future trips to Russia: how I’ve managed to be vegan in there, for example! I’m also going to get some more tattoos done by my favourite artist located in St. Petersburg so if you have any suggestions for May’s upcoming Russia post, please let me know in the comments section! Maybe I should set up an Instagram account for real time posting? Later on I can also share the story and meaning of my tattoos (after they are all done and healed) if you happen to be interested!

Tvoja (yours),

Miah