perjantai 18. toukokuuta 2018

DIY Project: Resizing A Thrifted Dress


I haven't presented my this year's summer capsule yet as I'm willing to wear hardly any of my last year's dresses. Back then I still had a few fast fashion jeans, but my last pair ripped sometime last october. One of my classmates followed me to the toilets to discreetly informe me of my ripped pants. I was quite amused about how sorry she was for me, since I just found the whole situation so deliciously tragicomic! Anyways, at this moment I have two skirts and maybe three dresses for the summer. This is because many of my last year's summer pieces were just a bit too short or deep cut. It was annoying to have to wear a tank top underneath a dress to hide my chest when it was 38 degrees outside. So yeah, I have been keeping my eyes open for some new, light but modest summer dresses!



I finally found this beautiful 100% linen dress at a thrift shop but the only problem was that on me it looked like a tent. Well, as I have my sewing machine which Q got me last Christmas, I decided to try to make some alternations myself. The dress cost me 8 euros and even though if in the worst case I ended up ruining it I would still have learnt something. In case of failure I had also thought of making some small pouches, pillowcases or accessories out of the fabric. Well, I managed to find a tutorial on how to resize a dress with sleeves and I realised that I would have to completely remove them if I wished to succeed in this thing. That was a bit scary, I got to confess, but somehow I managed and I'm very happy with the results! I also shortened the dress a bit so it hits just above my knees which I think is still a decent but youthful enough length for me.

 This experiment has definitely left me excited to attempt making more alternations myself and maybe even sew some pieces of clothing!

perjantai 11. toukokuuta 2018

Back To Sharing It All


I know I have been gone for a while, but now I have just so much to talk about that I don't even know where to begin. These past three weeks have been quite a journey in more ways than one. First of all I have to tell you that we have spent two weeks in Italy with a couple of friends who had asked us to join them as they wanted to return home for the holidays. We have been back in France for about a week now and even though we loved Italy, I have had to deal with the aftermath of all the socializing and overstimulation of the trip. We were able to experience so many amazing things and have many beautiful moments with friends, but for an introvert it is very tiring to be with people all day everyday for an extended period of time. But to be honest, there's more to it than that and I wasn't really sure if I wanted to share the whole story here. You see, I think I have been lately quite lost with the direction of this blog as I have grown more and more reluctant to talk about my hardships which was something I did without hesitation in the beginning. It's been only two years since I started this expat journey, but as I'm so hard on myself I feel like I should already have it all together. Before our trip in Italy I was even thinking of erasing my blog and all of my social media accounts related to it as I'm a failed expat and all I really wanna do is whine. Then one day we were in Bologna and I happened to spy a group of expat women seated around a round table, having apéro, drinking wine and chatting. The atmosphere around the five of them made me curious and I was able to casually linger around long enough to hear these words, pronounced with emotion: "...and I didn't know if this was normal...I'm I supposed to feel like this? Do others feel the same or is it just me?" I saw her face and her little smile, bright eyes that looked to the others as she wished to be understood. And they did understand. I  understood. It's so  easy to feel alone with these feelings of isolation, sadness and not belonging. It's even harder to pronounce them out loud since it seems so wrong and ungrateful as we get to live in such beautiful places. In the eyes of our friends back at home we have the perfect life with millions of possibilities.  

So, I sort of felt like this post should be about how amazing Italy was, how lucky I am to have been there and how I'm just overall living my best expat life. Yes, I had a good time and I am lucky, but today I am going to talk about something else. The Italy-posts are coming a bit later since I just have this strong urge to let it all out. Everything I have been holding in too scared to tell you how I really feel about life here in the Provence.

The thing about following your spouse to his or her homeland is that you are most likely gonna be there without your own family and friends. So, I myself tried to look for that support and love within my husband's family. In the beginning everything went well, but during last autumn until recently there's been more and more times that I have been feeling hurt after leaving my in-laws' house. I must say that they are extremely kind people and they are most likely not aware of the effect they have on me. This is what I like to think and I hope it is the truth. 

Nevertheless, I have been mentioning a few times here on the blog about some toxic comments on my body made by my in-laws. To be honest, I have received small remarks on my size from time to time ever since we moved to France, but I have just tried to ignore them in order to maintain a good relation with them and so on. So, the day before we left for Italy, I was taken to do some shopping with a few members of my extended family as they wanted to buy me a birthday gift in advance so I would have it for the trip. I was very excited as I had already a few dresses in mind that I wanted to try on. So, once at the store I got in the fitting room with a bunch of dresses while they waited behind the curtain. I  tried on one dress and opened the curtain to show them. They looked at me and said that it looked strange around the waist and was a bit too long on which I agreed with them. As I was preparing to show them the next option I hear one of them tell another: "Try on that dress with this belt. You can do it as you are skinny." Well, I opened the curtain once again and got the same feedback as for the last dress. Too long, weird around the waist; makes me look massive. As I was taking off the dress I heard from behind the curtain: "She doesn't have a normal waist. It's a woman with  a waist that is...*searches for words*" The funny thing is that she hates to call people "fat" despite of indirectly letting you understand that you are big. I heard the awkwardness in the voice of my other in-law as she tried  to save  the situation by finishing her sentence (as she obviously was aware that I could hear everything through the curtain): "...standard size." I honestly would have preferred my waist being called fat instead abnormal. She knows that I have suffered for my body although she has no idea of how much exactly. I still carry the visible scars of those times that I used to hate myself as a young teenage girl. Inside the fitting room I felt like someone had just kicked the air out of my lungs. It felt just so absurd. I tried to take long deep breaths and not cry as my hands started to shake. There was still one dress to try on but I didn't have the mental strength to go through with it. I made a huge effort to bottle up my emotions in that moment until I would be in a safe space to access them. I managed to finish the rest of the shopping trip without bursting in tears, but once in the car alone with Q I was finally able to break down. And I cried not only for having been shamed behind my back, but for the emotional consequences of it all. It meant that I'm not safe with his family. I cannot even confront them on this because we already had a huge dispute last autumn which already caused a trauma for everyone involved. So, the next day after the whole fitting room incident Q and I left for Italy and during the trip I didn't have a chance to go through my feelings and thoughts. It's been only during this past week that I have started to work on it and to be honest I don't know how to feel about it or if I should talk about it with them or not. Even when we came back and were at their house to pick up our cats, someone leaned towards me and said: "So you didn't gain weight then?" I was like: "Excuse me?" I got the answer: "I thought you would be like thiiiiis *blows out his cheeks and spreads out his hands to demonstrate." I was too baffled to answer but I have made the mental note to exit the house the next time someone comments on my body.

Then there was the return to Provence and the reality of our everyday life in this region. I have never said this out loud before, but we do not like Provence. We love its old villages, historical cities and vineyards but its people are killing us. Seriously, they already make your life miserable in all of the other places and then they also try to kill you on the road. The atmosphere of this region plagued with crime and unemployment is so negative and most of the time we don't feel safe. I have been harrassed on the streets a number of times to the point that I can't walk alone freely in the city. I have to always keep on mind to stay where there's enough other people in sight. Avignon has been working hard to brush up its image but the homicides related to its drug cartels aren't really helping. A few months back a man was shot next to my University while the evening was still young. We live in an atmosphere of danger and negativity. I have grown tired of the ever-present corruption. The locals don't either like foreigners which makes it hard for me to relate with them. It was Italy that made me realise what we are missing living here. In the city where we stayed the women could enjoy a night out and walk safely home even after dark and the children played freely outside. Q has never felt at home in this region and his dislike for Provence and its people drove him to leave for Finland. Thanks to which decision we were able to eventually meet.

So why do we live here if we don't like it? For Q's work as he cannot ask for a transfer this early in his career. We will definitely look into the possibility of moving as soon as possible. This region is great for a vacation, but not ideal to raise a family in.

This post is one of the most honest ones in a long while, but I feel like this blog has hardly any value if I keep hiding important parts of my story. This is not a blog about how to be a successful expat, what you should do or how you should feel. This is my story with all of its ups and downs and feelings that are or aren't justified.



lauantai 14. huhtikuuta 2018

Fitness Update // Dark Humor // Isle of Dogs


It's Saturday morning which means that I get to lie on the couch drinking coffee and eating chocolate! I switched up my diet a little bit since about one month ago and I decided to limit eating sweets to just one specific day per week. At the same time I also committed to working out at least half an hour five to six days per week. I had already been doing yoga almost daily since the beginning of January, but around mid-March I felt ready to integrate some more challenging exercises. The thing is that I have quite a fragile body that gets really easily injured if I go too crazy with exercise. So I have been making sure to avoid all jumping and stick to low impact alternations of jumping jacks and such (the bright side: no bra needed!). I have been loving the content of POPSUGAR Fitness on Youtube. They have so many good quality workouts which almost all include suggestions for low impact modifications. One I have been loving is this 30 minute barre sculpting workout! So, today it's been one month since I switched up my routine and I have so far lost almost 2 centimeters off my waist. It's also obvious that my body has also toned up and sculpted quite a bit since the beginning which is exactly what this is all about: building a strong, healthy body.

Anyhow, I couldn't be more relieved that we have made it to the weekend. It's been one long, rainy, boring week. By the end of it I was feeling so tired that the smallest of things would make me laugh hysterically. Yeah, when I'm tired that's what happens and everybody thinks I'm crazy. But seriously, I would never have thought that a class full of different nationalities would be such a delicate environment especially when it comes to humor (it's obvious though when you think about it...) I feel like it's so easy to hurt someone's feelings by laughing at the wrong moment. This makes me miss Finns so much. I love that despite of our depressive tendencies, we do have a wicked sense of humor. Luckily we had a skype meeting with my parents yesterday so my mom and I got to cry-laugh to our hearts' content.

Since the week had taken such a toll on me, I didn't have much inpiration to do my homeworks on the Friday afternoon. Q decided to take a look at how I was doing and we ended up howling with laughter since my foul mood couldn't have been more obvious. Here's how I had decided to complete the sentences of one exercise:

1. Bien qu'il soit beau, il n'est pas intelligent. 
Even though he is handsome, he's not intelligent.

2. Il ne fait rien quoiqu'il devrait.
He doesn't do anything even though he should. (Q: Is this for me?)

3. Malgré sa richesse, elle est malheureuse.
Despite of her wealth, she's unhappy.

4. Sans eau, il n'y a pas d'espoir.
Without water, there's no hope.

5. Elle ne veut pas le faire cependant elle y est obligée.
She doesn't want do it, however, she's obliged to.

6. Il est audacieux en dépit de ses échecs.
He is daring in spite of his failures.


Anyhow, Q and I wanted to wrap up the week with a nice movie night as Wes Anderson's new film, Isle of Dogs, is finally out. Well, the movie started at 21:50 which has never before been a problem for me. However, half an hour into it I started to feel more drowsy by the minute which I tried to fight the best I could. It was a struggle to no avail: next thing I knew was my head tilting unconrollably to all possible directions and then bouncing back after a few seconds of unconsciousness. I managed to feel a bit more awake for a moment after I thought the protagonist had died, but even that wasn't enough to save me from my body's all consuming tiredness. At one point my eyes were completely closed and I  was just imagining the scenes based on the sounds. The funny thing is that meanwhile Q was so wrapped up in the movie that he was completely oblivious to the struggles going on next to him! So, in the end I can just say that the  Isle of Dogs by Wes Anderson seems like a very good movie, but can't really give my word for it as I basically slept through the whole thing.

Apart from eating lots of chocolate and drinking espresso from mugs, this weekend is going to be actually quite a busy one as we are involved in a few house renovation and moving projects. We will surely find some time to drink some wine too, of course.

Have a great weekend!  

torstai 5. huhtikuuta 2018

Gathering Experience To Level Up


Q and I have both been lately in a true "I got goals" state of mind. I keep working on perfecting my French and waking up early to strengthen my body and mind. Q plays his viola and writes. I think that this personal development enthousiasme has a lot to do with the fact that we are both nearing the end of our twenties. Yeah, as much as we love adventuring and living on the edge, I think we have had quite enough of that. The last few years have been so turbulent that now we both just crave for stability in life and in order to reach that we need to level up. In my case this means that I need to gather enough experience to level up my language skills. My university studies will be done in may which means that I will then finally be ready to apply for jobs. I feel that this time studying has really helped me to get over the somewhat desperate state of mind I was in last year. Even though I'm constantly talking about improving my French, it's not something that I would be anymore vulnerable about. If a native French now tried to bully me for the way I speak, I would be able to answer back very clearly.

So, as a part of this whole "let's be the best versions of ourselves" -movement, we have started hiking. During the Easter holidays we managed to get through a three-hour track that included lots and lots of uphills. Actually this was only the second time we went hiking in like three years buuut we are definitely planning to make this a weekly habit from now on. Funny story: the first time we completed a three-hour hike we headed straight to a chinese buffet to stuff ourselves. A bit like the time we went to a nutrition coach and then decided that we deserved a banana split. Grhmmm...We have really come a long way.

Here's some pictures I took during our hike which we started and finished in the beautiful village of Venasque!


À la prochaine!

torstai 22. maaliskuuta 2018

On Toxic Beauty Standards

I mentioned in my last post that last week wasn't such a good one for me. One thing you got to know about me is that I'm one of those who just can't turn off their brain and "not think" or "just let it go". I have a tendency to constantly build patterns and connections based on my observations and past experiences. Everything is linked. What people do in their day-to-day lives does matter since as those patterns are repeated by hundreds, thousands, millions of individuals, they are suddenly impactful. So when something happens it is seldom just "a thing" among others for me as these incidents often demonstrate important aspects of the human nature and the current state of the society. Therefore it can keep me trapped in my thoughts for days contemplating "the world".

There were a couple of these things that happened last week and one in particular made me extremely disheartened. It all started with this video which our French teacher showed to us as an introduction to the theme of the lesson (plastic surgery). She played us the first about 15 seconds and asked: "Can you describe the physique of this woman in the video?" While I was thinking that there's not much to say except that she is in all aspects completely normal, I hear someone stating out loud: "She's FAT!" The class exploded in laughter while I could just stare at them speechless, unable to believe everyone's reaction. A class of adults was laughing at the "fatness" of a normal weight woman. I don't know which was really worse: laughing at her in the beginning of the video or at the end of it as she abuses of surgeries, becoming more and more plastic. After all this they went on saying that weeell it's better to stay natural. If I hadn't been so baffled by all this, I would have opened my mouth but with all the thoughts racing through my mind it wouldn't have made any sense. Plus I was so angry that there was a big risk of it becoming just a huge dispute. Anyway, what could I have said in a situation like this to make any difference? The core values of someone don't change by someone they barely know disagreeing with them.

This incident made my blood boil also for the experiences I have had in the past as an expat in Japan. From the beginning of my one year stay to the very end, people felt entitled to comment on my weight. I was at a completely normal, healthy weight but for the japanese I was enormous. My host father told me once that if I jumped off a bridge into a river it would create a tsunami. No matter how wise and educated a woman is, this kinds of comments start to take their toll when they are repeated on a regular basis. Like on that day in the classroom I had a moment of desperation: that woman they are all laughing at is like 10 kilos lighter than me. How skinny does one need to be to be accepted? Why are people like this? 

The world envies the French women for their slender figures which they seem to be able to maintain so effortlessly. To be honest there is a huge pressure in France to be a size 36 which is the equivalent to the Finnish 34. The stores carry mostly the sizes from 34 to 38 and the biggest size is often 42. Size 44 is available in stores that have a more mature target group. These "larger" sizes are also often much smaller than the actual measurements announced on the size chart of the brand. So, the message is quite clear here: lose weight or you'll struggle to find anything to wear. The French woman who has reached the ideal is so skinny that her chest bones have become visible. Imagine the pressure on all the young girls growing up and trying to fit in. Knowing that even if they did sports and ate clean, it just might not be enough? That to be "normal" you need to be at the verge of serious underweight.

One more story. This happened here in France about a year ago as I was telling someone that I was very happy with my weight (as the conversation was around this topic). I explained that your ideal weight is normally concidered to be the last two numbers of your height in meters. So for example if your height is 1.70 meters your weight is in a good place at 70 kilos. She leaned towards me and whispered: "That's for the men. For a woman it's ten kilos less." Even though I'm supposed to know better and not let this sort of nonsense bug me...it still does. The ironic part is that if I ever managed to reach such weight, I would be told that I have gone too far. If only it was possible to keep a clear head surrounded by all this madness.

So that's a little part of the thoughts inspired by this classroom incident. When I tried to open up to someone about all this, I was  told that I take things too seriously. What is too serious about being concerned about attitudes that cause thousands of young women (and men) to sturuggle with self-loathing and self-destructive behaviour?


lauantai 17. maaliskuuta 2018

Care Package From Home


My family back in Finland always seems to send their packages at the exact time that I need them the most. Such was also the case when their latest surprise arrived a few days back and I had had such a bad day. I literally just sat on the couch with the unopened orange package against my chest weeping my homesickness. Some days just are like that, but there are still a few precise things that have been dragging my spirits down lately which I will be sharing in one of my next posts. I also want to tell you guys about the plans I have for this coming summer and what's the plan after my French classes are over!


It's extremely expensive to send even the smallest of things from Finland to France so my Mom had to choose carefully. The main reason for this package was the book Kävelyn Filosofiaa (A philosophy of walking) by the French Frédéric Gros which I requested already long ago but at the time it was sold out everywhere. I also absolutely wanted the book in Finnish as I really need to have something in my mother tongue to read. I have just books in French and English and maybe two in Finnish. When I opened the book and actually understood everything at the first glance, I felt as if I could breath freely for the first time in a long while. Having such a rare mother tongue, I get to read or speak it extremely rarely. In person basically never these days as I don't know any Finns living in the area. Sure, there's the entire internet full of content written in Finnish, but the literary level doesn't match that of a good book.


The Jenkki xylitol chewing gums are always a must! They are exremely beneficial for the teeth and most Finns like to chew a few after each meal. It's a sort of national ritual.


I also got the latest issue of a fashion magazine called Gloria. It's nice to have something light like this to read with a cup of coffee. Back at home I was always going through all of the magazines at my parents' place while consuming ungodly amounts of coffee.


My Mom didn't either forget my favorite candies which are these half fruit flavored, half salty licorice gummies. Finns are definitely some hardcore candy lovers and our candy isle is quite epic. One of the things I miss from home...mmm. These sirkusaakkoset will be consumed under strict supervision once a week (on our "treats day") to enjoy them as long as possible!

Thanks to my lovely home troops for all of this goodness!