The year of the Monkey is coming to an end. And what a year it has been! I feel like an old-timer reminiscing about the good old days. From conquering a tall mountain in Africa to working with solely Arabic-speaking refugees and seeing them successfully start their new life in Europe with our help, from being relied on by the Finnish government to reconstruct the national education authentication system to managing 20 000 people at the biggest scout jamboree in Finland of all time to hiking 60 km for the first time, you certainly feel like a mere passenger on the train of life. And new challenges are looming on the horizon — this time, 7000 km away from home. Earlier this week I was staying with my parents at home, and we had several lovely farewell dinners. Dad arranged some practical stuff for me and my brother, who is carrying out his military service, came home to see me off. As a farewell souvenir, Mum gave me a small golden heart which she asked me to wear at all times. I’m very grateful to have a loving family and friends. There’s no need to be afraid of homesickness either, since it just means that one’s left behind a happy home.

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When you read this, I will be in China. When the time came to leave, I wasn’t afraid at all. I didn’t have any second thoughts and still don’t. Nevertheless, it was an emotional moment to kiss your family members goodbye for the last time (for some time). My friends encouraged me in their typical way among other things with “if you find yourself in a tight spot, just tell the pilot “älä tiputa minnuu, älä tiputa minnuu!” (which roughly translates to “don’t drop me!”) and “joko puntti tutisee?” (“are your pants wobbling already?”). Chinese people appreciate small gifts being brought to them, and it is considered an honour to be invited to a Chinese home, since they generally don’t even invite each other. So, I bought some Moomin towels, and 20+ chocolate bars from another shop. The cashier man glanced at me with a look that said something along the lines of “poor woman, I can’t imagine what kind of depression she is going through…” when I poured the unilateral content of my shopping basket on the conveyor belt. 😀

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Reaching new heights of sugar addiction. (?)

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The time discrepancy between Finland and China starting to manifest itself in the airspace of Mongolia.

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Some nice features of the A350.

The flights to Shanghai and the domestic flights to Nanchang operate very well. I highly recommend the new Airbus A350. The time difference is six hours, so melatonin is going to be your best friend for the first few days. Personally, I didn’t really feel “the sleepy revenge of the Genghis Khan”, actually it was fun to bombard my sleeping friends with messages at 4.30 the morning EET. Imagine this: it’s 3.30pm in Finland, and people are frying their brains at work. I’m soundly asleep in a Chinese bed, 7 330 km away from home. 😀

What I have learned this week:

  1. Chinese people avoid eating cheese.
  2. If you look “single white woman” enough, you get into a special security screening at Helsingfors-Vanda airport.
  3. If you look “single white woman” enough, you will be escorted like a VIP at Shairport.
  4. You can look fashionable and fabulous in a heavy-metal, Barbie, or My Little Pony -respirator.
  5. It’s good — very good — if you have a Chinese friend waiting for you at the other end.

I will write a separate post about the new year celebrations taking place here.  All is well.

Mili

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