Touching in its plainness and sincere with the story-Spotlight

spotlight

The Oscar-winning movie, Spotlight (2015), is rich in its simplicity. Starring Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton en Stanley Tucci, it has a true star casting. But was it worth an Oscar?

The main storyline goes as follows: a team of journalists at Boston Globe is assigned to investigate accusations against a priest of molesting dozens of children. The team faces many walls while trying to get to grips with the magnitude of the events. As I do not want to spoil the movie for you, I don’t want to tell more about the plot here. However, it is based on true events, so you might already know. I will rather tell what I felt during and after seeing the movie, and about the main impressions I had.

The film is definitely not a basic American block-buster with beautiful human beings and sparkle. No, no. It is ripped off anything that is fancy or flashy. The story is what counts here, and that is beautiful, yet very sad and frightening. It is not visual, but you need to imagine everything that is being told, which makes the story so real and effective in its unembellished nature.

During the movie I did not think about the time at all, but was thirsty of seeing what happens next. I was not shocked during the movie, but it is rather the afterthoughts and the very end where I realized how important the message is. I went to see some friends after the movie in the city, while I actually just needed to talk about the movie and its meaning. And I did talk. I can say it is worth the Oscar.

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Bridezilla to be or not? Nightmares about wedding- good or not?

 
While our wedding is four months from now, and that we still haven’t sent out the invitations, a little Bridezilla creeps out… There’s a great deal of things and details to think of when planning a wedding. We started out with asking for a first Master of Ceremony, my lovely sister who will be of great help. There will be a second MC who is also the best-man, to make sure all runs smoothly and that there will be no language barriers (together they know the needed languages at the wedding: Dutch, English, Finnish and French). Next was looking for the venue, which was rather tricky since me and my fiancée (love that word) had both some requirements the venue should fulfill. Many venues around here where we live in the north of the Netherlands are very very inflexible and small for a wedding with 100+ guests! Oftentimes no other caterer could’ve been used, only their services! That is off-putting and a no-go for us, who demand quite an international range of foods at our party and we cannot trust one chef to be able to create all the needed speciality foods. Finally we found our castle after visiting 8 potential venues, where the service is excellent and they are flexible and truly seem to care about our individual wishes. Well I hope so!

The stress from planning caused me to see three nightmares.. The first one circulated around my stylist being late (nothing personal btw), the stairs of the castle being skewed, and my beloved mother having a horrid outfit: a bright red cheap looking dress with little vain flower pattern. The second one also played around my stylist being late, and ended up with me sitting amongst the guests with no hair or makeup done, wearing jeans! The last one is very dramatic.. I was about to enter the ceremony but realized I had an ugly dress on and some guest, bigger than me, was wearing mine! Bummer! I got my dress back but couldn’t find my lingerie.. And it was so melting hot that I fainted in the very middle of the ceremony, basically naked and in the middle of more than 100 guests. That must be some kind of a worst case scenario. Or one of the many possible scenarios.

What’s good about these dreams is that they make me take action, like making sure all the important people will be on time at the venue, and perhaps making sure everyone has enough water to drink if it ends up being a hot day. 😉

P.S. My mother promised me she won’t “destroy” the wedding by wearing a horrible dress like in the dream. She is a classy lady and loves dressing up too!

P.P.S. After changing our wedding theme color three times, berry red is the one! Got the idea from this very Pinterest picture. Yes, Pinterest where everything looks perfect…

Next I want to write about the differences between Dutch and Finnish weddings, so stay tuned!

Yours,

Expat

3 years in the Netherlands- but why did I get angry?! Spreek Nederlands met me, a.u.b!

After quite a break from blog writing (my excuses!), I decided to write something about the feelings that I have had with learning Dutch. It definitely has been a great experience to live in the NL (Netherlands), while enjoying the decent level of university education, exploring student life, getting to know the culture, and what I find very important- the language!

The first time I heard people speaking Dutch (more than four years ago), I thought it sounded hilarious! The only language that it reminded me of was German. So I thought Dutch was like a funny version of German. So the first Dutch I met must’ve thought I am a very happy (or just very nuts) person, since I kept on smiling continuously when they talked Dutch, while I had no clue what they were saying. Nevertheless, after three years of some struggle with learning this special language, I have got to the point where I can express most of the things I want in Dutch… OK let’s be honest here, with some English words here and there, but it is getting better.

I must say that since day one I wanted to learn the language. But while university studies, socializing and whatnot have proved to be time consuming, I got to a point of anger at myself a couple of months ago. That anger and disappointment was triggered by the fact that I am actually trying to look for internships in the Netherlands, and got time after another refused as a candidate due to the lack of fluent Dutch skills. I realized that I had not met my ambitions of learning the language on a highly proficient level, even after two Dutch courses. What was lacking? PRACTICE! Here you may ask: so what’s stopping you? The thing is that most Dutchies are very nice and want you to feel welcome, and if they hear a non-native accent in my Dutch, they will almost automatically switch to English if they are fluent in it. One might think that is a great way of showing hospitality, and in a way it is. However, I find it has considerably slowed down my Dutch learning, since any communication event with Dutch people is an opportunity to learn. I know, I know, it does require patience to listen to slow, accented speech, but please Dutch people- consider you are making a great favor to the person who is trying to learn. 🙂

So I hope I have learned the lesson as well, and will also insist on talking Dutch with most of the Dutchies. I know sometimes I am too tired to speak Dutch, and voluntarily switch to English, but I know that those moments are decreasing as the practice grows. Also, I started a Dutch writing course, where we learn more official Dutch, and perfect our writing skills. This is definitely what is needed.

One more thing, yesterday I went for a lunch with a friend, and the waiter opened the discussion in Dutch. I replied in Dutch, after which he suddenly wanted to explain things in English. I kindly continued the discussion in Dutch until the end, and while he wished “a good day”, I replied “tot ziens!!” (see you). I consider that a win from my side, baby steps, baby steps… Anyone struggling with language learning in a new country: the best way to learn is to speak the damned language! We can do this!

I hope you all have a great weekend and I hope I could hear some ideas from you guys, considering how it has been to learn Dutch, or anything related :). En spreek Nederlands met me, a.u.b.! Dank je 😉

Yours,

Expat for now

Skiing in Austria is wonderful

2015/01/img_1005.jpg This time on a holiday in the Austrian Alps, in St Anton. You can go up to almost 3km high to admire the views and ski down all the way! We got caught by heavy wind and snow blowing at our faces when starting skiing at 2800 meters high… But it was definitely worth the view! About St Anton, it’s a nice and cosy small village at the root of some great ski/ hiking mountains. It is very international; I think we had more foreign waiters than local, and tourists come from all over the world. The temperature this January has been around -5 Celsius, which is quite warm I’d say, for the season. Or do I do wrong when comparing it to -30 Celsius in the Finnish Lapland? Unfortunately I had quite some shin pain due to ski boots pressing on the lower shin.. But still, especially that view did make up for it. I would recommend this spot if you’re wondering where to go for winter sports or summer hike 🙂 With love, Your Expat

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Dutch humor

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I normally buy my veggies and fruits from the open-air market in the centre of the city- they have the most options and the best quality!! Who knows how many times I have had my fruits packed in a similar bag that is in the picture (after all I’ve lived two and half years in the NL). Only today did I take a closer look to the paper bag that the fruit seller put my tomatoes into. Sometimes you just miss the obvious…

With love,

Your Expat For Now

Dutch New Year traditions- Fire, Fire, Fire and pyromania!!

Firstly, happy new year 2015 to everyone!! I hope this year will be full of success and great moments! I have been quite silent lately due to my studies, for which I owe you my apologies. I wanted to write about Dutch new year celebration traditions, which differ from what I have seen elsewhere.

Happy-New-Year

Firstly, the Dutch surely know how to celebrate! They seem to fully enjoy this day of the year with fire. Maybe the most striking tradition so far to me has been bonfires in the middle of the streets. Yes, my first experience was in 2012, when people had created a fire in the middle of a normal car street, and lit up basically everything that can be burnt: old unnecessary items. It can be that there lives a small pyromaniac in all the Dutchies 😉 . We were celebrating the eve at a friend’s place, and as we got out to watch the fireworks in front of the house, I saw that bonfire and wondered how legal that would be.. To our surprise, there was a young man bicycling towards the fire, and he was talking on the phone (if you have read my post about the Dutch bicycling habits, you know that this is completely normal). Without noticing, this happy young chap drove straight to the fire, and the reality only hit him as he was in it! With my eyes wide open I was following this interesting incident. When he hit the fire, he jumped out of the bicycle straight on his feet, while the two-wheeled continued its way. What did he do? Did he seem frightened? NO! He started laughing and telling his friend on the phone what happened, went to get the bike back, and continued his way… However, the eve was very cozy at our friend’s place, and everyone was dressed according to a color code-sweet!

So that was about the bonfires in the middle of the streets, which seem to be quite common. The next day you can see holes in the grounds where the fires had been made. While bicycling, you obviously have to watch out for those 😉 Fun addition to cycling in the NL! What else… So there is quite some craziness about fireworks in here. Basically everyone buys and lights up some, and lights them up on the streets, throws them in the sewage holes, which creates a war-like effect on all the streets in the centre. That is exiting to say the least! The Finns mainly send fireworks in open areas, such as sport fields or open spots in the woods (boring), but in the NL they are everywhere, so it feels like a war game to walk on the streets after 6pm on the New Year’s Eve.

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A new trend that I saw this year 2014-2015, is the sending of wishing balloons/sky lanterns. After our New Year dinner with friends, we walked outside the door to have a look at some fireworks, and it was easy to find them as they’re everywhere! Many of our neighbors sent out these wish balloons, which originally come from Asia, I believe. It is quite magical to see them lit up to be carried by the wind… This year it was a lovely evening, with the coziness of being with some dear friends. I hope that your year will be according to your wishes, maybe you can send a sky lantern to the sky next new year and watch it being lifted up to bring your wishes and promises to the sky! Happy New Year 2015! Let’s make it a great one 🙂

How many times to kiss ?

Kiss !
Kiss !

As it is often unclear how many cheek kisses we should give to each other when we meet, here’s some enlightenment on the matter! In France it varies from one up to five (!!!) kisses. Just think about going to a party where you know everyone. How much time do you think you would be spend on kissing, if you had the pleasure to give five to each person?

The Economist has a good article on this. I actually thought that four kisses is the maximum amount, but nope. At least in the paradise island of Corsica they often seem to enjoy their fantastic five kisses.

As I have been living two years now in the Netherlands, I have only heard of three kisses on the cheeks- no more, no less. I think three is a fair amount, it’s right in the middle of the minimum and maximum amount of the possible French kisses. Just a good amount. No complaints here!

In Avignon I learned to give three kisses, and I think I never learned to get rid of that one extra kiss when living in Nice. In the beautiful French Riviera, you only kiss twice. But when you are used to three kisses, two feels like too little. One missing!

In Finland we don’t kiss friends for greeting, which might seem distant to some. However, we do hug good friends, which is not a bad habit either. I even regard it more personal to hug, than to give a kiss on a cheek. At the end, such physical contact is good for everyone, and I suppose it releases some feel-good hormones, right?

Is it always three kisses in the Netherlands? What about other countries?

Yours,

Expat For Now

Festival of Lights – Diwali

This weekend in Holland I got to enjoy a local style- Indian festival of lights- Diwali. Plenty of dance, music, shiny and beautiful Indian dresses, delicious and spicy Indian food, and a lot of laughter! Maybe one day I’ll get to experience the real thing!

The Broken Specs

Happy Diwali.. 🙂

Deepavali.. a Hindu Festival celebrated in autumn every year  with great enthusiasm and happiness in India. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair.

Diwali is celebrated around the world, particularly in countries with significant populations of Hindu, Jain and Sikh origin. It is celebrated in almost all the Asian countries, parts of Arab’s, Australia, New Zealand and  also in some parts of Africa.

Satellite picture of India taken NASA satellite on a Diwali evening. Satellite picture of India taken NASA satellite on a Diwali evening.

Its celebration include millions of lights shining on housetops, outside doors and windows, around temples and other buildings. In India, Diya( Oil Lamp) is decorated. Diya’s are available in nearby and are made up of clay. An Indian potter paints earthenware lamps ahead of Diwali.

A women painting the diya's. A women painting the Diya’s.

A Diya placed in temples and used to bless worshipers is referred to as…

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Dutch gezelligheid !

Getting warm in the train station.
Getting warm in the train station.

This picture was taken on a winter’s day, on a Dutch train station (cannot remember which one)… This image captures how people gather around a heater – so much needed in this weather. It’s very gezellig (Dutch for: convivial, cozy, fun) that they do offer this possibility to stay a bit warm while waiting for the train, thinking about the warm bed at home…

The Dutchies are very much terrace- people, meaning that even in the autumn/winter some cafeterias and bars have heaters outside, so that their customers can still do some people gazing while sitting comfortably. In Finland this doesn’t happen a lot, maybe because it’s just too damn cold in the winter (at times 20-30’C even in the South).

And as I am sipping on my tea in the coziness of my home, I send my thoughts to all the people who live in very cold places, like Alaska or the Finnish Lapland!

With love,

Expat For Now