Adventure in Germany
Happy New Year everyone! I'm very happy to be back in Bangkok :) I missed the crowded chaos and hustle of the city! Oh, and the warm weather too! Germany overall was like a cultural exchange experience as I stayed with 2 former classmates, one from undergrad the other from grad school and their families. Living with a German family I got a personal insight of German life: I learned a little German (both my friends are teachers), breathed a lot of fresh air (every 20 minutes my hosts would open the doors or windows for fresh cold air), learned a lot about German bread, cookies, carbonated water and appliances one would only find in a German kitchen, I spent less time on my phone and social media, and went for walks in the forests, old castles, and around town. It was nice experience and will definitely return to Germany, but in the summer time!
Adventure in Finland
Not before long, I met my partner in Helsinki, Finland where he showed me around the city, full of cafe's, restaurants, outdoor markets, and people, young and old, dressed very warmly making the best of the cold and dark January (there was about 6 hours of sunlight). What struck me most about Finland was how mothers and fathers, pushing their very insulated baby carriages. My partner explained in Finnish culture parents would sometimes leave carriages outsides because the cold weather enabled babies to sleep better and the fresh air was good for the lungs (in American, if a parent left their child unattend, people would call the police!) and no matter how cold it was outside, like -20 Celsius, children played outside. But, the longer I stayed and explored the great outdoors of Finland, I came to appreciate the cold and of course the saunas! Finns that I met, through my partner, at Microsoft Flux, a co-working space I worked out during the day, at my morning reform Pilates class, and a Sauna explained that Finnish summers are the best and I must come back to experience it. Finland, in January reminded me a bit of home, Massachusetts, but there was not much snow :/ On a Facebook post, I wrote 6 fun facts I learned about Finland, for those that aren't my friends, here is the list below:
1. Finland has a population of 5.5 million people, majority of the population are Finns, with a Swedish minority. Other minority groups include Sami people, Russians, Romas (Gypsies), Jews, expats, and now refugees (not as many as Germany)
2. Finland is not part of Scandinavia, like Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, rather it's a Nordic country. And the language is closely related to, Karelian and Estonian, with a distant similarity to Hungarian. The two official languages are Finnish and Swedish. English is widely spoken as children start at 8/9 so its quite easy to get around as an English speaker.
3. Finland is widely known for is education system, and continues to top 5 in PISA exams. There is a reason behind this 🙂 In short, children dont go to school until 6/7 years old, as they want children to enjoy their childhood. Teachers go through a rigorous teacher training, are well paid and, are respected as professionals, and school lunch is free for all children.
Child care is heavily subsidized by the government, mothers and fathers have paid maternity and paternity leave, and with paid benefits. The most important factor is that every mother receives a baby box: clothes, blankets, diapers, toys, books, and more. So every baby has an equal start in life. And the health of mothers and children are monitored and screened for years, so the infant mortality rate is one of the lowest in the world. Finland has universal health care and all schools provide quality education despite income of parents.
4. Fun fact, to build resilience and health of babies mothers leave children in carriages outside. Because the cold and fresh air is healthy and babies sleep better. Despite the cold you will see children very warmly dressed outside playing, and very insulated baby carriages of mothers and fathers with their babies.
5. Finland last year celebrated 100 years of independence from Russia, and prior to Russian occupation was part of Sweden and it's monarchy. Once Finland won independence it spent many years in turmoil, wars, civil war, famines, and a very poor country that was agricultural based. It was not until the 1960s with a new economic strategy to create a welfare state and educate and create a skilled population.
6. Finland has come a very long way, and has created world class companies and brands that include: Linux, MYSQL, Nokia, Moomin, Angry Birds, and Kone. And well-known for its sauna culture. In fact, there are about 3 million saunas in Finland 😮.
Back in Bangkok
I don't like to waste time so when I got back to Bangkok, I immediately unpacked, washed my clothes, took a nap, and got straight to work. Doing business in Bangkok, one has be on the ground and more "hands on" to keep projects on schedule. For the last 3 months I've been redesigning everything for Healthy Hair Asia, and finally things are coming together as I envisioned. And will have an official launch party in March so you will have to stay tuned!
Now with the New Year, I created a "to do list" because 2017 was a scary yet exciting year, but I want 2018 to be a year with more stability and authenticate the relationships I've been building for the last 2 years, personal and professional. What exactly does that mean? Well, in regards to stability, one goal is to register my startup and have a place to operate it. This is quite ambitious, but if one sets the bar low, they will definitely reach it, setting high is a challenge I'm willing to take! As for relationship, I will write more about that in my next post :) It will definitely a great read for those that like my straight talk and unapologetic post :) Dating and relationships is something that I always wanted to write about :)
As always, thank you for reading!