Another exceptional year has ended. Well, almost. Typically rushing to close off the page before finishing it, I proudly present the highlights of the departing year 2005. It was marked by massive events and hazards, including hurricanes, tsunamis, and earthquakes. On a slightly different scale, however, it was an important year in the life of nobody called Anna. Will the readers please forgive me for exuding self-importance.
Ladies and gentlemen, the highlights are…
19-20 January: after weeks of lost hope and fifteen desperate applications, I receive first response – sudden interview invitation with UBS in London. A simple desire of a free trip to the financial capital of Europe turns into a real commitment to get the summer internship. I do my very best and waltz through the assessment centre. UBS calls in the next day with good news – I have secured a summer internship in London. My happy cheer is heard through the entire Helsinki on the night of 21 January. Memorable moments: night walk in London before and after my interviews. Drinking Horlicks in the hotel. St. Paul’s Cathedral from the Millennium Bridge. London!
February-April: despite the rapid internship acceptance, I continue to attend other banks’ assessment centres and develop into a chain-traveller. London and Copenhagen, catching up with friends along the way. More offers of employment, but, I do apologise, I still remain with UBS. Memorable moments: leaving Finland in the early morning, flying through real snow storms, landing in peaceful spring, enjoying warmth, returning to the blistering cold in the evening. Finnair has the best on-flight service I have ever experienced – fly Finnair! Some bankers look very tired when they interview you. In fact, some of them look like they have not slept for weeks when they interview you. Some applicants are bloody arrogant and do not talk to simple Latv mortals. The attitude improves at higher stages of the assessment centres. More Horlicks in the hotel. Yum!
21 March: I take a different turn and attend an interview with the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. The first question is about the unemployment rate in the euro area. I respond approximately and claim myself more familiar with the individual countries. Ok, do the individual countries, then. I start with the U.K. and Sweden. Since when are those two in the euro area, I hear? Oops. The final comment is about my age, which, apparently, is “blutjung”. Thank you. I expect a write-off but instead receive positive response. It is months overdue because of Finnish DHL efforts -never mind their airline. Ouch! That was a long wait but entirely worth it.
January-June: one major highlight (struggle of the year?), life in Finland as such. Difficult at times, always at the verge of bankruptcy, depressed by unfriendly flatmates, frustrated by Finnish rigidity, ignored by all Finns united. Memorable moments: full-time babysitting of lovely twins, singing in a Kenyan church choir in swahili, many friends and events at the Anglican Church in Finland. “Borrowing” bread from school cantine. “Just sampling” food at Stockmann… again and again. Trips to Turku and Naantali. Bryan and Edem’s wedding. Hanna and Dennis’ wedding. Cat-sitting for Father Rupert. Crossing the Gulf of Finland at snail-pace with Eckeröline surrounded by Finns in their most cheerful condition. Regular Saturday morning walks in Helsinki. Itäkeskuksen uimahalli, waiting for it to open at 6 a.m. on -20C cold winter mornings, 50m pool, super-bubbly jacuzzis, sauna-sauna, add more water to those stones, kiitos!
8 April: my best friends get married in Livingston, Scotland. I book two weeks to look around my most beloved country for the fifth time. The wedding is a hit, and we dance ceilidh all night long. Tara and Pete look fabulous together, and seeing them is a true moment of happiness. May the sun always shine on you! After the wedding, the newly weds depart for Cornwall, and guess who is left in Edinburgh to look after their flat for ten days. Accidentally, Edinburgh is my favourite city in the world. Viva! Memorable moments: returns to Stirling, St. Andrews, Dundee, Glasgow, and East Lothian. One day I will retire in Scotland.
Late May: I finish the first year of studies for MSc at Svenska Handelshögskolan in Helsinki. The results are excellent, as expected, and I have nothing to worry about when it comes to Thesis (some hope, please!). The quality of studies could be better. I could also be in a different country – Denmark, preferably – but it is too late to ponder over the past. There are times when I love Finland and Helsinki. Memorable moments: struggling through some professors’ “Finn-glish”. Recommended!
2-7 June: trip to Sweden with Viking Line, along the traces of my youth days. I did a term abroad in Kalmar, southern Sweden, in 2004. I visit friends in Stockholm, too. The first couple of friends have a baby daughter, the second have one, too, and expect another soon. Cheesy-weesy, but I am so happy for them. And, after years of babysitting, I cannot do otherwise but love children. Memorable moments: baking bread after an “auld” Finnish recipe with Helen after one year’s break. Crossing over to Öland for a stroll. Up and down on the swings. Up, down, up, down. Astrid Lindgren’s songs on the radio. Madiken, Madiken, piluta dej, piluta dej, jag vet någonting hämligt som bara är för mej…
18 June: I visit mates in Vilnius and immerse into my old university memories. Other sort of memories, too. I am glad about having taken the path I did. Memorable moments: picturing daddy’s old stinking house from all angles and bringing the shots home. Who would ever expect the poor old structure to be still standing.
27 June – 2 September: the UBS internship in London finally kicks off. Definitely every bit as expected and much more. The City. Wimbledon in full swing. Live 8. London wins 2012 Olympics, yes! London terrorist attacks. The Tube and other transport network is suspended. Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, We Will Rock You, Lion King. Visiting Cambridge, Oxford, Hastings. Meanwhile, I work my head off. Gas Natural makes a hostile bid for Endesa. Suez buys out the minority shareholders in Electrabel. Scottish Power is always a subject of bid talks. EDP, Centrica, Scottish and Southern Energy, Enel, E.ON, RWE, EdF, Gaz de France, Iberdrola, Union Fenosa. I get excited at the mention of a utility company. Give me the power generation, distribution, electricity, water, gas, transmission, supply. I am in love with my sector. Never mind that I watch the sunrise from the office window every morning. Memorable moments: certainly receiving the final employment offer in the end. Black London taxis home every night or morning. Chatting to taxi drivers about the virtues of investment banking at 4 a.m. Shopping wild. Chinese and Indian takeaways. American Pizza. Haagen-Dazs ice cream. Corporate parties and events. Luxury. Fragrance of the year: DKNY’s “Be Delicious”. Reading the “Monkey Business”. The Tube and London transport. Bustling London life. Walking through St. James’ park at night, no light at all, dancing to the music in my head. Baileys in my hot chocolate. Traffic jams and rush hours. London, London, London. Oh, and I turn 22 in the meantime.
3-8 September: long-awaited trip to Ireland. Night walks in Dublin, Cork, Galway. Caramel-flavoured Baileys against the Atlantic wind. Mint chocolate-flavoured Baileys under the stars. Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, Blarney Castle, Cobh, Ailwee Cave. Emerald Isle, pouring rain, cosy hostels, fresh air, soda bread, escaping to Killiney in the outskirts of Dublin, walking on the Irish Sea coast, reading “Angela’s Ashes” – was Ireland once really as poor as that? Memorable moments: convincing the bus driver I was Scottish and listening to cruel jokes about the English.
14 September – now: European Central Bank internship. Households’ Housing Wealth of the euro area, Excel modelling, contacts with national sources. ECB security badge around my neck. What an interesting switch from London, I finally can sleep at night and have weekends for myself alone! My colleagues are a blessing. Germany is a diverse and interesting country to live in. A few days after my arrival, the soap opera of the year begins, starring: Herr Schröder and Frau Merkel. Like in all soap operas, all ends in a Happy-End. In the meantime, I enjoy everything greatly. I attend social and cultural events for the ECB staff. Our Section celebrates the coming of autumn with Federweisser wine and Zwiebelkuchen in October. Our Division goes off to Schloss Montabaur for a 2-day team building exercise in December. The freshest memories are from the Christmas season: Frankfurter Weihnachtsmarkt, Glühwein, Flammkuchen, gebrannte Mandeln. Dancing under the Frankfurter skyscrapers, first Messe, next Westendstrasse No.1, finally Deutsche Bank twin-towers. The Episcopal-Anglican Church in Frankfurt is absolutely brilliant. After a sort of exam, I join the church choir as, ahem, tenor. I love the songs and hymns. “He that is down needs fear not fall…” Thursday night and Sunday morning rehearsals, split by cosy coffee breaks and chats. Weihnachtsmarkt performance on 16 December followed by the choir party at pastor’s. Christmas Eve party, Christmas turkey roast, Chronicles of Narnia.
September – December: frequent travels and get-aways from Frankfurt. It all starts in September with Högskolan i Kalmar reunion in Worms and Heidelberg. How exciting to see the former fellow students after a break of 1.5 years! The Netherlands in October: Amsterdam, Den Haag, Delft, Scheveningen. Seeing Danka, enjoying salmon pancakes, verse vla, koffee verkeerd. Overnight buses, 5 a.m. ICE trains, low-fare airplanes. Berlin: Siegessäule, freezing cold Unter den Linden, on top of Reichstag and Neue Synagoge, Charlottenburg, Ku’damm, Branderburger Tor. Freiburg, Schwarzwald. Paris: visiting Innochka, walking for 36 hours with a 7-hour break, Tour Eiffel, Le Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, Louvre, Notre Dame de Paris, Bois de Bologne. Milano: missing my plane and jumping on the last minute overnight train instead, Swiss Alps at night, Swiss customs officers breaking in, endless rain in Milano, seeing Alessio, meeting friendly Brits en route Bergamo airport. Dresden: gorgeous views over the “Elbflorenz”! My favourite German city to date. Coldplay live at Mannheim Mainmarkthalle, outstanding performance. Hamburg, the Hafen City. Barcelona: seeing Svetik, Mediterranean views, walking my feet off for the 100th time, Gaudí galore, Parc Güell, La Pedrera, Sagrada Familia, Montjuïc.
Some important 2005 milestones:
> Sign my first proper employment contract.
> Receive my first real credit card from HSBC.
> Buy my first proper business suit. And second. And third. And fourth.
> See my first musical. And second. And third. And fourth.
> Get involved in two major M&A transactions.
> Get my first ipod. My colleagues keep waving hands in front of me – Anna, hello!
> Get into Eurobonus and British Airways Executive Club. Ryanair, forgive me.
> Finally gain work experience at an EU institution.
> After four months in Bundesrepublik, polish up my German at last.
> Am a proper choir member, fulfilling a long-term dream and ambition.
> Visit Ireland, Italy, France, and Spain for the first time.
> Tired of an upside-down-pot-shaped hair, change my haircut.
> 175 cm tall, am back at 57 kg – this time not even anorexic.
> Stabilise at 2 km 3(x)week in swimming. More is just dead boring, excuse me.
> Call myself a professional babysitter and nanny.
> Finally become best friends with my dearest mummy.
> Launch a personal photos’ webpage and aspire to buy a professional camera kit asap.
> Eat my first turkey at church Christmas roast.
> Somehow stay single and loveless. Join Anna’s club for career-orientated feminists er, ladies!
Special thanks to Allisa A., Damian S. and little Theo Kai, Rupert M., Hanna and Dennis L., Peter J., Peter K., Arthur P., Paul and Pirjo D., Anna W., Andy W. and little Birgitta, Tracy D., Niklas L., little Katie and Alec, Andrea B., Wanjiku N., Richard W., Eunice M., Paul K. and Manu K., Joan E., Ron P., Tapani K., Nana O., Mike P., Sin-hwa Y., Dan H., Anya H. and little Yessenia, Helen P., Pasi P. and little Nadja, Jonas L., Gintukas J., Ignas M., Domas S., Aneta M., Kristina M., Magali L., Sharoni M., Charlotte S., Jerry W., Jackie W., little Matthew, Zachary, and Aaron, Tara M. and Peter M., Roddy M., Calum F. and Liz F., Roderick M. and Christine M., Ruth M., Lynn J., Ann M., Mhairi M., Edward C., Thomas Z., Jörg S., Jasper K., Francesco B., Carlos C., Joaquim M., Matthew M., Mikael B., Tone R., Angie G., Mary T., Ronny K., Annabelle J., Mikkel M., Josh T., Techie A., Rachel F., Tom G., David A., Sheena A., little Juel and Ewan, Lina T., Sergey Z. and Lilija N., Ari M. and Tina M., little Elina, Markus, Tom and Saara, Helen L., Helen M. and little Stella, Tomoko I., Janet O’D., Eileen M., Bret D., Allan S., Gretchen N. and little Lizzie and Thomas, Sue V., Margaret P., Chris P., Patrick L., Jane D., Martin D., little Rebecca and Robert, MaryLynn W., Liz W., Jin-Hyo K., Boas S., Bruce H., Carol H., little Miriam and Rachel, Andrew D., Andrea D. and little Madeleine, Linda K., Claudia M., Wim H. and Veerle, Julia C., Henning A., Martin E., Heinz D. and Barbara D., Marta B., Agi B., Andrew K., Mona H., Dawn B., Elena Y., Luca G., Ilja K., Manuel W., Mario C., Markus K., Thang P., Aliz T., Thomas E., Alessio Z., Letizia D., Timothy T., Jaana K., Hampus N., Jannis N., Mariana O., Evgheni T., Alex H., Maria P., Maris V., Danka F., Inna I., Svetik S., Natalija Z., Julija Mas., Julija Mel., Ssneg, Sirota, and all my other LJ friends, Darja G., Simon A., Marina L., auntie Vika and little Marina, auntie Tanja and little Marija, auntie Vera K. and uncle Dainis K., Dave Luke B., Becky P., Rebecca G., April B., Pauli H., Katie T., Michael C., Kim C., Jennifer A., Dermot L., Marton H., Amy M., Tereza N., Karla S., Jake V., Maria W., Eko Y., Jim J. and Margaret J., Dimka P., Rosemary K., Eric J., Erik K., Marit B., Andrea L., Diether M., Virginija K., Julien D. and Caroline C., Stefan K., Anthonia S., Andrea R., Josh J., Claudia N., Riisto B., “Uncle George” – for “making this year so remarkable”. Thanks to everyone I have forgotten – it is entirely my fault.
A very special thanks to my dear mum and dad.
Above all, praise the Lord for another magnificent year.