How to make money and see the world?

How to make money and see the world?

Are you sick and tired of your home country? Do you dream about relaxing life under palm trees? Do you think that you need to save forever in order to have enough money to go abroad? Well, that does not have to be the case necessarily. If you are lucky, you can even return from the world with more money in your wallet. In this post, I list ways to make money while seeing the world and living the life of your dreams.

Work and holiday visas

If you are lucky to be at a certain age and hold a passport of a certain country, the world can be your oyster. Work and holiday visas are a great way to get to know local culture and customs, travel, and make even reasonably good sums of money. If you are under 31 years old, you can spend up to two years in Australia, where the minimum wage is around 21 dollars per hour. I also discovered that I could get a work and holiday visa to New Zealand even at the age of 35, so I still have several years time to experience that.

Exchange year or internship abroad

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I regretted before that I didn’t go on an exchange, when I was studying at the university. That would have been an excellent way to get to know other international students and get a hint of how living abroad feels like. If you are entitled to Finnish student benefits, like I was, the government even pays extra, if you choose to study abroad! Well, now when I am back at university, I have this chance again!

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You are probably heard of Nordjobb, if you are from the Nordic countries. It is a programme that helps young, 18 – 30-year old people from the Nordic countries to get a job in some of these countries. Usually the jobs are temporary, low paid jobs, like working on a fishing factory or on a farm. Not maybe option for me anymore, but something I could have tried back in the days.

Customer service jobs abroad

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Many foreign companies are looking for customer service agents in Europe. If you speak any European language, you might be able to find a job in customer service or sales via chat, email or phone. For example in Malta, there is a large group of foreigners working in their own language. I’m lucky to speak or at least understand Scandinavian languages, Finnish, English and a bit German and it was surprisingly easy to get a job here.

Working for an international company

If you are currently working in your home country for an international company, you might be able to get a posting within the company, but in some other country. I used to work for an international bank that had offices in Europe, New York and Singapore, so I might had a chance to find something in some other country.

Jobs at your embassy or in visa centres

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I have two times applied a job at a Finnish embassy, once for an embassy in Riga and the other one in Canberra. Unfortunately did not get the job on neither of the occasion.

Jobs in tourism or seasonal work

How about working as a tourist guide, skiing instructor or flight attendant?

Get a remote job

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Nowadays there are heaps of jobs that you can do, when you have a laptop and working wifi. If you are let’s say a writer, journalist, IT-guru or online shop owner, you can usually work from wherever you want. You can also find several freelance-sites on the internet, where you can for example get translation and content creation work.

Acquire skills that are valuable everywhere

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There are skills and jobs that you can do in different corners of the world. Everywhere companies need bartenders, housekeepers, waitresses and receptionists. If you are fluent in English, you can teach the language in different parts of the world. Or maybe you could learn to massage, teach yoga, cut hair or surf and sell your knowledge and skills while travelling.

How to save money when travelling?

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Here are some extra tips on how to save money, while travelling:

  • Do HelpX or WOOFing
  • Couchsurf
  • Work for accommodation
  • Start travel blog and try to get deals with companies
  • Look after a house or pets when the owners are on a holiday
  • Do au pairing
  • Travel during the night and sleep on a plain, train or bus and save
  • Minimise your expenses in your home country
  • And then the wild card: sell your properties, invest the money and live on the profits. I have met a couple of people who have been able to do that. Of course, you need some capital to start with, but hey, #lifegoals.

Do you have any more tips on how to earn money and see the world?

Posted by Sandra in Motivational, 0 comments
How does my typical day in Malta look like?

How does my typical day in Malta look like?

When you move to another country, you keep some of the daily habits you had back home, but then you also develop new routines. The basic building blocks of your life are usually pretty similar no matter, where you live. I for example go to work, to the gym and spend a good time of my day with my laptop and with different social media sites. However, there are subtle things that vary from country to country, and these small differences actually are the salt that spices up the life in my new home country. This is how my typical day in Malta looks like:

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Morning

I wake up without alarm around 7 am. This time of the year it would still be dark in Finland, but in Malta, the sun has already risen. The first thing I do is to go to the kitchen with a bottle of water and boil some water for my coffee. The tap water in Malta is not drinkable, so I will use bottled water even for my morning coffee. I try to estimate the exact amount of water I need, because I don’t want to waste anything. In Finland, people usually drink light-roasted filter coffee, but in here I tend to use instant coffee. I drink my coffee on my balcony, while browsing through social media – at least some things never change.

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In Finland, so many things depend on the weather. In Malta, I spend a considerable time of my day outside. After my morning coffee, I head out for a run on the Sliema promenade. A great start for the day! People look happy, they look into each other’s eyes and sometimes even say good morning to total strangers. In Finland, it is considered polite not to bother strangers and avoid any contact at any cost. If someone smiles or says good morning, people would really think that the person is on drugs!

For a breakfast I have freshly baked bread with rocket and smoked salmon, Maltese watermelon and yogurt.

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The day

Today I have an evening shift, which means that I am free until 4 pm. I desperately need to do my grocery shopping. In Finland, I would just go to one shop, probably Lidl, to buy all my stuff. However, in Malta, everything is a sort of a process, and doing one’s groceries is not an exception. I go to one store to buy my meat, to another to buy eggs and veggies and to the third to buy everything else. This usually takes almost two hours, so I don’t like to shop too often. I will also check, what kind of rubbish is collected today, and bring down the right coloured bin back with the right garbage. You can get fined if you dumb wrong rubbish on a wrong day or even if you leave your rubbish on the street at a wrong time!

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Then it is time for my gym. I have been going to a gym regularly for several years now, and it is the only hobby that I do. In Finland, I did not care, what kind of gym I used, but in Malta I’ve ended up going to this ”fancy” gym at Hilton. It is spacious and clean enough with good enough equipment plus classes and access to spa area and saunas. On my opinion, the gym has too many visitors, who come there to be seen, not to work out, but I try to focus on my own workout and not to care about the others.

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When I get home, I am starving, so I cook stuffed capsicums with rice and mince as quickly as I can. I hit the shower, get changed, prepare my lunch and head to work. My diet in Malta is pretty much similar than it was in Finland. I eat more ice-cream here, but on the other hand, I have cut down the amount of lollies (Finland has the best ones!). Also I find dairy to be quite expensive here, so I eat less of that too.

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Evening

I spend the evening at the office with our newbie, a Swedish girl, who started two weeks ago. It is very quiet, so I have time to help her properly and do some extra work in the meantime. While I was in Finland, work felt like work. Mondays felt like Mondays, and you lived waiting for the weekends. In Malta, work is just something that exists in between your other daily activities. Even though I work 40 hours a week and study at university (yes, I actually do some courses) it feels that my life is just one prolonged holiday.

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I finish my shift at 11 pm, lock the office doors and head home. On my way, a German lady asks me directions to her hotel, and I end up walking with her all the way to her accommodation, because I would not like to be lost in a strange town in the middle of the night myself. I try to chat with her using my limited German, and we manage to understand each other. Finally, a bit after midnight I fall asleep after a pretty normal, average day.

How is an average day like in your home country?

Posted by Sandra in Working in Malta, 0 comments
My Travel Bucket List

My Travel Bucket List

Someone has once said something that has inspired me to choose a life of uncertainties and adventures instead of comfort and certainty:

One day your life with flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching

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Having an interesting life has been the key motivator that has kept me going. It gave me the courage I needed to leave from my steady life in Finland and travel to Australia. It made me to say yes and spontaneously move to Malta. For a couple of years, those two sentences have been my guiding principle, and they keep influencing the decisions I’ve made recently.

”Having a life worth watching” is a good principle. As a goal however, it is far too vague and abstract. Any great principle needs concrete goals and detailed plans to make it meaningful and interesting for you. So for the past days, I have been browsing different travel inspiration sites and others’ travel bucket lists, while trying to build my own.

Here it is:

Step foot on Antarctica

Visit Machu Picchu

Experience Trans Siberian Trailway

Go on a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia

Visit New York

Go on a safari

Visit The Hobitton in New Zealand

See Petra, Jordan

Go to Paris in a spring

Party the whole night on full moon party in Thailand

See Taj Mahal

Go zip lining

Move to New Zealand for a year

Go on a girls’ weekend getaway

Stay overnight at a castle in Ireland

Experience Rome

Climb to Everest Base camp (if I am ever in a good enough shape)

Walk the Camino de Santiago

Get food overload in Morocco

Listen fado in Portugal

Experience the Killing Fields in Cambodia

Visit Barcelona

Sleep in ice hotel in Sweden or the iglu hotel in Finland

Drink (my first) beer in Octoberfest in Germany

See the Berlin wall

See the pyramids in Egypt

Visit Cuba

Walk on the Great Wall of China

Visit the Alps

Spend a night in a lighthouse

Attend Indian wedding in India

Swim in the Dead Sea

Sleep in a desert

Stay in a Japanese capsule hotel

Stay in a super fancy 5-star hotel

Visit every country in Europe

Visit a space observatory

See the statues Easter Island

Rent a villa in Tuscany

Do a multi-day horse riding trip (preferably in Iceland)

As you can see, my travel bucket list is still quite traditional and Europe and Asia oriented. Making this list has made me realise, how little I have actually seen during my 30 years of existence and travelling. It is never too late to start however, so I will first start with these more conventional destinations and activities, before moving to more unique ones (well if I can experience everything on this ”conventional” list, it is quite spectacular, isn’t it?). Also writing this list has made me to ask myself, why some people accomplish these amazing things, while others settle just to browse inspirational pictures on Pinterest or to write lists similar to mine? What is the driving force that separates the doers from the dreamers? Is it willpower, courage, or even fear? Fear that your life will not take your breath away, when it flashes through your eyes?

Keeping that thought in the back of my mind, I will start to plan the first experience on my list.

 

Posted by Sandra in Motivational, 0 comments
10 reasons why you should travel alone

10 reasons why you should travel alone

Do you wish to travel somewhere alone? Or would you like to go on a trip, but there is no one that can come with you? Are you afraid of travelling on your own? Do you think that you will get bored, if you don’t have anyone to talk to? And what if you end up in a hospital, being robbed or having a food poisoning? If you are like me, and thought about all of these things before my first trip alone, continue reading for some encouragement.

Here I list 10 reasons on why you should travel alone at least once in your life.

1. You get to do whatever you like

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Okey, this might sound like an obvious one, but it really hit me on, when I travelled alone for the first time. You don’t have to compromise, wait for anyone to get ready, nor choose a restaurant according to someone else’s food preferences. I got to spend as much time at museums as I wanted, without thinking if my travel companion is getting bored. I got to go to a hippie style vegan restaurant without worrying if the other one finds anything on the menu. I even had an option to spend the whole day in the hotel room eating doughnuts, and no one could come to tell me that I am disgusting. When you travel alone, you can let yourself to change your plans, do things from the spur of the moment and go with the flow. So go and enjoy the feeling of not needing to care about others!

2. You will meet interesting people

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I have noticed that other people approach to me a lot easier, when I’m travelling alone. Maybe I am subconsciously sending signals that I wouldn’t might some small talk or occasional companion. I have ended up having long discussions with a Balinese bartender, Finnish surfing instructor, Russian newlyweds and Bulgarian investment broker. Hostels are great places to meet other travellers, and you might even end up exploring a new city together. When I turned 29, I had my birthday celebration dinner in Latvia with a French university teacher and South-Korean coding talent, which I had shared a hostel room with, while visiting Tallinn, Estonia. Needless to say, we had a great time!

3. You might get better service

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I am not sure if it is because of me travelling solo or not, but I feel that alone I have received more attentive service at hotels and restaurants. I also feel that outsiders tend to look after me more. They make sure that I find the place, offer their help at every turn or even like in Bali, bring me a free bowl of soup after my third drink, because ”a girl needs to eat too”. I also feel that I get better seats in planes when flying solo.

4. You will expand your comfort zone

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When you visit a restaurant alone for the first time, you might feel a bit uncomfortable. But after the tenth time, everything feels a lot easier. You might also be hesitant to go and make the first move to get to know a new person, but sooner or later, you feel a lot more comfortable with chatting with total strangers.

5. You can reflect your own life

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When you have no one chatting to you all the time, you can stop and listen to your own thoughts. What are the things that arise from deep inside of you? What does your mind want to tell you? Has it been trying to message you something for a long time, but you have been too busy to notice? I have made several big decisions during my solo travels. Being alone may help you too to clarify your priorities, clear your mind and see things in a different light.

6. You observe your surroundings more

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Has this ever happened to you: you are watching the most spectacular sunset ever with your friend, but you kind of never fully experience it? Maybe you focus more on getting that perfect shot of you with the beautiful sky, or just sharing the excitement with your friend. When you travel alone, you have a chance to observe other people and your surroundings more. You notice small details and focus just to absorb some amazing experience without a need of sharing it with anyone.

7. You learn to cope on your own

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When you travel alone, you will face different situations than back home, and you have to manage on your own. What if you miss your transfer flight? How to find out about different transportation options, when you don’t have a common language with the customer service agent? What will you do, if you find a spider a size of your wrist in your hotel room? Of course anything can happen, and you will learn to react quickly to a new situation. At least this far, I have managed on my own or with the help from Google or other people (see the next section).

8. You will learn to trust others

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I am not talking about a naive stupidity of believe everything what others say. I believe that 99 % of people are kind and good and they want to help you sincerely, if you ask for it. I have received help from strangers numbers of times, and I try my best to share that to others too. I cannot emphasise, how important your own attitude is. A smile, being polite and friendly and maybe even learning a couple of sentences in a local language will get you far.

9. You will learn to trust your intuition

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As a woman travelling on my own, I am sometimes concerned of my safety, and I take it into account, when I choose my flight arrival times and routes to my accommodation. I have been lucky and never had any problems, but I have learned to trust my intuition about places and people. If something or someone just does not feel right, I leave. I cannot really explain this feeling. It is not based on anything that has happened in the past, or on any clear signals of danger. Anyway, I always listen to my gut feeling, since it is better be safe than sorry.

10. Your travel bucket list will expand

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Of course, the number of places to go will still remain the same. When you travel alone, however, something changes in your mind, and you will realise that you can actually travel anywhere you want. You can visit the Antarctica, even though you don’t know anyone willing to spend a small fortune on the boat ticket. You can go to Chile to visit your friend you met on your travels, something you probably would not do, if you were always travelling with someone. You can book a trip on a 12-hour notice, because you don’t have to think if your friend will get off from work. You can really get addicted on travelling on your own, when you realise how many opportunities it gives you.

So GO!

 

Posted by Sandra in Motivational, 0 comments
How did the aristocrats live in Malta?

How did the aristocrats live in Malta?

The capital of Malta, Valletta, calls itself as ”a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen”. Among massive fortresses, stunning churches and amazing administrative offices, one can also find hidden places out from the public eye. There you have a chance to take a peak at the private life of these gentlemen and their families.

What does the life look like, when you take a step from the public sphere into the private? What was the daily life like for the wives of these gentlemen? How has the life of the Maltese aristocracy changed during centuries?

I had many questions on my mind, when I entered Casa Rocca Piccola, a family home built in 1580. For centuries, the place has belonged to de Piro’s noble family. At this time of its construction, the Grandmasters wanted to built a city so beautiful and prestigious that it would rival with Venice and Paris. Accordingly, the people wanted to build and decorate also their private homes to match with the beauty of Valletta. During the past 20 years, the Casa Rocca Piccola has been open to public, and with a 9-euro entrance fee, you are able to see, how the nobles used to live behind the closed doors. Guided tours take place at every hour, and you are not allowed to explore the building on your own.

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The tour starts at the garden, where a parrot greets us with funny sounds and postures. In the old maps, the Casa Rocca Piccola was referred as ”the house with the garden”, since back in the old times, it was not allowed to have private gardens in Valletta. I can imagine, how the former residents must have enjoyed the cool shade under the trees during hot summer days. At least I did on that summer day in August! I could have stayed longer in the garden, but soon our guide came to start out tour around the house.

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During the tour we walked through different, beautifully decorated rooms. When we stepped in, we saw two large paintings on the wall portraying the invention of electricity and the development of agricultural machinery. Each and every room served a different purpose. There were a library, an archive room, a dining room, bedrooms, living rooms and balconies for noble ladies to spend their days by watching people passing by. Traditionally one of the sons in the family had to become a priest, so there was a private chapel also in the building.

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Every generation had added something into the house. The walls were covered with paintings of the former residents, and you could observe, how the fashion, the way to portrait people and the painting styles had changed during the decades. You could see black and white photographs next to brand new photos taken during the 2010’s. On the book shelfs, there were books from the 17th century almost next to modern paperbacks. Every generation had altered the house in one way or another. Some had done extensions to the house, others changed some of the rooms, some brought new furniture or added new collections of books, porcelain, stamps or whatever you could think of. I felt like every detail, artefact, painting, book or furniture had a hidden story to tell. Our knowledgeable guide told us several stories, but I felt that there was still a lot left to our imagination.

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We finished the tour by entering into the bunkers built at the time of the 2nd World War right underneat the garden. The former residents of the Casa Rocca Piccola, as well as some other people from Valletta, had been hiding there from the bombings. After the tour, we returned back to the garden, where the parrot was already amusing a new group. I left the building with many thoughts. During our 45-minute tour, we experienced hundreds of years of history, heard several stories and saw beautiful artefacts and paintings. My imagination was running wild.

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Casa Rocca Piccola was, and still is, a home for one family. It is also a stage, where you can find hints of what the daily life of the former nobels looked like. By visiting the building, you can get a glimpse of their routines, dreams, fears and pursuits. However, I believe that inside those walls, there are so much more history and human destinies, untold stories and hidden secrets waiting to be discovered. We were only given a quick peak of the life of the aristocracy, just enough to make us more curious for more. After Casa Rocca Piccola, I cannot wait to visit other palaces or nobel homes in Malta.

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More information: www.casaroccapiccola.com

Posted by Sandra in Working in Malta, 0 comments
15 Tips for staying healthy while travelling

15 Tips for staying healthy while travelling

When you are travelling, it is not always very simple to keep up your normal exercise routine or your healthy eating habits. I know what I’m talking about. When I was in Australia on my first working holiday visa, I let myself party too much, drink way too much goon and eat whatever I felt like and stopped working out regularly. If you do this for one week, you can get away with it quite easily. But for a year, and especially if you are not in your early twenties anymore, things can be very different. In one year, I gained almost ten kilos and felt more horrible I had felt for a long time. I knew I had to do something differently in my second year, and use a bit more imagination to keep up my diet and exercise.

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1. Choose a hotel with a gym

When I have to choose between different accommodation options, I tend to opt the one with a gym area. I know that the exercising areas at hotels are not always the best ones, but with a bit of imagination, you can have a great workout there too. Working out right after your flight also helps to reduce jet lag also.

2. Take advantage of free trials

When I was in Australia, I used to google for free gym trials in different cities and try out several different places. In the bigger cities in Australia, you are able to work out easily for a month without paying just by taking advantage of these free trials. If you want to save money, look for Groupon discounts on different gym memberships, lessons, boot camps, riding lessons, surfing courses or whatever tickles your fancy.

3. Walk as much as you can

Sometimes when I am exploring a new place, I might end up walking easily 20 000 or 30 000 steps per day without even noticing it. Renting a bike might also be a good option. In warmer places, I try to take advantage of mornings, when it’s usually a bit cooler, and use those valuable hours on jogging by the beach.

4. Swimming is great

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It is often free also! Snorking makes it a bit more fun, too!

5. Eat a proper breakfast

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In some countries, locals have only a cup of coffee and a small biscuit for their brekky. That is not the case for me! I need a proper breakfast to give me energy for the day. My typical breakfast consists of eggs, oatmeal, frozen or fresh berries and coffee. If I’m staying at a hotel, I try to avoid bacon or those delicious croissants with chocolate filling, and go for wholemeal bread, boiled or poached eggs, fish and fruits and veggies.

6. Don’t eat out all the time

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I try to choose an accommodation with some cooking facilities. Making my own food sometimes does not only save money, but I can also go to local markets and choose healthy ingredients for my lunch or dinner. Of course eating at restaurants is a part of holiday, and love eating out too.

7. Visit conservation areas

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When I lived in Melbourne, sometimes I took a train to the Dandenong Ranges and did a walk called 1000 steps. Visiting national parks or conservation areas does good to both your mind and body.

8. Know what is healthy and what is ”healthy”

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Many juices, mueslis, yogurts or granola bars are packed with sugar and far from being healthy, even though people tend to eat them for a ”healthy” snack. Also things like sushi usually have healthy fatty fish and avocado, but you should remember than a big box of sushi has actually a lot of calories, easily around 1000 kcal. Also the way the food is cooked has a big impact on whether the food is healthy or not. In Australia, I thought that I was ordering some healthy white fish from the menu, but ended up getting a piece or creasy battered fish with some chips and hardly any salad.

9. Try different activities while travelling

I can guarantee that after hours or horseback riding or diving, you are going to sleep like a baby.

10. Avoid sugary cocktails

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If you want to go out, have a glass of wine instead

11. Eat proper meals instead of constant snacking

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On a holiday you should enjoy yourself! But if you have a pressed juice there, one cocktail here, then three scoups of ice-cream, you end up eating hundreds of calories without even noticing. I absolutely crave for sugar, but I try my best to avoid chocolate and candy by earing regularly and eating enough carbs.

12. Different workout apps follow you wherever you go

I have saved Kayla Itsinet’s HIIT-workouts on my phone, and I try to do at least two 28-minute workouts every week.

13. Use YouTube videos

On YouTube, you can find excellent workouts that you can do using just your body weight. I tend to do follow some stretching or yoga videos that I can easily do in the privacy of my own hotel room.

14. Plan ahead

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Of course you shouldn’t plan everyhing when you are on a holiday. I try to plan at least some hours for exercising every now and then. I also plan when and what I should eat, so that I don’t go too long without any food.

15. Balance

If you are going on a a holiday for a week, you can skip your exercise routines and eat without any guilt. And even though you plan to travel for longer, don’t stress too much about eating or working out. After all, it is all about balance: getting enough sleep and rest, having as little stress as possible, eating well, exercising and enjoying your life.

 

Posted by Sandra in Motivational, 2 comments
Visiting the most beautiful cathedral in Europe

Visiting the most beautiful cathedral in Europe

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Churches have always fascinated me. They are not only the architectural masterpieces of their time, but they also provide a glimpse of the everyday life of a person who lived centuries ago. I can easily imagine how men, women and children have arrived to their local church on every Sunday, wearing their best clothes. I can relate to them and imagine, how small they must have felt when entering into these majestic buildings. That must have been one the main purpose of these monuments – to remind the ordinary people of their insignificance and imperfections in front of religion, church and the god. In churches, people have been able to see art and treasures that were beyond of everything they’ve ever seen before, and see and hear stories and promises about a world to which they might enter after their earthly life.

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In that sense, I am really lucky to live in Malta, which has one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the whole of Europe. Built in honour of the John the Baptist in the 14th century, St John’s co-Cathedral is an architectural gem of the Baroque style. During centuries, the Grand Masters and several knights donated gifts of high artistic value and made enormous contributions to the church. This is the place, where you can really see the difference between riches of the Catholic church and scarcity of ordinary people. The cathedral is full of elaborate decorations, paintings, statues, altars and ornaments, most of them golden. When you step into the church, you feel like entering into a golden jewellery box, where you walk from one treasure to another.

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The St John’s co-Cathedral is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Malta, so during the highest tourist season, prepare to wait in a line to get in. The entrance fee is 10 euros per adult, and that includes a free audio guide. Even though I think that 10 euros for the entrance is a bit high, this still is one of the most, if not the most, stunning cathedrals I have ever visited during my travels, and this place should be at the top of your things to see in Malta.

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Visiting hours:

Monday to Friday: 09:30 to 16:30 (ticket office closes at 16:00)

Saturday: 09:30 to 12:30 (ticket office closes at 12:00)

Closed on Sundays and public holidays.

Posted by Sandra in Working in Malta, 0 comments
Is there some magic in Malta afterall?

Is there some magic in Malta afterall?

Now I have spent one and half months in Malta, so I might say that I have settled in already. I have also started to realise, what is it about this island, that pulls people here from all the corners of Europe. At the first glimpse, one might think that there is nothing special about this place. People might be friendlier in Greece, food might be tastier in Italy, and definitely salaries would be better in my home country, Finland. You cannot drink the tap water, rents are high and there are not many sandy beaches. Why would anyone find this place magical? Still there is something about this island that attracts and fascinates me. And I am not the only one. There have been several occasions, when I have started discussing with other expats about the magic of Malta.

First of all, live here is very simple. You wake up in the morning, go for a walk or take a dip in the sea and then you head off to work. After work, it is time for gym or going out with your friends. That’s it. Then you repeat that with bigger or smaller variations. There is no stress, not a single reason to worry about anything. The sun is shining every day, the sea is as turquoise as ever and all the other building blocks of your life are fine. There are not many external stimuli, there is no pressure to be anything fancier than the person you are, the is no need to work long hours. All this safety and routines actually free huge amount of brain capacity and time, that you would otherwise spend on decision making and worrying. There is a strong feeling of peace and tranquility in Malta, and that reaches all the way to your inner core and mind. Here you have time to let your thoughts to wander, and shift your focus from the outside world to your inner one. And when your mind is rested, it becomes curious, questioning, complete and powerful. Happy.

In Malta, you also learn openness and tolerance. Since the beginning of times, Malta has been a place that attracts people from different parts of the world. The history of this nation is quite interesting – thanks to Malta’s location between Europe and Africa. First, it was the Phoenicians who sailed here thousands of years ago. You can still see some of the symbols they used painted on the colourful fishing boats. St Paul had a shipwreck outside the coast of Malta, and he introduced Christianity to the local people. Nowadays, the majority of the Maltese are Catholic, and still today, people actively celebrate different Catholic festivals, or festas, how locals call them. The Arabs left their mark on the language and cuisine. Furthermore, you cannot spend much time in Malta without hearing about the importance of St John’s Knights, who were local nobility, as well as monks and soldiers. If you go to Valletta and to Three Cities, you can see their heritage everywhere. Later Malta became a part of the British empire. English became the other official language, traffic became left-sided, and traditional English pubs started popping up everywhere. Unfortunately, Malta’s strategic location in the II World War made the island a target to heavy bombing – something that also left its mark on the island.  All this colourful history has affected the way Malta is today.

Even though the Mediterranean is no longer the centre of the Europe, Malta has remained as a place that attracts people from different corners of the world. Today, Malta has become the centre of language courses, online casinos and companies that offer money transfer services. Some parts of the island are full of young working Europeans that share the passion to see different lifestyles, open mindedness, internationalism, care-free attitude and willingness to learn about different cultures. I also live in this bubble, and like I enjoyed multiculturalism in Australia, I enjoy this opportunity to observe interesting habits, learn new words, taste new dishes and absorb new influences. This environment is very enriching.

Malta is also some kind of a stepping stone or a gate into a new stage in your life. Many people who have moved here, have left their home country, because there hasn’t been anything to make them stay. Maybe they have recently graduated, left their job or broken up with their boyfriend or girlfriend, and they are searching for a new direction. It is often just a matter of luck or chance that they end up choosing to come to Malta. When they end up here, they often realise what this place does to your soul. This is like a safe and peaceful haven, where you can rest for a while and continue your journey, when you are ready. Here you have the time to listen to your inner voice, or even learn to know who you are, and when the time is right, continue somewhere else, hopefully stronger than ever. This might happen to me one day.

But not yet, though. I plan to enjoy my time in Malta and the magic that this place obviously holds.

Posted by Sandra in Working in Malta, 0 comments
What to do in Valletta, the capital of Malta?

What to do in Valletta, the capital of Malta?

Valletta is the tiny capital of Malta and known for its narrow streets, interesting history, good restaurants, museums and stunning palaces and churches. It is a great contrast to modern town of Sliema and located just a 10-minute ferry ride away from Sliema harbour. I live and work in Sliema. This town is a comfortable place to live in, it has a good selection of restaurants, hotels, shops and anything one would need for everyday life. But for some authentic Maltese life, you might want to head somewhere else. And for me Valletta is the most convenient option. Here are some tips on what to do in this small capital with a big personality:

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Get lost in the streets of Valletta

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Valletta is probably the best town to get lost in because sooner or later you will end up where you started. There are just a few main streets, a lot of steep stairs and amazing architecture. Valletta calls itself as a city ”built by gentlemen for the gentlemen”, and while walking on the narrow streets, you can understand why. Everywhere you can see fine artworks, sculptures, fountains, churches and palaces. History is present on every corner and it lives hand in hand with modern life, cafes, tourist shops, gelatto bars, restaurants and international fashion brands.

Relax at Upper Barrakka Gardens

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This public garden is like a peaceful sanctuary in the middle of the busy streets, and a place to escape from the noise and the burning August sun. The gardens were originally used as a recreational area for knights, but they have been open to the public since 1800. The gardens offer a great view over the Grand Harbour, and it is no wonder that this place attracts both locals and tourists. This is the place to get one of the best panoramic photos in the whole island.

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Visit St John’s co-Cathedral

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I have to be honest and admit that I haven’t visited this top rated church yet, but I will definitely do it on my next visit. I have heard that St John’s co-Cathedral is a gem of Valletta, one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the whole of Europe and a place not to miss during your visit in Malta. I can’t wait to see this place.

Stop for a coffee or lunch at one of the old cafés

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I visited cafe Cordina, established in 1837 and relocated to Valletta in 1944. On a Saturday afternoon, the cafe and terrace were full of people, but the service was friendly, quick and helpful. If possible, enjoy your coffee inside and admire the amazing decorations and details – you really feel that you have travelled back in time. And don’t forget to try some of their delicious cakes!

Experience The National Library of Malta

This is a library where you are not allowed to borrow any book, not even hold one. The Library, called Bibliotheca, was founded in 1776, and it has a wide collection of old books. If you are a bookworm like me, you will be astonished by the smell of old books and the library interior and architecture. No photos allowed.

Visit The Grandmaster’s Palace

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The Grandmaster’s Palace has been the administrative centre of Malta for some 350 years, and just recently, the first floor ihas been opened for the general public. The palace has been the seat of the Grand Master of the Knights, and it has served as  the Governor’s palace during the British colonial period. Even today, the Grandmaster’s palace is the office of the President, where he hosts state functions. The frescoes in the hall are absolutely superb, as well as the Gobelin tapestries. For the same entrance fee, you can also visit the armoury collections, where you can see displays of European and Ottoman armour.

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Enjoy a Aperol Spritz in one of the local bars

Finish your day in Valletta with a popular Aperol Spritz drink in one of the local bars. I can personally recommend the Bridge Bar that hosts a live jazz evening on every Friday. The place is super cozy and they have pillows on the stairs, where you can sit with your drink while  the candles and lanterns light up the whole place after the sunset.

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If you want to follow my life in Malta, check out my Instagram. You can also follow my blog on Facebook, Twitter and Bloglovin.

Posted by Sandra in Working in Malta, 0 comments
Interesting observations about Malta

Interesting observations about Malta

Today it will be exactly four weeks since I landed on this rocky island in the middle of the Mediterranean. During this time I have had a chance to observe the local way of life and have noticed some quite interesting differences between the Maltese and Finnish way of doing things. Being a European myself, it is funny sometimes to I hear people (Americans or Australians for example) talking about Europeans in a way that we would be one big bunch of more or less similar people. Well, as a Northern European living in the most southern part of the continent, I can say that sometimes differences between us are as clear as between a night and a day.

Needless to say, here people have very Mediterranean way of life

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For me this means that things don’t often work the way they are supposed to. Punctuality, efficiency or promptness are not big virtues here. You can ditch the bus timetables, any timetables actually, forget the promises people, especially maintenance men, make and get used to the fact that everything is done at a very relaxed pace. For example, when I was staying at a hostel, one day the linen delivery didn’t show up. When I got home from my evening shift, I found only a mattress, no linen, pillowcase or not even a pillow. In Finland, this would have been unacceptable, even unheard-of, but in Malta, the receptionist was just saying that this happens sometimes and there was nothing they could do. Luckily wine is very cheap in these countries, and sometimes it is the power of prosecco that helps me to stay calm in these situations.

You should buy different food items at different places

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In Finland the easiest and the most cost-efficient way to shop your groceries is to drive to a big hypermarket and get all from there. However, in Malta you should get your veggies from one place, meat from another and all dry stuff from a third place. I have learned that local veggie minimarkets or stalls are the best way to shop local fruits and vegetables. When it comes to meat, I prefer a chain called Miracle Foods. And all pasta, rice, milk and such I get from a bit bigger supermarket. Inconvenient? Yes, but such is life.

You need to pay attention when shopping your groceries

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In my opinion in Finland everything is expensive, but in turn I can trust that the food I buy is somewhat safe. I trust that it is handled according to standard procedures, it comes where it should, it is being kept in the right temperature and the price is what it says on the shelf. In Malta, I have to pay a bit more attention to these details. Sometimes the meat and even the fish are kept in a fridge where the temperature is around +15 degrees. I don’t trust the best before -dates here either, so I just buy whatever I need to cook on that particular day. I have also noticed that very often the staff stocks wrong products behind some price labels. For example, one time I bought cottage cheese that was behind a labels saying 70 cents. Well, that was different brand (so read the small print) and I ended up paying almost 5 euro for that 200g container. That is a robbery if you ask me! It is not only one or two times when this has happened, and I assume that the staff is doing that on purpose.

Waste disposal is interesting

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You almost need a college degree to do your rubbish disposal in the right way. General waste goes to a black bin bag and you dumb that on the street. Not whenever you want to, but on a particular day, at a particular time. The same goes with recycling but this time you use a gray bin bag. And then all glass is collected only once a month (in a country where alcohol is this cheap that is crazy) and all the glass bottles need to be in a carton box. Complicated? Yes, but you get used to it.

Traffic is very different than back home

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And I’m not just talking about the fact that they drive on the left side. Peeping is almost a way of communicating different things: warning others (”this is me coming around the corner”), showing irritation, saying hi to friends, trying to make others drive faster, telling everyone how cool it is that the local team won in football, basically it can be anything. And Malta has probably the highest number of cars per square metre in the entire world so from 6 am to 1 am the traffic sounds like a peeping concert. Also  the narrow streets, number of cars and last but not least, drinking and driving cause a lot of accidents in here. So be careful!

Prices are different for locals and foreigners

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When it comes to rents, maintenance costs and even something as generic as electricity, prices are different for Maltese and foreigners. I have to admit that so are the salaries. When a housekeeper or an average sales person earns about 4 euros per hour, we Nordic immigrants earn several times that. Many here say that the Maltese people are the most racist in the whole Europe, but on the other hand I understand that the locals are annoyed we are invading to their tiny island, earning more and having better purchasing power. The fact that we are here has increased the prices of several commodities and rents, which of course has made living here more expensive for the average Maltese person.

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Many of the things I listed here may have sounded negative, even though that wasn’t my point. My point is that the life is very different here, and the easiest way to get used to this, is to forget the way things were done back home. I have just realised that it is better to enjoy the good parts of this Mediterranien way of live: relaxed atmosphere, cheap Italian and Portuguese wine, warm weather, turquoise sea and great gelatto. The things that matter the most are good here under the Maltese sun.

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Posted by Sandra in Working in Malta, 0 comments