Monday, 10 July 2017

Travelling alone - reflections

I can't believe I've been back a week already. It only seems like yesterday that, in a moment of madness, I booked a week away in Finland. Before my holiday, I was really tired... exhausted... physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. It felt like I was waking up, going to work, coming home and going to sleep. I needed a rest.

I did wonder if I was making a big mistake, heading back to Finland whilst I was feeling so low but it turned out to be just what I needed.

Pulla - a Finnish sweetbreadThe Positives

Right from day one, in Helsinki, before flying north, my friend whisked me out for a long walk. I was a little nervous, as it was a warm day... sunny... without Neil... wasps??? Actually, I didn't see a single wasp ALL week! Consequently, I got tons of exercise. I propelled myself miles! I sat outside coffee shops drinking lots of coffee and eating pulla. It was also really good to sit and chat with friends that I feel like I've known for ages... people who know me really well.

Apart from the night each end in Helsinki, I stayed in a hotel. Being completely alone allowed me some time to get spiritual refreshment. Tempting as it was to go out and spend my whole week seeing people, I decided before I went that I needed some time to pray and seek God. I know some of my friends and family won't get that but for me, it's really important and it makes a difference.


The Not-So-Positives

The biggest downer happened on Thursday morning. I had planned a great day out in Oulu, visiting old friends there. I was all on track until I started getting strange flashes in the corner of my eye. My heart sank, as I realised what it was. Within minutes, I had full-scale visual dramatics going on and the mother of all migraines hit. Fortunately, two of the friends I was meeting decided to brighten my day and drive north to see me instead. By late afternoon when they arrived, I was feeling much better and we went out for dinner.

That leads me onto the second negative. The only wheelchair accessible eateries in town were Hesburger and Pizza Rosso. The latter was lovely but took us forever to find. Everywhere else had steps, narrow doors, no toilets, etc. This became a bit of a theme for the week. In Neil's absence, it was much more obvious how difficult it would be to live independently there... impossible, in fact. Even the main supermarkets didn't have wheelchair trolleys. Dropped curbs were totally hit and miss. Mostly the infrastructure for accessibility just isn't there.

The photos show two touristy places, a museum/art gallery and a Santa's grotto type place. Both have steps to get in and I didn't find an alternative entrance.

In a way, this kind of bothered me, but in another way, it was helpful. It made me feel like I'm in the best place, here in England. Much as I miss many aspects of living in Finland, I wouldn't trade my independence for anything! So then, it began to feel more like a proper holiday, rather than a visit home. So, at long last, coming home actually felt like coming home.


Blending it all together

I wanted to get to a place of feeling a proper connection with home, whilst not losing a different kind of connection with Finland. I think my week away was really good for beginning that process. I certainly came back, looking forward to being back at work and feeling like I'm in a good place. I guess I can't ask for much more than that.

Some other nice pics of the week

I think this is a war memorial
Kemi's answer to Stonehenge?

View over the sea from a little footbridge
Walk round the nature reserve

Pink Cathedral-style church
Kemi's Pink Church

Looking down one of the main streets, through the trees
The town - clean, light and wide


Saturday, 8 July 2017

Personal Learning Environments

I'm still ploughing on through my studies. This week, one of the themes has been Personal Learning Environments (PLEs), as opposed to institutionally provided systems such as Moodle. One of the tasks led to me mapping out my own PLE. Thought it would be interesting to share it. You can click on it to see a bigger, full screen version.

Popplet showing the different places I learn online
My Personal Learning Environment