2012 at a glance: no regrets

31 Dec

mimosaIt’s a New Year Eve and I can’t hold my excitement.

That is not exactly true. I guess it’s a line that normal people would use to describe their evening while waiting for a clock to strike midnight.  I hear people describing their perfect NYE celebrations and I truly wonder: what would be a perfect NYE celebration to me? Honestly, I don’t know! I don’t even know if I care. Yes, I have to admit the pressure that comes from all those movies, where everyone screams “Happy New Year” (and then kisses one another), people I know or even from the new (impersonal) means of communication (more like social means of destruction) makes me almost feel guilty for not caring enough but I did try to celebrate like everyone else (and failed), so give me a break. It’s just not meant to be I guess. I will be celebrating at home, wearing my favourite sweat pants, eating home-made food and drinking lots of mimosas.

That being said I think it’s time to review my last year resolution (New Year Resolution 2012). It was the first (and probably the last) time I got one and frankly it doesn’t matter how many of those resolutions I achieved. Although, I did not go to Cuba or exercised more (yeah, who was I kidding with that one…), I achieved the most important goals and had a great year overall. I did not fall in love, learned new things about myself, helped others and most importantly freed my heart from hatred.

I am generally never happy with myself, my life, people I am with and lots of other things…basically, I could be categorized as an unhappy person. However, I think first time in my life I actually said (more like wrote) I had a great year and I am thankful for that. Of course, things could always be better but I spent the whole year in Canada without anyone to support me there and survived, got a great job that I truly enjoyed, made a lot of new friends, visited New York city and then celebrated my birthday and Christmas at home, which I haven’t done in a long time. These little things make me happy when I think about them. What is important to note is that I saw the opportunity and I took it. I was brave enough to step out of my comfort zone and achieve things I never dreamed of. I am happy to have become this brave, independent woman who is not scared of challenges.

I think now I am ready to see what 2013 has got to offer for me. Maybe a great love, better career opportunities or a move to a new country… I know that whatever happens to me I will be fine. And so will you. We can always find the good even in the worst situations.

My 2013 resolution is to become happier and to try let more people into my heart. That’s all! I’ve learned it’s best to keep it short and simple.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful year!

Yours,

G.

Advertisements

The “twenty-something” crisis

20 Nov

Young, single, with money to blow and your whole life ahead of you – that’s how some people would describe the amazing twenties. Social awkwardness is left behind and there is a promise of great things to come. But instead of living it up, a growing number of twenty-somethings are having a little crisis and I am no exception.

The twenty-something crisis can be defined as “the state of simultaneously wishing to be old (and therefore taken seriously in steps along the career path), coupled with intermittent pangs for a quickly disappearing youth.” But that is not the only problem in the twenty-something crisis of these days. The transition to adulthood today is a much more complex, prolonged process than it was for our parents or even grandparents.

Too many expectations?

I think we are all faced with somewhat of an “expectations hangover” these days. You look at your job and it’s not even close to what you thought you would be doing, or if you are still looking for a job like many others these days (thank you, financial crisis, very much indeed!) you realize that despite your best efforts, skills obtained via a number of summer internships, language knowledge and a polished résumé you are still going to have to fight for that job with thousand of others in a more-tough-than- ever job market, and if you are lucky start at the very bottom.

You may feel anxious as well because, presumably, you are faced with a wide range of opportunities and you are unsure of how to choose from among them. Questions of ”who am I, what do I want and how do I get it?” have become a sad reality of your life. So, who are we? I think I can answer that. We are people stuck in our twenties who have come to a final realization that it is probably not going to be the way we expected. The harsh reality check…

Good-bye childhood!

A few days ago I found out that my neighbour and a childhood friend is moving out. I am not exactly sure why it really hit me since it’s not like he’s moving to the moon or another country (to be more realistic) but I suddenly realized that this is it…we all have grown up! Or at least we should have grown up by now. We are in our twenties already and silly games played on the streets should really be left behind as a childhood memory. Once I moved back from Canada to my parents’ home due to my unexpected visa situation (see previous posts), I found myself trapped in a situation where I was not sure whether I was still a child (I really thought life at home would be the same!) or an adult.

I find it hard to say good-bye to my childhood friends, memories and everything else that relates to me being an irresponsible child. After all, why should we give up on what makes us happy? Although, does it really make us happy? I am not sure anymore…it’s just nice to hold on to something: whether it’s going to be your childhood memory or a friend from the past.

Should I get serious about my relationships already?!

Here is another story of my life. Everyday when I log in to my Facebook, I see that someone just got engaged, married or even gave a birth to a baby! I have reached a point, where people have actually started getting serious about their love lives. And I mean why wouldn’t you get serious about it if you have found the one?!

On the other note it saddens me. I keep telling people I am young, single and…fabulous (a quote from the Sex & the City) but I am not going to lie – all those happy/engaged/married couples are starting to worry me! And let me be clear with you – I never ever wanted to get married in the first place (I just don’t believe in a marriage concept), but out of the sudden I have this strong desire to get settled down, not necessarily to get married per se but well…at least to be in a normal, healthy relationship, which I have not had for a while (that’s another part, I am not a relationship person either). In other words, I just want to belong to a crowd, a twenty-something crowd that is getting serious about their love lives.

You are not alone

As much as I like to complain, I have to say that we possibly still have more than 30 years or so to get that perfect job, the man or woman of your dreams and have a second childhood (they say that once you get really old you act like a child again and everyone just goes with it!). After all, we ALL are in our best of times and our worst of times, trying as hard as we can to figure this whole thing out…

Yours,

G.

Queen Street West – A charming treasure in the city of skyscrapers

9 Jan

They say there are two different types of love: compassionate love and passionate love. The first one usually grows with time and is more related to feeling secure or even attached to the other “person”, while the second type of love involves intense feelings that occur instantly – it can sometimes be referred to love at first sight. And this is how I feel about Toronto – it was love at first sight. I had no particular reason to even like it (no friends, no place to live, no nothing!) yet it just felt good to be a part of the crowd coming here to explore the city, follow their big dreams (big city big dreams) or because of the love that they feel to someone.

I have never intended to make my blog just another travel blog (and I won’t do it) but I could not resist dedicating a short post with a photo gallery about one of my favorite neighborhoods in TO. The reason I am doing this is because I keep meeting new people, who either just moved to Toronto recently or been here for a while but mostly lived in the suburbs, that most of the time tell me that they do not like the city I am completely falling in love with! So, I have decided to show all of those people that the city of Toronto has so much charm and character if you just know the right places to look for it.

Queen Street West – is a bohemian neighborhood that is often compared to New York’s or London’s SoHo districts. It is a hangout for many artists, musicians with many galleries, music stores, cafes  and vintage clothing boutiques. Anchored by the nightlife and cultural destinations this neighbourhood oozes creativity, community and fun. Even if you are not a big fan of galleries or even shopping – Queen Street West is a great spot to just to get a sneak preview of the latest fashion (or not really) trends…from a guy looking like he is stuck in the late 70s to a girl wearing Lady Gaga type of heels – everything (and more) can be found & seen there!

Trivia: Queen St W has a “Graffiti Alley”. And each summer for the past few years, a group called Style in Progress has taken over graffiti alley for a 24-hour period of legal painting.

Enjoy the pictures that I took today for the purpose of this post only!

Your (temporary) city guide,

G.

Little Christmas Bakery: Indulge Yourself!

23 Dec

Christmas is approaching and despite the fact that I am far far away from my family and friends – I can still feel the Christmas spirit in the air… It’s the most wonderful time of the year (there will be parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting…) and it would not be fair to ignore it (even though, that’s exactly what I planned to do). Christmas would not be Christmas for me if I were not baking or cooking something nice for the people I care about; from cookies to chocolate barks…something what would look Christmassy & be a great treat for your belly (…everyone should leave some space there for the holiday season)!Christmas is, without doubt, a time to indulge!

I have “opened’ my Little Christmas Bakery today with an opening treat – Peppermint Chocolate Barks. It’s something  what could be easily made by a complete beginner in the kitchen yet regardless of its simplicity it tastes nice & looks even better! Don’t forget chocolate is always a safe option when it comes to a “little sweet treat” (show me a man that does not like chocolate!).

Have in mind the recipe can be adjusted to your personal likings/needs – you’re the CHEF!  So, here is the recipe:

Peppermint Chocolate Barks

Ingredients:

  • high-quality white chocolate chips
  • high-quality dark chocolate chips
  • peppermint candy canes
  • 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract (depends on how much chocolate you’re going to use, I used 270 g of each)
  • extra: nuts, sugared cranberries

Method:

  1. Break up peppermint candy into little pieces. Melt the chocolate by placing a bowl with chocolate over a pot with hot water(not boiling!). Once melted, add the peppermint extract and stir.
  2. Pour the melted chocolate out onto a cookie sheet or cookie shapes ( see picture) and  spread out  chocolate with a spatula or wooden spoon. You can firstly spread out the dark chocolate add some nuts/sugared cranberries and then add the white chocolate – that way you will get two layers (black&white)
  3. Sprinkle the peppermint candy chunks on to the chocolate and gently press them in with yours hands.
  4. Place in the freezer for 25 minutes or until hardened. Break into pieces or get out of the cookie shapes.

Done! Easy, huh? You can make lots of peppermint chocolate barks and pack them into nice boxes or wrap them in a shinny paper, and then give it to someone as a little Christmas gift!

Here are the pictures of the whole peppermint chocolate barks making process….

Indulge yourself & have a sweet Christmas!

Yours,

G.

The world’s 15 best places to live – Toronto is one of them!

13 Dec

I just wanted to share this article giving a brief analysis taken from the Mercer’s 2011 quality-of-life survey with everyone. The annual Mercer’s report looks at living conditions in 221 cities worldwide and ranks them against New York as a base city in 10 categories such as socio-cultural environment, economy, politics, education and the health sector. It feels good to know that I live in one of the 15 best world’s places to live – Toronto. It’s a pity though that none of the other cities I’ve lived in before were mentioned in this list.

15. Toronto, Canada
14. Ottawa, Canada
13. Wellington, New Zealand
12. Amsterdam, Netherlands
11. Sydney, Australia
9(tie). Copenhagen, Denmark
9(tie. Bern, Switzerland
8. Geneva, Switzerland
7. Frankfurt, Germany
5(tie). Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
5(tie). Düsseldorf, Germany
4. Munich, Germany
3. Auckland, New Zealand
2. Zurich, Switzerland
1. Vienna, Austria

Seems like old Europe is taking the lead in the survey results.

Full article can be found at: http://www.omninfo.com/misc/the-worlds-15-best-places-to-live/

Yours,

G.

City of Toronto: 5 hours 35 minutes and 43 pictures….

9 Dec

Today, I’ve decided to take a break from everything I’ve been doing recently and enjoy the sunny day outside in Toronto. Taking pictures being one of my hobbies, I decided to take camera with me and shoot some good (hopefully) pictures of Toronto in winter time! I literally spent 5 hours 35 minutes doing all this of this…but I am quite pleased with results. Not only in terms of pictures. Met a bunch of great people (you know…male type of people), had a few interesting (or maybe not) conversations about weather and stuff and most importantly saw the city through the lens of my camera. Once again, regardless of cold cold day Toronto seems to be something I am falling in love way too soon for….

Enjoy the pictures!
Yours,
G.

Top 15 Unique Things about Canada: Cultural Learnings of Canada from a newcomer’s perspective

20 Nov

Every country (and city) is unique and has things that you will come across sooner or later if you’re not a local person there. From the moment I came to Toronto I’ve started making a list of things on my phone that kind of shocked me or at least gave a surprised look on my face. I guess it’s the time I share it with everyone…so far, I’ve got only 15 of those things but I am sure the list will get longer and will make it to another post or two!

1. Sexy cops

I completely blame it on their uniform, which, in comparison, to Lithuanian one looks so much better! Decide for yourself:

Canadian Cop

Canadian Cop

Lithuanian Cops

Lithuanian Cops

VS

2. Having a bank account is rather a luxury

Banking here is expensive. They charge you for every transaction you make…some banking packages include 15-30 transactions per month but even that is different from what we have in certain European countries (UK, LT), where you can use your card as much as possible and won’t get charged!

3. No alcohol in a grocery store

That was a big disappointment to me. I used to go to a grocery store, grab my food and some alcohol on the way. Not anymore. Want alcohol? Go to a liquor(LCBO) store or a beer boutique (for beer). There a few exceptions though, I’ve seen grocery stores selling wine in Montreal, but haven’t really seen it in Toronto yet. Regardless of that, no spirits in grocery stores for sure.

4. Internet has data usage limits

So, if you’re one of those big Internet users, who download stuff every day – Canada is probably not the best destination for you…For example, one of the biggest Internet providers, Bell, gives you 125 GB a month on one of its best plans. Rogers (another big provider), on the other hand,  gives you 250 GB a month. Some claim they offer ‘unlimited internet’ but in the end they still ask you to pay if you go over the ‘hidden’ limits.

5. Streetcars stop in the middle of the street

During my first days in TO I had a hard time figuring out how to get into one of those streetcars…because they stop in the middle of the street!

People getting into a streetcar

6. Taxes are not included in the price

You go to the counter and voila…after taxes are added you shirt of 25$ has jut turned into a shirt of $28.25 (usually, 13% are added but then again it depends on the products/province etc. e.g. food is not taxed)

7. Plaid shirts for men is  a BIG thing

What Can I say? Cowboys is not a myth! Pubs are full of men wearing old type of plaid shirts…niiiiice!

8. Size 0 in clothing stores

I was more used to wearing clothes of the size 6-8 or XS-S but now I have to buy size 0…the number 0 makes me feel weird, am I really zero-sized person?! The whole clothes sizing system starts from 0 and then goes up accordingly.

9. They say ‘eh’ a lot!

No comments needed, eh! They say eh so often that I think companies making keyboards should make a special Canadian edition with an ‘eh’ button!

10. Ice hockey!

Ice hockey in Canada is like basketball in Lithuania or Football in the UK.

11.Poutine & Maple syrup

Poutine for lunch..waffles with maple syrup for breakfast! For those who have no idea what I am talking about, poutine  is a dish of French fries and fresh cheese curds covered with brown gravy sauce.

Looks gross - tastes surprisingly good!

12. People order double cheese burgers, large fries, and a diet coke.

Diet is important. “I am on diet. I will have a diet coke AND (the most important part) double cheese burger and large fries” – people are obsessed about the diet coke yet not about the diet food.

13. There is a cocktail named after salad (or most likely Dictator Julius Ceasar)

That is correct. Ceasar cocktail is pretty a big thing here, and to be honest I quite like it – although it really depends on the place. For those, who don’t know what I’m talking about (again), Ceasar is: a cocktail that typically contains vodka, Clamato ( a proprietary blend of tomato juice and clam broth), hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce and is served with ice in a large, celery salt-rimmed glass, typically garnished with a stalk of celery and wedge of lime.

Ceasar Cocktail

Ceasar Cocktail


14.They leave their cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put useless junk in the garage

That’s what garages are for…

15.You get milk in bags as well as cartons and plastic jugs.

Yes. Milk in bags. Never would have thought. And it’s not necessarily a bad idea, I guess that way it’s better for an environment… is it? I don’t find it convenient but then again what do I know?!

TO BE CONTINUED

Yours,

G.

The Five Best Things about Living Abroad

17 Nov

Being an adventurous person has very much contributed to my lifestyle. During the past 4 years I’ve already lived in 4 countries, namely, Lithuania, the United Kingdom, China and now Canada. By nature, an adventurous person may have a hard time being happy anywhere…even while on an amazing adventure. It’s because the horizon always beckons you to go one step further…to climb one more mountain…to explore one more culture…to learn one more language. It’s like in one of those TV commercials, where they say: “if you try it once – you won’t be able to resist”.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

Despite the demanding nature of an adventurous life while living abroad it has a lot of cool advantages. I’ve chosen to write about  5 Best things about living abroad (don’t expect to read something too serious, though!) , here we go:

1.) Always having a conversation starter

Every time you meet a new person, enter a party room or even go out for shopping you will most likely be asked: ‘so, where are you from?’ Some will put some efforts into guessing and naming a few of the countries they know. It’s always a fun experience because you have at least a few things to talk about starting from where are you from, then explaining where exactly it is ( it happens all the time to me), what brought you here and so on. The good thing about it is that you can be a Lithuanian one day and a Swedish on the other day – the more creative you are the better! (Once, I told people I was from South Africa. They bought it!)

2.) Being popular just because you’re a foreigner

They either love your accent or make fun of it but regardless of that you get all the attention!  They seem to be interested in hearing all the details about your country, people there and then again what brought you here. Most of the time it becomes a Q&A session, where people quite literally attack you with questions…but don’t you just love it? Not to mention my experience of being super popular in China just because I have a white skin and blond hair…some said I reminded them of Britney Spears, ah!

3.) Meeting amazing people

Very important part of the whole living-abroad experience is meeting new people. During my past 4 years I’ve met so many different people who had absolutely enriched my life, or in some cases, even changed it! Now, I have friends from all over the world and always have someone to talk to from different times zones (a friend for a morning conversation from Europe, a friend for an evening conversation from somewhere in Asia…). Not to mention the fact that you get a free-stay at their place if you plan to go to one of those countries! Convenient, huh?

4.) Getting a new perspective about yourself, your culture and the biases

Mark Twain once said: ‘“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” That perfectly applies to the case of living abroad. Growing up in a country where seeing a black person was equal to a miracle had given me some biases towards different people. We all  carry around biases without even realizing it. However, living abroad helps you to get rid of those biases and become, like I say,  a citizen of the Word and that is quite a packaged deal as it also enriches you with a cross-cultural mindset, which one day may be rewarded! You also find out how others view your culture and that is always interesting. Not to mention the fact that you can learn so much new about yourself while in a new environment….

5.) Having  once-in-a-life-time experience

That pretty much sums up everything I’ve written above. There is nothing like the voice(s) of experience and it works not only in terms of career. Life, in general, is a journey and every experience counts. Living abroad gives you a different type of experience every time you enter a new country that comes along with a new language and culture and you’d better appreciate those moments  of experience while you can! You never know how long you will live and how many opportunities you may have…just grab one and never look back!

For the end: “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”- Henry Miller

Yours,

G.


New Home or Do you believe in Fate?

12 Nov Liberty Village - my neighbourhood
Liberty Village - my neighbourhood

Liberty Village – my neighborhood

Believe it or not I am writing this post from my NEW home! Finally, I’ve moved from the suburb to Toronto city and I cannot tell  you how happy (or excited) I am right now. It’s been more than two months since I started my searches… I guess good things are worth waiting for!?

It all happened a week ago. After all those last-minute cancellations on the scheduled viewings, people not responding to my e-mails and rooms without windows/doors (yes, it is not always included in the rent!) – I felt completely desperate thinking I’d never be able to find a decent place in Toronto. And then, there was one of those days when I was going to the coffee house to a regular meeting, yet this time I took a streetcar which brought me to a new street. I was walking down that street and then stopped and looked around…there was a stadium close by, a few little stores, restaurants and apartments above those. The thing what I am about to say is going to sound crazy but you try to live all by yourself for a few months and then you’ll realize I am not crazy at all. So, like usually, I kind of talked to myself in my head and what I said was: ‘I’d like to live here!’. I repeated it for  a couple of times and felt like in one of those stupid (question mark) movies there people’s wishes become true…all you need is to wish for something really hard! And that is what happened to me. The next day, I decided to renew my advertisement (looking for a place type of ad) on one of those ad-based websites (see my first post) and after 5 minutes I received an e-mail offering me a place on exactly the same street where I secretly made a wish! The rest of the story you already know. I just moved in!!

Was it fate that brought me here? Or was it something else? Coincidence? Maybe.  I used to be very skeptical when people talked about fate; if you read ‘About Me’ tab on my blog, you’d actually see what I think about fate: ‘Don’t sit back and let Fate take control of you. You get up and make Fate work for You.‘ Is it right to say that it was one of those situations when I made Fate to work for Me?  If you counted hours spent on browsing through the ads – then yes, if you, on the other hand, looked for the actual physical efforts – maybe not.  That makes me wonder…Do you believe in Fate? Or do you think that it is all in your hands to make certain things happen?

I’d better go and start unpacking my stuff…and then maybe go out for a drink or two… to finally explore what Toronto’s nightlife has got to offer! If you’re lucky, you will be reading stories from that, too!

Yours,

(Not Homeless) G.

Three Ps

2 Nov

It’s been two months and I am still rather concerned about my decision to come here after everything I had to go through. Despite all those people constantly telling me that you can’t get a life in two months, I still find it very frustrating.

Some say: ‘There is no Failure only learning experience’. And I have to agree, coming here all by myself and starting a new life is clearly a learning experience, and it does not matter whether I will achieve my goals or not, it will still be regarded as an experience. Not a failure, even though I find it hard to believe sometimes.

I still haven’t got those 3 things everyone is looking for (see: https://pioneeringventures.wordpress.com/2011/10/22/3-things-we-all-are-looking-for/): an apartment or room in a nice, shared place, a dream job and that perfect love, which in my current life is replaced with friends (which I still don’t have).

What I’ve got though – is a faith in three Ps – patience, perseverance and prayer. And by saying prayer – it does not necessarily have to be related to some God or religion; my religion is me and science, and that’s what I am praying to. It’s all about believing in yourself, being patient and perseverant.

Remember, always have a faith in three Ps –  patience, perseverance and prayer. It will get you somewhere if you just don’t lose your faith!

Yours,

G.