Tuesday, August 28, 2007

In Over my Head...

Yesterday seemed to be the big day for challenging myself. I am not quite sure how well I handled the challenges.

I have been saying lately that I want to take a language course to improve my French. I take that back. I am now saying that I want to take a language course to learn some French. See, yesterday was the day for the French language level test. Even though it is 6 years since I last spoke a word of French, I didn't fear the test too much. I had the French books from high school in my bag, and after work I went to a French cafe - secretly hoping that the atmosphere, the cafe au lait, and the fairly close presence of the grammar books would whipe away the devestating effect the last six years have had on my language skills, and that it would all come back to me in mysterious ways. That is what you call wishful thinking. And let me tell you something; it doesn't work!

I showed up for the test convinced that it would take max 20 minutes, and be the type where you checked box a, b, or c - whichever one seemed more likely or convenient. Then the test started. Everything was of course in French, but I understood that the test would consist of four parts. EH?? Part one - dictation. Auch! Part two - crossing of boxes. OK, "prepared" for that. Part three - write an essay. WHAT?? AUCH! (could it get any worse? Oh yes it could..) Part four - conversation with the teacher, one at a time. AAAAAAAAAAAUCH! OK, so I can understand some things, but I have no words to answer with, except "tres bien" and "merci". And the teacher didn't speak a word of English (or so she said at least). The whole thing took almost two hours. And the result didn't make me very optimistic. Apparently, my written stuff is "pas mal", but the oral part was crappy. No, she didn't say crappy, but she would have if she was less polite. Maybe she even did say it, I only understood half of what she said anyway. I wonder what I have gotten myself into. But I really want to learn French. Wouldn't it be great if I could just snap my fingers, and voila - it was already there?

Rock and Helsinki

The weeks just fly by these days. I have heard that they do that faster the older you get, but I choose to believe that they also fly faster the more fun you have. Because there was a lot of fun stuff happening also last weekend (and week). I had a visit from my mom and her cousin, I took a Norwegian rock band out to lunch, dinner, and the pub, and I went to Helsinki!

The rock band in question was Heroes and Zeros, who were here to perform at an event called Nordfest (organized by the Nordic embassies here in Tallinn and some others), where one up-and-coming rock band from each of the Nordic countries were playing. The Norwegian band had won the Urørt-competition for new bands in P3. I really liked their music, and they did a really good live performance too.

And on Sunday it was time to go abroad! Helsinki is only like 50 km away. Too long for a swim, but short enough for a convenient boat trip. And during the summer there is even the super-fast-boat, that takes only an hour and 45 minutes. Inland-animal that I am, I was a little bit sceptical to get on a boat, but the travel sickness pills did the trick.. On the little boat on the way to Helsinki, the waves were pretty big. On my search for breakfast (read: chocolate) in the tax free shop, I almost knocked over all the stuff in the shop because I could hardly stay on my feet. I think I would have walked more steady even after a bottle of vodka than in those waves... But we got to Helsinki, and had a great time there. I even got to meet up with Marjaana for a little while. On the way back we had the bigger boat - the cruise boat if you want - with the big buffet.. I got to show my enormous appetite for chocolate realted dessert to the whole diplomatic association (lot of laughter), before I rolled over to the piano bar to enjoy the rest of the trip back to Tallinn.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Fort Knox

Getting into, or out of, our appartment lately, has been like trying to enter Fort Knox. This place is hard enough to get into in the first place - with three different keys in three different parts of the building, plus having to work up the nerve to take the tiny, Soviet-style elevator (which isn't too hard if you think about all the stairs you have to climb in 30 degrees otherwise, actually..). Lately, though, there has been an additional obstacle to getting into or out of Fort Knox appartment 27. The key doesn't work! And believe me, it isn't that much fun to be in your appartment trying to unlock the door from the inside, realizing that you might be stuck inside on the 5th floor with no way out. It isn't that much more fun to come home in the middle of the night with a flat battery on the cell phone, and really needing the bathroom, realizing that you are stuck in the tiny hallway where the lightbulb doesn't work, either. But it does make some pretty funny excuses for why you are late for work, or turned up to an appointment 15 minutes too late...

Today, we had had enough of Fort Knox. Patience is a virtue I don't possess, especially at quarter to nine in the morning trying to get out the door and to work. So today we contacted the landlord.. Who straight away dealt with the problem; by unlocking the problematic lock, and locking the bottom one instead. The one that we don't have a key to, that is. So when I came home with all my groceries and picked-up dry cleaning; Fort Knox wasn't just difficult, but impossible to enter. After some hectic phone calls the landlord came 10 minutes later - speaking only Russian. I think she was trying to say that we must have that key, and I was trying to say that no, we absolutely did not have that key. But after a lot of njets and pointing and head shaking - we came to an agreement and Morten discovered the hidden keyes.

And tomorrow - I have no excuse for being late anywhere.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Dream Weekend

Friday afternoon.
Home from work.
Nothing that HAS to be done, nothing that SHOULD have been done. (Except relaxing.)
Temperature of 30 degrees, sun from a cloud-free sky.
Grab a few things, go to the bus station.
Sit on the bus for a couple of hours.
Arrive in a beautiful little town, staying in a great appartment close to the beach.
Going to a restaurant to eat some great food affordable on a student budget.
Going to the fresh fruit and vegetable market to find something for breakfast.
Discovering that the beach is 1 km of fine graided sand, and that the water is amazingly refreshing.
Having a barbeque and wine with friends in the great appartment.
Going to a disco on the beach, cheap drinks and good music.
Taking a morning swim in the sea on the way home at 6 a.m.
Catching a couple hours of sleep.
Spending Sunday on the beach, in cafes, relaxing.

I could be discribing a dream weekend scenario.
I am actually discribing my weekend in Pärnu.

Yeah, life is good.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


They are renovating the facade of the Soviet style building I live in. What I think that entails, is that they are applying an extra coat of grey concrete. Now, I don't mind this place being treated to a slightly darker shade of grey. The thing is just, these construction workers just have seriously strange working hours. That crash with mine. They work only Saturday. Mornings. They start walking around outside my windows on the 5th floor a little before 7. And yelling messages down to their co-workers on the ground non-stop. This week they decided to turn up on Friday too. Just to make sure I didn't get an overdose of sleep or anything.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Tallinn Update

First week at work is over, and so far I have to say that my theory holds true: Weekends feel a lot better and more relaxing in working life than in student life. I think the main reason for that is simple: no bad conscience for things that should have been read, should have been written, or unprepared exams coming up… (To all of you who have been working for a while and are probably rolling your eyes at me right now – let me live on my illusion, reality will hit me soon enough).

As you might have read between the lines by now, my weekend in Tallinn has been fantastic. The sun decided to reappear just in time for the days off, and after a movie and some research of the nightlife in my new home town Friday night, the beach was a fantastic place to be on Saturday afternoon; swimming, reading Harry Potter, and listening to old hits over the loudspeakers. We had invitations for a concert on Saturday afternoon, and decided to go and see what that was all about. It turned out to be a operaish kind of concert, attended by us and quite a few pensioners… I decided that I was not quite ready for that kind of high-culture yet, but maybe in 30 years or so.

Sunday was nice and relaxing as we decided to walk around the old town catching Kodak moments and testing cakes at a really cute café. There are a lot of great cafes and restaurants here, and the scary thing is that it is almost as cheap to eat out as to make food at home. This is simply dangerous… I have been thinking about going jogging in the park close by, but so far I have left it with the thought...

I ended the weekend watching the sunset and having drinks at a bar on the 25th floor of the SAS hotel, with a view all over Tallinn, with my flatmates Laura and Morten. Here follows a few snapshots of there, from the Old Town, and the rest of Tallinn

(I wrote and saved this post a couple of days ago, but I am too lazy to make a few changes to it even though it is Tuesday already, so I am just posting it as it is...)